Lowell duo makes bloody film short in spirit of the season

Guillotine inside
Right to left: Jon Liberis and Zack Tretheway to premiere horror short filmed in Lowell

By Tory Germann

Director Jon Liberis and writer Zack Tretheway share an odd goal. As Tretheway explains it, the pair bonded at a party over their desire to make “a film with grotesque amounts of violence where one of the characters always vomits.” The result? Guillotine Grandpa, a short film starring a seemingly sweet grandpa who snaps, revealing a dark side. From there, let’s just say things get pretty bloody. The flick premieres on Friday, Oct. 19 at the UnchARTed art gallery in Lowell. Liberis and Tretheway, both of Lowell, took some time out with Howl to answer a few questions about their strange cinematic mission.

How long did it take you to make Guillotine Grandpa?

JL: We shot the whole movie in 3 days with the help of lots of coffee. We had to because we were working around my friend, director of photography, Nate McGarigal’s shooting schedule.

What was your budget?

J L: $2,500 and the gallons of fake blood used was the biggest part of our budget.
ZT: 6 gallons of blood. I’ve still got a few bottles in my car.

What can you tell us about your leading man Ted Lavash?

JL: I was introduced to Ted about three years ago and we hit it off, he was just perfect. He’s got this grizzled, stern, crazy glimmer in his eye, but super polite. When the role for grandpa came up I called him and told him I had the role of a lifetime and he didn’t know whom I was.  He’s is a total trooper though, we had him in a lot of funny situations and his only request was to keep a bottle of gin on the set.


Why did you choose to shoot the movie in Lowell?

ZT: I think Lowell has a great visual aesthetic.
JL: The proximity. It’s cheap and everyone was cool with us shooting.

Just how crazy did it get making this movie?

ZT: Honestly, making fake intestines was the most fun, I talked to a local butcher shop owner who was ready to give us lungs, stomachs and spleens but we thought better of it.

What did your families think of the movie?

JL: I’m afraid to show my mom but I know she’ll get the joke.
ZT: My folks couldn’t be happier that I’m doing what I love. They’ve come to terms with my decision to live my life as a crazy artist.

Now that Guillotine Grandpa is finished, where do you want to go with this?

JL: I think it would be cool as an indie film that local people talk about. It’s not like The Fighter but it would be great if people see it.
ZT: This short was more for the spectacle. The next one will be more plot based.

WHAT: Guillotine Grandpa
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19 

WHEREUnchARTed, 66 Merrimack St.

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