Movies & TV / Columns

Writer/Director Leo Scherman Talks w/411 About His New Movie Trench 11

September 5, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Trench 11

The 411 Interview: Leo Scherman


Leo Scherman is a writer, director, and producer who has been making movies and whatnot since 2004. Scherman has worked in both television and in movies, working on shows like Howie Do It and Scare Tactics and movies like White Knuckles and Never Forget. His latest effort is the World War I set horror flick Trench 11, which hit DVD, Video on Demand, and Digital in the United States on September 4th, 2018. In this interview, Scherman talks with this writer about making Trench 11, his movie making heroes, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did you want to make Trench 11 your next feature film as a director?

Leo Scherman: I was fascinated with WW1 as a setting but I didn’t want to make a drama about the war. I started to think about it as a horror instead and once I teamed up with my co-writer Matt Booi the project just started to take on a life of its own. I pitched it to my producer Tyler Levine who dug it and we were on our way.

BK: Where did you film Trench 11?

LS: Winnipeg, Manitoba – Canada

BK: How much research did you and your co-writer Matt Booi have to do about World War I before you could write/make Trench 11? Was Trench 11 always going to be a movie set during World War I?

LS: Yes, Trench 11 was always set during WW1. In terms of research, Matt Booi had already done tons of work on WW1 and specifically the underground war fought deep beneath the trenches. He worked on a British documentary that took him to the still existing tunnel systems under France and Belgium. So Booi had first-hand experience that he could bring to the table. In my case I had to be brought up to speed so that I knew the historically accurate details as well.

BK: How difficult was it to make a “period” movie? Do you have to approach a “period” movie differently than a movie set in the here and now?

LS: The most difficult thing about making this period film was that we really didn’t have enough money. We had to be very creative about limiting what we did and didn’t show. In my opinion you have to make period as accurate as possible because otherwise what’s the point? However, you can’t always get the perfectly accurate costume or prop because they don’t exist (or you can’t afford it) in which case you do your best to get it as close as possible.

BK: How long did it take to make Trench 11, from finishing the script to completing post-production?

LS: The script took a couple years to write. We actually kept doing drafts right up until production. Overall it probably took about 6 years from inception to completion.

BK: How did you figure out which special effects were going to be practical effects and which ones would be CGI? Were your decisions based more on budget or time or both?

LS: I prefer the look and feel of practical FX and from the very start I wanted to use them. The challenge was finding an FX artist who could deliver the old school approach in the tradition of masters like Rob Bottin and Rick Baker. Francois Dagenais is the best guy in Canada and one of the finest in the world. His work on the horror series Hannibal was just sensational. Francois knew how to achieve what I was after. He and his team delivered in a big way.

BK: How did you cast Trench 11?

LS: We started by reaching out to Rossif Sutherland. Once he was attached the incredible casting director Deirdre Bowen found the rest of the actors for us. We used a German casting director to help us find Robert Stadlober. And Karine Vanasse joined largely because of her prior work with Rossif – they know each other and have great screen chemistry.


BK: You’ve directed both movies and for television. Do you have a preference for one over the other or is it all pretty much the same?

LS: Ultimately I much prefer directing films because it’s your vision and your style. I have, however, had some good fortune in television where the producers allowed me to apply my own look and feel to the material. In many ways I look at directing TV as a great way to continue honing your craft so that when you get the opportunity to direct a film you are truly ready for it.

BK: How did you get Mark Dimitric, Kevin Krouglow, Ryan McLarnon, and Tom Westin involved in the movie’s score? The end titles theme is fantastic.

LS: Yeah, I think they did an amazing job. It started with Tom Westin and his company Grayson Matthews which he owns with Dave Sorbara. I’ve known those guys for years. Tom took the lead and brought on the rest of the musicians who all contributed to the score. That’s mostly how Grayson Matthews works – it’s a collaborative effort. I think it’s a really interesting and effective way to do things.

BK: Is Trench 11 a concept that you can develop a sequel for, or is it designed to be a “one-and-done” kind of thing?

LS: You mean like something happens at the outset of WWII? Or maybe it could be a cool prequel? Would be fun but I don’t have anything planned at this point…

BK: Who are your movie making heroes?

LS: Scorsese. Friedkin. Spielberg. And for this film specifically, John Carpenter and Ridley Scott.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

LS: I am developing another historical horror with Matt Booi and my producer Tyler Levine. Nothing concrete to share yet but it could be really badass.


BK: What do you hope people get out of watching Trench 11?

LS: First and foremost I hope people are thoroughly entertained. I want them to have a gripping and terrifying experience. Further to that I hope they walk away with a little bit more awareness of the First World War and the on-going impact it’s had on our world.

BK: After making Trench 11, any problems eating or just looking at spaghetti?

LS: Not yet but only time will tell… 🙂


A very special thanks to Leo Scherman for agreeing to participate in this interview and to Tatum Wan for setting it up.

Check out the Trench 11 Facebook page here and Twitter page here

Check out Leo Scherman’s imdb page here.