Movies & TV / Columns

Richard Burgin On Making His Directorial Debut With Fang, Favorite Horror Films

February 23, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Fang Image Credit: Richard Burgin

The 411 Interview: Richard Burgin

Image Credit: Richard Burgin

Richard Burgin is an artist, writer, director, and producer who has been making movies and videos since, according to his imdb page, at least 2011. Burgin’s first feature length movie as a director is the truly terrific and messed up horror flick Fang, starring Dylan LaRay and Lynn Lowry and which is now available via Amazon Prime (check it out here) and Vimeo On Demand (check it out here). In this interview, Burgin talks with this writer about making Fang, what sort of horror movie it actually is, and more.


Image Credit: Richard Burgin

Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you develop Fang to be your first feature length movie as a director?

Richard Burgin: I spent about five months writing the script. I started writing the script in March 2019 and I finished writing in August 2019. Before then there were different fragments of Fang related ideas that were coming to me. Then, in early 2019, it all started coming together. I was thinking of different elements of the story, like having this depressed loner character who starts going increasingly insane and the infestation and getting bitten by a rat, getting bitten by something else, so it took a little while before figuring it all out but it was just a bunch of different ideas that kind of gelled together into one thing.

BK: Where was Fang made? Was Fang made using real locations? Did you have to build any sets?

RB: We did not build any sets for Fang, it was made using entirely real locations. There were a couple parts of the movie that were actually filmed on studio sets, like Billy’s dream sequence and the “The Ron Larkin Show” sequence. Those were both filmed on sets. “The Ron Larkin Show” was filmed in Florida and the rest of Fang was filmed in Chicago.

Image Credit: Richard Burgin

BK: How did you assemble to the cast for Fang? What was it like working with Lynn Lowry?

RB: Well, Lynn Lowry actually reached out to me directly. She saw a little random post I made on social media where I mentioned off handedly that I’m going to make a movie, or I want to make a movie. Then, a few hours later, I checked my messages and I got a message from Lynn Lowry saying something like “Hi, Richard, I saw that you were making a movie, I was wondering if you have a role for me” and I was like “Oh, yeah, I definitely do.” I put out casting notices on and that was how we got most of the actors for Fang. What really stood out to me about Dylan LaRay’s audition for Billy was that he was giving a very non-verbal audition because Billy is not a character that talks very much. Most of the actors who were auditioning, they wanted to do one of the big monologues or show off their acting in terms of dialogue but Dylan did a great job getting the physicality of Billy. That is why I ultimately cast him as Billy.

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

RB: Over three years, at the very least. The script was finished in August 2019 and I guess you could say post-production was finished in November 2022, depending on how you describe “finished” since the distribution of Fang is still ongoing. So 3 to 5 years, depending on how you define the making of Fang. Or it could even be 6 years if you consider 2018 as it was the first time I was coming up with ideas for it. Something I learned in the process of making Fang is that a movie like this is never really finished and it is going to be my project for my whole life, basically, and at a certain point I was feeling overwhelmed by that, like “Does it ever end?” But it’s my baby, it’s our baby, it’s the baby of everyone that worked on it together and I’ll be happy to keep doing Fang related stuff for my whole life, to never let this movie die.

Image Credit: Richard Burgin

BK: What was the hardest part of making Fang for you as a director? What was the easiest?

RB: The hardest part was definitely post-production and that it took a lot longer than I expected. There were some old recordings of me in 2020 saying, “Oh, hey, Fang is going to be finished in 2020, later this year.” Now I look back on that and I laugh. And I would say the easiest part was probably pre-production. There were still some problems that came up during pre-production but that was a very optimistic and hopeful time for me. It was very exciting seeing everything come together, getting all of the actors and crew in place and there weren’t too many things that went wrong during pre-production. Production itself was short but intense. Actual filming lasted for 23 days so, I guess, Fang got progressively harder the longer it took to make.

BK: Was the creature at the heart of Fang, the rat, always going to be a rat or were there other potential creatures considered?

RB: That’s a very interesting question. What inspired Fang was not a rat at all but there was a brown recluse spider infestation at my Dad’s house and seeing these venomous spiders appear out of nowhere was kind of surreal and terrifying. So what happened was I was thinking about different possibilities for the Fang creature. I was thinking Billy can’t get bitten by a spider and start turning into a spider because that would be too much like Spider-Man. Billy can’t start turning into a cockroach because that would be too much like Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Billy can’t start turning into a snake because that would be too Biblical. That’s overdone, the whole “evil snake” symbolism, so then I started thinking about a rat. A rat could definitely work, and that was how I decided on the rat as the creature at the heart of Fang.

BK: How did you develop the comic that Billy draws in the movie?

RB: Well, this was not originally based on my idea, it was based on the illustrations that a friend of mine made, Aubrey Thorn, and I thought this idea would be great to have in Fang, something where it’s a highly developed alien world but it comes out of nowhere in the story. I’m really happy with how the Graixian scene worked in Fang because it’s kind of like, Billy is very quiet and withdrawn and he doesn’t seem to have too much going on upstairs and then you suddenly get a very different view of his character once he starts talking about this highly detailed and complex word that he has created and that he spends a lot of time illustrating.

BK: Is it right to call Fang a “body horror” movie or is it more appropriate to call it a “psychological” horror movie?

RB: Well, I guess you could call it either, both, or neither. You could call Fang whatever you want. The way I went into it, thinking about it, I wasn’t trying to make Fang fit a certain label, I was just thinking “here are these characters, this is what happens to them,” and the way people look at it, anybody can look at it in a different way. Hopefully, no two people have exactly the same reaction to Fang. So, I guess if I had to say, specifically, Fang is a psychological body horror movie.

Image Credit: Richard Burgin

BK: How many film festivals has Fang played at so far? What has the response been?

RB: I think it’s been in six film festivals so far, and the response has been really wonderful. It’s also been wonderful for me to see other people’s movies and connect with other filmmakers and make new friends. I’m really happy with the response Fang has been getting at the film festivals and the awards that it has won. Each festival has its own kind of cool award idea, especially at the horror festivals. They come up with some very creepy looking awards, which I like a lot. It’s been just a great opportunity to meet new people and, even if I didn’t win anything for Fang, I was absolutely thrilled to see it on the big screen more than once and that new people got to see the movie who maybe haven’t heard of it and maybe it surprised them in some way. That’s a really wonderful feeling for me.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

RB: Oh, I have a lot, but I think what was a very formative moment for me for getting into horror was when I watched The Shining for the first time. I was, like, 14 years old and I had never really seen a movie like that before. It seemed very adult and forbidden to watch something with the psychotic Jack Nicholson on the cover when I was a kid I was wondering “What is this movie?” And then I was watching it and I was, like, “Yeah, I like this.” That made a very strong impression on me when I was young. I would say some of my directing heroes would be Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch, Scorsese, and David Cronenberg.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

RB: I have too many to describe in vivid detail right now but that’s something else I’m really happy with in terms of what’s come out of Fang. I’m going to keep making movies and now I really have something to show people. You’re going to see some crowdfunding campaigns from me for some new movies I’m developing and, without giving anything away, I think a couple of my film projects will be very appealing for anybody who enjoyed watching Fang.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Fang?

RB: Well, I hope it makes an impact on people who watch it. That sounds like a very cheesy thing to say so just any kind of impact, whether it’s a positive or negative impact. I want Fang to leave an impression on people who watch it because if you hate the movie and you passionately hate it that’s still an impact so I just don’t want Fang to be a movie that people forget after they watch it. I don’t want it to be average. I want it to be something that moves people, for better or for worse.

BK: What sort of release will Fang receive once it’s finished with its film festival run?

RB: Fang will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and, hopefully, a lot more streaming platforms by the end of 2024. It’s important for me to have Fang on physical media because that way it can be something tangible you can hold in your hand and not just something that is a digital file. It’s already available to watch on Amazon Prime and Vimeo On Demand.

BK: Any plans for a Fang 2?

RB: Well, you never know, the mental hospital could make a very bad decision and release Billy and that would probably not end very well for people that tangentially know him.

BK: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

RB: It’s too hard for me to choose a favorite. I think Psycho is the one that impacted me the most and that probably had the most influence on Fang in terms of the mother-son relationship, but whatever movie I feel most passionate about kind of changes depending on what mood I’m in and whatever grabs me at the moment.

BK: Would you ever want to be a guest on “The Ron Larkin Show”?

RB: I would very much like to. I would watch out for the Rat King if he’s on the guest list, but I think it would be a great way to promote Fang. Ha!

Image Credit: Richard Burgin


A very special thanks to Richard Burgin for agreeing to participate in this interview.

Fang is currently available via Amazon Prime here and Vimeo On Demand here!

Check out my review of Fang here!

Check out the official Fang Facebook page here!

Check out Richard Burgin’s imdb page here!

All images courtesy of Richard Burgin.