Q&A with Tim Troemner, Director of “The Pickman Model”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

Doctor Phibes. He’s someone willing to go to great lengths for those he cares about. Plus, there’s a strong sense of whimsy in his sinister plans, and I can really relate to that.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

Pickman was originally going to be just a short commercial in a longer adaptation of “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” but that script wound up becoming a nearly 20 minute monologue. It would have been…unfilmable. Or at least aggressively unentertaining.

But I liked this little Pickman segment I’d written for that script. So I expanded it out a bit, played around with it, and created something really fun.

For me, even in the worst ideas, there’s usually a kernel of something interesting, and it’s always worth diving into.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

I do! I’ve found the horror community to be incredibly warm and welcoming. I’ve found some of the very best people here, and I’m very happy to have found this community of weirdos.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

In the case of Pickman, I wanted something recognizable and familiar—so we very much borrowed from the visuals of the greatest of all art teachers: Bob Ross. 

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

As long as I could avoid any invitations to tour someone’s art studio, I’d probably be safe. Being an artist’s assistant seems like a potentially dangerous line of work whenever Pickman is around…. 

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Frankenstein’s monster. May. I guess I’d just want them to become friends and go to brunch together. Everyone deserves good friends.

Godzilla too. But that’s just because Godzilla is undeniably awesome.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Freddy—the Nightmare on Elm Street films helped jumpstart my horror interests.

Lovecraft—I mean, you’ve seen my film, right?


Pre-apocalypse—I’m deeply concerned about my ability to survive a Mad Max world.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

Creating the world of Pickman was very much about the art, and we were incredibly lucky to find a skilled artist to create the painting that provides the centerpiece in the conclusion.

Regarding the sets, we were again very lucky and were able to shoot in my grandfather’s basement for the underground portion of Pickman’s studio. We did a shockingly small amount of set dressing there; it even already had the sinister door in the back. We just had to chain it shut. 

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

So, so many things scare me. I’m a consummate worrier, so there’s always something gnawing at my brainstem that I can utilize for something spooky.

Great…now I’m worried about something actually gnawing at my brainstem…

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’

The Abominable Doctor Phibes—always and forever.