‘Phobias’: Writer/Director Chris von Hoffmann on Ephebiphobia

Photo Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

If you say teenagers scare the living sh*t out of you, you haven’t seen Chris von Hoffmann’s take on teenagers, yet. Chris tackles the fear of teenagers in his segment of Phobias, an anthology horror film.

Phobias synopsis: Five dangerous patients, suffering from extreme phobias at a government testing facility, are put to the ultimate test under the supervision of a crazed doctor and his quest to weaponize fear.

Starring: Alexis Knapp, Martina Garcia, Charlotte McKinney, Hana Mae Lee, Lauren Miller Rogen, Macy Gray and Leonardo Nam. Directed by: Camilla Belle, Maritte Lee Go, Joe Sill, Jess Varley, and Chris von Hoffman; each taking a phobia segment of the film for this anthology. The five phobias include atelophobia, robophobia, hoplophobia, vehophobia and ephebiphobia.

What can you tell me about the process of bringing it all together with all five of you, writing and directing your own individual sections?
Photo Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Chris: I worked with a couple of the producers beforehand, and they were pushing this project from the ground up. We had made a movie called Monster Party and when we were in post production on that, the producer called me and he said ‘I have this movie called Phobias and we’re assembling directors.’ He brought me on and then he assembled the other directors and we all got in a room with the producers and the other directors of Radio Silence that came on as executive producers and we just all sort of brainstormed and pitched different concept ideas. Radio Silence was hugely helpful with tips and advice because they had produced two anthology films themselves. Then we went off and made our own little kind of pitch deck, lookbooks. 

My segment was actually slightly different, it was still a home invasion with teenagers breaking in, but it was originally an older man instead of a woman schoolteacher. So, that ended up changing and we all kind of worked on side things for a while, while the money was being raised. Then finally, the money came together and we started shooting, but it actually was almost a year after we all met.

How did you how did you settle on your phobia?

Chris: The original title was called Pedophobia and that was the title all throughout shooting but it just didn’t really seem to fit. In the back of my head, it just didn’t seem to fit and I felt that there was a cooler title out there and I looked. I was like, ‘Well, what are some alternatives? Are there any other phobias that are more specific to a fear of teenagers, not like fear of children?’ And there’s ephebiphobia. It’s a unique name and it’s different and I don’t think people will have ever really heard of this, I had never heard that. I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool, that seems to fit really well.’ I mean, just kind of playing a sort of straightforward kind of home invasion story and I liked the idea of teenage siblings kind of having a disturbing agenda towards their teacher.

What was it like working with Laura Miller Rogen?

Chris: She’s really a fantastic personality. She came from a lot of comedy and she has a face for dramatic work and I knew that she had the chops. She directed a film called Like Father on Netflix, and she’s a director and a writer in her own right. And that film had a perfect balance, it was sort of like a drama with comedy in it. And obviously she can go there, she understands that kind of tone and she was really gung ho, she really wanted to do it, she wanted to explore something different and really show that she has these of different kind of chops. We got along very well and. And has really smart ideas and was just really open to everything. She just really went for it. She was really lovely to work with. 

Do you have any phobias yourself?

Chris: I know my biggest fear is the fear of critters like rats, mice, insects, spiders snakes, just like anything that slides or crawls. Just anything that crawls or scurries around kind of really freaks me out. I also want to say heights, but I went skydiving like five years ago and it was terrifying, but I want to say heights, but I did that so I guess I’m not too scared of them. But then I went on a roller coaster like a month after and I was terrified. So, I am afraid of heights, but I still go and put myself through it… I’m not someone who’s really avid of going on roller coasters and it’s one of those things where it’s like a once in a while, just kind of remind me of that fear.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about Phobias?

Chris: It’s kind of like a roller coaster movie and I hope that people are going to be educated on certain phobias that they didn’t know existed beforehand. I certainly was going into it not knowing the other people’s phobias. I didn’t really know too much about fear of weapons, or fear of technology. So, yeah, I hope they get educated, but also are entertained by it and have fun with it and I hope they are disturbed by it, too.

Chris von Hoffmann on set for ‘Phobias’ Photo Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Phobias will be released On Demand and digital on March 19th.