Rich and Kevin Ragsdale are brothers and movie makers who founded KNR Productions. On August 25, 2017, the studio will release "Ghost House" what was written and directed by Rich and produced by Kevin. The movie chronicles the misadventures of an American couple who get lost in the countryside of Thailand and run afoul of an evil spirit that leads them into a surreal and supernatural world.

Rich Ragsdale has been involved with some of the most popular shows on television including “King of Queens,” “Will and Grace,” and “According to Jim” as well as appearing in numerous commercials and video games for companies such as EV a FOX Interactive.

Rich has also directed more than twenty music videos, some for very famous stars such as Avicii, Lenny Kravitz, and Sean Lennon.

Kevin Ragsdale is an actor and producer who previously co-founded a company called Pretty Dangerous Films that subsequently released ten motion pictures. Kevin’s works have appeared in the Sundance Film Festival and other top-rated venues.

Rich and Kevin recently discussed the movie, their company, and much more in an exclusive interview.

Movies, characters, and filming abroad

Meagan Meehan (MM): What influenced you to get into filmmaking and why did you decide to work together?

Kevin Ragsdale (KR): Our dad’s hobby when we were young was photography. He had a makeshift darkroom set up in the basement.

I remember when he brought home his first Betamax camcorder – the one that you had to carry the VCR with you. That was pretty much the start of making Movies and also the start of collaborating with Rich. We used to come up with ways to maim and kill each other and the other kids in the neighborhood on video – it sounds morbid, but we were all just having fun and fighting boredom…this was way before the internet!

MM: When you were boys, were movies and creative storytelling a big part of your lives?

Rich Ragsdale (RR): Growing up we loved movies, specifically horror films. When we were kids, we made a ton of short horror films on our parent’s VHS camera. The camera had to be tethered to the VCR, so they all took place in our living room.

KR: Movies and television have always been a big part of our lives. Growing up in the

The 70s, Rich and I would stay up late on Fridays to watch “Friday Night Frights” and saw movies like The Illustrated Man and Dracula vs. Frankenstein. Those movies, accompanied with getting an Alice Cooper “Billion Dollar Babies” 8-track cassette set us on the path we are still on today.

MM: What things most inspire your scripts and which genres do you focus on?

RR: I think all sorts of things inspire us. Ghost House was specifically inspired by a number of experiences we had traveling throughout Thailand.

KR: Horror and dark comedy are my favorites. I’m just sort of bent that way, I guess.

MM: What inspired "Ghost House" and why did you decide to set it in Thailand?

RR: Kevin’s wife is Thai, and they had just had a child. We all traveled together to Thailand to introduce his son to his extended Thai family. One day while we were over there, I took my girlfriend for a walk through the forest in Hau Hin. We came across a spot where the locals had thrown away their old ghost houses. The area was littered with them; most were broken and weathered. She and I began poking around, taking pictures, looking inside, pulling little fetishes it. It occurred to us this was probably a really bad idea, which was later confirmed by our driver (the real Gogo!). He was kind of freaked out that we had messed with the old ghost houses. That's when it occurred to us that this was a good foundation for a horror movie.

MM: What were some of the challenges of filming in a foreign country and delving into another culture?

KR: You can start with logistics. We had to get several of our key crew members and gear half way around the world. Our production services company in Thailand, Benetone, helped coach us through a lot of things like visas, shipping, customs, etc. Having a good partner in Thailand was invaluable.

One of the really good things about shooting abroad is that the local crew we had was fantastic; very efficient and talented. This was a relief because we had no room for error because of budgetary and time constraints. All of us from the States got pretty lucky with our health, too. Because of being in a different country, everyone had their turn at getting a little bug of one sort or another.

We were fortunate enough that we all didn’t get sick at the same time. It was like we all took turns, and as long as all of us didn’t go down at once, we could soldier on.

Of course, the language barrier was difficult to work around at times. Culturally, I had been prepped because of being married to a Thai. We go to the temples in Los Angeles quite frequently and have traveled to Thailand to see the family several times. The tricky part was to shoot a movie in Thailand that was intended for a western audience, but still, keep it as authentically Thai as we could. We rode a line down the middle at times. Rich and I listened to the Thai crew and production team as closely as possible and if they thought something wasn’t “Thai enough” we would try our best to make changes on the fly.

Now that the film is released in Thailand, it’s interesting to see what the audience’s criticisms are, especially as to how it relates to them culturally.

MM: What are your favorite things about this film and its characters?

RR: Most Americans don't know about Thai ghost houses (also called spirit houses), so I feel that's a cool hook for our movie. It's never really been explored in a western movie as far as we can tell.

KR: I love the whole “stranger in a strange land” feel to the film. If you think about it from the point of view of the main characters, they are stuck in a place far away from home and having to accept and confront some strange truths about what’s going on and try to find a solution to their problem that involves magic and some Thai voodoo.

Studios, scripts, and entertainment

MM: How many other movies have you made, what are they about, and do you have any personal favorites?

KR: I’ve been involved with around seventeen feature length movies, lots of shorts and over twenty-five music videos. They are all very different and cover several different genres: horror, documentary, drama, arthouse, but each one of these has either great stories or beautiful cinematography or fantastic acting, or all of the above in some cases. I am proud to have been a part of each of them and had the opportunity to work with some extremely talented and creative people.

MM: When and why did you decide to start your own company and why did you choose the name KNR Productions?

KR: After the first production company we were involved with had run its course, Rich and I founded KNR Productions in 2006 to pursue projects that we were 100% passionate about. The first film was Nina Menkes “Phantom Love” which premiered at Sundance in 2007. The name KNR Productions comes from “Kev 'm Rich” Productions. We were a little cheeky, but when you capitalize things it looks legit, and we think the logo for our studio came out pretty cool, too!

MM: Do you write your own scripts or do you work with screenwriters too?

RR: Kev and I came up with the story, worked out all the major structural beats for the film and came up with the characters ourselves. We then hired a couple of writers to help us shape it into a workable shooting script.

We worked closely with the writers throughout the process to get it as solid as possible, and they delivered.

KR: Writing is really not one of our strongest suits, so historically we have worked with screenwriters to get our ideas out and into script form. We’ve been working on it though, so hopefully the next project we will do the writing ourselves. Rich and I tend to argue a lot, so whether that works out will have to be seen.

MM: To date, what do you regard as being some of the greatest highlights of your careers in the entertainment industry?

RR: Shooting “Ghost House” in Thailand was a real adventure. It was taxing and extremely difficult but also hugely rewarding in countless ways. It was the hardest thing we've ever done professionally, but also the most gratifying.

That, coupled with the reception we have gotten overseas, and specifically in Thailand, has been amazing. We love creating entertainment, and we have several things in the hopper, but it's a little too early to discuss them.

KR: Making “Ghost House"! I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some amazing talent both behind and in front of the camera, but nothing beats creating a project from the ground up with my brother. It’s like a second childhood…Or at least a long continuation of my first one. The films I have worked on have taken me around the world, playing every major festival there is. I’ve met a lot of whacky people and had a lot of whacky experiences…If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing (well, except for steering clear of some of the stinkers I’ve made).

Also, we have some great ideas for “Ghost House 2” if this first film does well enough hopefully we can get some financing for that. We also have a zombie project that we have been working on for a while now. I know there’s been a lot of zombies out there lately, but we can’t help ourselves. Long live Romero! Follow KNR Productions on Facebook to keep tabs on what we are up to.