Don't Mess with the Riff!
The Daryl Wilcher Interview

Interview by Jeff Hayes

The following is the original 1999 interview with Daryl Wilcher; His first ever online "Riff" interview with some newly added video content...

After watching Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland, It's hard to imagine "Riff" to be anything but a tough talking, foul-mouthed gangster... But this was not the case when talking to Daryl Wilcher, the very friendly and well spoken man who portrayed the character. In the following interview, Daryl returns to a camp full of good memories, cold shoots, and shares insight about what it was like camping with our favorite slasher, Angela at a place called Sleepaway Camp!

How did you get involved with Sleepaway Camp 3? Did you just go in for an audition when the movie came into town? Yeah, the film-makers put out a call to all the agents for the series...I heard about it briefly when they were filming the second one and I was really surprised when they had auditions for the third one because they were using like all the talent in the area just about...and they said they were gonna start part 3 as soon as they wrapped production on part 2 since they were shooting them back to as soon as part 2 was finished, they immediately began casting for part 3...

Daryl as Riff in the late 80's, and now, just over a decade later!

How old were you when you worked on Sleepaway Camp 3? Somewhere in my late teens or early twenties.. Did you shoot the movie at an actual camp? Yes. We went out to a location on the outskirts of Atlanta...about 30 or 40 miles outside of the hills and mountaintops of Georgia. I guess the person who scouts locations here found this site. The site was in one area but the different locations were like scattered about this area so it kept shifting depending on which scene we were shooting. It was a real campsite. I guess they wanted to get as far away from the city as possible Tell me your inspiration for RIFF Well, I just tried to make him as thuggish and foul as I could since he was supposed to be a bad guy. Actually, I lived during some of my teens and my childhood for a little while in Detroit, Michigan and there were some tough areas there so just from my school experiences and people who I knew in my neighborhood, I based him a little bit on them. I think the character was supposed to be from Detroit so I was like OKAY this works because I could actualy model him from some people I went to school with [when I was in Detroit]. I just tried to make him as menacing and tough as I could. It was kinda like a caricature but it was fun.

Did you do a lot of ad-libbing with the character? Well I guess we did. You didn't really have to adhere to the script. Like they said, This isn't Shakespeare (laughs) so we were fine tuning it and changing things. From what I remember, when I was looking through the script [at Riff's character] I was like wow, this guy just spouts obscenities all throughout the whole thing! So I was like, This is gonna be EASY (laughs). I mean how hard can it be to remember to insert M.F. here and FUCK THIS there. My friends to this day tease me about that fight scene where I jump up and I'm like, "Suck my d*ck, Spic!" They love that! They're like, that's the pinnacle of your acting career (laughs). That was a fun scene. We had a lot of fun with that because it was the first time that I had actually done anything resembling a stunt or choreographed fight scene. So we had like little arm pads and elbow pads under our clothing so we wouldn't get hurt. And Mark Oliver ("Tony") he was a really cool guy to work with, I remember when we did the first take and we were on this table that was rigged to fall over when we were fighting on it...the stunt co-ordinator coached us through and said DO THIS, DO THAT, do exactly as I say so you dont get we were like OK...and when we finally did it, we threw ourselves into it physically and had a great time going through the motions and we crashed onto the table and they yelled CUT! And both Mark and I jumped up at the same time and said at the same time to each other, "ARE YOU KIDDING??!!" (laughs).

What was it like being on the set of Sleepaway Camp 3? When we shot it, it was like in the fall or beginning of winter; I remember it was just freezing! Since it was a low budget film there wern't a lot of honeywagons or little campers or mobile homes or anything that is usually made available to talent so we were like all hanging out around these little heaters, shivering waiting until the next shot came up... Did you like to stick around and watch the movie being made even when you wern't in it? I tried to. I tried to watch as much as I could. A lot of times if you're on call and you're out there all day, you may show up at like 7 or 8 in the morning and they might not get to your scene until like 1in the afternoon. You didn't have much choice but to stick around and watch what was going on or atleast try to prepare yourself for whatever scene was coming up. If it was really really cold, usually I'd just stay in...I would try to stay as close to heat as possible. But If I got an opportunity to watch something to see what was going on I would...I hung around a lot with Bill "SPLAT" Johnson [the special make-up effects guy]. He was really cool, a really really talented guy, and when he was putting together special effects, whenever they were pulling something out, I wanted to see what it was or how it looked. At one point I saw these charred skeletons...somebody got burned up...they just had all these props laying around...all these decapitated bodies and what not (laughs) and I was always like, Where's this from? Is this gonna be in our scene? So, that was fun. It seems like a lot of the gore and make-up effects were cut out of part 3 when comparing it to part 2. Was a lot of that stuff cut out? When we were doing some of the effects where the characters were getting killed off...when we were on the set and we were initially doing them, some of them seemed kind of crude, kind of ridiculous the way they staged them...but when they screened the dailies the next day, the rough cut of the stuff...some of the stuff looked so realistic, so violent, that they had to tone it down or cut some of it out. One thing that always bothered me about Sleepaway 3 was toward the end where Angela had the remaining campers play a "Trust Game" in which they had to go into all the cabins to find "Marcia." This was a great idea and great scene but when they entered the cabins, they were very darkly lit, almost to the point where you couldn't see the dead bodies piled up inside each cabin...yet in part 2, all the dead bodies in "Angela's Cabin" at the end were very well lit so you could see them in all their gruesome glory. Do you have any idea why it was shot like that? That's a good question...I don't really know if that was intentional...if he was trying to heighten the horror effect by keeping everything in the shadows...or maybe it was just to try and hide the shoddy speical effects (laughs), I don't know, but what I do remember about that last scene is that the crew was rushing through it, it was sort of like a roadrunner cartoon the way they set it up and shot it...they were trying to meet the deadline...they had to stay on budget and if they didn't dismiss the talent by a certain hour then they were gonna run into overtime and they really couldn't afford to do that. SO all I really remember is that they were just rushing and everybody was like, OK everybody get in here, do this, lay down, please dont move cuz we really can't afford second takes...and the special effects guy was running back and forth with this portable fog machine and they were fogging the place up...and it was really freezing cold and they were just like We gotta go. All they were yelling was, We gotta get this finished before the time runs out. They were really just in a race with the clock. That might have had something to do with why it was filmed that way, but I don't know.

Daryl with Pamela Springsteen!

What was Pam Springsteen like? Pam was really a nice lady. She was real low-key. Really, Really, really petite, a really tiny lady and that surprised me. It was funny because I didn't make the realization that she was Bruce Springsteen's siter until half way through the movie when somebody had mentioned it. She was just really really nice. In fact, she took pictures with me...a lot of times you go there and take a polaroid camera or something to record the moment and remember I have like a little mini photo album of the experience...I took photographs with her and all the other people. What was director Michael Simpson like? He was cool with me, he was a great guy. He was really professional, really driven. Like I said, a lot of people were just standing around chattering because it was so cold out there...and I remember him standing there, and he was cold too but he was like, OK, let's make a movie! And then he rushed out into the cold air and everyone was like, OH man, this guy is really pumped. He has a lot of enthusiasm. So what was the atmosphere like on the set? Did everyone have a good time? Yeah, it was pretty cool. Everybody was happy, of course, to be working...there wasn't a lot of pressure, for me anyway, as far as performance and getting in-depth into the character because RIFF wasn't really that complex of a character (laughs). I got half way through the film before I made the realization that a lot of the characters had been named after West Side Story (like RIFF, SnoBoy...)

Daryl with some Familiar SC3 Faces!

And some of them were named after the Brady Bunch kids. (laughs)...Yeah, there were all sorts of little in-jokes...cuz we were missing them, there's a lot of stuff that we were missing and we didn't find out until later on or when we actually sat down and watched the finished movie. I would watch it with my friends and we would just crack up...I was like, OH, I never noticed this happened, or when did that happen? Do you remember any scenes gettng cut or changed? In the scene where I hit the Southern girl (Cindy) in the face with the bowl of oatmeal...I was supposed to spit on her, that's what the script said...and I told them that I didn't want to do that...ya know, I'm not gonna spit on this girl...and she was like No, it's fine!! And I was like No, no I don't wanna do that...and then the director, when he was looking through the script, he changed his mind...he was like This looked like a good idea when it was written but now it's he was like Just take the oatmeal and hit her in the face with I was like, OK, I can do that. How about any scenes that got cut that you know of? Well, there was a closed set...the set with the nudity, when the girls were in changing...and a lot of kids were under age so they couldn't be on the was a closed set anyway because they wanted the actresses to feel comfortable with that...I don't know how much of that actually made it into the film...and then there's the effects shots that I mentioned earlier... SO tell me what you are doing these days with acting and what you do... I'm not really into the preformance end of it anymore...I mean if an opportunity came along I would accept it. I've always been very artistic as far as my strengths...Now I'm more working on behind-the-scenes. I work as a Video-Tech now for stuff like music videos and corporate films and live concert shows...that sort of thing. I work on projects with a video production company that is owned by a close friend of I sort of work freelance through him...but as far as performance I haven't done anything really in a long time...I've done television. I've played bad guys before; I usually play bad guys or the boy next door...I don't know what the connection is (laughs). I did an America's Most Wanted and I played this guy who killed his wife (laughs) they probably saw you as RIFF in Sleepaway Camp 3 and said WOW, This is the guy we need for this part!!

...and as you can see, Playing "RIFF" came in handy for the role!

(laughs) I seem to get typecast for these types of roles...a lot of these crime-drama re-enactment type shows like America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries...But for the most part I'm working behind the scenes now. In the video production company I work for with my friend, I work in the compacity of a Video Tech...running cameras and that thing too...but I also utilize my skills as a video storyboard artist...I love cartoons, animation, and I'll draw storyboards when he requires that. I like model work too, I've built little scale models for sets and what not...I don't know if you're at all familiar with the black comedy tour that was going around the country called Kings of Comedy, but I worked on that, my friend produced and directed it...and they had a special set that they would use for the comedians to come out and perform on, sort of like a revolving set, and I built the prototype for the model that he used when he was putting together his presentation to create this set...Little things like that, anything I can do where I can work sort of independently in the preproduction phases of art design and what not for music video, video, movies, commercials...I dabble with a little of that.

Daryl on: IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT playing a "Riff"-like THUG

Do you prefer performing or staying behind the scenes? I love performing...I get a rush from it...the whole thing about creating a's much more fulfilling...but the realism of the business, a lot of times the opportunities aren't there and geography plays a big part, depending on where you're located, I mean Atlanta certainly isn't the motion picture capital of the country, so the opportunities can be scarce.

Daryl clip from In the Heat of the Night

So looking back at making Sleepaway Camp 3, what was it like for you? I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun doing it. At that point it was the longest that I had worked on a feature length production...and I didn't have a lot of experience when I did it was a really pleasant and anxiety free type of introduction for me being a novice into the industry. It was a major character and I had a good deal of dialogue...well a lot of the others did, I had a good deal of obscenities (laughs). It was a great experience. We would like to extend a very special thanks to Daryl Wilcher for going back to Sleepaway Camp for us and sharing all there teRIFFic memories! Maybe we'll all get the pleasure of seeing Daryl play another new Sleepaway character one day!