Filmmaker Rob Schmidt was born on a farm a few miles outside of the village of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. His parents were refugees from city life trying (unsuccessfully) to become rural people at the northern edge of Appalachia. The conflicting cultures of left wing urban bohemia and unschooled rural poverty were the inspiration for his film Wrong Turn. “I grew up surrounded by strange people and things: hobos that would leave apples on the corral fence in exchange for meals, a best friend, a tenant farmer’s son, who had no tongue and only babbled gibberish. It didn’t prevent us from cutting ourselves up with pocket knives we were too young for, playing with gasoline or getting lost in the forests that surrounded us. There’s a lot of death in the country, cows and pigs slaughtered for food, dogs and cats hit by speeding cars and deer and rabbits brought down by hunters, their corpses hung from trees to drain. There were switchblades and old shotguns among all the tools in the barns and city folks, orthodox Jews from Brooklyn and political radicals from Chicago, would come out to a place populated by impoverished Appalachians driving ancient pickups and Amish riding in their horse drawn buggies through miles of empty forest. It was a great place to grow up.”
He studied photography and filmmaking at SUNY Purchase and directing at the American Film Institute, making around a dozen short films.
Rob drew the attention of Killer Films and producer Christine Vachon with his award winning shorts Earl’s Demise¬ & Saturn. Vachon produced his MGM feature Crime and Punishment in Suburbia, a Sundance favorite, and his feature Speed of Life drew the attention of Stan Winston, with whom he went on to make Wrong Turn. Stephen King listed Wrong Turn as his favorite movie of 2003. He recently released The Alphabet Killer, based on the double letter murders in and around Rochester, NY. He has worked in television as well as film, on shows such as NBC’s Fear Itself and ShowTime’s Masters of Horror.