'Pool Boy Nightmare' - Exclusive Interviews With The Writer/Director And The Cast

Writer/Director: ROLFE KENEFSKY

Rolfe Kenefsky has been making a noise for himself in Lifetime thriller movies. Before Pool Boy Nightmare, he was as a writer on several female-driven Lifetime thriller projects such as Deadly Sorority, The Wrong Babysitter, Killer Photo, Deadly Vows, The Wrong Vacation, and Intensive Care. Kenefsky had also written and directed 27 feature films with 38 authored and produced screenplays over the last 30 years.

Why did you want Pool Boy Nightmare to be your next movie as a writer/director?

I've written about seven of these kind of thrillers over the past few years and they turned out pretty good, especially, Watch Your Back aka Killer Photo starring AnnaLynne McCord, but I was a bit frustrated with the visuals. Many of these Lifetime thrillers I find to be kind of flat and, being a director, I really wanted to try my hand at directing one of these myself. I'm also a big Hitchcock fan. I've done a few thrillers in the past that I'm very proud of like Tomorrow by Midnight and One in the Gun. So, it was nice to return to the suspense genre.

What inspired you to make this movie?

I'm a big fan of many of the television movies in the 70's and early 80's. There was a real style to these films and they felt like real movies. Just look at Spielberg's Duel or Trilogy of Terror, The Night Stalker, Dying Room Only, Don't Go to Sleep, etc... Pool Boy Nightmare had to follow the Lifetime formula but I tried to add my sense of humor and some sexiness as well as nods to The Shining and a backstory that is pretty dark for a Lifetime flick.

It’s said to be based on a true story. Which true story is it based off of?

Well, I'm sure there have been women who have had affairs with pool boys, and I know some people have drowned. Love triangles occur all the time. Put them all together and I guess you can say Pool Boy Nightmare is based on dozens of true stories.

Which location that you shot the movie in was your favorite?

Well, the main house was great. I found the perfect house that fit the script to a tee. I was able to really move around the house with some great steadicam shots that my excellent DP, Michael Su, pulled off in spades. By the end of the film, during the finale, we are flying throughout the whole house. Took a lot of lighting but I love moving the camera, and I was really able to take advantage of our location. Also had fun with some drone shots that I used as if we had a huge crane. That also really gives the film scope.

How long did it take to make the entire film, from completing the script to pre-production, production, and post-production?

I pitched the concept to The Asylum, who produced the movie, about a year before they gave me the greenlight to write the script. Once they did, we moved really fast. I wrote the script in about a week. Did revisions in a day or two. We had about two weeks of prep with casting and location scouting and then shot the film in eleven days, finishing just before Christmas. The editor had a first cut by New Years' Eve and I had a pretty good close to final cut by the end of January. But then everything came to a stop with COVID and the film was put on hold until May. Finally, we resumed post, locked the picture, did the ADR and score. That all happened in a few weeks.

Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the film industry?

Abbott and Costello movies made me fall in love with comedy and the cinema when I was five years old. Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Alfred Hitchock, and Preston Sturges influenced my later years. Then I started following the work of Joseph Ruben, Tom Holland, Richard Franklin, and Jackie Chan. I always claimed my five favorite movies of the 80s were The Blues Brothers, E.T., After Hours, Fright Night, and The Stepfather. Basically, I love almost every genre and have been lucky enough to work in almost every genre throughout my 30+ year career. With every different film, I am influenced by a different source. There are a lot of Brian DePalma nods in Pool Boy as well as some John Carpenter and Stanley Kubrick.

Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can reveal or talk about?

Amazingly, this has been a very prolific time for me. I've written a lot of romantic comedies that have been produced this year with American and English actors in Bulgaria. One is called For Better or Worse and it's a kind of Money Pit comedy. Another is a really fun body-swapping movie titled, I'm With Me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they turn out. In the horror world, there's a pretty cool anthology movie I wrote (and may direct an episode or two) called The Macabre, as well as a pretty brutal movie I helped write for Mahal Empire now titled Death Count, starring Michael Madsen, Costas Mandylor, and Sarah French (who is also in Pool Boy Nightmare). You can also look out for a family film called Dolphin Island I wrote that was shot in the Bahamas earlier this year with children and real dolphins, and another Lifetime thriller that I can't say much about yet. I may be directing another horror flick next year called Images of Fear and have plenty more scripts ready to go. I recently finished a new spec script called Surprise that's a cross between Knives Out and Ready or Not.


Jessica Morris gained popularity from playing Jennifer Rappaport on ABC’s One Life to Live. Morris has also appeared in the remake of TV’s Party of Five. She has also starred in a Lifetime TV’s hit movie The Wrong Teacher, as well as guest starred on FOX’s Rosewood and TNT’s Perception. Morris took a lead role in an independent horror film called Hainting of the Innocent, also starring Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club). For her stellar performance in this film, she won Best Actress.

How did you get involved with this movie?

I have known Rolfe for years and worked with him in his horror movie, Art of the Dead. He reached out and had me come in to read for the role, and everything fell into place.

What was it like working with Rolfe Kanefsky?

He really challenged me, which was amazing! On top of some of the emotionally charged moments, he added in a great deal of action. This kept it interesting to play and will hopefully also make it fun to watch.

How did you approach your character?

I thought about what the character was going through and what she wanted and how I could relate to those feelings and motivations. Then I applied that connection to the scenes.

Did you do any research for the character?

It’s more of an internal preparation for me.

Any other upcoming projects that you can reveal or talk about?

I have another Lifetime movie coming out this year. It’s called The Wrong FiancĂ©. It should have an airdate very soon.

Do you think there will be a sequel? If there was, would you be interested in reprising your role?

You just never know, do you? Of course I would love to play the character again. It would be nice to see her stronger and more confident after successfully moving on with her life and leaving her trauma in her past.


An Instagram model with over 400,000 followers, 21-year-old Tanner Zagarino has now made his feature debut as Adam the pool boy himself. Son to veteran actor Frank Zagarino, whose credits include Operation Delta Force, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, and many more, Tanner can also be seen in an episode of TV’s Day by Day as Peter.

How did you get involved with this movie?

It was pretty traditional. I got a self-tape audition and then was asked to come in for a callback. I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks so I just assumed I didn’t get it. Then I got the call and they told me they want me. It was really exciting. But, the day before I got the call, I broke my front tooth. So when I met with Rolphe for the first meeting to talk about the script, I was missing my front tooth. Haha!

What was like working with Rolfe Kenefsky?

It was a pleasure through and through. We both had a good understanding of what we wanted with the character and it feels well-executed. Funny enough, Rolfe recognized my last name from the callback and actually worked with my father back in the early 2000’s! Which I think gave us a familiarity that helped our relationship.

What was it like working on your feature debut?

It was an amazing learning experience! It felt at the moment to be a lot of pressure, but when you just focus on the task right in front of you, it’s like anything else. But, everything went really smoothly, which helped.

Any other upcoming projects that you can reveal or talk about?

My friend Spartan Daggenhurst and I wrote a short film together that we just filmed. I starred in it and I’m very excited for everyone to see!

Do you think there will be a sequel? If there was, would you be interested to reprising your rol?

I haven’t heard anything about a sequel, but that would be very interesting, and I’d love to revisit the role of Adam again!

Since this is your feature debut, any advice for aspiring actors out there on how to land on a feature debut as lead cast or even as a supporting cast?

Don’t make it bigger than it is! Remember to be present-minded and take it moment to moment. Also, fake it 'til you make it! Believe that you belong there!


Born in Oakland with Chinese and Scottish descent, the talented Cynthia Aileen Strahan has won various awards in major film festivals. Strahan graduated in San Jose State University in 2013. With multiple short films under her belt, Strahan made her way to Los Angeles, starring in feature films including Rolfe Kenefsky’s Art of the Dead and ABC’s The Rookie.

How did you get involved with this movie?

In 2018, I played a role in Rolfe's feature Art of the Dead. He approached me to audition for Jackie.

What was it like working with Rolfe Kenefsky?

This was my second time working with Rolfe, and our first feature was such a great experience that I had to do it again! I really enjoy his writing, and when I read Pool Boy Nightmare, I knew I wanted to play Jackie. His scripts have a certain sense of humor that I vibe well with. He always has such a strong vision while being open to actors' input, which is so helpful in the creative process.

How did you approach your character?

Jackie and Becca play best friends that have a strong bond. I wanted to make sure our chemistry as natural on set as it was off. I felt like we had already been friends in real life because we were always goofing around when the cameras weren't rolling. My friends say I have a bubbly personality, which I then channeled into Jackie's fun-loving demeanor.

Did you do any research for your character?

I was able to work with a stunt coordinator, which was really invigorating. It motivated me to keep training in stunt choreography and stage combat!

Any other upcoming projects that you can reveal or talk about?

I wrapped a feature film just before quarantine. Keep an eye out for a Christmas-themed movie set in Fargo, North Dakota!

Do you think there will be a sequel? If there was, would you be interested in reprising your role?

I would definitely be willing to reprise the role of Jackie if that were to happen!


Originally from Minnesota, the talented actress Sarah French has won multiple awards for Best Actress in her upcoming projects, such as an art house horror feature Blind, which also stars Caroline Williams (Days of Thunder, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), and crime drama Booze, Broads and Blackjack, which also stars Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos, Carlito’s Way) and James Duval (Independence Day, Donnie Darko). She has also worked in numerous feature films and TV shows, including TV’s In Ice Cold Blood (hosted by Ice-T) and music videos.

How did you get involved with this movie?

Rolfe, the writer and director, wrote me and asked me to come in for an audition. I auditioned and got offered the part of Rhonda.

What was it like working with Rolfe Kanefsky?

Rolfe is great! We've worked together on several projects over the years and it's always a pleasure working with him. He's very focused and knows exactly what he wants in each scene, especially since he wrote the script. If something's not right, he will keep going until he gets what he's looking for. He gives us actors a lot of freedom and room to be creative with our characters and for us to really tap into the characters and motivations as to why we are doing what we are doing. It's always a breath of fresh air working with Rolfe.

How did you approach your character?

You meet my character in the opening of the film. I approach it like I do with all of my characters. I come up with a backstory and find within the scenes I'm shooting the motivation behind it.

Did you do any research for your the character?

I've played these kinds of characters before, so I was familiar with how I wanted to approach it. No research needed. With Rolfe's writing he makes it easy for us actors to get into character as well.

Any other upcoming projects that you can reveal or talk about?

I just wrapped two films back-to-back in Las Vegas: Bloodthirst, which is a post-apocolyptic vampire film with Tara Reid, Costas Mandylor, Robert Lasardo, and Elissa Dowling. The other film is Death Countwhich is strangers awakening in individual cells with no memory of how they got there, and they soon realize if they don't acquire enough "likes," they die by an executioner. I star in that one along with Michael Madsen, Costas Mandylor, Robert Lasardo, and Devanny Pinn. We are in pre-production for Blind: Part 2, and a few other projects are underway as well. I have a few films coming out this Fall: The Specialwhich is also screening at Grimmfest in October, and Blind, which just finished screening at Frightfest. Both will be out October and November.

Do you think there will be a sequel? If there is, would you be interested in reprising your role?

I think a sequel would be really cool, it's just up to the network. As to my role, I'm not sure that would be possible... You'll have to watch and see.

Pool Boy Nightmare is a sexy suspense thriller about Gale (Jessica Morris) a divorced woman and her 18-year old-daughter, Becca (Ellie-Darcey Alden), who have just moved into a new home that comes with a beautiful pool in the backyard. Gale hires Adam (Tanner Zagarino), a local pool boy who used to work for the previous owner, Rhonda (Sarah French), who died in a “freak drowning” accident. Turns out that Adam has a thing for older women and has a fling with Gale. Knowing she made a mistake, Gale ends the affair quickly, but Adam is a
very determined young man. He starts dating Becca, Gale's daughter, to make Gale jealous. As the twisted love triangle heats up, danger also mounts since Adam will do just about anything to get the woman he wants! As Jackie, Becca's best friend (Cynthia Aileen Strahan) and Gale's ex-husband, Tony (Clark Moore) soon discover, Adam is not only obsessed but very dangerous! In the end, nobody is safe from this POOL BOY NIGHTMARE!

While the premiere date for Pool Boy Nightmare was Labor day at 8 PM PST, later airings were scheduled:

Tuesday, September 8th at 8 PM
Sunday, September 13th at 10:05 PM
Monday, September 14th at 2:05 AM

All times are in Pacific Time. Check out the local listings for more showtimes on MyLifetime.