The Making of the Misny Thriller Parody

Personal injury lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, Tim Misny had anything but Michael Jackson’s iconic hit in mind when he ordered a set of “Misny masks” for Halloween—wearable, laminated images of his face. Instead, he was preparing a pet project for the holiday.

The plan was to distribute the masks to his three-year-old son Max and kids of friends and family. In addition to the masks, Misny and his wife Stephanie had designed and printed pinstriped navy blue T-shirts, complete with red tie and suit front, to finish out the costume.

“I was going to instruct them to say ‘Give me a good treat or I’ll Make Them Pay!®’ instead of ‘Trick or treat!’” Misny says.

At the time, Misny was also hosting a camera crew for the filming of his reality show, “Misny Makes Them Pay.” The show’s creator and director Martin Kunert happened to glimpse one of the Misny masks as he walked past Tim’s desk during shooting. Misny says a light bulb went off.

“He instantaneously said, ‘You ought to do a Thriller parody,’” Misny remembers.

The idea was born.
Titling the project, “Misny’s Thrilling,” Misny rounded up a crew of friends and contacts to help him bring Kunert’s idea to life. Russ Borski, theater faculty member at Cleveland State University, offered to direct and edit the music video, as well as write the song.

Scott Plate, theater faculty at Baldwin Wallace University, put Misny in contact with nine theater students to perform the famous “Thriller” dance. Student Nick Pankuch served as dance captain. Panchuk and his fellow students also provided the vocal recording of the original music and lyrics to go with the video.

“It blew my mind how extraordinarily gifted these performers were,” Misny says. “They utterly nailed the classic dance.”

The music video was filmed at Misny’s estate, “Misnyland,” in Waite Hill, Ohio, in September. Jeff Forsberg served as chief cinematographer for the shoot.

Misny says that viewers can expect an entertaining throwback to the Michael Jackson favorite, with a few twists along the way.

“Our version has a surprise ending that is nothing less than thrilling,” he promises.