Your upcoming movie A Grim Becoming
- in a few words, what is
A Grim Becoming
is about one man’s
journey into a world of unknowns. Our
lead character Raphael, played by Brandyn T Williams [Brandyn
T. Williams interview - click here], is a young and bitter
executive who is on the verge of losing a multimillion dollar
architectural deal with a large distribution company. As Raphael returns
to his home town of Metzburgh, he experiences a life changing event: witnessing a Grim Reaper taking a
soul. This sighting results in Raphael becoming a Reaper and having to
explore his own conscience and the lengths he will go to get his own life
back. But Death has other plans for him.
A Grim Becoming seems to have very
strong mythological undercurrents - now how much research did go into that
aspect of the story, and your (other) sources of inspiration when writing A Grim Becoming?
film is very strong in the mythology of death from the question if you are
predestined to die at a certain time to Death as an actual physical
film I actually had to do homework on. When I was younger I was always
told to “write what you know”. One
thing I have learned is how to write stories with epic scenes in them.
I wanted to merge that and the “death mythology” together
to create something maybe not seen before in independent film.
A huge source of inspiration when writing this film was Tim Allen in The
Santa Clause. Our story follows the general principals that the film
had in them. Although this isn’t about a holiday or someone randomly
putting a Santa Claus outfit on after he falls off a roof.
I am rather surprised that this concept hasn’t been done before
in horror which makes this story that much more exciting to see come to
What can you tell us about the
writing process as such, your co-writers and your collaboration with them?
I write the treatment for the concept.
I then seek out other writers to help further develop the story.
Some of these writers I have worked with before in one form or another.
I trust the choices they come in with but always make sure they
stay true the original concept piece. If there is an idea that comes up
that I think doesn’t follow the structure of the story we don’t change
it. Ultimately, like in every film I have done, you have to learn to trust
people and the different contributions that they bring to the film.
A Grim Becoming being a horror comedy, how do you balance the
horror and comedy elements of the movie, and how far do you go to get a
laugh and to get a scare?
Brandyn T. Williams
film pushes every element of horror and comedy. At times, we take the
comedy to different levels. One time you’ll be seeing slapstick and the
next moment we will change it up and do something that really makes you as
the viewer think. As far as
the horror element I went balls to the wall out of line. The normal body contains
approximately 5 to 6 liters of blood. In A Grim Becoming
a normal body contains anywhere between 5 to 6 gallons
How would you describe the
overall look and feel of your movie?
overall look of this film looks epic. When writing this film I truly
didn’t think I could create the “epic” feel of this film that the
script was calling for. Over the past couple years I have focused my
efforts on my films have an apocalyptic look and feel to them:
end of the world-type of stuff. When writing this film I always
kept that in the back of my mind. But what I learned with creating scale
from my previous films helped contribute to making this film look and feel
bigger than life. The universe feels huge but not bigger than needed to
tell the story.
With Lynn Lowry,
Melantha Blackthorne [Melantha
Blackthorne interview - click here], Jessica Cameron [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here], Devanny Pinn [Devanny
Pinn interview - click here] and Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here], your movie
features quite a few big names of the indie horror world. So why them, how
did you get them, and what was it like working with them?
still remember the first time I worked with
on my previous film Ombis: Alien
Invasion. She did only a
cameo but, truth be told, I was nervous! I started in film merely because of
Dawn of the Dead. Years later here I am on my own set filming with
an icon that worked with my personal hero George Romero. It took me aback.
What if I didn’t live up to her standards? After working with her
for a bit, I believe she trusted me as a director to deliver what was
needed and respected my choices. I
was determined to work with her more, so I sent her the script for A Grim Becoming
and she enjoyed it and we signed her!
Lynn Lowry, Adam R. Steigert
Devanny Pinn, Adam R. Steigert
Jessica Cameron actually found me; she reached out to me off a press
release for Ombis: Alien Invasion.
She truly is amazing. In this
film she plays the role of “Life”. She was perfect for the role.
When I spoke to my casting director I said I need someone young and
beautiful who could pull off the Marilyn Monroe look. If Life was a being
it would be a woman and she in my mind would look like Marilyn Monroe.
Jessica gives Life a flare which Marilyn in my eyes didn’t have. My
wardrobe department was instructed to use earth tones in her outfit which
gave her more depth as Life, taking into consideration “life” as a
whole. If there is a sequel, Life will return.
A Grim Becoming
is a fun horror comedy but there has to be balance with that. So
initially while writing the film, I wrote the beginning of the film to be
bloody and very serious. The comedy element is not seen in the opening
prior to the credits. I felt
firmly that this was needed. I wanted people to be shocked at what happens
in this film, something that might be unexpected for a horror comedy.
Then add something super over the top which will grab people and
make them excited for what they are about to watch! Devanny’s name came
up while we were in preproduction. Devanny plays Jamie, a depressed young
woman, who feels life [in general not Jessica Cameron] is out to get her
after a sudden death of someone she is very close to
This death sets the whole film in motion. Devanny plays a woman
filled with grief and depression over the loss.
Melantha Blackthorne has been on my radar for a
while. We met a while back at a
gathering. Everyone spoke so highly of her so I went and watched a
Melantha Blackthorne classic and was instantly interested in working with
her. She was originally in talks for a short film I was set to direct
called White Guy on a Rampage, a spin-off to DefTone’s Black
Guy on a Rampage. Melantha has the ability as an actress to draw you
into what ever she is doing. The role is Meryl Looney and she plays
opposite of Bill Oberst Jr.,
who plays her husband Phil. Melantha
and Bill both help give strength to the roles.
I am truly grateful for this because without these two talented
actors in these roles, the roles themselves could be seen as not important
to the story. I can’t say much about them, however I will say this, and
the roles are unmatched and could have their own spin-off film.
Melantha Blackthorne, Bill Oberst jr
is the hottest horror indie actor out there right now?”. That was my
questions to my casting director who instantly mentioned Bill Oberst
Jr’s name. So I looked him up and started doing my homework on this
truly brilliant actor. We spoke a couple times on the phone about the role
and he brought up a different take of the character of Phil Looney which I
found interesting to explore. Why not push the bar of this film? So Bill,
Melantha and I spoke about how to play these roles in person. Without
hesitation I said “let's go with it, but it has to be over the top!”
Phil is really in his own world in this film where Meryl has to be more
grounded at times. They are truly meant for each other.
At the end of the day, it
was working with Lynn Lowry on Ombis that set the stage for how I was to
act as a director when it came to all the amazing actors we worked with on
Adam R. Steigert, Aryn Fitzgerald
talk about the rest of your cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?
of my favorite people to work with is Aryn Fitzgerald [Aryn
Fitzgerald interview - click here] who I actually wrote
the part of October for. October is a brat, and very self opinionated. I
love the character and it was well written and beautifully performed.
Griffth from SyFy’s Ghost Hunters also stars in the film as
Wayne. A character that is out for himself as his goal is to steal Raphael’s
Wayne goes to great lengths to get himself advanced in the company in order to
bypass Raphael. Britt, as Wayne, is kind of like the “bad guy” of the story. But it’s hard to tell
sometimes if he is truly “bad” or if he is just that ambitious and it
rules everything he does. Britt
brought a dynamic element to the role which expands our thoughts on the
Melyssa Jade [Melyssa Jade
interview - click here] plays Carrie, Raphael’s right hand.
Think what Pepper Potts is to Tony Stark.
Which is exactly what I based the role on.
I actually had to tell Melyssa in pre-production that you had to
look “tone down the sexy”. How
does one pull that off with a straight face to a supermodel? Rest assured
Melyssa still looks sexy in the film! I wanted her so badly to play Carrie
from the moment I wrote the film. She has done a lot of supporting roles
and I feel she has so much more to offer as an actor. So when this role
came up I jumped to ask her!
are very few actors I’ve worked with that are able to take character
roles to new heights. Patrick Mallet and Michael Sciabarrasi [Michael
Sciabarrasi interview - click here] are those
two. Pat plays the role of Father along with a cameo role as Black Suit 1.
Anyone that follows my films will know exactly who Black Suit 1 is [Ombis:
Alien Invasion]. Patrick and Michael are two of the few actors that were
in makeup on set for more than eight hours. Pat plays a much older man who
has his trophy wife named Mother played by Lynn Lowry. His role in the
film is the guy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time every time.
When Patrick goes into makeup it takes him about 3-4 hours to get
all the pieces together to play Father. When he’s on set he doesn’t
break character unless he is really confused on something and needs
clarification. One of my crew members didn’t know Father was Patrick
Mallet and Pat approached him saying “now I am as old as you” and the
crew member almost punched him in the face. Later the crew member found
who it was and they had a laugh. Pat’s dedication to be in the makeup
was almost unmatched while making this film except when it came to Aryn
Fitzgerald. [Spoiler] There
are very few people that I would always want to make movies with
continually and Pat is one of those guys.
Lynn Lowry, Patrick Mallet
Michael Sciabarrasi [Michael
Sciabarrasi interview - click here] on the other hand plays Magoo aka Death [he’s very
sensitive to people calling him Death], which was the anthesis of Pat’s
role. The role was originally
written for only one person in mind which is Michael Sciabarrasi. He got
my attention from the role of Luke he did in Black
Guy on a Rampage: Homicidal Vengeance.
Luke was a smart-ass know-it-all crimelord and Mike played him
with no holds barred abandon. His
abilities in the film changing his voice and acting outside of the box
made me want to explore his abilities that much more. If the film gets the
right type of distribution, I feel Michael Sciabarrasi’s role as Magoo
could be the next Freddy
can you tell us about the actual shoot, the on-set atmosphere - and any
good on-set anecdotes?
atmosphere on this film was much different and organized this time around.
Not to say we weren’t organized on previous sets. But when you’re an
indie filmmaker, you take on a lot of roles. In this case every time I
showed up on set, my crew was ready for me to step in and direct.
On every film there are issues that I have to iron out but we got
through them with no huge melt downs.
of the things that come to mind is when one of my actors went through a
wall by accident. Thankful the landowners weren’t too upset since they
had to remodel the room anyways. [At least they didn’t show they were
upset if they truly, in fact, were]
Any idea when and where the film
will be released onto the general public yet?
At this point there will be a
limited theatrical run in which my company hand-picks a few theaters and
screens the film. There
will be film fests next year with a distribution of the film in stores to
projects beyond A Grim Becoming
you'd like to share?
the next film we are in negotiations with Fred Williamson to play a lead
in Punished, which is the
tentative title of the film. I
also have another concept I want to explore which is called The Horrific
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
started off wanting to go to school for film but like every story about
someone who is in love they risk everything to stay in love. I gave up
going to school for a chick. Turns out she left me anyways so I screwed
myself twice. Add to it my grandma was always like “there is no money in
it (filmmaking).” Fast forward seven years and I own and run one of the
biggest independent studios in
Western New York. Maybe she had to say the
right things to get me motivated. I then went to school for business and
learned the ins and outs of filmmaking from reading up on the subject and
trial and error.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to A Grim Becoming, and your growth as a director?
A Grim Becoming
dramatically changed me as a director. Because I had such a big crew on
this one, I could focus on the task which was need for me which was
directing. The quality is a huge improvement in the film because I could
give the dedication which was needed on this one. I am looking forward to
the next film!
would you describe yourself as a director?
very much an actor’s director. It
is up to an actor to make the role their own. Yes, I do have input. I
don’t just say “here, take this role and do what you want.” But I
really want the actors to bring something to the roles, to make it unique
and memorable. You have to
have faith in the talent you seek out to do the job that’s needed. They
all know what’s at risk and what this film means to them in their own
separate ways. I try to keep the atmosphere as a bunch of friends making a
film and try not to be too much of a hard-ass unless absolutely needed.
who inspire you?
Your favourite movies?
of the Dead (1979), which inspired me to finally say: “I
want to do that!”
and of course, films you really deplore?
I don’t really dislike many films purely because the directors are trying
to tell a story in one form or another. I might say “maybe I don’t
want to see that because not what I am interested in”, but I think the
films that I really don’t appreciate are films with too much CGI.
In my films, I try to do the gags and stunts practically whenever
possible. A Grim Becoming
has a lot of puppetry in it which was a fun task in
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
out some video diaries from the production:
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
is an amazing artform which shows people the true creativity that one can
produce. Independent film is special because there is a different
appreciation that the audience should always take into consideration
before judging a film: what
people are able to create on a small budget. Some of the best movies of
all time were created on ridiculously small budgets. Example is look at
Blair Witch. Scared the piss out of me and was made on approximately
$50,000.00. The company I
founded embraces all talents so if you’re ever interested in becoming
part of film, look us up! There is always information on our site to
become part of DefTone Pictures Studios.
for the interview!