Your new movie Revelator
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about a man that sees the dead, who has to solve the murder of a
familyís last heir.
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Revelator?
far as writing, Iím sure I ended up stealing a lot from Eric Roth.
quality to his screenwriting, especially when characters have to
their words carefully.
talk about your movie's approach to horror!
have to admit Iím not generally a huge fan of the genre as an audience
From the beginning, I was always concerned with what actually
(to me) as scary, and how a lot of those common tropes didnít serve
I think that ended up pushing our film closer to what theyíd call a
Ďpsychological horrorí. It might be a consequence of my life experience, but
little scary to me about a roughly adult-sized person trying to injure me.
I stripped the story of Revelator
down to its core themes, the most
part to come from it was the question, ďWhat if Iím wrong?Ē I think
fundamentally scary to everyone.
you make good use of some awesome exterior locations - so do talk about
those for a bit, and what was it like filming there?
Revelator was absolutely shoe-string from the get-go. What I desperately
to avoid was feeling boxed in, like so, so many other projects Iíve
on under similar time/money constraints. By far the most time and
I spent was making sure that this story moved around, and took the
along a journey. Thereís something so tedious to me about single location
stories, or bottle episodes. I feel that if the audience gets the idea
whole thing is going to take place here, they already know at least some
of how it ends, and their attention is already half gone. Iíve lived in
California for years, and so had a little list of places not over-represented
in films, and made a great effort to shoot there, writing large
of the story centered around them as set pieces. Revelator
a ĎCaliforniaí film, but I wanted to shoot parts we hadnít seen
on location certainly brings its own set of headaches, but the free
you get when a whole area is cordoned off just for you is fantastic. In
locations, remember that youíre not just looking for what serves the
and what works for production, youíre also essentially auditioning the
owners, who are going to have their own personalities and
Keep your ears open and your guard up.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
say itís almost entirely based on faith in the people I had working with
had the exceptional luck you be close with such talented people, that I
rely on them to perform exactly as Iíd expected. There was very little
or changing things up, really. Everyone got into the script and latched
to the atmosphere we had designed, and it just clicked. We got away with
very few takes because of that. Going back to Eric Roth, the only prep I
from everyone was to watch The Good Shepherd before coming on,
see the style I was aiming for. Itís very austere and oppressive. Really
about people watching other people, and thatís what we had on our
You also play the lead in Revelator
- so do talk about your character for a bit, and what did you draw upon to
bring him to life? And did you write him with yourself in mind from the
admit that I wanted to play the lead from the beginning, and definitely
to what I believed were to be my strengths, or at least the kind of mode
knew I could fit into for the duration. It didnít require a lot of
me, and that most definitely worked in everyoneís favor, ha! I tried to
the part as grounded as I could, not all too different than my usual
save for the fact that the character is absolutely terrified the entire
and how that manifests in different ways. Sometimes youíll freeze up, or
sometimes your fight-or-flight tips the other way and anger comes out.
is a character who canít trust any of the people around him. He canít
what he sees, ie. always asking himself if heís wrong about everything.
guard is always up, and so I had to work to let little bits of his
through as it starts to crack.
What can you tell us about the rest of your
cast, and why exactly these people?
of the cast were people I had worked with previously in some capacity.
Iím so unbelievably fortunate to know them in the first place, and
them somehow to be a part of the project. What auditions there
were very short, and mostly involved me explaining the project and the
I worked a lot from peopleís reels, felt them out in a short interview
rolled from there. Everyone was so gracious about the hands-off approach,
understanding how much I had to handle on my end. No one needed hand
or felt lost on any part. It just seemed to click into place, and all the
goes to them.
will say: The first and most critical decision was approaching Mindy Rae.
together a number of times before, and since the relationship between
character and mine was so integral to the story, if Mindy had turned it
wholly believe I would have done a different script altogether.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
it wasnít too strenuous (for anyone but me). I did my best to take on
as much responsibility as possible, and make it as easy and painless
everyone else to come on board as I could. Even under the best
itís no small thing to go and do someone elseís movie, so I
to take away all the typical negative things I generally experience
as a crew member. I plotted out exactly how each dayís schedule
be spent, down to 15 minute increments, and we stuck to it nearly
With that much planning and organization, and a painfully myopic
like me in charge, it wasnít hard to keep us on track. The downside to
was that I wasnít as personally available to each person as I would have
Maybe itís the Midwestern part of me, but Iím forever chronically
that the people working with me arenít content.
also composed the score for Revelator
- so do talk about the music in your film for a bit, and your musical
been recording music for a number of years, though I hadnít scored
previous. I had a definite idea in mind for a kind of dissonant, sparse
using a lot of atypical instruments. Luckily I live in Los Angeles, and
can be rented! I did a lot of experimentation with foreign string
and modulating them while holding notes. Like every piece of the
I just desperately wanted it to be different that what an audience
into an ďindependent horror filmĒ would expect.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of your movie yet?
only audience Iíve seen it with was at the premiere in Beverly Hills.
half-truth, as I spent the duration of the movie chainsmoking just out the
But afterwards, it was extraordinarily positive, beyond the usual
might expect. My goal from the beginning was to make something
lived up to the standards of the people making it, and I definitely got
the full digital release, Iíve kept a close eye on the reviews and
point with the project, Iím not a creative lead, Iím a manager for a
and so itís my full time job now to keep tabs on its reception and
What Iím seeing in general is an extremely happy audience, and a
encouraging critical response. Even reviews that take issue with the film
have my own) seem to judge it on the merits of being a real, actual
Thatís such a strange context for me to see people judge it in. For me
this little personal project thatís sat on my laptop forever, and Iím
amazed when itís spoken about by objective viewers in the same way they
talk about any other film they saw in the theater.
projects you'd like to share?
love to! Just as soon as I figure out what theyíll be. I have a lot of
that Iíd love to produce, so now itís just down to finding who wants
What got you into the
filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
what Iíve wanted to do for about as long as I considered having a
I received my degrees in both film and theater from Columbia College
When it comes to filmmaking you have worked in
numerous positions in front of as well as behind the camera - why is that,
and what did you enjoy the most, what could you do without?
are a lot of parts of this process I enjoy a great deal, and Iím always
for whichever opportunities present themselves. Theyíre each their
kind of fun. Iíd say Iím best at being a cinematographer, as thatís
spent the majority of my career. I did dolly grip for a number of years
and I think thatís quite enough of that.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Revelator,
in whatever position?
mentioned, the majority of my work is as a cinematographer. That was my
in college, and itís how I keep the bills paid. I really wish Iíd kept
better list of everything Iíd worked on, as itís been such a long and
so far (and IMDb doesnít even cover a quarter of it).
Filmmakers, actors, writers,
musicians, whoever else who inspire you?
like Amir Shervan, James Nguyen, Neil Breen, and Francis Coleman I
coming back to. Of course I have to give a lot of credit to Mark
Iíve been revisiting The Witch, or some Nicholas Winding Refn
... and of course, films you really deplore?
that let whatever it is they want to say get in the way of actually
story. I recently walked out of a film for the second time in my life. As
past its second hour, it had yet to bother to tell a story, and I knew
well where it was going to end up, all in service of making a painfully
point that I donít think needed a movie to be made.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
about it you can find at RevelationMachine.com
for the interview!