Your upcoming movie Sick - Survive the Night - in a few words, what is it about?
Sick is about three people forced together and trying to survive the
night. It's a post apocalyptic zombie film. Billions have died and there
are groups of survivors here and there. And because the "Sick"
are more active at night, it's too dangerous to be out after dusk and so
we follow these characters who are just trying to stay alive.
heard that Sick - Survive the Night
was originally proposed to you as a short film by
co-writer Chris Cull. Would you like to elaborate on that, and what
convinced you to eventually go feature-length? And what can you tell us
about Chris Cull and about your collaboration?
like myself, is an artist which is why we work so well together. He cares
about the art of filmmaking. And if you ask our wives, they say we're
like an old married couple. He's an editor, writer and producer. He has
edited a number of my projects including features, music videos and
shorts. While in post on a short film we made called The Devil Walks
Among You, he pitched an idea to me for another short. I sat down to
write it with him and half way through the beat sheet, I told him, this is
too good of a film to just leave it as a short. Plus we're already at 45
pages and not even half way through. It's original and it's smart. We need
to run with this.
your sources of inspiration when writing Sick - Survive the Night?
by Margaret Jeronimo Andrews
inspiration for all my scripts is other forms of art. I always listen to
music when writing and usually I find specific artists to listen to for
each film. With Sick, I found myself always listening to Rammstein, Five
Finger Death Punch and Johnny Cash. I have purposely done my best to stay
away from any current zombie films or TV shows, since I don't want to be
influenced by what they do. I want this film to stand on it's own. I am
also very influenced by paintings. A local Toronto, Ontario artist Stu
Andrenelli, who has a clothing line called playdead, I find
has incredibly inspirational art. Same with an American painter named
Heather Calderon and older painters like Fuseli and Dali. Most of all, my
wife's paintings are the most inspirational for me. They're dark. Full of
pain. Morbid yet sexual.
With Sick - Survive the Night
basically being a zombie film, is this a genre dear to you,
and your genre favourites? And what, in your opinion, is it that sets your
movie apart from other zombie movies?
I grew up on all styles of horror. Zombie-wise I loved everything
from White Zombie to Romero's
Day of the Dead. But what I loved about them was, though they were both
zombie films, they were two totally different styles. Growing up in
the 80's, Return of the Living Dead gave another style.
And about ten years ago I remember seeing a great French film called
They Came Back, which wasn't a straight up zombie film in
the traditional sense, but that's what I loved about it. There was
plenty of emotion in it. More recently a Canadian zombie film called
Pontypool really impressed me.
I originally thought I would stay away from the zombie genre because it
is probably the most oversaturated sub genre. Every year there are so
many generic zombie films. Some are good, but most are easily forgotten
about. But I honestly feel Sick
is a zombie film that will stand out
from the others. What made Dawn
of the Dead probably one of
the best zombie films ever is the fact that the film (like Romero's Night and
Day) didn't focus primarily on the
zombies. It was about the people surviving and there was a lot of subtext.
Sick is not Romero's zombies and it is not 28 Days Later-style zombies.
We set the rules for our zombies and play in those rules. And it is
honestly something different. And without taking away from the horror
elements of the film, as it is a horror film first and foremost, we have
a lot of science behind what makes our zombies tick. Our Executive
Producer Cengiz H. Fehmi brought in a lot of the science. We did A LOT
of research and spoke with University Professors and grounded all our
facts in reality. I think it is something that will really make Sick
suggest a lots of gore almost by definition, and since I know there are
quite a few gorehounds among my readers - how far does Sick - Survive the Night
terms of violence and blood and guts, and was there a line you refused to
The only line I ever refuse to cross is the one that compromises the
story I am trying to tell. Other than that, game on. If you are looking
for intestines being pulled out of someone through their throat and then
used to strangle someone else til their eyeball pops out, this is the
wrong movie. Ha.
The film has a lot of violence. And I mean A LOT of violence. It's a
very violent story but it is also a very realistic story and so I wanted
to keep the gore to a certain level. In the spirit of less is more, we
stick to that, but, hey, it is a zombie film, so rest assured there is
still some good moments of blood and gore. We had a great make up team
led by two of Toronto's loveliest ladies, Ashley Rocha and Melis
Bayraktar. They killed it with all the work they did and in the horror
genre, obviously make up is huge. You don't always know who does the
make up for some big summer blockbuster action film, but in the horror,
whether it's done by Wayne Toth or Savini or whoever, that is sometimes
just as big as who wrote it.
Another important factor for a good zombie movie
is finding the right locations. So what can you tell us about Sick - Survive the Night's
We had the best locations. We actually shot our
exteriors up around the town of Pontypool, Ontario, which is known
locally, as a zombie film was made about the town a couple years back.
While we were shooting up there, our Production Designer Josh Heisie [Josh
Heisie interview - click here] took
a 50 year old, standard Americana style house and dressed it up like a
condemned crack house that has been through many zombie battles. The
majority of the film takes place at the house, so we wanted to make sure
the house was like a character of its own. We never wanted there to just
be a blank wall. And you're right, zombie movies need the right location
and this house had so much personality.
How would you describe your overall
directorial approach to your subject matter?
A horror film is only scary when it's real. When you believe this
could actually happen to you. So even if the horror revolves around
something completely fictional like zombies, I think it still needs
to be grounded in some sort of reality. And it needs to stay within
it. My DoP Michael Jari Davidson and I attacked every single shot
with a ruthless aggression, but my one rule is to never take away
from the story. The main reason, usually, why anyone watches any
film is because of the story. If the story is boring, something can
still look pretty, but you lose interest.
Mr. Davidson and I, together, created so many different styles and used
so many different techniques just to attack the viewer on a subconscious
level in each scene and throughout each act, but it is all to just make
the story play out that much stronger. Working with Mr. Davidson was the
best thing for my directorial style. He is just as big of a horror fan
as I am and knows the genre. And because of that he cares. I have seen
so many horror films made by people that obviously don't love the genre. Sick
was made by horror fans and it shows.
Ryan M. Andrews with Debbie Rochon
Sick - Survive the Night
features indie horror icon Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here] in a prominent role. How did you
get her on board, and what was it like working with her?
Working with Debbie was a dream. I remember seeing her in films
as a teenager and I've grown up knowing the name. She is horror
royalty. Bela Lugosi [Bela
Lugosi bio - click here], Vincent Price [Vincent
Price bio - click here], George Romero, these names are
all names associated with horror. And Debbie's name is right up
there with them. She is THE scream queen. Jamie Lee Curtis did three
or four horrors and moved on to stuff that she is better suited for.
She rocked the "virgin" character perfectly but this
doesn't make her the top scream queen or horror royalty. Debbie
eats, sleeps, breathes horror and it shows in the over 200 horror
films she has done. So just to be in her presence was a honor and to
be able to direct her was a dream.
I had wanted to work with her for a long time, and she came to mind for
the character of Dr. Fehmi. A few people thought she would be great and
so through my DoP Mr. Davidson and Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris
Alexander, I got introduced to her and we spoke about it and, well,
obviously she said yes.
Ryan M. Andrews directing Robert Nolan
can you tell us about your three leads, Christina Aceto, Robert Nolan [Robert
Nolan interview - click here] and Richard Sutton?
I couldn't be happier with them. I had worked with Robert Nolan
before. Cengiz Fehmi and Chris Cull both liked him as well and I
think it was about who fit well working off of him. Richard Sutton
and Nolan had so much chemistry and played so well off each other
that it was clear, these two were perfect.
Christina was another story. As 95% of all my films revolve around
strong female leads, I'm very particular about the female actors. We had
seen some really great women come in to audition, but it just wasn't
clicking with me. I had already started looking at my calendar to figure
out when we could do another round of auditions when Christina came in.
She blew us all away and she worked so well with Nolan and Sutton that it
was the perfect group. I would gladly work with all of them again. I
actually have plans to work with them again as a matter of fact.
The three of them took their characters and brought them to life and
every day they always came to set with a smile on their faces and they
were happy to be a part of this film. And these were very emotionally
draining roles. It's a zombie apocalypse, there isn't really much space
for any happy scenes. But they brought it every time and were so good to
key castmembers you'd like to talk about?
Ryan M. Andrews with Jennifer Polansky and
I can't go without talking about Jennifer Polansky. She came on
last minute and brought her A game. We welcomed her into the Sick
family and she jumped in both feet. It felt like she had been there
all along. She plays a tough as nails woman who's been through hell,
and she plays it with so much attitude and sexuality. She's totally
bad ass. There were a few times when watching her on the monitor, I
was actually scared of her.
Adding actors like Sandra DaCosta [Sandra
DaCosta interview - click here], Astrida Auza and Neil Green to the
mix and across the board it was the perfect ensemble cast. There were no
A few words
about your crew, and what can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere?
It really was a family. Like all indie films, no one is there for
the money, so everyone is there because they wanted to be. Because
they believed in the film and were proud to be a part of it. Both
Mr. Davidson and Cengiz Fehmi brought a lot of people to the table
to help out in many different ways. Even at the end of a long day
everyone was still hugging and happy to be there. And everyone was
willing to go that extra mile when needed.
We all went to war together making this movie and we couldn't have done
it without everyone in their place doing their thing. I made a lot of
friends on that set. Production Co-ordinator Paul Roberts was the glue.
That man went far above and beyond his job to help wherever he could.
I've been on great sets and I have been on miserable sets where there was
a lot of fighting, but this team just cared about telling a good story
and having a great time doing it. Plus above all, extremely
I'm not just being nice or afraid to say anything controversial, but
honestly this is exactly how anyone in this business would want their
set run. Of course there are always problems that arise and there are
pain in the ass situations that make you crazy, but it was because of
how strong the Sick
family was that any and all problems were dealt with
$64 question of course: When and where will the film be released,
By fall 2012 we will be looking at screening
the film in some genre festivals and basically get it out there to as many
people as fast as possible.
Any future projects past
Sick - Survive the Night?
Of course, you always need to be looking at what's next.
I have dozens and dozens of horror scripts sitting at home collecting
dust. There is a couple haunted house/ghost films, a couple about
witches, ones on satanism, a few on serial killers and one about a
woman's obsession with blood, which is like nothing else out there that
I've ever seen. Chris Cull and I are actually also working on the
script for the sequel to Sick.
I will be making more with Cengiz Fehmi and his company Hellfire
Pictures. We will be bringing a couple to camera in 2012. And with so
many scripts, if the right opportunity comes around, I'm a storyteller,
I just want to tell scary stories, so I am always open to just about
I have some roles written specifically for Christina Aceto and Jennifer
Polansky, and I also have another one for Debbie Rochon, who have all
said they would love to work with me again, so you can expect that in
the near future.
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Actually 2012 is starting off with a bang! In Toronto Fangoria
puts on a monthly screening at a local theater called The Projection
Booth. The event is called Fright Nights. And the January Friday The
13th Fright Nights is screening a Ryan M. Andrews' double feature.
First my short The Devil Walks Among You and then the
gritty grindhouse feature Black Eve.
Look for SICK on facebok as well so you can keep up to date as to what's
happening with the film.
for the interview!