Your new movie We
Are the Missing - in a few words, what is it about?
Are the Missing
is a drama/horror mockumentary chronicling the
Madisons’ desperate search for their missing daughter with an urgent
warning that if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.
were your sources of inspiration when writing We
Are the Missing?
Film-wise Lake Mungo (2008),
Ghostwatch (1992), Pulse (2001),
The Eye (2002), and Noroi: The Curse (2005) were all
influences, but the emotional driving force to commit to this screenplay
for three years was this need to touch upon themes of the pain of grief
that comes from different forms of loss such as someone hurting over
someone who's missing, the unknowns surrounding someone’s demise, and
how this ‘black hole’ continues to impact those who remain here trying
to move forward. I can only draw from my own experiences with this type of
grieving as well as harness all of the other real-life stories I’ve
What can you tell us about We
Are the Missing's approach to horror?
approach values an accumulating dread with purposeful forward-momentum. I
always find it’s just as important, in order to support the horror, is
to play with levity and red herrings; to give the audience a chance to
inhabit its world versus making it one scene after the other of shock.
Amidst its definite revelations, there’s a lot of seeds, sometimes
unassuming by delivery, that excited me to blossom as all of these puzzle
pieces and details coalesced.
chosen the mockumentary/found footage approach for We
Are the Missing - in a word, why, and what are the advantages but
also challenges filming a movie that way?
the first two years of writing the screenplay, its story was originally
being told in the traditional ‘cinematic third-person’ structure,
however, as I felt what the heart of the story was, the mockumentary/found
footage genre presented a whole other dynamic to engage the audience if
done right. There’s something very disarming when a character is telling
the audience ‘their truth’, compelling them to become a participant in
piecing together how to feel about the
developments. Another advantage was outsourcing digitally.
It opened up flexibility towards writing additional scenes and casting
anyone non-union internationally to assemble.
A disadvantage to the genre is this type of genre is ‘an editor’s
movie’ where if a filmmaker underestimates how, truly, the magic happens
in post-production, then it can become very overwhelming with all of the
non-linear information you can stack up—that or it’s easy to not take
full advantage of what dots you could connect if you’re premature with
your footage. Myself I had to get many bad versions of sequences and
subplots out from my system before feeling I’ve carved out a momentum
that felt right. I know many filmmakers who hate editing, who try to just
‘survive’ and ‘get through it’—but my passion for editing for
me has always been synonymous with all stages, and if anything, even more
so because it’s just you trying to make the story better and better.
movies these days are pretty much a dime a dozen - so what do you think
makes yours stick out of the crowd?
feel there’s not enough mockumentaries out there that pul from the
visceral well that Lake Mungo
did, there’s not enough horror films
that value developing empathetic dimensional characters that have a foot
in reality, and to serve an overall theme. As time goes on, and as much as
I love horror and judge many horror festivals, I find many horror
filmmakers are trying to ‘shock’ or even ‘anger’ more than
‘feel’. I find too there’s many horror filmmakers who mostly watch
‘horror films’, but they don’t draw from other genres or try to say
something. That’s always been my motivation with the genre: to keep
trying to provide a very full experience with ‘horror entertainment’
and humanizing the characters. I love horror films like that.
What can you tell us
about We Are the
Missing's key cast, and why exactly these people?
I’ve been filmmaking since 2013 each year, I’ve always
treated short films as pre-requisite to feature storytelling—and each
short has been its own testing ground to assemble a team to climb
‘these’ kind of mountains. Many of these performers come from past
work we’ve done together who have been rocks. There’s a mix of rocks
and opening up room for many new faces, which I’ve been privileged to
have really seize the opportunity. There’s definitely a few ‘heroes’
who blew me away who I’d love to expand roles for in future projects.
what I've read, We Are
the Missing was still in production when the Corona lockdown
struck - so how did you manage to finish the film during quarantine
given this format, I was able to fill in blanks, and even counter scenes
that weren’t shot with newly written scenes, with new subplots
What can you tell us about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
the in-house produced scenes, I’ve been fortunate to continue to work
with some of my favourite human beings I’ve met, genuinely. Mutually
respectful of each other’s process (and every performer has their own
different nuances, which it’s my job to intuitively tune into),
performers are given endless takes to warm up into their lines, and once
they become versed, then in my mind that’s when the ‘character’
starts to instinctually emerge. Certainly no shaming in not ‘getting a
take right’—it’s succeed and learn. It’s also of service to the
performer, for me, to notice if there’s ever ‘rocks’ in the wording
or their interpretation of text and to be open to re-working it… if I
feel like they’re so close to ‘flowing’ yet there’s something in
their path. There’s no use in hammering at something ‘one way’ until
a performer grows fatigue or frustrated. It’s best to be open, if the
performer feels some tweaks is more tailored to them or how they see the
character, to let that play out. It’s truly a symbiotic collaboration
where, through time, makes for a better end product and fulfilling
process. We get into the nit and grit of the work, but it’s also
important to be lighthearted and decompress too, leading to great talks
about anything inside-or-outside of the ‘task at hand’. It’s always
appreciated when people feel comfortable to confide in me too with
whatever is ‘really’ going on in their lives too; some of the unmasked
moments I’ve had in my life with people—which is what I also love
about the arts: the people behind it.
The $64-question of
course, where can We
Are the Missing be seen?
refrained from exploring distribution (I was offered two deals early on)
and instead ‘this one is on the house’ for free on YouTube at
— I didn’t want any pay walls etc to separate the community from our
Anything you can tell
us about audience and critical reception of We
Are the Missing?
Reception has been very positive, which definitely is a vote of confidence
for us to follow up with a sophomore feature effort. It’s trippy to see
reviewers give ratings to our debut film alongside other features. We’ve
‘arrived’ and are in the game lol. It’s been a life-long dream of
mine to make a positive transition into feature filmmaking, one I’ve had
since my teens. Through all of my own ups and downs throughout life, the
arts has always been my compass and one of my biggest draws to ‘being
here’—it’s been one of my rocks to redefine my connection with
people and my own humanity, truly… so to share this milestone in my life
with all of you is truly a sentimental experience. I’m also excited to
challenge myself and, like many filmmaker feels like, to ‘show you’
what I'm capable of that I can also do a third person traditional
cinematic film as well. When you find something you’re passionate for,
that you’re willing to sacrifice so much for, and something that
nurtures you back, you feel very driven to keep raising the bar and keep
treating each project to ‘re-introduce yourself’ as both a storyteller
and a human being. I feel with every film, someone has another opportunity
to feel what my values are in life. It’s my most honest way I know how
to share myself and this world with others.
Any future projects you'd like
been hitting the pen and pad, now that I’ve done considerably pavement
pounding to get this film into the inboxes of hundreds of reviewers—the
ball is in the cosmos’ court—and there was one feature I felt more
compelled to do ‘earlier’ this year, however, given the social justice
climate, I actually feel like the themes I wanted to touch on have caught
up to where society is right now—police brutality, empathizing for good
police, injustice etc. I just feel right now it’s ‘too on the nose’
and we’re kind of ‘living it’ right now. What motivates me is
exploring what is the ‘future of horror’… what’s ‘next’… and
there’s one project in particular that’s clicking for me that touches
on other aspects of society that I don’t see explored within the horror
genre as often as I wish it was. It’s a horror/thriller called They
Call Us Ghosts.
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Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
would just like to thank you for this opportunity. You’ve been one of
our earliest supporters and platforms. I’d also like to gracefully
express my gratitude for everyone who likes, shares, comments, tunes into
our work, and continues to make the horror community a better place for
everyone. We’re gonna keep it interesting! I hope everyone stays safe
and healthy inside-and-out during these times, and there’ll be a light
at the end of the tunnel—and if you let us in, I’ll be there right
Thanks for the