Your movie The Crossing
- in a few words, what is it about?
Well, as I tell people, it's about a young woman who wakes up in the
woods... no idea who she is, or how she got there. Her only clues are an
engagement ring on one hand, and a knife in the other. Before she can even
get her thoughts together, she starts to hear these strange, inhuman
groans and realizes she needs to escape... fast. But amidst her journey,
she encounters three creatures (read: "zombies"... but we all
know we can't say that ;-) ), and with this increasingly primal instinct
to kill them, she realizes there's something familiar about each one of
them. But not all is what it seems to her.
Basic question: Why
another zombie movie, and is that a genre dear to you - and what do you
think makes your zombie flick special?
It's funny, because
one thing people have said when watching it or reviewing it is that
zombies seem to be so popular these days... almost too much. I got bit
with the "zombie bug" back in 1996 when Resident Evil came out
for the Playstation, which led to my discovery of George Romero (it's been
stated that Dawn of the Dead was the primary inspiration for the first
game), which in turn led to my discovery of Lucio Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here], and so on and so
forth. So even back then when I was 11, I knew I wanted to make
*something* with zombies. But on that note, I knew that getting my foot in
the door to make a feature would be tricky, so I wanted to make something
short, around 15 minutes, that would stick with people after they see it.
So I came up with the concept (obvious "spoiler alert" here) of
wondering what exactly does a zombie see? Do they know that they're a
zombie, or do they still think they're human? So I went with the latter as
an interesting concept, also showing why zombies attack... they just think
they're about to be attacked and they protect themselves. Ironically, this
year the film adaptation of Warm Bodies came out, also with the whole
"what do zombies think?" theme. However, it's thankfully
completely different in that they're well aware that they're zombies.
sources of inspiration when writing The
Crossing, and what got the project off the ground?
suppose a lot of Twilight Zone episodes were in my subconscious when I had
the idea :-p I always loved their seamless twists that would make you have
to go back and completely rethink what you just saw... not like M. Night
Shyamalan's later twists where they're twists just for the sake of twists.
As for what got it off the ground... well, the initial concept popped in
my head around 2008, I believe. But financially and technically speaking,
I wasn't prepped at all. But a couple more years working my way up at my
day job and investing in new cameras (the Canon T2i was the primary camera
for the film), as well as saving a decent sum of money (the budget was
$1,500), I felt I was ready by the end of 2010/early 2011.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
I'm not that deep, really :-p Well, I like to have a strong emotional
backing with the characters whenever possible, even in a short 15 minute
block. I knew I wanted the emotional tension to be at its peak when
"The Stranger" realizes everyone she's killed. The angles, the
acting, the music, everything needed to align *just* right. It's probably
my favorite scene of the short, sold wonderfully by my leading lady (and
girlfriend ;-) ). As for my approach in general terms, I always try to
have a "mental movie", and then scribble it out onto
storyboards. I then take them on set, and try my best to create the puzzle
pieces that I'll need to assemble in editing. If we decide some shots just
won't work, I'll ditch them. If someone else comes up with a better idea,
we'll go with that. I can be picky, but I also greatly appreciate
everyone's input and try to integrate them when I can.
taking a slightly different look on zombie mythology, your movie still
contains plenty of the genre-typical blood and guts - so what can you tell
us about your gore effects, how were the achieved, and was there a line
you refused to cross in terms of violence for other than budgetary
Well, since Night of the Living
Dead, zombies and
gore have pretty much been hand and hand... you just can't get around it.
Well, unless your film's budget has ballooned to $200 million and will be
getting released in the middle of summer... not that I'm referencing any
film currently in the American box office top 10 - but I digress...
wouldn't really consider anything "crossing the line", as I knew
I wanted a decent amount of gore. I mean, Romero set a standard... you
need at least one shot of someone's entrails :-p However, I'll admit, the
shot of the intestines drooping down from the "second encounter"
wasn't quite as good as I had hoped (it's the one scene where some may
"chuckle" a bit), but considering I made those guts from scratch
(are fake intestines really that hard to find?) I think it's not too bad
;-) As for *how* they were achieved, we had a lot of plastic tubing and
plastic syringes squirting left and right on set. Some "cg touch
ups" were required to hide said tubing, but it turned out pretty
well. As for the afore-mentioned intestines? A 16 oz bottle of
skin-colored liquid latex, rolled up paper towels, a flat surface, and a
hair dryer... took quite a while :-p
What can you tell us about The
Crossing's cast, and why exactly these people?
funny thing was that the lead was originally going to be a man, with the
best friend also being male and the fiancee being a woman. Only the
brother would have remained the same gender. That changed when I had
trouble locking down a cast, but was dating someone (Josette Dubois) who was known for
acting in the Annapolis theater scene. So I suddenly thought about the
gender reversals that we could do, and everything worked perfect. I
figured I was seeing the lead multiple times a week, so she'd be easy to
keep in contact about the project ;-) "The Friend" was played by
a theater acquaintance she had worked with, Christina McAlpine, who had
some acting experience as well, despite primarily working in costumes. I
saw her perform in a one-act show, and knew she definitely had the acting
chops, so I didn't hesitate to cast her. "The Brother" was a
happy accident, as I went on Facebook asking for friends who would want to
play a zombie... straight to the point, really :-p Thankfully, one of my
old film studies classmates, Jesse Fresco, stepped up for the job, and
also brought to the table a TON of behind the scenes help. This is why
you'll see his name pretty much as many times as mine in the end credits
;-) As for "The Fiance"... well, it wasn't supposed to be me,
but that happened anyway. I was looking for someone else to play this
role, and almost had someone locked down until they had to bail on it for
a paid gig for an HBO role. Can't blame him, really. So, with just weeks
left, I decided to step in as "The Fiance". As the lead's real
life boyfriend, it was an easy role ;-)
talk about your locations and the actual shoot for a bit if you can!
entirely in my hometown of Bowie, Maryland :-D The woods are actually in
the back of the neighborhood I grew up in and they are VERY expansive, as
you saw in the film. The flashback scenes were actually shot in my
parents' house in the same neighborhood. The one lone day of air
conditioned filming ;-) As for the shoot overall... hot and humid come to
mind :-p We tried to plan out each scene carefully and figure out what we
could shoot which days. Each "encounter" took a day to film,
with the ending with the soldiers being its own day as well as the
"role reversal flashbacks" being shot in the same day. Filming
began in June 2011, and we shot the three encounters and "The
Stranger"'s intial "awakening" (the film's original title,
btw) over the summer. We resumed filming in November to film the
"role reversal flashbacks" and the scene with the soldiers, and
then the primary flashbacks in December... hence the Christmas theme :-p
$64-question of course, when and where will the film be released onto the
Well, the film has only had one showing
thus far, and that was at the Horrorfind Weekend Film Festival in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania last summer. I hope to get it out to more
festivals, it's just a matter of me staying on top of those deadlines!
What got you into filmmaking to begin
with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
actually started because of a career day in 2nd grade in elementary school
:-p Funny thing was, my main interests at that time were video games.
However, when we were told to dress up as what we want to be when we grow
up, I threw together a "director's outfit"... over 20 years
later, it's stuck with me! As for formal training, I did go to college for
it, but I also tried to absorb a lot from films themselves.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
Crossing? And any future projects you'd like to share?
much :-p I did a few short things in college, but nothing I'm overly proud
Crossing was my first truly independent project, in that it wasn't
for a grade for a class or for a project for my day job. It was just me,
my script, and a hope and a prayer... well, my cast and crew as well :-p
My greatest "claim to fame" prior to The
Crossing was actually a
high school TV Production film called (wait for it) The 17 1/2
Annual Super Duper Street Kombat Hyper Turbo Happy Hour Special
Collector's Edition!!!!!, which was a spoof of old school fighting
games such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. It was a bit of a
"cult hit" in my high school years later :-p
As for future
projects? There are a few ideas rumbling around, mainly short projects
again. I do have a horror feature written, but it's just a matter of
assembling the budget. Hopefully I can use The
Crossing the same way Sam
Raimi used Within The Woods for The Evil Dead as a stepping stone towards
a feature. I can dream, can't I?
would you describe yourself as a director?
Picky. Open to
suggestion, but still picky :-p Usually with myself. Sometimes I'll watch
my footage and then go "why didn't I do this instead?" As I
currently do my own editing, I always try to figure out how well shots
will flow from one to another. But once again, you sometimes don't catch
your own mistakes until you're actually in the editing room.
who inspire you?
George Romero, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson...
basically the guys who started small and worked their way up. Romero
always stayed more "indie", but that's pretty much how he wanted
it. I know he spoke of John Carpenter trying to get him to be more
"Hollywood", but Romero just felt comfortable doing his own
Your favourite movies?
horror, Romero's original Living Dead trilogy of course. I know it's
technically two trilogies now, but the first three films were still the
best. The Evil Dead trilogy is another obvious group. Also, Lucio Fulci's
Zombie (well, Zombi 2) and
The Beyond. As for non-horror, my
all-time favorite film is Bruce Lee's first martial arts film, The Big
Boss. From a filmmaking standpoint, it's easily his worst, but for pure
enjoyment, it's his most raw, brutal, and badass film. It's the only Bruce
Lee movie where he stabs a poor bastard in the chest with his bare
fingers... how can you NOT enjoy that? :-p
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
"the Twilight films" seems like such a cop-out... but for people
like myself who appreciate old-school R-rated (at least) horror, seeing
those movies make the numbers they do just makes my blood boil. Oh, and
The Blair Witch Project was just an amazing letdown, especially
considering it was shot in my home state!
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
You can see more
of my work (primarily photography) at
In short, I've used this indie company as a hybrid of photography and
filmmaking... part of the "2" in "B2". Also, you can
get more info on The
Crossing at the IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2342226/combined
I still need to get to work on a full-fledged website, but multitasking
can be tricky these days!
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think we covered it all :-p
for the interview!
Thank *you*! It was my first one :-D