Your new movie Friend
of the World - in a few words, what is it about?
person has to brave the apocalypse, and with the help of an unlikely
mentor, she faces many inner demons that plagued her with self-doubt in
the old world. But the conflict is that if she becomes a stronger person
in this new world which is now devoid of life, will it even matter?
Friend of the World
being a post-doomsday movie, is that a genre at all dear to you, and some
of your genre favourites?
not a huge doomsday-themed movie fan, though I love Zack Snyderís
version of Watchmen and obviously
Dr. Strangelove. I canít think of too
many post-doomsday movies off the top of my head besides Mad
Max, but I
really like movies where the end of the world feels like itís on the
horizon, like George Romeroís Living Dead movies or even
(Other) sources of inspiration
when writing Friend of
a personal story based on a friendship I had since I was young with
someone who taught me a lot as we grew up. But as the friendship died, a
lot of darkness was revealed about them and within myself, as well as a
parallel between us. While working on later drafts of the script I started
watching movies like Persona for inspiration. The idea was to use a
small budget with a high concept to tell a story
that felt big and epic.
What can you tell us about your movie's
approach to horror and science fiction?
love gross-out moments, and this movie has a few of them. But I wanted to
use those genre elements, particularly the body horror, as an undercurrent
for what is happening thematically with the characters. I think the best
movies always try to earn their scares with tension and character
You also have to
talk about Friend of the
World's brand of humour for a bit!
comedy is what started to lock things in for me. Though incredibly bleak,
this is an absurd scenario with at least one contagiously absurd
character. Itís only a matter of time before insane thoughts lead to
insane conversations, and insane conversations lead to insane situations.
It gave the movie balance but also felt like a completely natural
deviation for these characters as they become more unstable.
A few words about
your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
with the script, one of the few things you can control with a low budget
is the way you shoot the movie. So it was crucial that the look of this
little bunker flick needed to be big and epic. Luckily for me, our DP Ray
Gallardo has both the skills and the toys to give our nano-budget film the
glorious black-and-white anamorphic widescreen cinematography required to
make it work (big thanks to producer Luke Pensabene for recommending him).
Not to mention finding actors who could balance the absurd comedy with the
gloomy nihilism. And a great practical effects artist C.J. Martinez to do
the body transformations the right way, as well as my VFX wiz brother
Daniel N. Butler to bring the grandiosity of the bunker to life.
talk about Friend of the
World's key cast, and why exactly these people?
Young was also suggested by our producer Luke, and damn if it wasnít the
most spot-on first audition tape Iíve ever seen. What you see in the
movie is exactly what he did in his first read of the character, filming
himself with his phone on the couch. We spent a lot of time casting Diane,
but Nick was with us pretty much since day one. Heís just had this
character in his bones somewhere, and itís been waiting for years to get
out of him.
I've known Alexandra Slade for a few years but hadnít thought of her for this part
because it was originally written as a male. Something wasnít clicking
in the rehearsals, and it dawned on me that the dynamics would be more
interesting if the apocalypse wasnít just a sausage fest. I still
didnít think of Alex until I bumped into her at one of the worst places
to have a bump-into:
at the gym. What could normally be an excruciatingly awkward situation was
incredibly relaxed. She was very upbeat and charismatic, so I found myself
thinking ďI canít imagine anyone in this situation Iíd root for more
than herĒ. She auditioned, but she didnít even need to. Youíre
rooting for her to make it out based on a natural charm she didnít have
to fake. (Spoiler alert) So itís too bad she gets contaminated with
Goreís genocidal goo.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
of the movie was shot in a basement, which gets taxing (and sweaty) for
people. The oppressive environment helped get in the mindset needed for
the shoot, but in general people were bubbly and had a lot of fun toiling
through the body-morphing post-apocalyptic waste. And I think for my first
feature I was appropriately stressed while also having the time of my
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Friend
of the World?
I was a newbie when we started this, and I set out to make the movie for
selfish reasons. Which is why I am legitimately shocked to find the
critical reception has been so understanding and enthusiastic about so
many weird elements of this movie. I really thought of this project as
just a self-indulgent learning exercise, so it was a huge surprise to find
so many people are enjoying it for what it is. Iím not surprised about
those who find parts ambiguous, though many seem to appreciate the
intentionality of that.
Any future projects you'd like to
wrote and acted in another bleak and bloody flick coming out called Hemet, and have another gritty little feature in post-production
called Fruitful Mold. Fans of this movie should definitely
From what I know, you've entered the filmworld as
an actor - so what can you tell us about your acting career, and what made
you want to become an actor to begin with?
guess I entered as both an actor and filmmaker. I started shooting my own
little movies at age nine. But on the professional side, it was about 15
years later that I began acting professionally in films and theater. I
think Iíve always had a lot of manic energy that needs exercising and
What made you
want to step behind the camera eventually, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
took a few film classes in college, but most of my formal training was
acting-based, which helped in terms of directing actors. But like all the
cool kids say, the best film school is watching movies, which I did a lot
Having held many jobs on both
sides of the camera, what do you enjoy the most, what could you do
are some that I enjoy, and others that an obsessive compulsion forces me
to take on. And I think this changes from project to project. Like in
Friend of the World, I quickly realized I didnít have much desire
to act in this movie. But I edited it and designed a handful of posters
for it with a feverish delight. Acting, writing, and directing are my
absolute favorites though. I would never want to hire myself in the sound
or lighting departments.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to Friend of the World,
in whatever position?
worked as a PA a few times, and have done a lot of background acting. But
aside from the short videos I made in my teens, I directed two shorts
proper before Friend of the World: folk-tale horror drama
Hatred and horror comedy The Phantom Hour. These were pretty
instrumental in learning how to actually make a movie with a team, rather
than filming yourself with a direct-to-VHS recorder on a tripod.
How would you describe yourself as
other people see me, I donít know. Hopefully an effective communicator.
I see myself as an obsessive kid in a candy store (or a DVD store). Iím
fully consumed by the project, doing my best, thoroughly enjoying myself,
and trying to help everyone else involved feel the same way.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Brooks, Terry Gilliam, Herzog, Kubrick.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
same as everyone whether they admit it or not: Jaws and
Pulp Fiction. Also Hausu.
... and of course, films you really
you get to 5,6,7 installments of horror sequels, those can get pretty bad.
Thatís not to say they canít be done well, but itís rare!
Your/your movie's website, social media,
to watch at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09L7815LN/
Troma Now!: https://watch.troma.com/videos/friend-of-the-world
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
least favorite Harry Potter movie is Goblet of Fire.
Thanks for the
stills by Ray Gallardo