Your new film Terror
Vortex - even if we have talked about it at length before [click
here], do bring us up to speed: What is it about?
is a surreal neo-noir horror science
fiction thriller mystery. New York Detective Kevin Black tracks down the
where-abouts of a serial killer. The killer has been abducting local
people from the city streets and disposing of the dead bodies in the dark
alleys of the Big Apple. A suspect by the name of Coldwaters is being
investigated after evidence tying him to a previous murder of a woman
matching the string of homicides in the city. The case becomes more
personal when Black's wife is kidnapped by the killer. He races against
time to find the serial murderer before it is too late. As the detective
gets closer to finding his wife, he unveils something more horrifying to
this dark mystery. Black finds connections to a Doctor Kaufman who also
may be a suspect to the ongoing killings in New York City. This riveting
dark mystery of unending long hallways and closed doors creates a Terror
Vortex of horror.
least to me, Terror Vortex
seems to be heavily influenced by vintage science fiction pulps, comics
and movies from circa the 1930's to 1950's, but seen through, how shall I
put it, LSD-glasses - an assessment you can at all agree to, and would you
to elaborate on that?
Ha ha you got it down to the capital
"T" in Terror Vortex. Yes, that is what tone and look I
was going for. I've been watching old pulp detective and science
fiction movies when I was writing the film and during production of this
movie. I love those movies and the tones. I wanted to make a
film like The Stranger with Orson Welles and Edward G.
Robinson and like, the old horror films with Vincent Price [Vincent
Price bio - click here] - The
Tingler. I love movies like Sixth Sense and Inception
- that influenced what I wanted to do in this film.
Just like you described ". . .circa the 1930's to 1950's,
but seen through, how shall I put it, LSD-glasses . . ." -- perfect
description, ha ha.
You just have to talk about your
directorial style on Terror
Vortex for a bit, and why you made certain aesthetic choices (like
using colour-graded and black and white sequences as well as
certain kinds of special effects)?
I feel as if I have a
style, but I'm still discovering it. I know I make my movies
a certain way, but maybe that is it? Maybe my style is just rolling
the camera and letting the actors reveal the emotions through the
characters. Ha ha, I don't know. I like to be fearless with
directing my movies. I treat it like painting on canvas.
I know I want to paint a picture of a neo-noir film, but how it will
turn out (look-feel) in the end is always a surprise. Well, I did
play with the color palette a lot with this film. I wanted to use
color, less color, or no color on a technical level and on setting the
mood for scenes. Technically it was used as a clue - for example:
In the flashbacks there was little color or no color to let the
audience know what was showing was a memory or happened at a different
time. Or, I used blue tints when conveying the nightmare
sequences. And for the mood, I used desaturated imagery and color
tones to give it that classic noir feel. Ha ha, and as for the
special effects mainly the truth technically using tons of green screen to
save time while having a one year old (now about 2 years old) running
around on set - ha ha. In the flashback with Black (me) and his
wife Melony (Danielle Ackerman) having a conversation in the kitchen - that was a crazy special effect even if it didn't look like it.
We had no babysitter for my one year old at the time and I had to shoot
the scene with Danielle (my wife) so I held my son while shooting the
scene and acting in it. Then I reshot the scene while Danielle held
our son and acted through it again. Then, I spliced the scenes
together digitally to make it look like my son wasn't there ha ha. The
things you do to get a movie done at this level. And I used a lot of
green screen for the surrealism of the movie. Plus, I love
cheesy effects - like the puppet when Matthews (Jesse Head) tears off
his face. I have an obsession with old school live action
effects. I love knowing it is a puppet doing the actions in the
movie. I just love that stuff, ha ha. Plus, the digital special
effects were used again for that surrealism art effect in the film.
One key element of
your movie is of course your location - so what can you tell us about it
and how did you find it in the first place?
Well if you are
referring to the old rundown school/hospital? I used that location
because old abandoned schools and hospitals are creepy. And in the
first story drafts we see that Dr. Kaufman (Josh Meny) and his wife
(Johanna Ciampa) purchase an old school to renovate it into a new hospital
for the community. Then she has an accident and he begins his
experiments in this building once intended for good. The location is
actually the combination of two locations, and both the places I work at.
One is located in a old middle school and the other in an old
downtown office building. I use what I have at my fingertips you can
say. Plus, I wanted a maze-like location for the metaphor of the
Terror Vortex in the film. Unending hallways and many closed doors.
During the film I wanted the viewer to feel just as lost as the main
character did in the movie. The hallway used in the movie is
the same hall used in my last film Wisconsin Project X. I
did that on purpose, too. If you watch the scenes shot in the
hallway from both my movies, they parallel each other for sure. Plus,
the building is the main character, too.
You have set
your film in downtown New York City, but not exactly filmed it there - so
how did you achieve to create the illusion?
Well, one way
was with a lot of green screen ha ha. And, a lot of digital matte
shots on local city locations shot here in Montana. There are a few
streets here in Missoula and Hamilton, Montana that feel like New York.
So, I used those as my settings and then just digitally extended the
city skyline digitally. I did a lot of digital matte painting on
this movie. I love that stuff.
have to talk about your key cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?
I use myself (as character Kevin Black) because I want to act and love
doing it. And, I felt I could do it well enough. I found Josh
Meny through a small audition I did over the web. He sent me two
videos of himself acting out the character of Dr. Kaufman and he sold me
on it. It was what I was looking for in this part. He gave it
that old school villain feel that I wanted for this type of movie. I
used my wife Danielle because it is perfect; we are a married couple that
makes movies together and so why not have her play my wife in the film
too. The Coldwaters character played by Scott Ranf was perfect
because he came to me wanting play a dark role compared to what he
previously played in the Wisconsin Project X
I let him do it and he rocked it. All the other cast players were
just willing to come join the fun like Jesse Head (as Matthews) and Tyler
Wittenberg (as Barns), Joel Baird played a smaller role, and a lot of the
other players just came to have fun making a movie. I thank them all
for doing it because no one got paid at all. Plus, I was stoked to
get my brother Chad Ackerman, friend Trevor Graciano and his friend Jack
Runyon, and Shawn C. Phillips [Shawn
C. Phillips interview - click here], all from San Diego, California to be in my
movie. I sent out storyboards and lines to them. Then, they
shot the scenes themselves and sent it to me over the web. I just
love that we can do stuff like that.
can you tell us about the shoot as such and your on-screen atmosphere?
was made with just friends and family. Made entirely with no budget
and the only funding from the my empty pockets. This film was shot on
primarily on three different cameras. The first, a Kodak Zi8 handy cam HD
camcorder, then a Canon G10 HD camcorder, and on a Canon T3i DSLR. I
planned to shoot the entire movie on the Kodak Zi8 as a test short, but
the movie grew into something much more. Thus, came the full feature
neo-noir psychological thriller horror movie, Terror
Vortex. On set
I love to keep things fun and moving. And, I always take ideas that
the cast and crew share for the movie. I love that teamwork
environment on my movie sets. Fun is the theme on the set
because we are there because we love making movies. That's why
I believe I'm able to pull off making movies on this scale with no budget.
The on-screen atmosphere? I'll say this, I think the lack of
budget that forced awesome creativity to make the impossible
possible. The low end equipment, that made the look of the
picture. The lack of real locations, that forced the groovy
surrealism look to the film, which dictated the overall on-screen
can you tell us about critical and audience reception of your film so far?
really early in the game on that. But, so far I have had positive
feedback from the private screenings. I'm really surprised that
people seem to get this movie. I mean, they, like you, understood
the noir old school feel I was going for. So, I'm very pleased
so far with the overall reception of the film.
future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
developing my latest movies Zombies of the Living Dead, Metal Rebound and
Valgard. So, be sure to
keep checking back on my Facebook and website for updates on those
projects. I'm always looking for help, too. Actors, effects,
editors, and so on? Anyone out there, even you? Just let me
know; ha ha.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
All my films information
can be found at my website http://www.fastcoastproductions.com
and the Terror
and its YouTube is
and my FastCoast Productions videos are here:
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
if anyone is interested in making films, contact me, or looking for an actor
give me a heads up on my website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
for the interview!
Thank you too!