Your new movie Gut - in a
few words, what is it about?
It's about the destructive power of desire and need, and the allure of the
taboo and morally questionable. It's also about growing apart from your
friends and reconciling where you've come from and where you're headed.
Gut's basic plot of
the former best friends who have grown apart - is this (at least in part)
based on personal experience, and who do you actually identify with more,
the bored family man or the geek refusing to fully grow up?
it comes from personal experiences, I think many people have been down
similar roads with friendship. Currently, I probably identify more with
the family man, but both characters borrow a lot from my life at various
points. The "geek" is definitely based more on a younger more
naive version of myself.
snuff aspects of Gut - what
was your inspiration for them, and did you do any actual research on the
No research, no. I owe some inspiration to
Argento. He has a way of making death look surprising beautiful,
especially in a film like Suspiria, and it was very important
that those scenes have an underlying allure and sexiness to them otherwise
I think it would be too much of a leap that they would effect Tom the way
they do. Dan's reactions are often less extreme to the material, though,
because I don't think he even perceives the acts as real initially.
Other sources of inspiration when writing Gut?
wanted to write a film that could be produced on an ultra low budget if we
weren't able to find outside funding so that played a part in coming up
with a story that was both simple and minimalist. That would still work
well and be effective without a big budget. Much of the film is really a
reflection of my own personal fears conflicts and with family and friends
over the years and finding that I was never easily satisfied with
anything. Little bit of glass half empty syndrome.
would you describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand?
is what they called it in school. Movement within the scene. Just find
expressive, but minimalist static angles for the camera and let the
characters fill the screen. It's a quiet, brooding type of film. There's
something always lurking beneath the surface when we locked down the
camera it puts a great deal of focus not only on what's in the frame and
what isn't. I think we thought this would fit perfectly with the tone
of the script and conveniently with the low budget as well.
As far as
working with the actors went, I mostly tried to be their friend and
interfere as little as possible. If necessary I would try to embody some
of what I wanted in the scene in the tone of my voice when I described
things to them. If they need to go over a cliff emotionally or sit even
harder perhaps, sit on their emotion and compress it, sometimes you have
to find creative ways to illustrate this. I compared the situations in the
film to real life examples at time as well, trying to help put them in the
situation as much as possible. Above all, I think you have to have a real
rapport with actors, there's a lot of trust being exchanged there and they
can't ever feel micro-managed or it'll stifle creativity. It's a delicate
balance, but one I really enjoy especially.
I happen to know quite a few of my readers are gorehounds - you just have
to talk about your gore effects for a bit?
To be fair to
your readers I should mention that the gore effects actually only make up
a very small part of the movie. A lot of time and effort was put into
creating them and I'm very proud of how well they turned out. The end
results were a meld of practical and prosthetic makeup effects combined
with some really innovative additions and manipulation in post using Flame.
What can you
tell us about the key cast, how did you get them, and what made them
perfect for their roles?
Jason Vail, Sarah Schoofs
We had an open casting call,
narrowed it down and then tried different parings to find the best
chemistry. Jason has a stoic quality that I think really works for Tom,
and he can do a lot with very little, which was something the role really
called for, a very contained and internalized performance.
Nicholas had a
goofy, boy-like quality that really made him a good fit for for Dan who's
admittedly somewhat stuck in his teens/early twenties. He has this way of
immersing himself in the part, which was really something to see. He was
always in character well before we started rolling.
Sarah, who played
Tom's wife Lily just had a great innocent sweetness about her that really
worked for the part, but at the same time, when she needed to go dark
places it was like flicking a switch she was just on. I think we really
Would you like to talk about
the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere for a bit?
We lucked out here again as well. Our whole team was very tight and,
though some of us knew each other, most of us were working together for
the first time. Everyone was very supportive and really seemed excited
about the what we were trying to do. When we'd check the dailies there was
usually a small crowd hovering over the monitor to check out the day's
work. We had a great AD, Sharifa Williams, who really helped us avoid the
typical 14-17 hour days a lot of low-budget films fall into and I think
that helped keep people happy as well. Actors and crew really got along
beautifully, and you feel the excitement in the room when a scene went
especially well. There were tough days as well like you'd expect, but it
really felt like we all part of one big family with the same goal. We
joked with each other, supported one another and worked our collective
asses off to make the film. I couldn't be more happy about how that all
went. I even cooked for everyone a number of times and it went over pretty
well I think.
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie so
It's been pretty great so far. Lot of good reviews and
very positive responses to the film from folks I've talked to on Facebook.
Sure we've had our share of negative reviews, but overall I'd say the
reactions have definitely been pretty great with the majority being pretty
damned positive. We actually made it on four best of 2012 lists recently,
which was nice.
Let's go back to the beginnings of your career:
What got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive
any formal training on the subject?
Started out writing
plays and scripts when I was a teenager. I was also doing community
theater back then as well. Made the leap into filmmaking as more a means
to an ends originally. I wanted to act more and I was already writing so
it seemed like a no-brainer to try directing. I made my first short on 8mm
video (yes there was 8mm video) when I was 19. Ended up going to college
for acting shortly after and then transferred to another 4 year program
for filmmaking in 1997 where I actually graduated in 2000.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Gut?
bunch of unproduced screenplays, some shorts, music videos and a feature
horror anthology preceded Gut.
The Voice Inside
was my first short in festivals. I wanted to come up with the most
torturous experience I could put a character through on film. Naturally I
ended up playing the part myself. It has some pretty memorable moments
that include vomiting and some particularly nasty ones that involve a
hammer. It was also my college thesis film. It got a good amount of
attention and even won some awards. I heard once that Alexandre Aja saw it
and had nice things to say. LovecraCked! The Movie was my
first involvement in a feature project. I had made a 30 minute
mockumentary about H.P. Lovecraft and I decided to invite other filmmakers
to contribute shorts that could be cut in between it and create an oddball
feature anthology. It was a fun experiment and it got everyone a lot of
exposure, while managing somehow to really piss a lot of people off. Never
understood that, but it was nice to get some attention with it and it
served as a good stepping stone. After that I wanted to shoot a vampire
horror-comedy feature I'd written called Dead Sucks, but we
didn't have the financing available to do a whole film so I opted to shoot
the first few minutes as an introductory short. It went over quite well,
but wasn't as successful on the fest circuit as I hoped, probably because
it felt like more of a precursor to something else than a complete film.
That pretty much brings us to Gut, give or take.
future projects you'd like to talk about?
co-produced my good friend Rory Abel's first feature Alone,
which should be hitting festivals soon. Our Gut
Sarah Schoofs plays a supporting role in it as well and she has some great
scenes, which I think genre fans are gonna love. I'm also writing a couple
new scripts. One's kind of my take on a ghost story. It comes from a very
personal place involving the death of one of my sisters when she was two.
The other is a bit of a 180, more of a satire on a pretty popular subgenre
of the moment with a very, very dark sense of humor. Like to direct one of
those scripts next. Just depends on what gets the most interest when
How would you
describe yourself as a director?
Probably wouldn't to be
honest. Think I'd say I just need to make more films. I'll try, though.
It's all about telling a story and giving as much of yourself to that
process as I'm able. It's part conviction, part obsession and part
catharsis. I think I do it because I feel like I have to express something
and this is the most constructive and best way to communicate it.
Filmmakers who inspire
Cronenberg, Haneke, Miike, Tsukamoto, Carpenter,
Romero, Argento, Bava [Mario Bava
bio - click here], Lynch, Kim Ki-Duk, Robert Wise, Joe Dante, John
Landis, Peter Jackson, Frank Oz, Sidney Lumet, William Friedkin, Paul
Verhoeven... I could go on for a long time.
Your favourite movies?
Alive, The Fly, The
Thing, Snake of June,
Rabid Dogs, Suspiria,
Wild at Heart, Bad Guy, The
Haunting, The Howling,
American Werewolf in London, Begotten, Dog Day
Afternoon, Network, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead,
Bug, Robocop, Starship Troopers, Kiss, Kiss, Bang,
Bang, Monty Python and
the Holy Grail, What About Bob?, Naked Gun, Bowfinger,
Planes, Trains and Automobiles... again I could go on for a while with this one...
... and of
course, films you really deplored?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Can't do it. It's like
shitting where you eat, man. There are many I've deplored, like anybody
else, even one rather popular horror movie most recently, but it's just
not something I'd do for an interview. Hope you can understand.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
and if you're still looking for more
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that I can think of. Well, maybe. Our trailer for Gut
represents the film pretty well. If you dig it then consider checking out
the film. It's streaming On Demand in a lot of places in North America so
it should be pretty easy to find. It's not on NetFlix yet or Hulu, but if
you think and indie film looks good it's a great thing to support it
before it hits subscription based platforms like NetFlix because it gives
the filmmakers a much better chance at making back the costs of production
and finally seeing a profit. This is all assuming of course that you're
interested in watching the film in the first place. If you're not that's
totally cool, too. Oh, and if you watch it and want to ask me a question
or tell me what you think, feel free to send me an email on Facebook. I'm
pretty easy to find.
for the interview!
My pleasure! Thanks for the opportunity
and the great questions!