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An Interview with James Cullen Bressack, Director of Hate Crime

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2012

James Cullen Bressack on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Hate Crime - in a few words, what is it about?


A family is held hostage by sadistic home intruders.


In many instances, Hate Crime reminded me of vintage grindhouse home invasion films of old like Last House on the Left and House at the Edge of the Park - were these at all conscious influences? And (other) sources of inspiration when writing Hate Crime?


Honestly, although I love those films they were not conscious influences. This time around I don't think we really had any conscious influences that were horror films. Except maybe if you count stuff in the found footage genre just because it's also found footage?


What can you tell us about your writing partner (and co-producer) Jarret Cohen, and what was your collaboration like?


It was awesome writing this one with Jarret. He had been the producer on My Pure Joy and is the co owner of Psykik Junky Pictures with me, so naturally we were going to work on a project together, but I never thought we would be so good at writing together. It was so much fun. We basically would switch off. I would write a couple pages, then he would. It turned into a one-up contest. Who could write the most horrible and disturbing stuff in their pages would get the high five from the other. I would sit down to write my pages and read where he left me off and just start laughing, he would do the same when reading mine. I guess we are both some twisted individuals but I think we worked well together and it turned out great. I'm sure we will write together again in the future.


The main section of Hate Crime consists of one uninterrupted single shot. To ask quite bluntly: Why?


I never understood why found footage movies had editing in them, it always took me out of the realism of the world. Who would take the time to edit the found footage? Or more importantly how did they have multiple cameras? I swore to myself if I ever made a found footage movie I would make it look like there wasn't editing and not have music in it. I would make it actual found footage. I decided when writing this film that the only way to tell this found footage story was to let the camera roll nonstop until it got turned off. I also believe having a camera in the hands of your killers gives the audience a different perspective on the story. It turns the camera into more than just what is shooting the film but also a character, because you are seeing what the killer was choosing to film.


This also enables a different kind of fear. People now get scared when they see a victim rather than when a killer pops out at you. If a victim is on camera, you know something bad is going to happen!


How easy/hard was it to set up that one single shot, what were the challenges, how much planning was there involved, was there any room for improvisation, actually, and how many takes did it take to get the thing done? And honestly, was there some cheating involved?


I choreographed the film with the actors and did repeated walk throughs for an entire week before we even started filming. It had to be down to a science. There was some room for improvisation yes, the character of Three had the most amount of improv out of the actors, however for the most part we kept exactly to the script. I would say 90% was the script, 10% was improv (the improv being the stuff that is being said in the background that isn't during the main action that the camera is focused on). There were way too many takes to count them out so I can't exactly answer that question, and yes there was cheating involved, but do you know where?


What can you tell us about your ensemble cast, and what kind of a strain did it put upon them to play everything through from beginning to end in one shot? And what can you tell us about the overall on-set atmosphere?


I was blessed with an amazing cast. Everyone was so great and easy to work with, I cannot imagine this film without them, they really became their roles. We all lived together for weeks in the giant house the film was shot in in Big Bear California. It became a family environment. Everyone got to know one another so well that it was sad when the film ended. You know its funny but we all got very close while filming such a disturbing film. We all spend time together to this day. I think living together and getting to know one another allowed the actors to really trust each other when making the film, which enabled them to become more vulnerable on camera for me. The family actually went on family outings. It really built chemistry for everyone and added to the rawness of the film. It was a great experience and I'm sure every actor on this film had the time of their life. I know I did.


With all that have experienced and learned on Hate Crime - could you ever be tempted to make another single shot movie?


I would not be, just because I don't want to revisit something I have already done. I already made a film like that, the one we are talking about, so now it's time to make something new and different.


Some of the violence in Hate Crime is pretty intense - was all of this in the script from the beginning, or was some added during rehearsals and the like? And what kind of a challenge was it, effects-wise? And were there any lines concerning violence and gore you refused to cross for whatever reason?


All of the violence in the film is definitely in the script. We kept exactly to the script throughout the full film, there was a little improvisation with lines through out the film but none of the actions, violence or story changed at all. 75% of the effects you see are practical effects, the other 25% are CGI. I will let you decide what is what lol. There were absolutely no lines we weren't willing to cross on this film. We went all out, nothing was too messed up to include. I think you will notice that when you all see it.


The $64-question of course: When and where will your film released onto the public?


Hate Crime is out to festivals now, so hopefully we get into some stuff! We find out in September. fingers crossed.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


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I am currently working on Pernicious, the horror film I wrote and am directing that is shooting in Thailand in January, produced by Benetone Films and Hillin Entertainment. I also wrote a script, with co-writer JD Fairman [JD Fairman interview - click here] called Auteur that on Pernicious, the horror film I wrote and am directing that is shooting in Thailand in January, produced by Benetone and Hillin bought the rights to and are producing, alongside my production company Psykik Junky Pictures, and we have attached Cameron Romero to direct. Lastly I am in pre-prod for Dancing with Rip, which is a project I didn't write but was hired to direct. It is the biopic on the grim sleeper serial killer.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Pernicious website:
Psykik Junky Pictures website:
My Pure Joy website:
Dancing with Rip website:
my Twitter: @Jamescullenb


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


No sir! You were quite thorough!


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks a million for having me again!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD