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An Interview with Jason Armstrong, Director of Inspiration

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2016

Films directed by Jason Armstrong on (re)Search my Trash


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


To me it's about a break-down in trust. When we can't trust others, won't trust the visions in our head, and cease trusting ourselves at all, things get pretty dark.


Sorry for the pun, but what inspired you to write Inspiration? And is it in any way based on personal experiences?


While I was visiting friends who owned the primary location at the time, the story sort of came to me. I remember walking around the house and the trees, near the pond (iced over, but most definitely in the film) and I started to see Samantha Kingsley out of the corner of my mind's eye.

My primary interest, writing-wise has always been drama, but spooky movies are an easier sell. So I guess that idea filtered into her story a little bit.


In Inspiration, the line between (the film's) reality and its lead's nightmares and imagination is blurred quite a bit - so how hard was it at times to not just lose the plot, and what can you tell us about your movie's narrative structure as such?


Inspiration is a very deliberate film. Everything means something. It serves a certain purpose on the surface - a creepy tale of isolation and madness - and tells different, more meaningful stories at deeper levels. It was clear early on than it would take a second or third watch for those other stories to reveal themselves to most viewers and it probably wouldn't get that chance very often. We had to be ok with that.

So there are kind of three levels: A woman makes a poor choice and goes a bit nuts is one. The second is a trust narrative and it looks at motivations, all of which are in the film, but none of which are in focus for very long. The third level is about whether the bogeyman could, in fact, be an angel or a word of warning.


Do talk about Inspiration's approach to horror for a bit!


I loved horror films and scary books as a kid. The first novel I ever read was Pet Sematary - Sam Kingsley's name being a nod a Stephen King - and I always loved a well-executed feeling of dread.

Gore is alright, but it never really turned my crank in the sense that I felt like I needed to splash blood and guts everywhere to scare people.

So we kept the red-stuff to a minimum and wanted to aim for characters that give you complicated feelings going through terrible situations. 

Without saying too much, the garage scene is case-in-point: Sam feels compelled to do something unspeakable, but we watch her doing it instead of watching it being done. It is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable.

Also, the ever-present totem of Sam's baddie (from her books) feels very unsettling. Those are the kinds of tension we wanted to create, rather than viscera and loud noises, not that those don't have an important place in many films.


While we're at it, you also have to talk about your movie's rather wonderfully creepy killer mask!


That was chosen before plague doctor masks started popping up a lot. I stumbled across it online, being made by hand by a leather-worker and it bothered me. I liked the way it bothered me and it just seemed the right choice.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I always tell the actors that I want the characters to feel "lived in" and a key focus was to feel that we were privy to a piece of some ongoing lives. We get a great sense of that early on in the scenes between Sam (Emily Alatalo) and Mark (Ry Barrett). There is a weariness to their relationship that feels is and worn.

I don't like to "micro-direct". It's very important to cast actors who can inhabit your characters. I'm there to steer the ship should it veer off course, and monitor the overall vision coming together. The embodiment of the characters is the cast's job.


Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


I had worked with nearly all of the cast before. I love working with Emily as she brings vulnerability, strength, and depth to her characters. She is also very tough and down-to-earth and willing to get very uncomfortable for the sake of the character (case-in-point, the snow walk).

Everyone else was so great and so generous. I could go on about all of them, but we'd run out of Internet.

There was no formal audition process, mostly just me calling people that were awesome and asking them to jump in. And they did. And they have (mostly) waited very patiently through a long, difficult post-production process.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


Incredible. Everyone on set was unbelievable.

Chris, the character with the crutches and our stunt co-ordinator was recovering from surgery for a broken ankle, performed less than a week before we rolled. His character wasn't originally supposed to be crippled.

Dave, our DP, cooked breakfast a few times. Everyone played grip and AC when needed.

One night, we even sat together and had a marathon of other films we'd worked on.

It was an incredible experience that would be tough to replicate.


The $64-question of course, when and where will Inspiration be released onto general audiences?


We're talking with distributors right now and as soon as I know, I'll pass the info along. The hope is for a fall release in most territories.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Inspiration yet?


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Well, we've only sent it for review to a few places so far, and it's been great to see that critics are enjoying it. I'm sure negative reviews will come - this film isn't for everyone - but were basking in the positivity so far!


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Our film The Ghost is a Lie is in post-production and another film with Emily, Alison Undone is also in post and will be released in the spring.

I'd also love to have folks check out our web series 9 Days with Cambria - not horror, but very, very unique and interesting:


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


The film company is at, with a fresh site and news galore coming next week.

Facebook for Inspiration (we're just getting it rolling) is:

And SKG Films is:


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


If anyone happens to latch on to our series of films, they'll start to see some interesting interconnections between the worlds of the films. Watch for Inspiration's (and 48 Hours in Purgatory's) reality to turn up briefly in The Ghost is a Lie.


Thanks for the interview!


My pleasure!

© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



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



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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