Your new movie By Day's End
- in a few words, what is it about?
and Rina are going through a rough patch in their relationship and it
all gets interrupted by the zombie apocalypse. I tend to
specify the genre as found footage lesbian zombie horror romance.
With By Day's End
being a zombie movie, is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your
genre favourites? And what do you think makes your movie stick out of the
crowd of genre fare?
horror is a huge favorite of mine. My mom let me watch Night of
the Living Dead at a very young age and I was scarred/hooked for life.
Fast or slow, virus or supernatural, I like them all. In fact, the
original idea for By
Day's End was inspired by a scene in 28 Days
Now I don't remember any of the characters' names, but there is a scene
where a man is bitten. There is the initial shock of the bite,
then a split second to contemplate the consequences, then the woman he
was with, I thought his girlfriend, kills the man. Very little
hesitation, and it makes sense in that universe considering how quickly
people change, but that scene always stuck with me. I thought
there would be no way I could make that decision that fast. In
fact, sort of spoilers, I thought I could spend a fair bit of a movie
wrestling with that decision.
Day's End sticks out by focusing more on the relationship
between the two main characters. Don't get me wrong, I love zombie
films that just go through cooler and cooler sequences of killing
zombies, but usually any drama or relationship conflict takes a pretty
distant backseat if not pulled behind the car with a bloody rope.
Day's End, I tried to bring that aspect to the front.
Other sources of inspiration when
writing By Day's End?
Melody by the Righteous Brothers, that song from Ghost with Patrick
Swayze. In particular the line, "I've hungered, hungered, for
your touch" Don't ask me why my mind jumped to zombies when
contemplating this line, but it did. In fact, the original version
of the script was titled Hunger.
also a big fan of the Twilight
Limits, Tales of the Dark Side, Black
Mirror, any of those shows which take a premise and, more
often than not, take it in a direction you weren't expecting. My
zombies are quite hungry and will eat most anything yet one of my main
characters is bulimic. I love playing with those sort of
can you tell us about By
Day's End's approach to horror?
we didn't have unlimited funds, we had to take the Jaws sort of approach
to horror. Don't show the monsters as much and try to build
tension atmospherically. Another side effect of this is that it
forces you to focus on how the horror affects the characters versus
actually showing the horror, so you really have to beef up the drama in
the relationship. Thankfully our actors did a really good job here
filling in the gap of not having 100s of zombies on screen.
Day's End was partly shot found footage style - so why is that,
and the advantages and challenges filming that way?
footage done well feels more intimate for me, like you are there
experiencing the events with the characters. The downside is that
you can run into motion sickness problems. I tried to get the best
of both worlds by mixing the found footage with security camera, fixed
camera shots that Carly sets up in their motel room, or the characters
drop the camera and it somehow manages to fall in the perfect spot.
challenge for pure found footage is editing within a scene.
Usually you have to do really long takes because there is no other
camera angle to cut to. The security cameras and fixed cameras
gave us that opportunity.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Lantz was a friend of the co-writer on the film, Justin Calen Chenn.
When he got on board, he had her in mind from the beginning. After
I met her, I immediately saw Carly. As you can see in the film,
she has an outward strength and can seamlessly flip that to
role for Rina came down to two actresses after initial application
screening. We did a Skype call and Andrea Nelson just nailed the
scenes she read. She was able to do the inverse of Lyndsey, come
across as more reserved at first but with hidden strength. I
always seen Rina as the true badass of the couple even though first
appearance might suggest otherwise.
Kellar Katz submitted a reading with his girlfriend that just captured
the calm cool of Wyatt when we first meet him in the film. Bill
Oberst jr [Bill Oberst jr
interview - click here] has just about the perfect voice for the Dr. Rittmeyer work
we needed, not to mention he's a veteran of the horror genre. Same
with Maria Olsen [Maria Olsen
interview - click here], the absolute perfect Mrs. Tibbs. I think Maria
was also a friend of Justin's, but when she came on set, she was just
magnificent. I don't want to leave anyone out, so I'll just say Devlin
Wilder, Umberto Celisano, Diana Castrillon, and the rest, all wonderful and all really fun
think the motel location is a key factor in By
Day's End - so where was it filmed, and what was it like filming
filmed at a motel in El Monte. It definitely had a lot of
character and characters staying there, including me. I stayed in
the motel for the duration of the shoot, in fact my room was used sort
of like the green room and make up room. Lyndsey actually stayed a
night in the room from the film when we had a late night. Ben
Bertucci, our DP, found quite a lot of interesting shots due to all the
off angles and strange shadows around the place.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
was scared to death the first few days because it was my first time
directing anything big. By day four or five, we definitely got
into a rhythm. I recall having a lot of laughs towards the end,
usually due to Josh or some of the crew joking around.
whole shoot took 11 days though we were scheduled for 12. The
hardest scenes were any with action or attack sequences. Those
took a lot of work to block out in a safe way. We also ran into
some problems with planes flying overhead every 5 minutes. The
scene that made me the most nervous was a particularly bloody scene in a
bath tub. So many things could go wrong with blood and it would
take ages to reset, plus we only have a few copies of the clothes for
the scenes, so we had to get it right in only one or two takes.
The $64-question of course, where can
By Day's End be seen?
film is coming out on March 17, and will be available on iTunes, Amazon,
Google Play, Playstation, Xbox, Vudu, FandangoNOW, and cable/satellite
(Comcast, Vubiquity, DirectTV, Dish/Dish Digital). The film will also be
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of By
Day's End yet?
haven't been any theatrical showings, but I am scheduling a couple.
One in the Bay Area, mainly for friends and family of mine, and another
in LA, for cast and crew. We have gotten a few reviews and some of
them bring up some criticisms that I agree with, usually related to low
budget issues or me making a mistake. Praise for Lyndsey and
Andrea seems to be universal. They really did a wonderful job, so
I'm excited that their work will be out there.
Any future projects you'd like to
likely be focusing more on screenwriting in the future outside of a few
shorts I'd like to tackle.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
started with writing, mostly short stories until I discovered
screenwriting. I wrote a few features and a sitcom pilot, got some
meetings with producers, even a few options, but nothing ever came of
them. I decided to write a script that, if all else failed, I
could make it myself. Turns out that is what happened.
had no formal training for making a film, and let me tell you, it is
less than ideal to try to learn all this on set. People talk about
imposter syndrome, where you are qualified but you feel like you aren't.
I didn't have the syndrome at the beginning of the shoot, I was really
an imposter! It wasn't until a few days into the shoot that I
started feeling like a director and it felt like everyone was working in
sync. I'm pretty sure I could write a book on what not to do while
making a film because, chances are, I made that mistake.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to By
filmed a Kickstarter trailer for an early iteration of the script called
Hunger. That was a single day shoot and quite difficult given my
lack of experience. We filmed only three scenes, one of which was
the difficult bathtub scene I mentioned earlier.
the other hand, my screenwriting experience is pretty vast. I've
written many features, a couple pilots, and several shorts. Many
have either been optioned or placed in a contest or both. Only Hunger/By
Day's End has been produced.
How would you describe yourself as a
my total of 12 days experience, I'd call myself a veteran. But
really, I threw myself straight into the deep end without knowing how to
swim and I survived. I want to study a bit more and take smaller
steps to build myself as a better director.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
a huge fan of the more well known folks, Fincher, Tarantino, Hitchcock,
but I also get quite inspired/jealous of the unknowns who come out of
nowhere and just knock it out of the park. A good example of this
Shane Carruth who made Primer, one of my favorite time travel movies.
You need a flow chart to fully understand that one. And, of
course, I'm quite inspired by the teams behind some of the early found
footage work, Blair
Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Rec, etc.
12 Monkeys, The Game, Fight Club, Usual
Dogs, Dial M
for Murder, Spaceballs, Big
Lebowski, Let the Right One
In, Nightmare on
Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Night of the Living
Dead, Jaws... I better
end it there, I could go on for ages.
... and of course, films you really
can never bring myself to not finish a movie, so if it is boring, I'm
bored and pissed off the entire time waiting for it to get better.
But now that I'm a screenwriter, even bad movies are useful for me to
learn what not to do. With that in mind, I can't think of a movie
I actively despise.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
check out my distributor, Breaking Glass Pictures, who have a lot of
cool horror titles coming up:
Anything else you're dying to mention and I've
merely forgotten to ask?
any screenwriters out there waiting for your big break, write something
you can shoot yourself and make it happen.
Thanks for the interview!