Your new movie Silhouette
- in a few words, what is it about?
the surface, Silhouette
is a by-the-books haunting story, with the death
of this coupleís child serving as a sort of catalyst for all of the
events to come. The short of it is that this is a story of a couple
attempting to reestablish themselves in this world and for each other in
the wake of an unspeakable tragedy. How do you get past that? Is it even
something that can truly be done? The story, as it unfolds, aims to
portray how differently people can be individually affected by such
were your sources of inspiration when writing Silhouette?
And is any of this based on personal experience?
truly difficult to talk about that without giving away the big ending and
what it all entails, but I will say that I was made privy to some
information as a very young child that maybe I was too young to know
about, but my mother always trusted me with knowledge. I was living in an
apartment in a city called Rowlett and horrible tragedy occurred right
down the road.
hadnít thought about it in a while. When I was originally
conceptualizing this film, I didnít know immediately what it was. I
knew certain aspects of it and I knew many parts of the story but, at the
time, I knew that the root of this story was about these two people being
trapped into a relationship that has become void of love over time,
something I had witnessed many times with people in my own life. I also
knew that religion was going to play a role in the film because, while
Iím not a religious person, the psychology behind it all fascinates me.
was when I got about halfway through the first outline that the memory of
this horrible event I came to know about in my childhood came back into my
mind. I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand it. And so I basically
scrapped everything and started from scratch.
what extent can you actually identify with Amanda and/or Jack, and their
say that, whether itís consciously or subconsciously, you always put a
little bit of yourself into the characters you write. I donít know if
thatís true or not but I suppose I can see it. I donít feel like I
identify entirely with either one of them, or maybe not even much at all.
However, I guess I, like anybody else, can understand the feeling of doing
something questionable out of a certain sense of desperation, knowing
Iíve made mistakes and learning how to live with them. At the end of the
day thatís what itís all about; the point of view of an action and how
judged so many of these characters so harshly at certain points and I
think it had a negative impact on the writing, so what I had to learn and
realize is that theyíre just people, and people make mistakes. Itís
difficult for me to determine who in this film is in the right, if anybody
is, and who is in the wrong.
talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit, and is that a genre
at all dear to you?
always loved horror films. I owe my decision to start writing stories to
horror films, particularly Scream and Halloween. Iím not
such a fan that I have sought out some of the more obscure horror films
that exist like the real fans have, but I do treasure it.
said, I donít know that I set out to be a horror filmmaker. I did come
to develop an appreciation for the genreís marketability, though. And
the genre really did lend itself to the story. Iím fascinated by broken
people. Iím also in love with the idea of taking characters that are so
entirely unlikeable and forcing and audience to find a way to identify
with them. Itís scary to look at somebody who is so damaged and terrible
but find that they have traits with which you can relate.
I knew that I could take this film, which is equal parts drama, and add a
horror element to it and I think that was the missing ingredient. The
horror creeps rather than launching an all out assault and I prefer it
that way. The slow, simmering dread that lasts throughout thatís present
in recent films like The Witch and Hereditary, thatís my
favorite kind of horror. Jump scares and scary monsters are nice and all,
but theyíre not my preference.
does leave quite a bit open to interpretation, like if the haunting's real
or just in Amanda's head - was this all intended from the get-go or did
this only sneak in later when writing or even filming?
was always intended to be left open for interpretation. Unlike now, where
you actually get to see some scenes with Kim Foster as The Woman, the
earliest drafts never showed an entity and so much of it truly was left up
to the imagination of the viewer. I just find that to be more interesting
than a narrative that spells it all out for you. Not everybody watches a
movie to think and thatís fine, but thatís the goal here. Really, I
wanted to make a film that both people who do and do not like to think
while watching a film can enjoy the same amount but for different reasons. Some
of my favorite films are the ones that people are still debating about
two, three, four decades after they were made. Thatís
What can you tell us about your overall directorial
approach to your story at hand?
wanted to have a certain balance of certainty and creative freedom. I
wanted to make sure I had definite plans but tried to find time to
experiment wherever I could. The thing is, you can plan and plan and plan
all you want but when you get on set and get going you will almost always
encounter something that you didnít think of, or something new will come
to you in the moment. For instance, there is a dramatic scene midway
through the film between Jack and Amanda that was supposed to contain
multiple shots. However, Carlos Garcia, who was operating the camera at
the time, moved it in such a way that it became a beautiful two shot and I
knew right there I didnít need any other coverage after that. And I was
right. Itís a beautiful and emotional moment and being able to linger
with it for so long just made it that much more effective.
a key thing for me. Collaboration. You never know who might have a good
idea so be open to anybodyís thoughts. If you donít, you might
inadvertently shut yourself off to a world of ideas that you didnít
think of at first. The crew was amazing, and everybody contributed so much
for so little with our tight knit budget, and many provided some great
Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these
donít know if I can honestly choose who I could name as key cast and
what criteria I would use to determine that. Length of screen time? How
much of the story is directly about them? Every single one of them really
brought something special and I think it would take forever to list why I
chose every single one of them. I
will say that I had either worked with these people in the past or had
seen and admired their work with others and knew I had to bring them on.
Nobody auditioned. It was clear as day from the beginning who would be in
Hartman, Tom Zembrod, Jessica Dawn Willis (who Iím also fortunate enough
to call a wife), Savannah Solsbery, Kim Foster, and Suzanne Racz all made
this film so much better with what they brought to the table and Iím so
proud of what they achieved here.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
canít say enough about it. It was brutal. Ugly. Itís an emotional film
so emotions were crazy. The days were long, hitting up to 19 hours on more
than one occasion ... and
we loved every minute of it. This team became a family in these moments.
We all believed in what we were creating, and there was this amazing
energy that I had never felt before because we all felt like we were
creating something special.
the final results, I think it shows. There arenít enough positive things
in the world I could say about these people. They really brought it all
and I hope that this gets out there and gets them the attention they all
The $64-question of course, where can
your movie be seen?
now, it canít. We are holding a private screening in Dallas for friends,
family, and fellow filmmakers very soon but at the moment thatís it.
Iím currently working on a small festival run and working through some
distribution details right now, so itís up in the air. I do know that,
one way or another, it will be out for the public to see some time in
2019. And Iíll be sure to let you know.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Silhouette
havenít shown it to audiences yet so we havenít had much feedback. It
is funny though. Christopher Vaughan, the gaffer of the film and overall
guru to me in so many ways, is one of the biggest champions of this film.
People will come to me and say ďHey, I hear Silhouette
and when I ask them where they heard that itís always ďChris
wouldnít shut up about it.Ē Ha. I love it.
critical reception has been amazing so far, which is a nice relief. I know
I have a distinct style so not everybody is going to love it, but having
every critic so far review it so positively has been nice. Hopefully we
continue that streak.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have a couple irons in the fire right now, but Iíll be keeping it pretty
close to the vest until the time comes to really move forward. It will be
bigger than anything Iíve done in the past, I will say that.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
always enjoyed writing and acting, both of which Iíve done since I was
at a single-digit age. When I was younger, I would shoot scenes on a cheap
camcorder I had at one point, not because I wanted to be a director but
because I wanted to tell stories and nobody else was going to do it for
thought I was crazy at one point because the ideas I had in my head
werenít like anything I had seen before. But then I saw two films: Mulholland
Drive and Requiem For a Dream, and I realized that there
actually was a world where the ideas I had could exist. And
that was it, really.
havenít had much formal training at all. Watching videos by filmmakers I
respect, reading books, and paying as close attention as possible on sets
really has helped.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Silhouette?
to watch it, I suppose. Ha. I donít know. Describing my own work has
always been weird. ARC: A Love Story is a feature film shot on a $2000
budget that you can view now on Amazon Prime and also purchase on DVD.
Birthday Girl, the one that really started getting me attention, is a low
budget short also available on Prime.
would you describe yourself as a director?
donít know. I know what I want. But, like I said earlier, Iím also
open to surprises.
lot of people think I have an ego, and maybe theyíre not wrong, but I
just strongly trust in my ability to bring on the right people who will
help me to do the things that I know I canít do on my own. And so really
I hold the ego for all of us, because I know that together we can make
than that, I donít know. Describing myself as a director. I guess
youíd have to ask the ones that have worked with me.
who inspire you?
Lynch will always be my number one, with Darren Aronofsky as a close
second. David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Nicolas Winding Refn, those are
three that have been on my radar for a while that I would love to take
lessons from. Most recently Iíve become fascinated by Lynne Ramsay and
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Anything else you're dying to mention
and I have merely forgotten to ask?
a lot of questions here. I think you about covered it. Please keep an eye
out for the filmís official release and check it out when itís
available. Thanks for the interest in talking with me.
Thanks for the