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An Interview with Mitch McLeod, Director of Silhouette

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2019

Films directed by Andrew McLeod on (re)Search my Trash


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


On 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 things.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Silhouette? And is any of this based on personal experience?


Itís 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.


I 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.


It 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.


To what extent can you actually identify with Amanda and/or Jack, and their respective actions?


They 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 itís received.


I 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.


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit, and is that a genre at all dear to you?


Iíve 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.


That 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.


So 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.


Silhouette 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?


It 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 powerful.


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


I 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.


Thatís 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 ideas.


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


I 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 this film.


April 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 on-set atmosphere?


I 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.


Seeing 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 deserve.


The $64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?


Right 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 yet?


We 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 is amazingĒ, and when I ask them where they heard that itís always ďChris wouldnít shut up about it.Ē Ha. I love it.


The 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?


I 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.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


Iíve 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 me.


I 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.


I 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?


UmmÖ just 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.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I donít know. I know what I want. But, like I said earlier, Iím also open to surprises.


A 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 magic.


Other than that, I donít know. Describing myself as a director. I guess youíd have to ask the ones that have worked with me.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


David 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 Denis Villeneuve.


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


Thereís 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 interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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