Your upcoming movie Desolation - in a few words, what is it about?
On it's own and at it's simplest, Desolation is a hitchhiker horror film. It's
about a couple that pick up a woman in need of help and just like in any
horror film, no good deed goes unpunished as this woman is not who she claims
What were your inspirations when writing Desolation?
My original inspiration for Desolation, years ago, was wanting to make a
film that metaphorically put The River Styx as a real place on Earth, and
I envisioned Route 66 as being that representation. So I was inspired
by the "Mother Road" of America. Also when I was younger, I
remember seeing a mysterious woman at a rest stop who was hitchhiking.
Though it was probably harmless enough, she didn't look like the kind
of person that would be hitchhiking so I started creating a crazy
backstory for her and eventually I combined it with the story.
But I shelved the script for a long time. It just wasn't right. But when
the opportunity came up to make this film, I did some re-writes,
focusing it more on the hitchhiker element and it just seemed to fall
into place. A mysterious woman hitchhiking down a desolate road.
Desolation is part of Jessica Cameron's Kill the PA-project
[Jessica Cameron interview - click
here] - so do quickly explain the concept, and how did you come on
Kill The PA is a project that saw two feature films shot across country.
Instead of being shot privately in one location, it was brought to the
fans with the intention of it being shot all over the place. It was an
idea conceived and executed by producers Jessica Cameron and Jon Higgins
interview - click here]. Jessica was shooting one of the films and after looking at
different options for the second film, they came to me about it and I
immediately thought of Desolation. I polished it up and gave them the
script. They loved it and we went back and forth on some of the ideas
and after a few more re-writes, it became a part of the project.
What I found most interesting about the concept was how we would get the
locations. It really appealed to the artist in me. It felt like
something David Lynch would be totally into. Instead of creating it, it
was a more organic approach where we had to find it as we went. If we
couldn't find it, we couldn't do it.
It was exciting because, as one example, by chance we pulled off the
highway at a completely random exit and we stumbled upon a ghost town.
And in this ghost town there was a beautiful church, so since there was
a scene in the script that required a church, we thought this would be
perfect. So the producers hunted down a priest, who ended up being 20
miles away and they went to see him and got the proper paperwork filled
out, allowing us to shoot there.
The downside to this process was the prep. I couldn't prep this film how
I prep everything else and I (and the rest of the crew) had to go go
into it blindly. Many shots would have to be changed on the fly to fit
with the locations and we didn't have a lot of resources either. We were
traveling across country in an RV. We could only bring what we could
fit, so we had limited gear, FX, set deck, limited everything.
I embraced it and decided the best thing to do is approach it in a non
conventional way, since it's a non conventional shoot.
Do talk about your key cast for a bit, and why
exactly these people?
Well Jessica Cameron plays one of the leads and of course she created
the project and produced it, so it was a no brainer to have her in it.
But it wasn't like 'oh, gotta find a character for her,' she actually
just fit this one character perfectly.
Tristan Risk [Tristan Risk interview
- click here], I had recently worked with on Save Yourself and for the
few months leading up to doing Desolation, I had been staring at Tristan
daily while dealing with the editing of the film. So when the idea was
offered to me to be able to work with her again, I immediately jumped on
it. She did such an amazing job on Save Yourself. Very committed to the
role and to the production. Without hesitation, I said, 'yes please.'
Her look also fit perfectly for the mysterious hitchhiker.
With Carlo Mendez, who plays the lead male in the film, the producers
showed me his audition tape and I was sold right away. He didn't deliver
the lines the way I planned for them to be said, but the way he
interpreted and delivered it was really impressive. He conveyed such
emotion that I knew this guy was the guy. So I let him run with it.
Ali Ferda, who plays Jessica's sister in the film, was another one that
just clicked when I saw the audition tape. Like it had to be her and no
one else. Her interpretation was spot on and she had all these little,
subtle mannerisms and nuances with her character that made her stand out
in all the right ways. I am excited to work with her again and again.
But it's not just the key cast, I think I was really blessed with the
entire cast I had been given on this project. Ryan Kiser, Teresa Parker,
Tiffany Arnold were all dedicated to their craft and a pleasure to work
with. Shortly before shooting I saw a trailer for a film called House Of
Manson, starring Ryan Kiser as Charles Manson. And having grown up
reading true crime novels and studying various serial killers, I can say Kiser did a brilliant job portraying Manson. I was excited to not
only meet him but work with him.
With Jessica Cameron
[Jessica Cameron interview - click
here] and Tristan
Risk [Tristan Risk interview - click
here] you filmed another movie, Save Yourself, not too long ago -
and even if we have talked about that one at length before [click
here], do give us an update, what is that one about?
Save Yourself is five women on a road trip who are in the wrong place at
the wrong time and cross paths with a deranged scientist who uses them
for his experiments.
As far as an update goes, we just released our first teaser trailer for
the film along with a couple stills:
And it is exciting to get the film ready to play festivals later this
year. I worked with Allen Ormerod and Pino Halili from Post City Sound
on this film. And these guys come with so much experience in the
industry. Honestly they've got more years of experience in this business
than I've got years of life. So it was great to create this with them
and such a solid team. I definitely was able to take a step up with this
film. So I really want to spread the word about the film, get the
trailer out there and get people excited for it. On the surface it has a
simple premise. Five girls, road trip, bad things happen, but there is
so much more to it. There is a heavy science element and a heavy art
element to the filmmaking and the story telling and the character
do these two films compare in their look and feel, their approach to
horror and the like?
I think they are very different regarding look and feel and I purposely
try to do that with all my films. I always try to switch it up, just
because I have a vast range to play with in the world of horror. As far
as my approach to horror, my preferred choice is to create more artful
horror because horror is an art form to me. I love and respect the
It's interesting to compare these two. Because while Save Yourself
simple setup of five very attractive women who essentially wind up in a
house of horrors, the execution was very technical and precise.
Meanwhile, Desolation is a very layered and complex story and timeline,
but with a simpler approach to the shoot. First of all you need to work
within reality. Yes you need to shoot for the stars and yes you need to
push yourself beyond your limits, But things can easily get away from
you if you're busy trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Even
if you succeed, you still end up destroying the peg.
So knowing this, I looked at Desolation within the confines of reality.
We're traveling across country with limited equipment, let's capitalize
on what we have. We have some awesome moments of gore, thanks to Jordan
Pacheco interview - click here], but for the most part we left it more cerebral which really fit
the delivery of the story.
Josh Chiara was my cinematographer and we both have a passion for the
artistic expression of film and we developed a look and texture for the
film that fit within what we were doing. We shot with the KineMini with
Leica R lenses. Great cinematic look and it's a very light and mobile
camera that shoots 4K which was perfect for traveling across country.
Frankly if we had an Alexa we would never have been able to get half the
shots we got, simply because of the size of that thing. So while
technical wise, we kept things simple, I left the story more complex. If
you just want to see a story about a young couple traveling and crossing
paths with a sexy hitchhiker on a killing spree, then you've got it.
It's all right there, but the delivery and timeline is definitely more
obscure, offering the viewing something bigger.
For Save Yourself, it's a totally different look and feel. We used
anamorphic lenses and lots of track, multiple dollies and a 30 foot jib
and that is simply because I wanted specific shots for this kind of
story. It's funny when people say all you need is a story and equipment
and everything else doesn't matter. Yes, story comes first, but film is
a visual means for telling your story so you gotta make sure you put
just as much attention into how you shoot it. And just like the picture
and just like the story, sound was a huge element for this film. From
day one I always imagined huge sound design that would really set the
tone for the fear and drive the tension. And obviously I've got
nothing to worry about in regards to sound because Allen and Pino have
that end of things covered with Post City Sound. Honestly the sonic
elements for this film will blow you away.
But back to the look, my cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson knew
exactly what I wanted and how to make it happen. And having worked with
him before, I could leave him to create that, while I put my attention
on the characters and the story.
Ryan, Jessica Cameron, Carlo Mendez
is set to be
released later this year, right? Could you go into any more detail?
currently putting finishing touches on Save Yourself, so it will be ready
to hit festivals this year. As for when it will premiere and where, that's
a waiting game for us all. But we will play the festival route with it and
I look forward to showing it to everyone.
[Jessica Cameron interview - click
here] has produced both Save Yourself
and Desolation - so
what sort of a producer is she, and since Desolation was (I
presume) more her show than Save Yourself, did she at all demand
more creative control?
She's a tough as nails business oriented woman, so she makes one
I brought Jessica onto Save Yourself
and she brought me onto Kill The
PA. So with Save Yourself
I brought her in to work with me, Allen, Pino,
Emma Sutherland (producer) and Chris Cull (co-producer/editor) and
together we all busted our asses in pre production, during the shoot and
But Kill The PA is her baby. She brought me in to direct a film of my
own for it. So she definitely did NOT demand more creative
control, which was great. She let me tell my story and was hands off.
She and Jon Higginss [Jonathan
Higgins interview - click here] provided notes for re-writes early on, as all
producers do, but when it came to making the film, Jessica had her film
to make and I had mine. And they are two totally separate films. If they
were the same, or Jessica and I had the same style, then the whole point
of the project would be moot in my opinion. What works is these are two
totally different types of horror. Jessica is more about a visceral
shock rock kind of style and I'm more of the brooding, psychological
Back to Desolation - what
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was a gruelling shoot. Since we had to shoot so much in a short amount of
time, while still driving a few thousand miles all in the span of a week.
I don't care who you are, that is tough. Especially when you don't
normally work crazy hours like that. There were some great people I met
making that film, some of them I call family now, but it was not easy. I
think it was an anthropologist's wet dream. Seriously, you put a bunch of
us in an RV and we are shooting two films back to back in three weeks
(meanwhile most of the time one film takes more than three weeks to shoot)
And a third film is being shot the whole time, documenting us, giving us
no downtime. I am surprised no one physically punched out anyone else. You
really gotta give credit to the whole team. We were there for each other
and that is what made it work. Thank God for Scuba Steve, that's all I can
idea when and where Desolation will be released onto the general
I never rush a film. Because once it is out
there, it's out there, so it's gotta be right. I still have to do a day of
pickups and honestly the majority of my time has gone to finishing Save Yourself
first, because Save Yourself
was shot first and I took time off
from Save Yourself's post, to go shoot Desolation, But now that
Save Yourself is in the home stretch, it's getting Desolation done, but I
honestly don't how long that will take, because I don't want to half ass
it just to get it done quick or to get it done in time for a festival.
As far as I know, your earlier movie Sick
- Survive the Night has only recently been released in the USA and
Germany - so how's the reception of the movie been in these markets?
- Survive the Night came out in Canada and the USA January 6th and then
it came out in Germany a couple weeks later under the title of Zombie
Wasteland. Art is subjective and what one person likes, someone else will
hate for the same reason. So there are people that love what we did with Sick
- Survive the Night and enjoyed it and there are others that didn't. And I'm okay with
that because that is what art is all about. It's about opinions and no one
is right or wrong. It's just there to enjoy. At the end of the day I
wanted to tell a story that was a realistic zombie film. And realistically
speaking, two years after the zombie outbreak, there really wouldn't be
any good guys, just different degrees of people with nothing to lose.
There also wouldn't be any hope. Day after day of struggling to get by
just to struggle again tomorrow, it would create a depressing sense of
despair. And that I think is where the original horror angle plays into
it. It's not about the zombies, it's about the will to keep going or lack
thereof. It's a very bleak film and some get that and appreciate it while
others are bothered by it, because they want something more fun or gory,
but if we didn't play this angle then it would be like so many others out
Any future projects you'd like to share?
My life this year has been focused so much on the release of Sick
- Survive the Nightt and post production on both Save Yourself
Desolation, so I have been keeping extremely busy with that.
Still, Chris Cull (who I co-wrote Sick
- Survive the Night with and co created the story for Save Yourself
with) and I have been finishing up a couple new scripts.
And they are ready to go. So I am looking forward to moving forward with
those films as the post production work load lightens. So look for
something new soon.
movies' websites, Facebook, whatever else?
My Facebook page:
Save Yourself Facebook page:
- Survive the Night Facebook page:
Desolation Facebook page:
Black Eve Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BlackEveMovie
Twitter: @RyanMAndrews1 and @SaveYourselfMVE
"> Save Yourself website: saveyourselfmovie.com
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Just keep checking out the indie Canadianhorror scene. There is so much
talent here it is insane. Most people know about the amazing Soskas [Soska
Twins interview - click
here] having done American
Mary, ABC's Of Death 2 and
See No Evil 2. But those
lovely ladies are just the tip of the iceberg.
Kingdom Come is out now, starring Save Yourself
star Ry Barrett.
Gavin Michael Booth's [Gavin
Michael Booth interview - click here] The
Scarehouse, starring Teagan Vincze [Teagan
Vincze interview - click here], Sarah Booth [Sarah
Booth interview - click here] and Emily Alatalo is
Lee's [Tricia Lee interview -
click here] Silent Retreat with Jen Pogue and Robert Nolan
[Robert Nolan interview -
click here] is out.
Carrer's In The House Of Flies is out there (the director is also
getting ready to release an action packed revenge film called The
Archibald's The Drownsman is coming out soon and AntiSocial 2 will be
hitting festivals this year.
is so much talent in the horror genre coming out of Canada, and I am
excited to be a part of it with these people.
for the interview!