Since your movie Black Eve
is just about to be released - in a few words, what is it about?
It's a Halloween party gone wrong. It's pretty ladies, booze and
sexy Halloween costumes. Three key ingredients for a body count /
slasher film. The setting is a closed down department store, where a group of
young adults have a Halloween party. An uninvited guest shows up and, well, bad
Now how did the project fall together in the first place?
Producer Neil Green, who also plays "The Man" in the film,
came to me. He had acted in one of my earlier features, A New Design, and
we had already worked together making two short films as well. Basically
Neil pointed out this closed down department store and said, how would you
like to shoot in there.
I took a tour of the place and it was amazing. It was huge and empty.
And I actually remember, in the middle of one of the floors shrouded in
darkness was a tiny pink tricycle, just sitting there alone. It was really
creepy. Like, it was the perfect setting for a horror film.
I had an interesting body count script laying around and I thought this
would be the perfect location for it, so Neil and I re-worked the story to
fit with the location. And then he hit me with the catch. Eventually the
building would be torn down, so we had to go to camera in about a month
and we only had six days to shoot.
Of course I was already hooked, so I couldn't say no.
With Black Eve
being a slasher movie, basically - is that a genre you can at all relate
to, and some of your genre favourites? And what do you think makes your
film stick out of the crowd of slashers?
I grew up on the horrors of the 80's. So there always has been and
always will be a soft spot in my heart for the slashers. Of course I love
Freddy and Jason, but even more, I loved the lesser known slashers,
Of The Demons, Terror Train, Sleepaway
I definitely wanted to make sure Black Eve
stood out. I didn't want to
just make another by the numbers slasher. I wanted to give slasher fans
something a touch different. And I think we did that. The main character,
which would be considered "The Outsider/Loner Character" was the
outsider because she has psychic abilities, Because she's different, she's
teased and picked on by everyone else.
She's the only one that survives the party, primarily because she was
the victim of a prank, orchestrated by the "Bitch Character" of
course. So the film actually follows our psychic when she wakes up the
next day to find dead bodies everywhere. She goes from room to room using
her psychic abilities to retrace the events of the night before.
So to stand out from the crowd, Black Eve
is still a fun by the numbers
body count film, but it plays out in a much different way.
We have all the usual suspects, the bitch, the slut, the loner
(which is like the modern day version of the virgin character). At the end
of the day, with some artistic integrity, we just wanted to have fun with
the characters and the film. Play them up a little, not make them full-out
cheesy, but we're paying homage to a fun sub-genre.
of inspiration when writing Black
Music. Music is a huge influence for me when
writing anything. Since this script was all about a party gone to hell, I
listened to a lot of horror themed party songs, Stuff by Murderdolls,
Wednesday 13 and Rob Zombie. I love Zombie's music and I've seen him live
many times. He doesn't do a rock show, he does a "Motherfucking
Zombie Party." I mean what do you expect with songs like Living Dead
Girl, Mars Needs Women, Meet The Creeper.
Slasher movies demand quite a bit of blood
and violence almost by definition - so how did you go about this in Black
Eve, and was there ever a line you refused to cross?
We definitely have blood. Lots of blood especially considering our
restraints. This isn't a 20 million dollar Hollywood slasher. Hell, this
isn't even a 2 million dollar slasher. We had six days in a mall. We were
limited with time, we were limited with money. But when it came to the
blood, that was key and I made sure we did everything we could.
At the end of the day, some people think that horror films need
"tits" to sell. But they don't. You want "tits", watch
a porno! For horror, fans want blood. Look at The Texas Chain Saw
Christmas, Scream, Child's Play, hell, even (in my
opinion) the best Friday The
13th... Part 6: Jason Lives. They work really
well and there is no nudity. Yes, many slasher films do have a lot of
nudity, and I have no personal problem with it. I'm a fan, but when it
comes down to it, in a horror film, the blood is WAY more important.
So we went balls to the wall. Probably some of the best deaths I have
done on screen. And there is one specific death, that for some might cross
a line. It's very violent and very disturbing, but it actually has a lot
less blood than a couple other deaths. But it is about the context. I
can't say much about it without giving a lot away, but I'll just say,
everything I do in any film has a purpose. So despite it being graphically
violent and maybe possibly offensive, it is there for a reason.
would you describe your overall directorial approach to your subject at
Eve, like all my work, I approach directing the same way.
I've created these characters and set the world they play in, but it's the
actors that breathe life into them and make them real. I like to give the
actors a good amount of space to feel at home and not afraid to try
Everything is about prep. Discussions with the make up artsits, production
designer, DoP, actors, everyone, is done long in
advance cause when you get on set, you just gotta move. There is always
that moment when you are actually in the middle of it with everyone there
that creativity strikes, but you can only change the playbook if everyone
is in sync. So it's all about prep and communication.
You of course have to talk about your location,
the abandoned department store, for a bit, and how did you get it, and
what were the advantages and challenges of filming there?
First thing that comes to mind was, the cold. It was the dead of
winter, in Canada and we're in a closed down department store. There was
no heat. We had lots of space heaters but the department store was so
huge, there was no way we could heat it all, only small parts at a time.
Of course, who am I to complain, I'm standing there in a sweater and coat
next to a couple women in skimpy outfits. Clearly they're the ones that
got the use of the heaters.
It was just the perfect location to set a film. There were so many
rooms upon rooms to shoot cool things in. It was great. Just cold.
Ryan M. Andrews and Neil Green
Eva James with Ryan M. Andrews
Neil got the location, and though it would be fun to make up a story
where we had to sneak in, or con someone, the reality is we did everything
by the book. We got the location the same way any film gets their
talk about your key cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?
Well of course there is Neil Green, who played the killer. And he
didn't just get the part because he was one of the producers. He is one
helluva actor. After Black
Eve, I had him in my next feature, SICK. He's
very talented and has a great on screen presence. He really fills the
screen. I think I definitely butted heads with him a few times on set as producer. We probably wanted to kill each other but that was because we
were dealing with such a tight window for shooting and everything was
go, go, go. But no matter what, when it was time for him to take the
producer hat off and jump in as his character, he did it perfectly. Never
any problems there.
Eva James plays our lead. And whether she really believes me or not, I
had wanted to work with her for years. I had seen her headshot
at least six or seven years before that and I really liked her look. And I
had auditioned her for one of my earlier films and she was amazing. It
came down to her and another person. We made the right choice going with
the other person for that role, but I definitely took notice of Eva. She
is a great actor and she has a very "real" look. She's the girl
next door. One of the shorts Neil and I did, I brought her out to be in
that, and while we were shooting, Neil and Chris Cull (who is also a
producer on Black
Eve as well as the editor) both said to me, "we
need to put her in a feature." So they saw the same thing I did, and
the moment Black
Eve came to be, my first phone call was to Eva.
Second phone call was to Kassandra Santos. She was another actress I
had worked with previous to Black
Eve and she was great. She is a very
fluid actor. By that I mean it just comes out of her. It's so natural and
beautiful to watch. Whatever I needed, she could deliver. And like Neil,
her presence also fills the screen. There is also a slight darkness to
her. She is an extremely beautiful woman, but she has a sly, devilish
thing about her as well, which is why I thought she would make the perfect
Veronika London, Emily Schooley, Hayley Toane,
Cailey Muise, were some of the other women we
brought in to play the various "women in a horror film"
characters. And it was a lot of fun working with them. They all had
equally great, but different looks that played well for the film and their
characters. And Thet Win, Scott Vancea and Jo Jo
Karume were great male actors to play off of the ladies.
These guys all had great looks. I felt the audience would definitely have
their favorites and they would have the ones they love to hate. I'm so
happy with all of them.
few words about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere?
It was fast and intense. Every day there was a death or two and a bunch
of heavy dialogue scenes. Geoff. W. (our production designer) was actually
kinda like a ghost. Cause you never saw him. Just his work. While we were
shooting at one end of the department store, he was dressing a hallway at
the other end, that we would be using the next day. And when we were
there, he was on to the next floor. So we never saw him, but we saw his
I remember our big party day. The day began with shooting our biggest
death scene and followed by all our party shots of everyone dancing and
having a good time. So we spent many hours in this long narrow hallway
rigging an amazing SFX prop thanks to make up SFX
master Steve Dawley who worked closely with our make up
artist Stacie Robinson putting everything together. While we were doing
this and pumping blood everywhere, people started showing up who were
playing party guests. So what we ended up doing was bringing a television
set in. It turned out we were shooting this on the same day Canada was
facing off against the USA in the gold medal Olympic hockey game. It was
the final game too. So everyone was sitting around watching the game and
it was like a real party. The game went into overtime and Canada won. So
everyone was in a great mood and ready to shoot the big party scene. When
you see everyone dancing and throwing their hands in the air, it's because
they were celebrating Canada winning the Gold.
what can you tell us about critical and audience reception of your movie?
It's impossible to make a movie that everyone loves, so there are those
out there that I'm sure didn't like it. Some may have preferred if we had
more kills at a faster pace and maybe others wished we slowed things down
more or whatever. But I'm very happy to know that Black
Eve does have its
fans. We worked so hard with so little, I don't think people realize
how much we were able to do with so little time and resources. So it is
really rewarding to know horror fans really like it.
And it is the same for the critical reception. We have played a number
of festivals and we've won a few awards as well. There's been good reviews
and not so favorable ones too. But you can't please everyone. A horror
reviewer I really respect told me, he was honestly really impressed
because it starts out as a by the numbers slasher film and it plays up to
your expectations but by the end, you realize it is its own style and
At the end of the day I had fun making it and I hope people have fun
finishing Black Eve,
you haven't exactly remained idle - so feel free to talk about the status
of your current and future projects for a bit?
Creating is like breathing. I can't not do it.
Probably the biggest thing since Black
Eve is SICK.
SICK is a dramatic
zombie feature that is currently playing film festivals and winning
different awards. I'm proud to say I won a Best Director award for SICK.
You can follow it on Facebook at facebook.com/sickthemovie
and see where upcoming festival screenings are. We want to finish off the
year with a big push through the festival circuit and then get it
stars some of Toronto's best actors including Robert Nolan [Robert
Nolan interview - click here], Ry Barrett, Christina Anne Aceto, Richard Sutton,
Jennifer Polansky, Sandra DaCosta [Sandra DaCosta interview - click
here] and also
features horror scream queen Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here].
Between features I love making shorts just to keep in shape, keep
practicing and trying new things. The Devil Walks Among You is
my award winning short that is still being played all over the place and
winning awards. I'm blown away by how much people really love that one.
Ry Barret, Jessica Cameron in Klymene
After finishing SICK
I did two new short films. The first one is called
Klymene. It's a very artful, moody piece that
stars two of my favorite people, Ry Barrett (NeverLost,
Kingdom Come, Desperate Souls) and Jessica Cameron (Silent
Night, Truth Or Dare, Camel Spiders) [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here].
The other short is called My Old Man.
Written and produced by Max Giacomelli, he brought me in to
direct. It stars Robert Nolan [Robert
Nolan interview - click here] and Adrian Cowan. It's a very Lynchian
style, art house noir film. It's a real intense story.
Both of those shorts will be released by the end of the year. And
because of the amazing success and response to The Devil Walks Among You,
Chris Cull and I have decided to do one more short film as well.
Chris co-wrote SICK
with me, we produced Klymene
and have worked on many projects together. And we decided we wanted to do
one more short that, like The Devil Walks Among You, is just a
very simple, minimalistic but brooding film. It's a macabre story called The Fourth
But it's not all shorts, I have a few features in various stages of
development and pre-production. Probably too much to mention,
but I am working with some great people on these projects and one of them
is moving forward with great momentum, which is really exciting for me.
I'm doing a couple classic style ghost stories with fellow Toronto
filmmaker, Navin Ramaswaran and the other films
range from a psychological mindfuck to a twisted and
bloody Grindhouse. I'm working again with Ry Barrett,
Jessica Cameron [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here] and Sandra DaCosta [Sandra DaCosta interview - click
here], but there are also so
many new actors I am looking forward to creating with. I am also set
to direct one segment of an anthology called Tales From Hell
produced by Kelly Michael Stewart.
That is what I love about the horror genre. Other than how passionate
and dedicated horror fans are, I love that there are so many different
styles of horror. It's not just slasher or torture. I've done four horror
features and each one is a different style. And these new ones are all
different as well. I know after ten years in the genre, some directors
want to move on and try other things and that's cool. And a good story is
a good story, so if I'm offered something outside the genre, I will
consider it based on the story. But at the end of the day, I personally
have no intentions or even desire to step outside of horror. There is too
many styles and stories to tell within our community here for me to look
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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Well, just that for anyone in North America, Black
Eve comes out on DVD Sept 24th 2013. It can be pre-ordered through
amazon or you
can get it from wherever you buy DVDs. So please support.
Other than that, just thank you to all the fans of horror, especially
all the fans of indie horror. It is because of your passion that me and so
many like-minded artists can do what we do. Brandon Slagle [Brandon
Slagle interview - click here] and Devanny Pinn [Devanny
Pinn interview - click here] have their film The Black
Dahlia Haunting coming out this fall, Gabriel Carrer
has his latest, In The House Of Flies, also coming out on DVD.
The Soskas' American Mary &
In A Trunk are both already out [Soska
Twins interview - click here]. And currently playing festivals all
over is my film SICK, Chad Archibald's
Jessica Cameron's graphic torture horror Truth Or Dare [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here].
Consider it a wake-up call to Hollywood. Quit wasting money. Horror
fans love these films, not because of the size of the budget or because it
is littered with a million overpriced stars. Horror fans love a horror
film, if it is good story with good acting.
for the interview!