Your new movie Jurassic Block - in a few words, what is it
Itís about a group of people, mostly hot
sorority girls, who are trapped in a prison along with some genetically
modified velociraptors. When the naughty dinos get loose then the whole
place is turned into a prehistoric buffet.
With Jurassic Block being a creature
feature, is that a genre you can at all relate to?
Genre is like icing on
the cake. Whether itís a monster movie, a zombie horror flick or
anything else it still should be about the people and all the crap they
have to go through. You know, all that Joseph Campbell stuff. The
difference between most of the junk thatís out there and a movie like,
say, Aliens, is that Cameron knows how to tell a story. Itís a
rollercoaster ride, but has resonance because of the relationship between
Ripley and Newt. It becomes something more than just a monster movie. That
way we can relate instead of bored of cardboard cut out characters.
how did the project fall together in the first place, what got it off the
While I was working on
Jurassic Attack (aka Rise of the Dinosaurs) for producer/director Anthony
Fankhauser interview - click here], I would joke around about doing a sequel. I called it
Electric Boogaloo. It was about dinosaurs and break dancing. Just kidding.
I pitched him an idea that was a combination of Attack the Block and
Raid: Redemption. A movie about U.S. teens living in the ghetto that fight
dinosaurs who take over their high rise building in the projects. It would
have been kick ass! Anyway, a few months after we finished up Jurassic
Attack, Fankhauser and executive producer JJ Kim called me up. They said
they liked the idea, but wanted to make a few tweaksÖ
Timothy Muskatell, Vanessa V. Johnston
From what I know, your original script differed
from the one that you filmed quite a bit - care to elaborate?
Luckily I hadnít
started writing the script yet when Fankhauser and JJ said they wanted to
do the project. Dino movies are hot property now. It used to be sharks.
Now dinos. Only they didnít want ghetto teens, but rather hot sorority
girls, and instead of the projects weíd set it in a prison. I was like
you are going to pay me to write, direct and edit a feature film? Fuck
yeah letís make it sorority girls!
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand, what
can you tell us about the look and feel of your movie?
Thatís quite a few
different questions there! Let me try to answer them one at a time. I make
my living as an editor and I approach all my films with an editorís eye.
I know exactly what I need to make a scene work. I also write the scripts
with that approach. I find that quite a number of scripts are somewhat
unrealistic when it comes to actual production. You have a set of
parameters to work with. This isnít some 200 billion dollar project. I
try to walk a balance between character stuff and action set pieces. Kiss
kiss, bang bang. As for the look and feel, well, thatís collaboration
between the director of photography Stuart Brereton and myself. Itís a
beautiful looking film in my opinion. With lots of tension! Which will be
layered in with the help of sound maestro, Ben Forman.
creature feature without creatures - so what can you tell us about Jurassic
Block's creature effects?
At the moment
thereís not a lot to tell. Iím in the process of editing the movie.
Iím around 50 minutes. Our FX guy is going to be Joseph Lawson. He
recently did another dinosaur film called Age of the Dinosaurs, and I
thought the critters looked great. Weíve seen some preliminary pictures
of the raptors and T-rexes, but thatís about it. We arenít going to do
anything too crazy with the look. Stick to what people know. I have to
lock the picture before Mr. Lawson can do this thing.
Also, since creature
features tend to be a tad on the gory side, how far is your film going in
terms of violence, blood and guts?
Expect to have a lot of dinosaurs
ripping people apart! You can count on that! We have going to have more
heads bitten off than a lifetime of post-sexual praying mantis hijinx.
What can you tell us
about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Well, Iíve been waiting for almost
twenty years to work with Ray Wise. I originally met him on the film
Powder in 1995. I actually got him that job because I begged the director
to work with Ray. I was a huge Twin Peaks fan at the time and the director
hated David Lynch. So, I grabbed a bunch of crappy movies Ray had been in
and edited them together. He was the only saving grace in this dreck.
After showing the director my work he agreed that Ray was the MAN and the
rest is history.
Kevin Gage was another actor I had
wanted to work with for a while. He was a friend of Shane Ryan [Shane
Ryan interview - click here], another
director I frequently collaborate with. They recently did a film called An
Owl in Echo Park. I appear in a brief scene where Iím the step-father to
Kevinís real life son who was also in the film. It was shot over at my
place so I finally got to meet Kevin in person. Heís a big teddy bear
and when I wrote the script I was thinking of him for the character of
Vernon Wells of course is an old pal. I
think Iíve now put him in four films so he owes me big time!
I had remembered Robert LaSardo from
Nip/Tuck where he played a very memorable character. When we were talking
about actors for the parts, Fankhauser brought his name up and I thought
that was a great idea.
Jack ForcinitoÖ heís another
regular in my films. He played the lead in Silent Night, Zombie Night and
also a total asshole pimp in Breath of Hate. Heís my ĎTalbotí. He
knows if thereís a character named Talbot in my script then itís been
written for him.
Monique Parent, Trista Robinson,
Jimmy Williams and Tim Muskatell are also people Iíve worked with in the
past who I think are great and I was so fortunate to get them in this.
As for the female leads, Dana, Kayla,
Sofia and VanessaÖ I didnít work with any of them previously. We found
them through the old casting process. I just want to say that we had a lot
of crappy actors come in and read for us, so I was so grateful to get some
gals who were amazing.
Kayla Carlyle, Dana Melanie
The best part of the process was having a fairly
free hand from the producers to hire the actors I wanted to hire. I
canít tell you how often I watch these monster movies and say to
myself - man, these actors suck ass. If they could just hire better actors
and make the story a little more interesting it would make all the
difference in the world. Well, I guess itís time to put my money where
my mouth is. Because we hired great actors and I was responsible for the
story. So, if the movie sucks then itís all on me.
far as I know, the majority of Jurassic Block was filmed in an
abandoned prison - so what can you tell us about your location, and what
were the advantages, trials and tribulations of filming
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
We filmed about half our shooting
schedule in the Sybil Brand Institute for Women, which went defunct in the
late 90ís. The script I wrote was pretty complicated in terms of having
a lot of characters and tons of action. So, to do it right I really had to
be organized. I could have used a couple more days in the schedule there,
but you work with whatís given to you. Because the story takes place at
night our ďdaysĒ began at 6pm and went until 6am. Iím sure that the
crew hated that, but I didnít care. I have insomnia and stay up all
Any future projects beyond Jurassic
Iíve been talking
with a couple of different parties about horror/monster movies, but
nothing I can report about yet.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
We have our official
Facebook page, but havenít done much with it yet. You can find it at
- so come and join the fun!
Thanks for the interview!