Your new movie Dead Air
- in a few words, what is it about?
about a man who starts receiving cryptic messages from on old ham radio he
found in his deceased mother’s attic, and the messages help him piece
together a mystery surrounding a traumatic event that happened to him as a
lonely people connect over the airwaves of ham radios, and their
relationship takes them down dark and unexpected avenues.
Now how did the
project come into being, what was the initial spark/idea?
thought a “haunted radio” - mysterious voices, and all that - would be
interesting, and it afforded us the setting to still be able to tell a
complete story within the pandemic limitations at the time.
Kevin came to me and said, “What about a ghost in a radio?” I started
on it and the story sort of took over and sent me in a different
direction. I really became interested in developing William and Eva, their
stories, and the tragic path that intersection took them down.
what were your sources of inspiration when writing Dead
initially thought about using a regular AM/FM radio, but then I thought
“What about a ham radio?” When I started researching them, I realized
they were very popular in the 1940’s, especially during the war, so that
gave me the idea. And, of course, time travel - even through radio waves -
was an intriguing idea. Funny note, when I was writing this, an external
speaker that sits on my desk started emitting the voice of an actual ham
radio operator - true story! I could only hear his side of the
conversations he was having, but was able to piece together that he was
only about a mile away from me. Don’t know how it happened, but it was
Air is set in 1946 and 1984 - so what were the challenges of
making pretty much a double-period picture?
were a lot of challenges. First, making sure the set design was accurate;
I culled ebay for actual pieces from the period - even the radios were
actually from 1942. Then there were the costumes. They had to reflect the
times, and in Eva’s case, we hoped it could pass for a crazy weird lady
from the 80s without giving away that she was actually from the 40s.
Then in the script, I had to make sure any idioms or slang that post-dated
the 40s were not used by Eva, and that she questioned them when they
were used by William.
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
this story was dialog-driven by necessity, it was important that the
characters and plot were detailed enough that the weave & warp of the
plot itself never became redundant.
were the challenges of bringing Dead
Air to the screen from a producer's point of view?
of the pandemic we had to put our original script on the back burner and
create something that could be executed with minimal cast and crew. Also,
because of the natural concerns of people, we restricted our shooting days,
and that created a big challenge to complete our shooting schedule without
having to add extra days. It meant shooting a lot of pages each day, and
having to come up with creative ways to shoot things.
also both appear in front of the camera in Dead
Air - so do talk about your respective characters, and what did
you draw upon to bring them to life?
is a man who has never fully mourned his deceased wife, because he has had
to assume the role of single parent to two school-aged daughters. Through
the loss of his mother, he is once again faced with having to come to
terms with death. This is part of what opens the door and makes him more
receptive to the disembodied messages coming from the ham radio. Having
kids and being in a very strong marriage, personally, it wasn’t a
stretch at all playing a father who is mourning the loss of his wife.
is not a very nice person, given her chosen associations, but at the same
time she’s really a very sad, lonely woman. She lost the only man who
ever cared for her so she picked up his cause as a way to keep the
connection she had with him. She’s terrified people will find out, so
her initial chosen isolation develops into agoraphobia, and it literally
paralyzes her. We all have those times when we feel insecure or lonely, so
I tried to draw on those to bring Eva to life.
What can you tell
us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
a non-union indie is always a challenge, but we have a solid network of
friends and colleagues available to us as both cast and crew options. In
the case of Dr. Jennings, Chris Xaver is not a classic actor, but she has
a lot of interpersonal experience - having been a TV newscaster for years,
and now a professor and student advisor - which played well into the
character of a psychiatrist. We were especially fortunate when it came to
the kids - Luca, Maddison & Mackenzie - which are always a challenge
to find...especially at this production level.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was a challenge, and actually dictated the type of story we were
telling. We had already been in pre-production on a large-scale project
when the pandemic broke out. Dead Air
being a smaller movie was a direct
result of those restrictions. We had to scale back everything - number of
locations, size of cast and crew - while still telling a compelling story.
As it turned out, we never had more than seven total people on the set at
any given time. But the crew members we did have were top shelf, and able
to wear several hats to get the job done. All-in-all, it was an enjoyable,
Vickie: It was actually a very small space we were shooting in (it looks bigger
that it was on camera). William’s shop and Eva’s bunker was set in a
long narrow room, and we created the two sets in it, building removable
walls to give the two cameras more flexibility. And, as Kevin mentioned,
the pandemic set up its own restrictions.
what can you tell us about the collaboration between the both of you, in
pre-production, on set, and in post?
and I are a great team, and we have worked together on a professional
level for most of our marriage. We’re both writers with a strong
emphasis on character and story, so we are able to come together nicely
when developing ideas. When it comes to execution, we both have different
strengths, which makes us a good fit. It’s very rare that we find
ourselves stepping on each other creatively.
have always worked as a great team. Creatively we challenge each other,
and when one gets stuck, the other can jump in with a new idea or a fresh
perspective. We support each other as writers, and on set we’re there to
continue that support.
Anything you can
tell us about audience and critical reception of Dead
still pretty early, but we’re pleased with the initial reception. If
viewers sit down to watch - understanding that this isn’t a story about
a demon jumping out of a radio and chasing a family through their house -
I think most will be pleased with the depth of character and the overall
strength of both the story and the twists that are revealed. Almost
everyone, so far, has been both surprised and satisfied with the ending.
think if people understand that this story isn’t about monsters jumping
out at you or ghosts floating through the air, they’ll have a satisfying
viewing experience. The one thing we’ve heard over and over is that the
audience is constantly guessing at the truth, or how it’s going to end,
and all of them without exception have been surprised.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
are currently in post on a film called The Forever Room which we
hope will be released later in 2021.
Now Dead Air wasn't your
first time working together - so do talk about your previous
previous collaborations have spanned five films. We have had the
opportunity to work with some phenomenal partners over the years, but
Vickie and I have always been at the heart of the story telling. We’re
just a great team who can take advantage of our relationship as a couple
without any of the obstacles.
How did the two of you first meet even
(if that's not too personal a question)?
in the early nineties, we both worked for DIC Animation in Los Angeles. We
married within a year and ended up leaving California soon after the birth
of our son.
goofy guy walked into my office and asked a dumb question. But before I
knew it I was married to that goofy guy and had two children with him.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
production company Chinimble
Lore has both a Facebook page and a website
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
would just like to thank everyone who had a role in bringing Dead Air
life. Movies are a team effort, from start to finish, and we had a
fantastic team on this.
Vickie: Dead Air is a slow burn, but sticking with it will reward the viewer with rich,
interesting characters and a fascinating plot with very unexpected twists
for the interview!
YOU for the opportunity!