Your new movie Exposure
- in a few words, what is it about?
A couple moves to the mountains into an isolated cabin to repair their
relationship. Their arrival awakens an ancient evil in the woods
that turns people into monsters.
being a creature feature of sorts, is this a genre at all dear to you, and
some of your genre favourites?
Absolutely, I love creature
features and practical effects. During my younger years I was all
about Godzilla. When I got into my teens, I fell in love with 70's
and 80's horror for the same reasons I like kaiju movies: the
implementation of low budget practical effects. I love tangible,
tactile creations. I really like The Thing. Don
Dohler's Nightbeast is really cool, on the lower budget end of
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Exposure
- and what can you tell us about your co-writer Jake Jackson?
has a background in special effects. So once our production team
decided on doing a horror film for our debut project, we knew we wanted to
get him involved. And we wanted him involved at the ground level.
We didn't want to write an effect we couldn't pull off or something like
that. So he was brought into the fold to keep tabs on our
imaginations, and his involvement grew from there. He co-produced
the film as well.
talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!
real horror in this story comes from the implied history of abuse.
The monster stuff is more of a romp once it kicks in. There are
bright colors, slime, and cheeky special effects. The stuff that's
actually chilling comes out of seeing someone transform and embrace
their inner monster. You're also dealing with two characters who
have a very intimate relationship in a very isolated area. It's a
claustrophobic little movie.
of course also have to talk about Exposure's
creature as such, and to what extent were you involved in its creation?
is Jake's baby. We had discussions in the early developmental stages
where I might have had some minimal input, but we really left that up to
him. All that was explicitly stated was that he'd be transforming
into a Cronenbergian mixture of flesh and wood. It's very
beautifully sculpted if you see it up close. We hid it in shadows a
lot which is effective in the movie, but it's also kind of a shame because
it's so impressive to see in bright light. It holds up. You
don't need to hide much. A good amount of the cast and crew put in
some late night hours at Jake's shop to help build the suit, too. So
there's a little love from everyone in there.
think your remote locations are very central to the overall feel of Exposure
- so what was it like filming there, and how did you even find them?
cabin was a vacation home in a private community for rent on AirBnB, of
all places. We got an insurance policy to cover the home and were
very upfront with the owners about our intentions. Thankfully they
were receptive to the idea, so that was awesome. The roads getting
there were sometimes a little dicey, and we were in pretty high elevation.
So everyone was getting winded just walking up the short flight of stairs
in the cabin. At night it would get extremely cold. I've never
been as cold as I was filming the climax of the film. And I
was wearing a large coat. Poor Carmen Anello soldiered through that scene
in a tank top with blood and slime on her hands.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
I knew I wanted to shoot the front half of the film
like a romantic drama and then transition the color palette to cold, hyper
saturated colors by the end. Since the film takes place
entirely in one location, I tried to employ as many creative uses of
angles and color to enhance the dramatic arc as possible. It was
always on my mind that I didn't want the audience to get sick of looking
at the same 3 angles in this tiny cabin. Also I like to just let
actors do their thing. I trust them to do their job, and I tend to
lean into the photography more. Lights and camera are where I feel
most at home.
Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these
I met Carmen Anello through mutual friends in the
community theater back in my home town. She's very talented
and a fan of these kind of movies, so it was a perfect fit. She
always made giving a quality performance seem so effortless. Owen Lawless was introduced to me through Jake, since they worked together on a slasher
movie called Hell Town. He is also really talented and a
very hard working guy. He went through hell in that creature suit
for us and never once complained. He's a tough guy. And Lynn
Lowry is a living angel, that's just a well known fact. We thought
there was something poetic about having Lynn in this film which clearly
draws so much inspiration from movies like Shivers. It
was a sincere pleasure to work with her and subsequently hang out together
at horror conventions showing the movie.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
It was two weeks in the mountains.
Jake, Owen, and Carmen lived in the cabin. I lived in a motel 25
minutes from the cabin in Leadville, Colorado with producer/editor Clayton
Ashley and our sound recordist Stephen Ferrell. We'd film all day,
offload footage at the hotel in the night, go to bed late, wake up early,
repeat. What I remember most is everyone working with feverish
passion and commitment. Nobody was half-assing it. We had a
tiny crew and very little money, so everyone was putting their all into
it. We did nothing but eat, sleep, drink, and breathe the movie.
Austin with Lynn Lowry
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Exposure?
you make a niche movie like this, something that is rooted in nostalgia
for a certain type of movie from a certain era, you're not going to
connect with everyone. I knew that going in. But for the
people who get what we were trying to do, the reception has been awesome.
Like if you grew up on renting VHS tapes from the "cult" section
at the video store, this movie is for you. We wanted to make a movie
that felt legitimately from the 80's. So there are effects in the
movie that might look dated. But that was the visual language of
those movies at the time. Yes, there are probably a couple shots
that could have been done digitally and maybe look more
"convincing" by modern standards. But that would go
against the spirit of the film. The movie is definitely finding its
audience, though. It's a very cool thing to experience.
future projects you'd like to share?
I'm writing my second
feature and I'm continuing the trend of making retro, 80s inspired
horror. I want my filmography to feel like it comes from the same
cohesive place while exploring different eddies of the genre. I've
done a cabin in the woods movie with a rubber monster in it. Next I
want to do a slasher movie.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
I was making movies as far back as I can
remember. I started by filming action figures, and eventually began
enlisting my friends as actors. I never went to film school, but I
did work as a production assistant on lots of commercial video shoots.
That was where I got my formal education, if you will.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Exposure?
videos, commercial shoots, my own micro-budget films... I've never not been
would you describe yourself as a director?
Thats a hard
one. I'm probably not the person to ask. I like to think I'm
concise. I love a good static shot.
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The filmmakers who really inspire me are
the ones who do a lot with very little money. Obviously someone like
Paul Thomas Anderson or Lynne Ramsay is a genius and you can count on them
to routinely put out genius material. But the raw, scrappy talent of
Sam Raimi in his youth while making Evil Dead with a skeleton crew in the
middle of the woods is something really special. I'm also very
inspired by JR Bookwalter's story of making The Dead Next
Door. Mark Borchardt inspires me. As does Troma
Lloyd Kaufman. Takashi Miike comes to mind too. His output is
Your favourite movies?
tastes are all over the place. Some of my all-time random favorites
are Sorcerer, Ms 45,
Ratcatcher, Dead Ringers, Dawn of the Dead,
Thing, The Beyond, Race with the Devil,
Down By Law, Rolling Thunder, Henry:
Portrait of a Serial Killer... there's a really cool James Woods
movie called Cop that I love. It's total trash but the
absolute best kind. I believe it's based on a James Ellroy book
called Blood on the Moon. I love this Troma movie called
Luther the Geek too. It's about a circus geek with metal
teeth who goes on a killing spree. How's that for an eclectic list?
and of course, films you really deplore?
Last movie I saw
that I really didn't like was Justice League. But my mom
always said if you can't say anything nice...
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Exposure is now available on VHS from
Trash Nite Home Video! You can buy a
copy through the store on
for the interview!