Your new movie The
VelociPastor - in a few words, what is it about?
Itís a genre sendup about a priest who loses his parents, inherits a
mysterious ability to turn into a dinosaur, and is convinced by his hooker
friend to use it to fight crime. And ninjas. It rules.
The VelociPastor being
a creature feature, is that a genre you're at all fond of, and some of
your genre favourites?
Oh, absolutely. Iím a massive fan
of movies like The Thing and
The Blob, as well as lower budget stuff like
Track of the Moon Beast and Equinox. Thereís a Japanese creature feature
called Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell that was a big influence on
The VelociPastor directly.
(Other) sources of inspiration
when writing The
There are a whole bunch of movies I
could cite (Hausu, Black Dynamite, anything by Brian Trenchard-Smith...),
but honestly the biggest source of inspiration was just my childhood. I
was trying to recapture the feeling of watching a crazy, bad movie for the
first time with your family.
You just have to talk about the
dino-suit used in your movie for a bit, and were there any special
challenges filming action scenes with a man in a monster suit? And did you
ever consider using CGI instead?
Oh were there ever challenges. Youíre completely blind inside the
suit - and I mean COMPLETELY blind. There arenít any hidden eyeholes or
anything - itís just solid foam rubber. Youíre also nearly deaf, and
the costume is so hot that you have basically 2-3 minutes of costume time
MAX before you need to get the performer out and let them breathe. My
brother and I played the dinosaur in the movie because I didnít want to
subject anyone else to how miserable it was to operate.
No, there was not a single moment we considered using CGI. Itís a
creature feature, and in my book itís a cardinal sin of the sub genre to
not use makeup or a suit for that. A CGI dinosaur would have
absolutely been the death of the project. I wouldnít have done it
without a suit.
Also, there's plenty of
blood in your movie - so why don't you talk about the gore effects in The
VelociPastor for a bit, and how were they achieved? And was there
ever a line you refused to cross in your film regarding blood and guts?
We worked closely with SFX makeup artist Jennifer Suarez-Scuccimarri to
get the gore right. She and I talked a lot about ďhow fakeĒ or ďhow
realĒ to make things work, depending on if the scene was meant to be
funny or a little more menacing. All the blood effects are also practical,
or at least mostly practical - I have no problem using CGI to enhance a
practical effect, but the effect itself should be based in something
tangible and real.
Honestly, I was just saying to my cinematographer the other day that
Iím a little disappointed we didnít push the gore farther. Iím low
key a gorehound, so in my opinion I should have made the film WAY
bloodier. Maybe the sequel will be. Haha!
least for me, The
VelociPastor was also a very humourous film - do you at all
agree, and if so, do talk about your movie's brand of comedy for a bit!
I agree! That was 100% the intent. I think if you wanted to define the
brand of comedy, it would be something like if you crossed
and What We Do in the
Shadows. Most of it is grounded in the reality of
the characters and their world, but the film will every once in a while
get a bit self-aware and the joke will come from that.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
Far and away the thing I had the most angst about during filming was
the filmís tone. I knew that if we didnít get the tone exactly right,
the whole thing would fall apart - either people wouldnít be invested
enough, which could lead to them getting bored, or the film would take
itself TOO seriously in which case the central conceit would fall apart. I
decided early on that I would edit the film myself, because I knew what
the tone was but found it difficult to articulate. Mostly it can be boiled
down to ďdonít take things too seriously and have fun with it.Ē If
there was something happening in a scene that WASNíT fun or funny, there
had to be a damn good reason for it.
Do talk about The
VelociPastor's key cast, and why exactly these people?
So, only a handful of the cast are professional actors, notably our two
leads Gregory James Cohan [Gregory
James Cohan interview - click here] and Alyssa Kempinski. I had worked with Alyssa
before on my feature Animosity. She had a smaller part in that film, and I
sort of discovered how talented she was while working with her, so I
resolved to give her a bigger part in the next one. She exceeded my
expectations - fantastically talented person. Greg we found through
casting, and he just seemed to get the tone so completely that I HAD to
cast him. There were a few times on set that I would defer to Greg because
no one else seemed to get the humor quite as much.
The rest of the cast were friends and family. I cast them because 1)
they were free and more importantly 2) itís a bad movie, and I assumed
ONE of them would be bad. They all turned in superlative performances,
much to my chagrin.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was far and away the smoothest and most fun set Iíve ever been on. I
know itís a clichť to say ďWe weíre like a familyĒ, but it really
did feel that way often - people just really believed in the material and
showed up every day to do their best. Itís a rare thing to have that
kind of atmosphere on set and Iím very proud we achieved it. I think it
allowed us all to chase the fun of the project more and realize it more
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The
Oh itís been insane. People seem to genuinely love the movie, which
has been such an incredible validating and humbling experience. For
example, we played at Texas Frightmare in Dallas, and one of the attendees
had seen the film earlier that week in Chicago and flew herself down to
Texas to see it again. In the same week!! Itís been a lot like that,
just people showing genuine love and support the whole way.
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
Well, obviously Iíd like to do a sequel to
The VelociPastor. I donít know if
thatís next or a little down the road, but itís coming. If this
becomes my Evil Dead franchise I would be VERY okay with that. I also
realized recently that one of my favorite movies The Killer Shrews
is in the public domain, so... you never know. Haha!
What got you into filmmaking in the first
I loved making backyard movies with my friends when
I was a kid. At some point I realized that I actually liked the creation
of the films more than just hanging out with buddies, and I just followed
that. When I was around 14 I saw Reservoir Dogs for the first time, and it
gave me the vocabulary that what I wanted to do was direct. I never looked
back from there: itís been writing/directing ever since.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to
I made a few shorts in film school
that Iím proud of and had some success, including the original 2011
short film that we based The
VelociPastor on. In 2014, I made a feature
film called Animosity, which is vastly different from The
VelociPastor in tone. The lead
performance in Animosity is one of my favorites Iíve ever seen, and I
take very little credit for that - the actress Tracy Willet is just
phenomenal. Itís worth seeing just for her, to be honest.
How would you describe yourself as
Was it Hitchcock that said you basically just shoot your fetishes? I
realized recently that there are two things that connect almost all of my
films: ďthe woodsĒ, and people in peril. Both Animosity and
The VelociPastor have their plots kicked off by an injured female character
rolling violently down a forested slope. So, I think thatís a pretty
good summary of my work: find a pretty girl and throw her down a hill.
In terms of working on set, Iím very open and collaborative. If that
line in the script isnít working or sounds awkward? Fuck it, change the line. Actors are creative people, gaffers are creative people, PAs
are creative - listen to their suggestions and implement them if they
better serve your story. The worst thing a filmmaker can have is too much
ego to see when theyíre wrong.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Quentin Tarantino, Park Chan-Wook, Hideaki Anno, Andrei Tarkovsky, and
Guillermo del Toro.
Solaris by Tarkovsky, Pacific
Rim, End of Evangelion, Antichrist,
Scott Pilgrim vs the World, The
Thing, and the list goes on.
... and of course, films you really
I absolutely fuuuuucking hate Dunkirk, and
most of Christopher Nolanís later films. Their continued critical
acclaim baffles and frustrates me. Also Suicide
Squad is one of the most bafflingly awful films Iíve ever seen
released by a major studio. Fuck that movie.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
And Iím also very active on Twitter - @brendansteere, letís bro
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Linguistics are a hobby of mine, and Iím dying to shoot a film in
another language, or do a Babel/Inglourious Basterds kind of thing where
the spoken languages actually effect the plot as it plays out. I speak
okay German and pretty bad French, so maybe something with those?
Actually one of the stealth jokes in
The VelociPastor stems from this:
ninjas are a Japanese cultural staple, so it was very important to me that
they never speak Japanese, because the joke was ďdumb white people
wonít realize the differenceĒ. Sure enough thatís proven mostly
Thanks for the interview!
My pleasure, thank
you as well.