Your upcoming film Terminal
Legacy - in a few words, what is
Legacy is about a small team of scientists whose attempt at
creating the ultimate miracle drug horribly backfires. Their patients
begin too quickly display very adverse side effects to the drug, and they
must race desperately to contain a potential "outbreak" that
could kill every living thing. It explores themes of playing God and human
corruption/manipulation. It's a sci-fi/action/horror hybrid.
Legacy seems to have an
undercurrent that's pretty critical of the pharma-industry. Was that at
I think that's just something that came out
in the writing as we kept revising the script. And luckily, it's not
something that's overt; you're right in calling it an
I could be dead wrong with this one, but I
also sense shades of zombie cinema in Terminal
there any truth to this?
There is definitely a zombie
slant, for sure. It's more of a "zombie origin" story if you
will. If The Crazies had a prequel, this is what it might look like. It's
not a "survivors on the run" story. We wanted to shift the point
of view to that of the people responsible, and make the conflict,
"can they prevent the apocalypse and how will they do it,"
instead of, "which surivor will live the longest, and do we really
Any other sources of
I think I've honestly taken more from my own
contemporaries with Terminal
Legacy. I've worked on a good number of small indie sets
and I've seen how other indie directors work. You learn as you go and you
apply what you like and what you don't. You learn how to make a little out
of a lot. Of course, there are moments from lots of popular films that
inspired moments in Terminal
Legacy, but, overall, I think I was more inspired by my
own peers and that informed what you see in Terminal
You wrote the story of Terminal
Legacy together with Kazy Tauginas [Kazy
Tauginas interview - click here] and Michael Markham, both of whom
are also in the movie. What was your collaboration with them like while
writing the film, and subsequently on set?
Kazy and I came up with the idea together. The initial concept
was pretty rudimentary, but it provided a great springboard; a
couple of guys in gas masks picking people off in a confined
facility and they have no idea why. From there, we just built
upward. I wrote all the drafts, but, Kazy was always a part of the
creative process. We butted heads a lot, but it was never
counter-productive; we always arrived at a better place and ended up
with a badass shooting script. There's a nice synergy there.
Mike is a good friend of mine who attended a table read for the script.
He contributed a lot in regards to the science that we cite in the
picture (it's actually real science). He suggested we use something that
was real and new, rather than some gobbledygook that sounds intelligent
- so we did. I'd also be remiss not to mention Will Johnson,
who made a critical suggestion to us in regards to the structure of the
film. Critical as in, it enhanced the script.
On set, it was pretty straight-forward. I was the director, they were
the actors. They prepared their characters, and we all made sure we were
on the same page. I think, if anything, it was more of a unique
experience for Kazy, who had the job of divorcing himself from something
he helped create and just perform his part of the story and I think he
did that admirably well.
How would you
describe your directorial approach to the subject on hand?
Telling the best story possible. You let the visuals, music, and
sound enhance the story and acting. With Terminal Legacy, we used a variety of
visual styles, depending on the setting. The first third of the film
was shot in a particular way where we kept a lot of the action in
the frame as much as possible, avoiding coverage when it wasn't
needed. As a result, there weren't as many options in how to edit
it, but that was intentional. In the middle of the film, the
camera's very static with much more traditional coverage because
everything is much more expositional. In the final third of the
film, we combined the 2 motifs and you see a blend of approaches. We
also used special lenses with tilt shifts to create perception
distortion. It's employed throughout the film and in the right
moments is very evocative.
In regards to the action/violence, I told Kazy and Mike Simmons (they
choreographed everything) that I wanted the fight scenes to be visceral
and messy. Meaning, people get tired and sweaty very quickly. They try
to catch their breath. Fights go to the ground in a hurry. When someone
gets punched, they get a black eye, that sort of thing. The violence is
more akin to that of Fight Club than a traditional action movie. I felt
it was much more appropriate for the world these characters inhabit.
Plus, I don't like stylized fight scenes very much anyway.
gorehounds among my readers will of course want to know: How far are is Terminal
Legacy going in terms of violence and blood and guts?
is a brutally violent movie, that I can assure you =]. There are times
though, where we leave things to your imagination, which as trite as it
sounds, can have a much deeper impact... .I just said, "deeper impact", didn't I?
can you tell us about your principal cast?
incredible and professional, in equal doses. This was a very physically
(and emotionally) demanding script, and, literally, everyone just dove in.
We shot in a defunct morgue for 4 days; the conditions were rough. It was
hot, filthy and dusty, but no one complained. They went full throttle. If
anything, they used the conditions as part of their performances, and
that's what you want out of your cast. My hats off to everyone. I love
I know your
film was shot on a very tight budget, so what kind and size of a crew were
you working with?
Our crew was equally as wonderful and
talented as our cast. They all hustled and worked tirelessly. I'd say when
we shot in NYC, we had anywhere from 18-22 crew per day, a lot of them
working for free. When we shot in DE, we had a smaller crew of 13/14 a
day, which made it tougher, but we pulled through. We had most of the
major departments covered. What we didn't have was a full-time art
department. However, we didn't need that as much in NYC, because the
hospital already had everything.
Quite a large chunk of your film is
shot at an actual hospital. Now how did you get this rather impressive
location on your budget?
God's grace. Haha, Seriously. It
was a miracle. Three weeks before principal was to start, our main
location, a defunct engineering school (the one that inspired the film)
fell through. It compromised the entire production. So, I scoured the city
for 6 days, looking everywhere and anywhere, calling every building,
warehouse, and hospital imaginable. Kings County Hospital was the only one
that answered. I took the tour and knew right then it was perfect for this
film. I was completely up front about who we were, what kind of (lack of)
budget we had, and what we'd be doing. A couple days later we made an
agreement and principal photography was only delayed by a week. They had
been looking to get film crews in there and we were fortunate enough to
get first dibs on it. They were beyond accommodating, especially when you
consider how much effort it takes to accommodate a film crew. We ended up
shooting there for 11 days. A miracle.
The $64-question of course,
when and where will Terminal
Legacy be released?
like to have some advanced screenings here in New York and LA sometime in
spring of 2012. We're going to start submitting it to festivals early next
year. So, keep an eye out for it then.
go back to the beginnings of your career: What made you go into
filmmaking, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
was not my original career aspiration. But, as a child, I always loved to
tell stories. I wrote all the time. I even drew, quite terribly, my own
comic books. When I was getting my undergrad (in marketing), I became
enamored with the art of filmmaking and started to fantasize. Right after
I graduated, I wrote a horror novel (more art as therapy than anything),
but all of those storytelling efforts felt incomplete. I participated in
a student film shoot at my grandparents motel in 03, and I think that
planted the seeds. In 05, my best friend basically called me out and said
I wasn't doing anything with my life, and it snowballed from there. I took
the plunge, moved to NYC, enrolled at film school, graduated a year later
(it was a hands-on, one year intensive program), and have been doing it
for about 4 years now. I think formal training is always a good thing.
Legacy was your first feature film, but you have made a few shorts
before. Would you like to talk about those for a bit?
have a bunch of awful student films, and I've done 2 indie shorts prior to
Legacy. The first is a crime thriller called Game
Theory, and the
second is a thriller called Dandi Lyon. Both them are online
to view. I'm proud of both of them. They were necessary stepping stones to
get where I am now. Each was a learning experience (so was Terminal
Legacy). A good
number of the actors in each of those films are in Terminal
made you take the step and go into feature filmmaking?
Elise Rovinsky in Dandi Lyon
the last day of shooting the short Dandi Lyon, Elise Rovinsky
(an amazing actress who is also in Terminal
Legacy), said to me, "you're ready to
do a feature." She was right. After that, I decided my next film
would be a feature. I needed to work on a larger canvas. So, here we are
future projects you'd like to talk about?
I have 2 scripts
that are ready to go that I would ideally like to be my next two pictures.
One is a Hitchcock type thriller called The Complex I optioned
from a pair of writers, Aimee Parrott and Tony Gangemi. It's just an
amazing, thrilling script that piles up the tension and is wrapped around
a very heart-wrenching, but redemptive story. The other is a gothic
horror/film noir tale that I wrote, partially inspired by the likes of the
Sam & Twitch graphic novels. I can confidently say it's a
vampire story no one has ever seen before. After Terminal
Legacy, I'm going to pursue
both, and whichever catches fire first will be the one I go full throttle
David Fincher, James Cameron, Terry Gilliam,
Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Nolan, and to quote South
Park, "say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch
knows story structure."
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
random order: T2, Aliens, 12 Monkeys, Dark City,
Minority Report, Braveheart, Spider-Man 2, The Fifth
Element, Out Of Sight, Seven, The Castle, Rear
Window, Casablanca, JFK.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Alien Resurrection, Rules Of Attraction, Rollerball,
The Life Of David Gale,
film's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention that I have merely forgotten to ask?
hope it's not too much to mention our kickstarter campaign. We're looking
for a little bit of $$$ to put the final touches on the film. And also,
just be on the lookout for the film next Spring, where you'll hopefully be
able to see it at film festivals across the country and eventually on Netflix
for the interview!