Your new movie Inoperable
- in a few words, what is it about?
A woman trapped inside of a hospital as hurricane approaches. The
area is being evacuated and all that is left inside is our lead, Amy, and
some deranged hospital staff, with some unlucky patients.
How did the project
come into being in the first place?
Jeff Miller [Jeff
Miller interview - click here] and I met
on another project, Clowntown, and there we began the discussion of
making another horror film. He gave me some thoughts about what he
felt was interesting generally and what he felt would “move the
needle” so I took the ball and ran with it. I drew on an
experience I had (years and years ago) in a hospital while an actual
hurricane was threatening the general area where this hospital was
located. My mind began to wander and I felt it was such a great
“world” in which to create a narrative to operate inside of.
What were your
sources of inspiration when writing Inoperable?
time I too was stuck inside of a hospital many years ago, while a
hurricane threatened the general area. There were talks of
evacuation and whatnot, and I felt this would be a fun/creepy way to tell
a horror story. I felt how vulnerable someone would be if they are
in a hospital as a patient as staff is evacuating, then throw in a twist
where the staff become evil and decide to do their worst on patients
talk about your co-writer/producer Jeff Miller [Jeff
Miller interview - click here], and what was your
Jeff is wonderful. He knows this
genre inside and out. He had great ideas from a narrative
perspective but was also very dialed into who viewers might want to see
as a lead actor in the film.
What can you tell us about your
movie's approach to horror, and is that a genre at all dear to you?
That’s a great question. I’m not sure how you would really
categorize Inoperable, meaning I’m not really sure if you can identify
it as a horror film specifically. I think of it more as a
psychological thriller meets a horror film. One has to pay some
attention and think about what is actually happening inside of the film to
really be rewarded with the ending. I love films which cause the viewer to think and to envision themselves in a similar situation and how
they might handle it.
Historically, I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre. I mean, I
like it and appreciate it, but I have other genres that I typically
gravitate to. However, I love a challenge and I think that my
interest in other genres might have lent itself to giving the viewers a
different kind of “horror” film, one which leave a lasting impression
(hopefully) and one where people will definitely want to watch it again. I
will say, however, that I have grown to really like the horror genre,
especially during and after Inoperable’s production.
looped narrative structure, what kind of a strain was that for you as a
director in terms of continuity and such, and also to keep things
You just hit the nail on the head! It was very difficult to keep
everything correct and keeping continuity accurate in the filming. The AD
(Ashley Eberbach), the DP (Giorgio Daveed) and I decided to shoot the film
in chronological order, which helped. But, as you mentioned, even
then it was very difficult because the timelines were intentionally
confusing and for wardrobe, hair/makeup and production design, we had to
really be on our toes with keeping everything in its proper order.
Even during editing, you have to really have your head in the game to pay
attention to all the normal nuances of continuity and editing, but throw
in there a totally messed up timeline, and things can get away from you
pretty quick. Having said all that, we had such an amazing crew and
cast that we were really able to concentrate and get it done. As a
director, its very important to have a good script supervisor (Laura
Coconato) and 1st AD (Ashley Eberbach) to help stay organized.
Do talk about your overall directorial
approach to your story at hand?
Since there was a good bit
of action/movement in the film, I wanted to have the DP be very involved
in the actor blocking and movement to help the camera department help me
really tell the story. So, there is a lot of coordination between
the DP and the actors, especially for the running/movement scenes.
With Inoperable, we are moving the camera a whole lot. But, from my
direction toward the actors, I liked to elicit more drama from them so
slowing down the pace of the off camera/set work was very important to me.
I spend a large amount of time, way before shooting, with the DP, 1st AD and
production designer really planning out what we are trying to accomplish,
so by the time we are actually shooting, everyone is on the same page with
the storytelling and things go pretty smoothly.
What can you tell us
about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Harris is incredible. She is an accomplished actor and director and
really knows this genre and it shows. Katie Keene and I had worked
on Clowntown together along with Jeff Denton and Chris Hahn.
We liked working with them so much, with their work ethic and talent, that
we really wanted to work with them again. Crystal Cordero (Ophelia)
and I had worked on another project together, and I felt that she would be
perfect for the part. I’m sure there are other actors who could
fit the bill, but we had good experiences with them in the past (other
than not working with Danielle in the past) that we knew that they could
handle the project. It is also comforting working with actors (and
obviously crew) from before as you know that they can perform, otherwise
you wouldn’t be working with them again.
of course also have to talk about your hospital locations for a bit, and
what was it like filming there?
It was actually an empty building and production design (Bobby
Marinelli) and his team turned it into a hospital. At one point,
many years ago, the location had been a functioning hospital, but then was
a government administration building, and then finally vacant. We
resurrected it and with proper production design, turned it back into a
“hospital”. After shooting, it was slated to be demolished.
It was fun shooting there. The building had character and one
could feel the eeriness and loneliness in simply being inside.
Personally, I felt really connected to the building since we were likely
going to be the last real bit of “liveliness” and activity this old
building would ever see again. The building, in my opinion, really
helped sell the story.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoot went very well. Of course, there are always issues caused by
various things outside of our control, like weather, ambient/invasive exterior
noise and such, but over all I would say it was a smooth shoot. The
on-set atmosphere was great, and everyone was very lively and energetic, which
is sometimes difficult on a feature. There were some real troopers on
set, who just embraced the film and made it what it is. I really love
operating in this budget level because everyone comes together to work on a
project that they really believe in and I think it shows in the finished
Anything you can tell us about critical and audience reception of Inoperable
From what I’ve been told, the non-critics who have
seen it (in theaters) really liked it and felt rewarded at the end.
Overall and for the most part, the critics were pretty accurate in their
summaries and description. Of course, critically, some liked it more
than others. I think the most accurate were from true horror
critics. They were pretty much happy with the film, it seemed to me,
and had some really great things to say. Some of whom I had
interviews with told me they were very excited to see the film and really
enjoyed it. There were a few others, whom weren’t a big fan of the
film, but hey, that’s how it goes!
Any future projects you'd like to share?
as I respond to this interview, we are half way through another horror
feature! It’s going to be really cool and different, but I can’t
share too much at this time. Secret, secret!
got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
My stepfather when I was
growing up, had, in the past, been a photographer in the Navy during the
Korean War, then went on to work as a producer for NBC during the Mercury,
Gemini and Apollo programs. So when he became my stepfather,
he taught me how to use cameras, both still and video (along with some
sound equipment), and I think I became interested in production. I
have written a few novels, one has been published, and I love writing.
Additionally, I used to act in theater when I was much younger.
I’m also a lawyer and have managed some decent sized projects, so if you
combine photography, writing, acting and project organization into one
thought, you get filmmaking.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Inoperable?
produced a few shorts and a few features (along with some television
sizzle/concepts), and directed a short and a feature, so I already had
some experience with the process. It is fun, but stressful, ramping
up for production, especially after having gone through it a few times in
the past, and knowing what to expect and what to get excited about.
would you describe yourself as a director?
Oh wow. I really don’t know. I like to take my time with
the actors and get them to “feel” their characters and know them
inside and out. I love it when actors tell me “…I feel like
(insert character name) would think (this) or do (that),” and have
reasons and rationales to support their thinking. I’m happy when
they love their characters as much as I do, and I get to see and help make
them come to life. It’s such a huge compliment to me when actors
embrace their character and keep a little bit of the character (hopefully
just the good traits) with them until long after the film has wrapped.
I try not to get too stressed out while filming, and I try to make cast
and crew feel as though they are really part of the production and its
success and not just a job for a few weeks. I really want them to
love the project and take pride in its outcome. I also really like
working with cast/crew who normally work on commercials because to them,
a feature film, is more about their passion for the art of film making and
they are actually getting to be part of a bigger story.
who inspire you?
That’s a challenging question because I
love ideas and concepts. I’m not well versed on styles of famous
and successful filmmakers and what makes them critically great and highly
regarded. I know I appreciate films by many directors, but honestly,
I am more intrigued by ideas.
Your favourite movies?
favorites are Inception, Blazing Saddles, Moon, Interstellar,
The Bridges of Madison County, Hitchhikers
Guide to the Galaxy, Grand Budapest Hotel, Solaris, Raiders
of the Lost Ark, Star Wars Episode 4-6, but I also
really love well done World War Two era movies, like Downfall, Anthropoid,
A Bridge Too Far, Allied, and Dunkirk.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Well, since you asked, I’m not a fan of remake after remake and sequel
after sequel. I mean, I get it, because studio execs and board
members need to fund films with a greater chance of success so they bet on
film which have already had successes and have a built-in audience.
I just think the creativity is lacking and they are cheating the public
and moviegoers out of better films and creativity. I will say, I
did not like Baby Driver at all, The Fast and the Furious
films, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Rock, and I’m not a fan of
mafia films, cop drams, and sports movies. I just don’t really
know how to describe it, but you and/or some of your readers will
understand better than I do what sort of thing annoys people about those
types of movies. I think it’s the general cheesy nature or
formulaic approach to those films, but I just know I don’t like those
style of films.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Also, check out Akhlys.com,
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We are on Facebook and Instagram too.
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
As of the time of this interview, we have over 21 million views on the Inoperable/Zorya
Films YouTube trailer.
Check out Clowntown, which is out now on VOD/Walmart/Amazon, etc., and
The Accident, which is on iTunes and Amazon along with some other
Thank YOU! Thanks to writers like you, our story gets told.
I really appreciate you all and what you do, and I wanted you to know how
much I appreciate you telling our story.
for the interview!