Your film Rage - in
a few words, what is it about?
story of a suburban man, Dennis Twist, who on his day off from work, heads
into town, where he unintentionally provokes the wrath of a mysterious
helmet wearing, black leather clad motorcyclist, called “The Biker”,
and must fight for his very life just to survive through the day.
The killer in the black
helmet - how did you come up with this positively creepy concept?
writing the script I spent a lot of time thinking about The Biker
character and how to make him as scary as possible.The two
ideas that struck me as great conduits of fears were those of the
“silent antagonist” i.e. Michael Myers and the idea of an “unknown
antagonist” i.e. the truck driver in Duel. It was
those ideas that brought about the creation of The Biker character.
“unknown aspect” of The Biker plays on the fact that we as human
beings are always wanting to know the “who, what, when and where” of
things so that we can better understand the situations that we find
ourselves in and not knowing any of these things is very unsettling.
The “silent aspect” of The Biker is very effective because to
know that you are being pursued by something or someone that is virtually
silent is extremely concerning because you never really know when it is
going to strike and this causes a person to be constantly on edge. Those
two elements combine to make a pretty scary villain. In fact,
in some ways, I believe that The Biker is even more of a threat than the
truck in Duel because he is not limited to the road and is capable of
pursuing his victims any- and everywhere they might try to hide.
extended carchase scenes of Rage
look as if they were rather difficult to shoot. What can you tell us about
shooting these scenes, your stunt team - and was there ever a point where
you wished you could just drop these scenes altogether?
the scenes were not all that difficult to shoot. There was no
stunt team involved in any of the chase scenes. Rick Crawford
did 99% of his character's driving and I did 95% of The Biker's stuff.
The only thing that I didn’t do was the burnout for the auto
repair shop scene. All of the chase scenes where
“stolen” as they say in “indie filmmaking lingo” which means that
we did not have permits - but I have to say this because I don’t want
somebody to run out and try to shoot some crazy scenes on the highway and
somebody gets hurt: No one was ever in any real danger during
the filming of any of the chase scenes. We never broke any
laws either. The scenes were accomplished, for the most part,
through the use of certain camera angles, a change in shutter speeds, some
CGI and great sound effects.
don't make a secret out of the fact that the first half of Rage
was in part inspired by Steven Spielberg's classic Duel. What
do you find so fascinating about that movie's concept?
to me, when I first saw Duel, I was blown away at how much bigger it
seemed than the other made for television movies. It had such
a theatrical quality to it, so much so that it was actually released in
theaters in Europe. I was so impressed at how Spielberg was
able to give life to the truck, an inanimate object brought to life
through his amazing directing talents.H e was able to
humanize it to the point where the viewers feared it as they would a
person, with an almost supernatural Christine-like quality. It
was such a great cat and mouse, David and Goliath, man vs nature bit of
storytelling that was done so well that everyone who watches it finds himselves totally invested.
sources of inspiration for Rage?
obviously Duel, which I mentioned already but there are others…
Halloween was a pretty big inspiration as it relates to The Biker
character. Considering that he has no dialogue, looking to
the Michael Myers character seemed a good place to steal
actually met John Carpenter last year in Kentucky and told him that I
ripped off his Myer’s character and he just laughed and said, “Great,
brother, have at it.” That blew me away. He
was just so very cool. I totally understand how he was able
to write the Snake Plissken character. Wes Craven’s Last
House on the Left and of course Alfred Hitchcock were huge inspirations
as well, not so much story-wise but more stylistically.
would you describe your directorial approach to the subject at hand?
of all after I defined what kind of film Rage
was, which is a hybrid… a horror-suspense-thriller. Knowing that I then turned to the
films and filmmakers who where very successful in those genre, I
re-watched Duel, Halloween,
Last House on the
Left, Psycho and a few other films. Then it was simple, I just selected what I wanted to
steal… just kidding (sort of). After casting was completed
I had extended conversations with the cast regarding their characters
background history, etc. I think that this is an important
period because it saves time when you are filming. One of the
last things that a director needs is to have endless conversations on set
with an actor who keeps asking, “What is my motivation?”
sees quite a few outbursts of brutality. Was there ever a (conscious) line
you refused to cross concerning violence and the like?
both pictures above:
Rick Crawford, Aubrey Walker
of course there is a line that I refuse to cross. I believe that there are
many filmmakers today that go way over the line and do it just for shock
and for no other reason. I really believe that I was very
conservative during the scenes in question… visually that is. In Rage
the visuals are only part of what makes these scenes effective. In
these scenes I only showed just enough to suggest something but it is
through the use of sounds, i.e. voices, effects and music, that really make
things work. Less can be more if done right.
can you tell us about Rage's
leads Rick Crawford and Audrey Walker, and how did you find them?
is great. I met Rick at an open casting call in California. He had to play
the very difficult part of a character who isn’t a very good person and
at the same time Rick had to be able to solicit some measure of sympathy
from the audience, even though he really doesn’t deserve any. I
think that he did a fantastic job. Audrey was cast here in
Portland along with a few other local actors. She had a very
tough part that had a couple of scenes that weren’t just physically hard
but emotionally tough as well. She was amazing and I was very
happy with both of their performances.
few words about the rest of your cast and crew?
most people don’t know is that Rage
was made by a crew of only 10 people. Also, that the real budget was only 47K and not the
100K as stated on the IMDB site. If you look at the film's end
credits you’ll find the names of a lot of people that I found in old
school yearbooks and some inside jokes like John Holmes (the infamous,
deceased porn legend) is listed as the "crane operator". Making
movies is a very hard thing and it usually takes an army to make it happen
so considering we only had a few people I have nothing be praise for them.
Everyone worked extremely hard, especially my co-producers Darrell
Smith, Suzanne Mitchell and Shawn Smith. Without them the
film would not have gotten made. I give a lot of credit to
the entire cast and crew for tuning out a film that we are all very proud
you've pretty much done it all, writing, directing, acting, editing and
whatnot. Which are your favourite parts of the filmmaking process, which
could you do without?
I love writing, directing and editing equally and I find them all
incredibly hard to do… “do well”. I want to become a
first class filmmaker and for me doing all three functions are part of
making that happen. I believe that all films go thru three
major phases of development, as it relates to the ultimate finished
product. Those phases are when it is scripted, when it is
directed and when it is edited. So for me it is important
that I control these elements of my productions. I know that
there are those who might think that I’m a bit of a “control freak”,
well I say, “so what?” to that. The areas that I can do
without are cinematography and acting. The reason is, there
are so many people out there that are so much better at it than I am and I
don’t have the same passion to do them either.
What can you tell us about
audience and critical reaction to Rage
far the reaction has been fantastic. Most people seem to
really like Rage. At the festivals where it has played, both
here in American and abroad, audience members are very engaged when
watching it, which is a very good thing. Also, after the
screenings, they come up to me and give compliments about the film. They
also ask a lot of great questions. Rage
has won numerous
awards and was given a special showcase screening by the Portland Art
Museum, which was a big honor even though I thought it was strange for a
“Museum” to screen a film like Rage.
When they first
contacted me I thought someone was playing a joke, but they were serious.
Someone involved with the museum happened to see it at a festival
and thought that Rage was deserving of a special screening. I’m
still amazed that it happened and everyone had a great time! Also,
critically, Rage has received overwhelmingly positive reviews,
am extremely happy about.
The $64-question of course: When will Rage
receive a widespread release, tentatively?
are currently in talks with different distributors and I believe that we
are very close to announcing something and as soon as that happens Search
My Trash will be one of the first to know.
Let's go back
to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the
first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
Star Wars for the first time pretty much did it for me.After
seeing it I wanted to tell stories through movies that could make people
feel the same way that it made me feel. As far as a formal
education, I attended a few film schools that I was“kind of” asked to
leave. I won’t name the schools because I don’t want to
get sued or anything. And as far as the reasons that I was
asked to leave, I’ll just say this, I had a conflict of opinion with
several professors regarding a variety of issues. Most of
what I know about film comes from self-education from studying directors,
movies and reading a lot of books and other materials.
debut feature as a director was called Middle Man I believe. What
can you tell us about that movie?
was a lot of fun to make. This was back in 2004 that I made
that film with a bunch of friends. It was shot on 16mm and
was guerrilla filmmaking 101. The end product wasn’t very
polished but it was a great learning experience that I think about very
fondly. It screened in a few film festivals here in America
and in Europe but I wasn’t very passionate about the project or really
happy with the results so I shelved it and that’s where it still sits
today. I don’t feel too bad about that because I funded the
film myself so there wasn’t anybody money at stake except my own.
Any other movies of
yours you'd like to talk about? Any future projects?
I would like to talk about my next project, The Twilight Hotel. It’s
a horror anthology composed of 4 episodes with a connecting story. I
originally wanted to make this film before Rage,
but it would have cost more
money to make than I had access to. The idea for this film is this:There is an old
1920's rundown art deco hotel called the Twilight
where people who are not very nice people, check in, and must deal with
their personal demons… literally. I’ve always been a big fan of Rod
Serling’s Twilight Zone
and I’ve always wondered what would’ve
happened if Alfred Hitchcock had directed a few episodes? The
film will embody all the trademark qualities the suspense and mystery of
Hitchcock and the surprise twist endings and supernatural aspects of the
Twilight Zone. Oh, and it’s going to be one gory ride! I
hope to have funding in place as soon as possible and look to start
production by the end of this year.
who inspire you?
idea of a great director is someone who is a great storyteller. You
can give 5 people the same story to tell and some will tell it better than
others. Master Directors, which I hope one day to become, can
tell a story better than all other directors.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
My all time
favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock and others that I am a huge fan of
are Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen, Martin
Scorsese, John Carpenter, Wes Craven David Cronenberg and Quentin
Tarantino. Oh, I almost forgot Joel and Ethan Coen.
Your favourite movies?
Jaws, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien,
Aliens, THX1138, Fahrenheit 451, Planet of the
Apes, Rear Window, Friday The 13th,
Blood Simple, Halloween,
The Thing, The Empire Strikes Back, Nightmare On Elm
Street, Jurassic Park, Blade Runner. These are just a few.
and of course, films you really deplore?
don’t want to mention any films by name but I will say this: The
films that I don’t really care for are the ones that don’t engage the
audience or challenge them to think.
Facebook, whatever else?
Rage site is: http://www.ragethemovie.net
for anyone wanting to contact me can hit me up on my Facebook page at:
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
No, thank you
for taking the time to talk with me about Rage!