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An Interview with Daniel Alexander, Director of Predatory Instinct

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2011

Films directed by Daniel Alexander on (re)Search my Trash


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Your film Predatory Instinct - in a few words, what is it about?


Predatory Instinct is about three excitement seeking co-workers who follow an interesting stranger to a secluded desert house and ultimately find themselves at odds against nefarious foes, human and subhuman alike.


How did Predatory Instinct come into being in the first place, and how did you first get involved in making the film?


It was originally written for another production company that was looking for indie horror scripts that could be made on a modest budget. The idea was that I would provide the script and would direct the movie. When things didnít pan out with the original company, it was shelved until another opportunity came along. As it turns out, things worked out nicely with the eventual timing of the production and the availability of resources and personnel.


What attracted you to Predatory Instinct's story, and a few words about the film's writer Brian Bentel?


Iíve worked with Brian in the past on a few shorts, and we had talked many times about doing a feature length project. When the opportunity presented itself I gave him the criteria, and he came up with the premise and the story took off from there. I thought it was smart and well written and had a lot of elements that you donít see very often in indie horror films. I liked how he had the ability to connect and revisit different themes and call back to certain pieces of dialogue in an entertaining and significant way. Brian actually has a P.H.D. in social psychology, so he has a unique perspective on society and I think his writing reflects that.


Your personal thoughts about the, how shall I put it, decadent philosophy of Predatory Instinct's villains, and how much Emmett do you find in yourself?


The kind of decadence and disdain for society that Emmett shows makes him an interesting villain. He completely disconnects from all concepts of right and wrong. There are no limits to what heíll do in pursuit of self-gratification, and thatís about as evil as it gets. As for me, I usually play it pretty safe, so Iíd have to say that Iím pretty far removed from Emmett. Iím not a big risk taker.


How would you describe your directorial approach to the material?


When I first read a script I visualize it as if Iím watching it on a screen. I imagine what the locations and characters look like, I think about how theyíll dress and talk, and even imagine what kind of music will be playing in each scene. So much of what I want to achieve on set is already in my head by the time shooting begins. I try to be a good communicator with my cast & crew, and let them know that they can always approach me with their input. I donít always take their suggestions, but I want them to know that their ideas are welcomed. Itís a group effort and great ideas come from all departments.


Predatory Instinct seems to be constantly playing with genre conventions, just to deceive the audience. How much of this was in the script, how much was your doing? And how much fun was this?


I contributed a little bit to the screenplay, and ideas always hit you on set, but the majority of it was in the script. I think Brianís intention was to keep people guessing and keep their attention. He had a very specific path he wanted the audience to follow to reach the conclusion, and we followed that pretty closely.

Making this movie was a lot of fun. We had some long days and nights, and it was definitely hard work, but I love being on set. We had a really great cast & crew, and although we were there to work, I think everyone had a good time and got along really well on set.


A few words about your principal cast?


Our cast was great. We auditioned a lot of people and saw some really good reads, but in the end it came down to getting just the right person for each role. Each actor embraced their character and just became that person. I think the chemistry within the group worked really well. I canít say enough about their efforts and their patience with the process.


Horror veteran David C. Hayes [David C. Hayes interview - click here], who has a small role in the film, also produced Predatory Instinct. What can you tell us about his involvement?


What canít I tell you about Dave? He put the whole thing together. He assembled the crew, brought in several of the actors, created schedules, secured the equipment; you name it. In addition to his passion for filmmaking, heís unbelievably organized. None of this would have been possible without him. And as a bonus, we get to see his trademark creepiness in the opening scene of the movie.


What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Predatory Instinct so far?


Itís gone really well so far. Weíve been in the Hollywood Asylum 13 Film Festival, the MythosCon Phoenix Festival, and we won Best Horror at this yearís Phoenix Comicon Film Festival. Weíve gotten some really nice reviews, and Iím excited about the direction weíre headed.


Let's go back to your beginnings: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I studied audio production, which ultimately led me into video and film, specifically editing. Before I ever had any formal education in film, I used to edit with two VHS decks and a pause button. I enjoyed that and was inspired to learn more about the process. I did study filmmaking a bit, but most of my experience came from working on sets and learning hands-on. I found this very helpful not only in getting specific experience in different tasks, but also by observing how things work on a set.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Predatory Instinct?


Iíve done a handful of shorts, but this is my first feature. Most of my previous work has been done on other peopleís projects, so it was great to have an opportunity to work on a project of my own.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


I have a couple of scripts in the works, but itís always tough to say when things will pan out. Iíd love to direct again and I hope I get the opportunity to get them made in the future.


Directors who inspire you?


Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Cameron Crowe, The Coen Brothers, anyone who writes great characters and really knows how to tell a great story.


Your favourite movies?


Boogie Nights, Sling Blade, Fight Club, Fargo, and of course any really good horror or thrillers. There are just too many to name. I love movies that deliver the complete package; great story, great characters, great visuals. I appreciate anything thatís really well made.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


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x-rated  find Daniel Alexander at

There are always movies that donít appeal to you, but Iím usually able to find something I like in most movies. Having gone through the process of creating movies, Iíve learned to appreciate the work put into it by the cast & crew and look for the positives. If anything, I guess I would have to say that Iím not a big fan of unnecessary remakes. In some cases they can be very well done, but in general, I say leave the classics alone.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Weíre on Facebook of course, and our "official" website is, but itís actually a very basic page right now. The best place to find information, trailers, etc. is the Midnight Releasing page: 

Check them out, and give us a "Like" on facebook!


Anything else you are dying to tell us and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Just that it was great to have the opportunity to make this movie, and I really appreciate the efforts of every single person involved. From the executive producers, to friends who loaned me gear, everyone made a significant contribution. Thatís what it takes to make an indie film, and it wouldnít have been possible without every single one of them. Oh, and please buy my movie.


Thanks for the interview!


It was my pleasure, thank you.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD