Your movie The Sky
Has Fallen - in a few words, what is it about?
I always describe it as a post-apocalyptic love story although what
people really seem to love about it are the practical effects (and I'm all
about practical FX), but to me, it's about never giving up no matter the
odds. I wonder now if calling it a post-apocalyptic love story does it a
disservice since it gives away that aspect. Plus, I've realized in
hindsight the demonic figures and the way they use the dead are more
interesting. I wanted to make it a character piece but I don't think that
part came out as well as I hoped being my first feature. "A
post-apocalyptic love story" seemed to be the most original tagline.
It's what someone else suggested to me (go Darrell!).
its very elaborate backstory, The
Sky Has Fallen is (also) a zombie movie - so is that a genre at
all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?
I love zombie films. I love all of horror but especially monster movies. I
love monsters and I'm going to make a ton of practical FX monster movies.
I actually like Romero's Day of the Dead over
Dawn although of course, I
love the original Night of the Living
Dead. But Cemetery Man, Evil
Dead Alive, Re-Animator,
Zombi 2, etc. With this film, I didn't
want to do
a typical zombie movie since there are already so many that are
masterpieces so I wanted to make mine different with the black figures,
the experimenting on people, getting inside their heads, etc.
your hero carrying a samurai sword ... now where did that come from - and
do talk about your movies "swordsplay" scenes for a bit!
a huge fan of Japanese films and their culture, the samurai, etc. Versus
was a huge influence obviously, and I love classic Kurosawa/Mifune... Yojimbo,
Sanjuro, etc. I would've liked to have done more with the
swordplay scenes, but I was happy we accomplished as much as we did on a
no-budget movie. I went back to work on the film a few times and shot some
new footage so I made sure to add more wide shots in there, trying to do
longer takes where he kills multiple creatures in one uninterrupted shot.
There is still more I would like to do with that.
sources of inspiration when dreaming up The
Sky Has Fallen?
The Exorcist and Lovecraft were big
inspirations on the priest's journal scenes. I always love the anti-hero
Man with No Name type character from spaghetti westerns aka badasses like
Snake Plissken. I'm sure there will always be a character like that in my
work, and of course, I like strong female characters like Ripley in Aliens
or Sarah Connor. James Cameron makes incredible films. There is a bit of
an anime influence with stuff like Ninja
For all the gorehounds among my
readers (and there might be more than a few), you just have to talk about
the gore scenes in your movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?
used an air cannon I bought off eBay and all kinds of little tricks. Slow
motion, blood bags, etc. For some shots, I took clear sandwich bags,
filled them up with blood, taped them onto a body, and then literally
sliced them with the katana.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
I wanted to focus on the characters and get the
audience to care about them. Try to give them some real depth and have
them both change over the course of the story. I really just wanted to
make a very personal film that was also a bloody gruesome horror movie :)
I think one of the key element of
Sky Has Fallen are your locations - so do talk about them for a
bit, and what were the advantages and challenges filming there?
were a lot of chiggers, big fat deer ticks, little ticks, mosquitoes, etc.
We got pretty lucky weather-wise since it didn't get too hot yet. My aunt
and uncle really made it possible for me to film the movie since I could
use the land behind their house, and there was some pretty good variety,
just trying to use distinct locations like the area with the dead trees
where the creatures are tied to them.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
two leads actually knew each other before so they already had a kind of
history and some chemistry so I just thought they went well together. Some
people criticize their performances but this was their first feature, I
was a first-time director so I couldn't help them as much as I wanted,
etc. but I think they did pretty well. Each one has some great moments,
and given the hell their characters have gone through, I think their
approach makes sense although I understand why some people are not happy.
I'm just glad most people seem to really like the movie, and they often
cite the emphasis on character as the reason why (and of course, the FX).
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
tried to have fun with it but I put too much pressure on myself. The last
week was pretty tense since we were all tired and exhausted by then after
filming so many weeks in a row with only one or two days off. But we had
some good times. My aunt and uncle often cooked us some great food. The FX
were a real hurdle. This was my first feature, but I wanted squibs, lots
of makeup, all kinds of gore and blood sprays, sword action scenes,
demonic wraith-like figures, etc. Surprisingly, the FX turned out to be
one of the best parts despite all the problems and everyone seems to
really love them.
few words about audience and critical reception of The
Sky Has Fallen?
We've gotten a lot of wonderful
reviews, the film has won three Best Feature awards, it got an award for
Cinematography, we won Best Practical FX, lots of nominations, etc. so
really it has been a great success for a first-time, no-budget indie. I've
sold over 1000 copies now all via self-distribution and we made back our
budget as well as a profit thanks to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, which was
really nice since I put all of my own money into it, something they say
you should never do but if it's your baby and your passion project, I had
no other choice. People really love the practical effects and the
uniqueness of the story.
As I understand, you have made
quite a few movies since The
Sky Has Fallen - so do talk about these for a bit, and any future
projects you'd like to share?
I've helped produce a lot of
movies including Night of the Living Deb with Ray Wise (the director's
last film Infestation was fantastic so definitely see that if you haven't)
and I've directed some new shorts but I'm really anxious to make some new
monster movies with all practical FX. I'm saving up now, writing scripts,
and preparing all the FX. I love John Carpenter's The Thing, Aliens,
Predator, The Blob (1988), etc. so I really want to do some new creature
features with lots of gruesome terrifying monsters. I'm never going to use
CGI. All practical. I'm also doing a little realistic sci-fi film like Primer. But I like helping other filmmakers too. It seems like a lot of
guys just do their own thing and don't help others but I like pitching in
if I can. I try to support other projects with practical FX.
What got you into
filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
I just always loved movies, and as far back as I
can remember, I wanted to be a film director. I told my 3rd grade teacher
I wanted to direct, and she was wonderful. She was very encouraging and
she said she would look for my name in the credits one day. I was always
making up stories, drawing them, acting them out, etc. I made my first
short film when I was 12 years old. I never went to film school or
anything. I just made movies, drew monsters, etc.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to The Sky Has Fallen?
did about 15 short films, writing, directing, editing, etc. They were like
practice really, and you can kind of see pieces of them in The Sky Has Fallen
as far as learning techniques and different things.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I want to try to
be an actor's director. I've been studying acting and acting in more short
films, acting in my new little sci-fi feature, etc. The director's
attitude is really very important, and I really want to collaborate with
people. All work together to make the best movie possible. I just want to
make really good films, and if other people have good ideas, you should
listen to them. Steer the ship and have your vision but collaborate and
work hard. Don't let ego get in the way.
who inspire you?
James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Akira
Kurosawa, Dustin Mills [Dustin
Mills interview - click here], Takashi Miike, etc.
Your favourite movies?
Terminator, T2, John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's
Oldboy (not the remake), John Woo's The
Killer, the original Frankenstein,
Edward Scissorhands, Unforgiven,
Scroll, The Raid and its sequel,
Godzilla 1985, The Professional, Them, etc.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I hated Alien
Resurrection, The Crow: City of Angels (loved the first film obviously),
Batman & Robin, the 1998 abysmally bad American Godzilla movie, etc.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
FX! I love practical FX, and TNT's Monster Vision. CineMassacre's
Madness is great too. I just want to make some new monster movies. I know
as a horror fan, I'm dying to see new monster movies, especially practical
for the interview!
You're welcome. Thank you for the