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An Interview with Doug Roos, Director of The Sky Has Fallen

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2015

Films directed by Doug Roos on (re)Search my Trash

 

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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!).

 

Despite 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?

 

Absolutely, 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, 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.

 

With your hero carrying a samurai sword ... now where did that come from - and do talk about your movies "swordsplay" scenes for a bit!

 

I'm 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.

 

(Other) 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 Scroll.

 

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?

 

We 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.

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

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 The Sky Has Fallen are your locations - so do talk about them for a bit, and what were the advantages and challenges filming there?

 

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.

 

What can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The 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).

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

I 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.

 

A 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 subject?

 

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?

 

I 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.

 

How 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.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Akira Kurosawa, Dustin Mills [Dustin Mills interview - click here], Takashi Miike, etc.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Aliens, Terminator, T2, John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's The Fly, Oldboy (not the remake), John Woo's The Killer, the original Frankenstein, Edward Scissorhands, Unforgiven, Ninja Scroll, The Raid and its sequel, Godzilla 1985, The Professional, Them, etc.

 

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

 

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I hated Alien Resurrection, The Crow: City of Angels (loved the first film obviously), Batman & Robin, the 1998 abysmally bad American Godzilla movie, etc.

 

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

 

http://www.theskyhasfallen.com

http://www.facebook.com/theskyhasfallen

http://theskyhasfallenmovie.blogspot.com/

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Practical FX! I love practical FX, and TNT's Monster Vision. CineMassacre's Monster 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 FX ones.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

You're welcome. Thank you for the opportunity!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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