Your new movie Sader
Ridge - in a few words, what is it about?
The simple answer: It's about a woman named Sam who inherits a home
from a family she doesn't remember. Her adoptive parents never
shared her history, and now she goes to the home with some friends in tow,
to uncover her past and learn about her family and herself.
The in-depth answer: It's about a lot of things. It's about
friendship and family. It's about the way we choose to define
ourselves, the memories we keep and the memories we actively bury.
But history has a way of surfacing and we never can keep things buried
forever, despite our best efforts.
were your inspirations when writing Sader
Ridge, and what can you tell us about your writing partners Matt
Medisch and John Portanova, and your collaboration with them?
My goal was to create the kind of horror film that I like most.
While I'm a fan of all kinds of horror, the ones I truly respond to are
the ones that get under your skin. At the same time, I'm not a fan
of the new wave of "torture horror" that's become so popular.
When I sit down with a horror film I want the filmmakers to try and scare
me. It's harder to do now, and maybe that's because of my age, but I
still always hope to be scared. Not disgusted, not disturbed, but
truly scared. And the ones that accomplish that goal are the films
that have atmosphere, that effectively convey foreboding, and immerse
their audience in the world presented. I also think it's okay for
horror films to be about something. Horror is a wonderful
genre for exploring real concerns and ideas in a way that typical dramas
can't. I'm not saying it's a superior genre, but it can utilize
metaphor in an interesting and unique way.
Working together with Matt and John is like having a dream team.
They've been with me since the very culmination of this idea and we were
able to succeed at creating this film because of the individual strengths
we each bring to the table. We're all equal parts of a trifecta, and Sader
Ridge would never have happened if not for their contributions.
Our collaboration sessions are fun and satisfying because even if we don't
always agree, at the end of the day we all care so much about the work and
the end result that we're always able to reach a conclusion together that
ends up making the project better. And that can only happen when
everyone respects each other as much as I respect Matt and John.
all of the (five) characters in your movie, who do you identify with the
most, in whom do you find the biggest chunk of yourself?
order to write these characters and make them feel real we had to see the
situation from each of their perspectives. That being said, I think
that Sam is the one I identify with most often. Her hardships
through the course of the story, her doubt, her angst, her suffering,
they're all right there on screen and my heart breaks for her every time I
watch the film. I can also relate, on a personal level, with her
yearning for answers about who she really is. I think people tend to
put a lot of emphasis on where they've come from and who they've come from
in their search to better understand themselves. It's an inner
journey that many people share.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Patience is the key, first and foremost, with this story. I
wanted the film to unfold naturally and allow the audience to feel the
rhythm of the story. This was the way in which I felt we could get
under the audience's skin. There are also techniques throughout the
film, little touches, where I try to put the audience in Sam's shoes, but
always in a subtle way so that the sense of unease happens naturally and
you start to question what's real and what's not. But hopefully this
never happens in a way that calls attention to itself.
Anthony, Andi Norris, Josh Truax
But most importantly, I just wanted to let the actors do their work and
never undercut them or draw attention to myself or the camera. We
had an incredible cast who truly gave their all for this project and as a
director, the best thing I could've done is just support them and let them
work. A story like this lives and dies by the characters and
dedication of the actors to bring them to life.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
We put together an absolutely fantastic group of actors from the
Seattle area. We chose the people that would best embody these
characters and, by doing that, most of the hard work was already out of
the way. The right actors and lots of rehearsal are key ingredients
for me and the way I like to work.
Sam was always going to be the character that I felt was hardest to
cast because we needed somebody that audiences would love on-screen
immediately. I felt that if you loved Sam then you'd buy all of the
characters that surround her and never question their dedication to her.
And Trin Miller was absolutely the perfect actress for the role. She
has a charisma in front of the camera that only adds to her formidable
acting skills and unerring instincts. As I mentioned earlier, all of
Sam's struggles are perfectly visible on screen, and that's due to Trin
more than anything else.
D'Angelo Midili, Trin Miller
And speaking of charisma, D'Angelo Midili brought it to the screen in
spades. This guy is the real deal and we've been working with him as
long as we've been working. His ability to flip the audiences
expectations, to have you rooting for him one minute and then questioning
him the next, is a delicate act that even the most seasoned of veterans
can have difficulty in navigating. Watching D'Angelo work is a
beautiful thing and I'll continue to work with him until he's too famous
to return my calls.
Our supporting cast, Brandon Anthony, Andi Norris, and Josh Truax, also
brought every ounce of dedication I could've ever asked for. They
were all three true professionals that I was honored to work with and
honestly, some of my favorite moments on set were working with them.
They were fearless and generous in helping to serve the story and the
other actors, and their contributions are what allowed this story to
really come together. It's a testament to them that even if they don't
always get the screen time of our two leads, they make such an impact on
so many audience members.
think a key element of Sader
Ridge is its location - so what can you tell us about it, how did
you find it, and what were the advantages and challenges shooting there?
We had this location before we even had our story. This piece of
property belongs to our Producer, Matt Medisch, and his family. He
grew up there in Northern California and I spent a good chunk of my high school years hanging out there.
As we talked about what our first project would be as The
October People, it made sense for us to use what we had. Since we didn't have
much of a budget to speak of, we had to write our story around available
resources. But I don't think we had to compromise in any way by
using Matt's property. The place is absolutely spooky and perfect
for bringing an atmospheric horror film to the screen. As such, this location was always the sixth character for me and it was
integral to the story to give the property a personality and put the
audience right there on the land with the characters. The only
disadvantages we faced were the years of wear and tear we brought to the
house in our 7 days there!
you talk about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere for a bit?
The shoot itself was a lot of work. Since we only had 7 days to
bring this film to life (an absolutely crazy schedule for a film of this
kind, with plenty of suspense and some action scenes to boot) we had to
hit the ground running and never look back. There was no time to
think or question the direction we were going. Our thorough pre-production was essential to finishing the film.
That being said, the overall feeling on set was so positive. The
entire cast and crew got along amazingly and everyone believed 110% in the
project. When you have so many people all honed in on a single
objective, and they believe in the work, there's no feeling quite like it.
We all lived there on the property. We had our editor (the amazing
Autumn Lisa Mason) working away in her office (her cave, as we liked to
call it) while we were shooting. We had a chef (Marcus Todd, whose
food and demeanor were both fantastic and absolutely essential) who was
constantly working to take care of us and make the set a warm, comfortable
place. It actually felt more like an artist's commune rather than a
film set and it's funny to me that such a tense, scary film could come out
of such a "lovey dovey" and fun environment.
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Sader
Ridge so far?
The film's reception so far has been
fantastic and beyond my wildest dreams. That's not to say that I
Ridge wasn't a worthwhile film or that I wasn't proud of our
accomplishments (I honestly couldn't be happier with the film we created),
but as a project that started out as more of a calling-card to show people
what we, as The
October People, were capable of, I never considered that
it might also resonate with people in such a way. Of course, not
everyone feels so positively about Sader
Ridge, and that's fine, but it's
clear to me that there's definitely an audience of people out there that
see the story and characters the same way that we do and react to it very
Any future projects you'd like to
We have many projects in the pipeline. Our next film is more of a
monster movie with Sasquatch taking center stage, written and directed by
our partner, John Portanova. It's still very much a character driven
piece, like Sader
Ridge, but we also explore the "reality" of
Bigfoot in the Northwest. We've drawn upon legend, and even some
real life accounts, to create a story that will blend character with
suspense, action, and some great horror set-pieces. I'm really
excited about this one and its potential. At this time we're just
putting some finishing touches on a financial packet for the film and then
we'll be sending it out to interested investors.
We're also working on a co-production with Imagos Films, another local
Seattle company whose first feature, Motivational Growth, is playing
festivals this year along with Sader
Ridge. We met them at the Sun
Valley Film Festival in Idaho when we were fortunate enough to have our
film play in a double feature with theirs. We were blown away by
Motivational Growth, which is a powerful piece of genre filmmaking.
We're currently putting together an anthology film with them, but one
that's unlike anything audiences have seen before. It mixes horror
with sci-fi, action and drama to create a character and a world that's
exciting and unique, and I can't wait until we start really digging into
Beyond that, we have other scripts already written and ready to go, and
plenty of ideas waiting to be developed. The
October People definitely has plenty on their plate for the foreseeable future and I
wouldn't have it any other way.
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 training on the subject?
I've loved film since I was a kid. I was reading about films and
the stories behind their development since before I can remember.
That being said, it never occurred to me when I was younger to think about
film as a career. As dumb as it sounds, these names like George
Lucas and Steven Spielberg... I knew them but they weren't
"people" to me. A guy couldn't have made Star Wars,
But I was always interested in art and self-expression. My first
dream-job was writing. I wanted to be an author. But
ultimately, the solitary nature of that endeavor didn't agree with me.
I picked up the guitar when I was 13 and played it constantly. I
even had a band with producer Matt Medisch (please contact us directly if
you'd like to book us for gigs or birthday parties). I got into
photography and illustration. I loved it all and wanted to do it
all. But film still never occurred to me.
Until one day, I sat down with my good friend Nathan Jones, whom I will
always thank for this, and he showed me The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, all
in one day. It was the turning point. I could see for the
first time how each element of those films were choices, made by
individuals. It was such a simple thing but it was revelatory for
From there, I've never looked back. I attended the Seattle Film
Institute's Total Immersion Filmmaking Course, and from there I got a job
on a feature film set where I met many of the collaborators I still work
with today, including John Portanova (I used to tell him what to do; I
miss those days!).
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Sader
It was mostly short films. John and I
collaborated on a monthly web series called Adler & Zenith for about a
year and a half. That was great experience for both of us but,
unfortunately, our production model was too labor intensive. We were
writing 12 page scripts in 2 days, shooting those scripts in another day
or two, and then editing for about a week before we'd throw the episodes
online and start writing another script. In retrospect, it was
insanity. But come to think of it, it was probably pretty good
experience for shooting a feature film in 7 days.
You just have to talk about your
production company The
October People of course!
October People is a
company that's still in its infancy, but even so, it's already been one
of the most satisfying accomplishments of my life. We're a company
devoted to filmmaking but we're committed to making films in the way that
we want to make them. John, Matt and I are the perfect team because,
even if we may have different opinions about some films or what works for
us, we all value the same things in filmmaking and we want to accomplish
the same goals. I'm very excited about the future of The
October People because we can guarantee that any film we release will be a film we
care passionately about. I've always felt that as long as you do
that you'll always find a mutual audience.
How would you describe
yourself as a director?
I'm very calm and personable on
set. I do my homework and come to set prepared. But
collaboration is what I enjoy and what I strive for. I work to
empower my collaborator's and help them in bringing their best work to the
film. I encourage suggestions and ideas from my crew and I feel my
job is just to make sure we don't stray from the ultimate vision of the
film. I want everyone to feel like they have a personal investment
in the project and that their contributions are invaluable, because they
Filmmakers who inspire you?
My favorite director is Akira Kurosawa. Not just because of the
effect his films have had on me, but because of his ability to wring so
much out of each of his stories. He leaves no stone unturned in
exploring an idea. On top of that, he's the most successful
filmmaker I've seen in being able to capture that thing that I refer to as
being "cinematic," which is the rare moment in a film where all
the elements - music, editing, acting, movement - come together to create
something greater than the sum of their individual parts.
Besides him there's Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Wong
Kar-Wai, Sergio Leone, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Carl
Theodor-Dreyer, Hayao Miyazaki, etc. I could go on and on and on
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Wild Strawberries, Paris,
Two-Lane Blacktop, The Seven Samurai, The Passion of Joan of
Once Upon a Time in the West, Goodfellas, The Apartment,
In The Mood For Love, Chinatown, Star Wars, Blade
Runner, Oldboy, McCabe and Mrs.
etc. I could go on and on and on (and on)...
... and of course, films you really
Movies that don't challenge you, that talk down to
their audience. I can't tell you how many blockbusters I've seen
where I'm checking my watch in the theater, right in the middle of a giant
action set-piece. I'd rather watch a movie I hate than watch a movie
I can't wait to get out of.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
is our website. You can also find us on Facebook under The October
People, as well as our Sader Ridge page. There's tons of great
information about screenings and reviews, not to mention updates on future
projects at both places. And finally there's our Twitter account, @October_People.
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
only forgotten to ask?
I think we covered everything!
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for the interview!