Your new movie The Evil
Gene - in a few words, what is it about?
It's about an FBI agent who must figure out what's real and
what's not real in the middle of a tense situation at a prison where all
of the inmates are natural born killers.
were your inspirations when writing The
I got the idea for the script
after reading an article about research the University of Connecticut was
performing on Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza's DNA. I was astonished
to find that there is a lot of debate among geneticists as to whether
there is a genetic marker that predisposes some people to commit violent
acts. If you go searching online, you'll find a lot of articles in
scientific journals and even a few books on the subject. Although
the scientific research is real, the characters and situations in which
they find themselves are entirely fictional. However, I still did
quite a bit of research to ground the story in a sense of realism.
To what extent could you identify
with Griff Krenshaw - or indeed any of the lead characters in The
As a working mom, I found Dana most
relatable, personally. I related to her desire to protect her child
and her sense that some of her colleagues may not see all her talents and
abilities because they just see her as a wife or mother.
Do talk about your movie's approach
to horror for a bit!
We spent quite a bit of time designing
background and offscreen sound for the film. If you think about it,
sound is literally half of what you experience when you watch a film, and
sometimes a disturbing sound can get to you emotionally even before you
see a bloody visual. We tried to take advantage of terrifying or
horrific sounds wherever we could, even if we weren't going to get any
gore, just to set a mood of fear and impending violence.
Evil Gene is mostly confined to your main location, a windowless
correctional facility - so what kind of a challenge was it to keep things
interesting with rather limited interior sets?
The key to
it all working is the number of sublocations and moving around among them.
So, for example, moving from the cell block to Mobley's office to the
hallway, to the men's room, etc. What was really hard was that all
of those sublocations couldn't be had in one place, so we actually shot
two different locations for the prison interiors, and had to be very
careful to match them.
you tell us about your overall approach to your story at hand?
still being scary and disconcerting, I also wanted there to be a certain
realism and grittiness to the story. That affected how we shot the
film and some of our choices about costumes, props that sort of thing.
So, for example, we shot quite a lot of handheld and we used overhead
fluorescent lighting because we wanted the story to seem like it was
really happening somewhere.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Richard Speight jr and Cameron Richardson are both very talented actors
and fantastic fun to work with on a film. Richard brought the
combination of confidence and vulnerability that we were looking for in
Griff. Cameron impressed me as being able to project all of the
qualities about Dana that made her seem less threatening, which then only
heightens the suspense later when it becomes clear that everyone is
threatening in some way or another.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
an amazing cast and crew with me for the journey. Sometimes you hear
about films where people didn’t get along on set, or there was a lot of
behind-the-scenes drama. That was not this film at all. We
really had a small family going during principal photography, and working
with such talented people was a dream come true.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie?
So far, we've had a number of really good reviews, and I've been really
pleased about the reception we've received in the press. It's also
been really cool to hear from people who saw the movie and liked it, and
pop by one of the film's social media sites to tell me what they liked
most. I probably enjoy that the most – getting messages from
people over social media saying that they saw the film, and telling me
what their favorite part or character was.
future projects you'd like to share?
I've got several
scripts still brewing in the background these days, so stay tuned for next
From what I've
heard, besides being a filmmaker you're also a practicing lawyer - so what
can you tell us about that aspect of your career, and what got you into
I've been a commercial litigator for
about 15 years now, and I got into litigation because I have a flair for
making good stories come together out of disparate pieces of information.
There is definitely a storytelling aspect to good trial lawyering.
It is perhaps not that surprising, therefore, that there are a lot of
trial attorneys who write on the side – whether it's short stories or
crime novels or something else. I tried to work on a novel for
years, but kept putting it down to meet a work deadline, only to have
difficulty picking it back up later. Writing screenplays finally
proved to be something I could do between big deadlines. And after I
started writing screenplays, the rest of filmmaking came from there for
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The Evil
Unfortunately, this is the first film I was
able to get across the finish line in any capacity – writing or
directing. So this is the very first installment for me.
How would you describe yourself as a
I think every director has their strengths and
weaknesses, things they enjoy doing and things they find difficult.
I think I'm very different from most directors starting out in filmmaking
today. I think that the things that set me apart as a newer director
include (1) a stronger focus on casting and working with actors than many
starting directors, (2) an interest in and an eye for production design,
and (3) a willingness to work with VFX, even though I don't come from a
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
In terms of the movies they’ve made, I’d say that David Fincher and
Ridley Scott are two of my favourite directors working today. In
terms of watching how they navigate their careers and the choices they
make, I like to see what Paul Haggis and Steve Zaillian are doing because
they are great examples of filmmakers who started out as writers and
branched into directing and producing. And I would add Kathryn
Bigelow to the list because she has not allowed the fact that
she is a woman to shape her choices about the films she makes, and much
of the subject matter she tackles is in a genre or milieu that’s often
seen as traditionally “male.” I think she’s an inspiration to a lot
of women filmmakers starting out today.
That’s a tough one because there are so
many favourites, and I believe that you can’t really force comparisons
between certain genres. In the horror genre, some of my all-time
favs are The Shining, Psycho and
The Exorcist. In the last 10 years or so, some of my favorite
horror films have been The Others, Frailty, The Exorcism of Emily
Rose and Mama. Within
the last year, I'd say The Witch and It Follows
have been my favorites
... and of course, films you really
While I love certain kinds of horror, I can’t
stand torture porn horror like the Hostel series or The Human Centipede.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Our website is www.theevilgenemovie.com, like our
Facebook page is TheEvilGene, and follow us on Twitter @theevilgene.
Thanks for the interview!