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An Interview with Matt Kravitsky, Director of The Chrysalis

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2018

Films directed by Matt Kravitsky on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new film The Chrysalis - in a few words, what is it about?


The Chrysalis is a psycho-sexual thriller that follows two sisters with different levels of sexual maturity. During a vicious snowstorm they get a flat tire and find themselves in an abandoned warehouse where they form a relationship with a mysterious runaway, which tests their own bond.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing The Chrysalis?


The idea came when Richard Olsen and I were in line for a film at the Sundance Film Festival and were brainstorming ideas that could get people to stand in line there for our film. The thought process was exactly this: It should be one locationÖ an abandoned warehouse! ... and someone should be in the warehouse! And I developed the idea from there.
Films that inspired me were 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Shining, Arrival, Ex Machina, and Repulsion.


Now I would term The Chrysalis a horror thriller - do you at all agree, and do talk about your approach to the genre for a bit!


I think maybe there are some horror aspects, but I would consider it more of a thriller because we didnít aim to scare people, and tried to avoid that as much as possible. We wanted the film to be filled with suspense. To achieve that we raised questions for the audience throughout so they would question who to trust and when. Ross Cohen and I made a timeline of the story on a whiteboard and compared it to other suspenseful films to solve when to give certain pieces of information. There are many moments where we give audiences some, but not all the information to make that work. For example we see Liza open a dumpster, and she is mortified at whatís inside, but we donít reveal what it is until later.


The warehouse large junks of The Chrysalis were filmed in - what kind of a place is it in real life, how did you even find that place, what was it like filming there, and did you write it with this exact location in mind from the get-go? And were the warehouse's interiors and exteriors the same place even?


The warehouse used to be an entertainment venue and brewery I believe. I looked up images on Google of abandoned places in New England and I contacted a photographer who took some photos of the place, which led to the owner. Originally I wrote the script with the warehouse with my familyís furniture store in mind, but after we filmed our Seed&Spark campaign video there we realized it would be a logistical nightmare and it all had the same look. Once we found the location used in the film I re-wrote the script to fit that location. The script had many huge changes that I believe were all for the better. Filming there was a blast, but it was very cold.


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


I wanted this film to be entertaining and thought-provoking so I just really mapped out how we could visually see a change in the characters, as well as creating a suspenseful atmosphere. I looked at each aspect of cinema: blocking, dialogue, performance angles, camera movement, editing, lighting, sound, location, production design, props, costumes, hair, and make-up, and tried to figure out how I could use each to best create the characters and the world. Additionally I lucked out and had an amazing team and cast who also brought great ideas for the story and characters.


Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


I believe the cast makes this film and I am so lucky to have found such an amazing, talented cast. They were amazing at taking notes even though their first takes always floored me. We had over 1,200 actors apply for the roles, but we made sure to cast whoever we thought was the most talented and also fit the description for each character. Nicole Paige Chaffin and Maggie Wetzel sent self-tapes before our auditions and they were amazing in both so from the beginning we knew we were probably going to cast them. Brian Dole wasnít on our radar until the first day of auditions but we loved him; however, the film is all about the relationships between the characters so we did chemistry reads for the last round of auditions. Nicoleís window broke in her apartment so she had to do a Skype audition with Brian. Even though Nicole was able to come in for the rest of the chemistry reads I saw the most chemistry between her and Brian just from the way that they talked to each other even through the computer screen.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot wasnít too hectic. We scheduled it so we would shoot roughly around two pages a day because we had such a small crew; we had 8-10 crew members each day. There of course were a couple days when Ross and I were stressed on set, but thatís filmmaking and we always figured it out. I was incredibly happy each day with what we got except one day we realized all the footage was too dark due to a camera malfunction. Thanks to the cast and crew we re-shot everything in record time and the footage was even better than the original. The biggest stressor was filming in the snow. There were many days I called experts to see if it was going to snow or not, but obviously no one can predict for certain. We filmed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont back to back so we could have snow, but man was it freezing.


The $64-question of course, where can The Chrysalis be seen?


Right now the film isnít public because it is in the festival circuit, but we want the film to be turned into a feature so it will be public once all that is sorted out. People can also contact us for a private screening.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Chrysalis yet?


We have only shown the film to a few audiences so far, but the reactions have been amazing. People are vocally reacting in the theater during suspenseful moments, and the ways that we wanted to manipulate audiences emotions seem to have worked. People have also come up to me and told me about discussions they were having with their families about the questions we wanted to raise with the film, which was gratifying.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Right now I am mainly focusing on pitching and finding funding for the feature film script based on The Chrysalis, and getting it made.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


My cousin and I used to make silly videos since I was in elementary school, and then in 6th grade I got my first camera. I learned how to edit and make videos throughout high school. Although my biggest hobby was making videos, for some reason I wanted to be a biologist. During my senior year I took a Hollywood directors class and for the first time I was researching on my own for fun instead of for an assignment. I learned all about each famous director, their films, and their style. Thatís when I smartened up and realized I wanted to be a director. I then went to Quinnipiac University where I studied film.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Chrysalis?


I made over 150 sketch-like videos before going to college where I made many of my mistakes. I then made even more mistakes on films in college, which I think is important to be able to do so you learn from them, but ultimately I walked out with a sitcom pilot episode and 18 shorts that I am proud of.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Iíve seen many people direct and the huge difference I see is that I am overly prepared. Of course on set things come up where you have to make changes on the fly especially with blocking and performances, but most of the time when people decide everything on set it leads to mistakes and being behind schedule. I have a very clear vision and shot list that I go over with each department head, I do a light rehearsal before if I can, and have blocking charts and storyboards. Also people say unlike some directors I think Iím a pretty nice guy and am open to suggestions until Iím not.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


There are too many filmmakers that inspire me, but for this film Denis Villeneuve, Alex Garland, and Stanley Kubrick inspired me the most.


Your favourite movies?


Room (2015), Do The Right Thing (1989), Pulp Fiction (1994)


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


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


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


Making this film was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I look forward to the journey in making it a feature.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
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Your Bones to

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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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