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
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
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
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?
are too many filmmakers that inspire me, but for this film Denis
Villeneuve, Alex Garland, and Stanley Kubrick inspired me the most.
(2015), Do The Right Thing (1989), Pulp Fiction (1994)
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
just not a big fan of those stupid movies that people enjoy laughing at
how bad they are.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
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!