Your new movie Ambient
Evil - in a few words, what is it about?
Itís simply about a young woman headed out to a party while totally
unaware she is the target of a stalker whose in her house. Itís the
stuff urban legends are made of.
were your inspirations when writing Ambient
A Mike Figgis movie called Timecode, one
of the original big films shot digitally at 60i, and a Doug
Liman movie called Go.
(Liman also directed Swingers starring Vince Vaughn and Jon
Favreau, another movie I love). I had two concepts, one was to shoot
three separate real time stories that bleed into one story and then this
one. This one was simply easier to do with less work considering I
pretty much had this project fleshed out in my head.
Apart from the set-up, Ambient
Evil was shot entirely in real time - was this planned from the
get-go or did it just develop that way? And what kind of a strain did it
put on you as a filmmaker?
This was just something I wanted to do for a long time. The goal was to
shoot a film in a day. The main chunk of the movie would be a chase and
involve the trains somehow (because I love the trains and Downtown
Chicago). I wanted to do this with Deann Baker [Deann
Baker interview - click here] in Epitaph:
Beauty Secrets, but that didnít work out because of a
miscommunication with some of the actors, then I was knocking around the Ambient
Evil concept as a
Kelsey Zukowski vehicle [Kelsey
Zukowski interview - click here], whereas Kelsey was to be the stalker and the
victim a random guy her character was enamored with. This was all from
her POV and we would only see glimpses of her in mirrors and windows,
but there wasnít really a way to explain to her what I wanted, and she
wouldíve had to shoot and direct it all herself, and without the aid
of a wearable actioncam (in fact I just received my SJ4000 the day
before the shoot). Of course Kelsey went on to be play Emily Richardson
in The Perfect
Letter. We kept the POV concept, but intercut it with a third person
The major strain for me was keeping focus and keeping on top of
everything. Little things like lighting were a pain since I wasn't
always able to control and check it like normal. Some of the main scenes
were over-exposed. The bathroom scene and, believe or not, the scene on
the train were highly problematic. On the train, I was shooting on a
50mm at 1.8. I was trying to keep focus and in the LCD things looked
okay, but when I looked at it on my computer it was in focus, but all
blown out. But with some post work I was able to bring it back.
Also keeping people out of the shot on the train scene was hard. We had
to shoot it twice, because there were less people on the train going the
opposite way. And in Chicago it all depends on whether people want to be
jerks or not. Others have been forced off the train for shooting
projects, but I made it pretty clear I was only interested in recording
my actors and no one else.
Keeping the real time aspect
as well as the ever shifting perspective of your movie in mind, how
rigorously mapped out was Ambient
Evil, and did it leave any room for improvisation (on whoever's
Actually yes, there was a lot of room for improv and
most of the dialogue, that little that was there, was improve. Gloria John
an improv background, so I just told her what the situation was and she
went from there. As far as mapping it out I knew exactly how I wanted the
stalker to move through the house and I knew how I wanted the train
sequence to go and I wanted it to really be creepy and uncomfortable. The
chase was supposed to take place Downtown, but we decided shooting around
the area was easier and made more since, plus it was less crowded. Gloria
and Paul Lilley are trained stage combatants and choreographed their own fights.
This is my first film where didnít choreograph.
What can you tell us about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
It really wasnít too
different than anything else apart from me having to give constant
direction as opposed to being able to set the scene up then shoot, then
cut. I had to direct in the moment.
Do talk about your cast,
and why exactly these two?
Sure, Gloria John was anxious to get
to work on another project after The
Perfect Letter, and Iíd seen Paul Lilley, her fiancť, in
an awesome superhero web series directed by Sean Michael Mallory called The Good Fight, so I asked her to ask him if he wanted to do it.
Paul had been wanting to play a darker character so he was down for it, so
that was it, I had my cast.
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such and the on-set atmosphere?
It was fun. We
just chilled out and had a great time and shot the thing. Paul and Gloria
love to act and Gloria gets very excited and gets into it and then
everyone else gets excited and it keeps the energy up, so there was never
a dull moment. We were all tired when we got back, but it was an amazing
A few words
about audience and critical reception of Ambient
I donít know yet. (re)Search my Trash
has been the only
review so far and because of problems with YouTube I couldnít upload to
our movie channel, I had to upload to my vlogging channel so itís not
getting nearly as many views as it would be. I wonít really know
whatís up until I can get it back on the TimeCode Mechanics channel. As
you know The Perfect Letter
went viral with over 80,000 views currently and is number one
on the channel. I feel Ambient
Evil couldíve been at least number #2.
One person did comment on it saying it showed you didnít need blood and
gore to make a good horror film and that it was creepy.
The $64-question of course, where can
Evil be seen?
Itís on YouTube for free, on my
Nathyn Brendan Masters vlogging channel at
so people can see it with no problem.
With your experiences on Ambient
Evil still fresh - will you ever shoot another movie the way you
shot this one?
Sure. I still want to shoot something like
that with Kelsey and as well as use something similar in Crisis Function 2
with Anita Nicole Brown [Anita
Nicole Brown interview - click here]. I
actually did shoot some real time stuff in the original Crisis
Function and in Beauty
Secrets, so itís
not totally new to me.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
thereís Anitaís movie Crisis Function 2, Wages of Sin 2 and two new
Epitaph films coming down the pipe, Epitaph:
Abiding Lilith Ultimate and Victor
Locke: Demon Hunter with
Anita returning as Nightevil, Claire Llewellyn [Claire
'Fluff' Llewellyn interview - click here] as Owl and Walt Sloan and
Laura Cooper as Natas and Alana Tailbane in 2016. Iím also Iím batting
around a third for 2017 called Knights
of Liz Bathory, Iím hoping to bring back Kaylee Williams [Kaylee
Williams interview - click here] in both Victor
Locke Demon Hunter and Knights
Of Liz Bathory as as Lady Bathory herself.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Our website is
but our movies can be seen at
the movies playlist, Ambient
Evil can be seen at
in the movies playlist. My Facebook is
people can connect with me there.
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
want to give another shout out to my vlogging channel, I am vlogging now
at www.youtube.com/nathynbrendanmasters so
thereís a lot of fun and informative stuff there for those who like vlog
channels. I moved the YouTube Production show over there too. And
thanks for the shout out and interview. Always a pleasure.
for the interview!