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An Interview with Pete Yagmin, Director of Whispers of Carcosa

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2015

Films directed by Pete Yagmin on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your upcoming movie Whispers of Carcosa - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Whispers of Carcosa tells the tale of a traveler who finds himself in a New England town by the sea, searching for answers about the mysterious visions that led him there. After an encounter with a scoundrel at the local tavern, he continues his journey undeterred even as his visions turn to nightmares. When the horrible truth is finally revealed, he discovers there are some questions best left unanswered.

 

You describe Whispers of Carcosa as a Lovecraftian horror movie - care to elaborate, and what does H.P. Lovecraft mean to you as a storyteller/filmmaker?

 

Whispers of Carcosa epitomizes the definition of Lovecraftian horror in that it emphasizes the cosmic horror of the unknown (and in some cases, unknowable) more than gore or other elements of shock, though these may still be present. As such, the film is intended to be dark, unsettling and disturbing - atmosphere and tension are a large part of this film.

Fans of the genre may recognize the name Carcosa as the fictional city in the Ambrose Bierce short story An Inhabitant of Carcosa or from the book of short stories by Robert W. Chambers titled The King in Yellow.

Lovecraft borrowed heavily from Chambers and Bierce mentioning names and places such as The Yellow Sign, Hastur, and Carcosa throughout his own stories, expanding upon what would later become known as the Cthulhu Mythos.

 

Whispers of Carcosa though is not based directly on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft but a poem by Jeromy Hodge - so what did you find so inspiring about the poem to make a movie out of it?

 

A little back story is required to answer this one properly. I met Jeromy at the airport in Georgia on my way home from screening Dark Roast at DragonCon - within minutes of meeting, we hit it off and chatted for a while. I learned that he was an aspiring filmmaker and shared a similar taste in movies. Our time was short, but I gave him my card and suggested we should write something together which is actually how this all came about.

The original poem by Jeromy, titled The Fall (http://www.whispersofcarcosa.com/the-inspiration/the-fall/) contains themes of helplessness and unanswered questions, not unlike Jeromy’s own inspiration, the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Recognizing themes familiar in Lovecraftian horror such as detachment, vulnerability and unanswered questions, I saw the opportunity to explore cosmic horror by incorporating elements of helplessness, the occult and a horrible truth that tests the fragility of the human mind. Adapting the poem for the screen, I found the need to justify the characters and their motivations - such as why our traveler is in this unfamiliar place, why was he led astray and who is this mysterious stranger he encountered?

 

Other sources of inspiration when dreaming up Whispers of Carcosa?

 

Growing up I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and Ray Bradbury Theatre. In fact when David (Graziano) [David Graziano interview - click here] read the script, he mentioned a scene in the tavern being very reminiscent of something out of The Twilight Zone – which I of course took as a huge compliment.

 

What can you tell us about the movie's approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like)?

 

Staying true to Lovecraftian horror, atmosphere and tension are a large part of this film. Whispers of Carcosa is intended to be dark, unsettling and disturbing. There are elements of gore (and slime – you can’t have Lovecraft without slime!), they have a proper place in the film without to being a driving narrative of the film.

This is definitely not your typical, modern horror. The film relies on a growing sense of fear and dread which is likely to appeal to the more mature horror fan. If non-stop jump scares is your idea of a ‘scary’ movie or you were disappointed by not seeing the monster in The Babadook, you probably won’t like this film. Certainly to each their own – I just want to set the proper expectations.

 

Do talk about the film's intended look and feel for a bit!

 

The film is set in classic New England for reasons other than the obvious - those being convenience, the setting for many of Lovecraft's tales, etc. but also because I want the film to have a timeless feel. It's not a period piece, but it's not a modern interpretation either.

As outlined in the poem, the story takes place on a winter night and I’ve been strongly leaning towards the film being primarily black and white with color intended to indicate the truth being revealed throughout the film.

 

Anything you can tell us about the film's projected key cast and crew yet, and why exactly these people?

 

With such as small cast of characters, I really wanted to cast individuals who are as unique and memorable as the characters they are portraying. Sometimes the most obvious choice is right in front of you as was the case with David Graziano [David Graziano interview - click here].

I posted a casting call for The Traveler – seeking an older man with a unique look. I don’t think an hour had passed before David contacted me to express interest and I immediately gave him the part without a second thought. Cast in part for his unique look, it was his performance as the priest in Ave Maria that coinvinced me this is the face of a man who has witnessed unspeakable horrors. At this point, I can’t even imagine the film without him.

Kris Salvi came at the recommendation of producer Christopher Di Nunzio [Christopher Di Nunzio interview - click here] for the role of The Scoundrel. Kris and David have worked together in the past, so there’s an existing chemistry there that I think will really lend itself well as The Scoundrel lulls The Traveler into a false sense of security. As I’ve gotten to know Kris and seen more of his work, I really think he’s a dark horse that people should keep an eye on. I haven’t had the pleasure of working with him yet, but he’s a genuinely nice guy and has been extremely supportive in our crowdfunding campaign efforts.

Tiffany Howcroft was a no-brainer once I decided how important The Barkeeper character actually is. During an exercise in which I was defining an outline of each character, I defined the character as a domineering matriarch whom despite her silence, communicates clearly and commands respect. Realizing I needed someone who could bring that to life, Tiffany was my first choice. She was the life of the party so to speak when we shot Planchette and I’m thrilled to be working with her again so soon!

I was hoping to bring Stephen Wu on board to play the part of The Stranger – not that I wanted to hide his face in a hood again, but the nuanced performance he gave as the killer in Planchette would have been absolutely perfect for our mysterious stranger. Alas, Stephen has gone West to pursue his career and I wish him the best of luck!

The Stranger, dressed in long hooded robe, seeming impossibly tall and somehow strangely more familiar as The Traveler's visions turn to nightmares. It appears to be human, but could be Hastur incarnate as the stranger has no face. The role currently remains uncast.

 

At least to me, a film like Whispers of Carcosa seems to demand strong locations - so what can you tell us about yours?

 

Being a Massachusetts native, locations for the film are certainly plentiful. I initially had my eye on Salem, MA because it varies so much in look and feel. You have the waterfront and all the pedestrian spaces with these great brick buildings and alleyways, but down the street you can find colonial style homes, antique grave yards, statues and a few other areas that could easily pass for an underground cultist temple.

Portsmouth, NH, Kennebunkport, ME and Newburyport, MA are also on the list for potential exterior locations. It’s the interior locations that have been the most difficult to find in terms of matching the look I’m going for.

 

As we speak, your film's still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your campaign?

 

We’re near the tail end of the campaign with about 10 days to go and it’s been the textbook experience with a large surge of interest in the beginning, a bit of a lull in the middle and we’re hoping the typical trend continues with us having a strong finish!

In order to keep our campaign goal achievable, I made the choice to largely forgo physical rewards in favor of digital ones. 67% of the budget goes directly to compensating the cast and crew – of which the lion’s share is to pay all these fine folks, myself excluded of course.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/peteyagmin/
whispers-of-carcosa-a-mysterious-lovecraftian-horr

 

Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule? And any idea when and where the film might be released onto the general public yet?

 

We’re currently targeting early November with 3 days (or nights as the case may be) of shooting. Ideally, we’d like to make them consecutive days but it’s not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen – if we can get a solid 8 hours of shooting outside, we can shoot the interior scenes as regardless of the weather.

In terms of release – that’s largely dependent on how well it’s received at festivals. If it garners a lot of interest, it may not be available to the public at large until sometime in 2017, though our Kickstarter backers will get early access to the film.

 

Any future projects beyond Whispers of Carcosa?

 

Nothing solid yet, but I’ve sort of envisioned Whispers of Carcosa as part of an anthology. I’ve read a couple of short scripts from other local filmmakers that I think would fit really well by casting actors into thematic roles that would justifiably carry over into this film.

If I survive this production, I might tackle a feature – right after a well-deserved vacation.

 

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Your/your movies' website, Facebook, Kickstarter, whatever else?

 

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/peteyagmin/whispers-of-carcosa-a-mysterious-lovecraftian-horr

Website: http://www.whispersofcarcosa.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhispersOfCarcosa

Twitter: @CarcosaWhispers (https://twitter.com/carcosawhispers)

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about Whispers of Carcosa – I greatly appreciate it!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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