Your new movie Postpartum
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a throwback psychological horror film about Alice, a
mother who is told by the devil to kill her children, and her struggle to
separate her dreams and reality as she tries to protect her unborn.
is supposedly based on a true story - care to elaborate?
source for inspiration for Postpartum
was based on five different cases I
read of mothers killing their children. The most prolific was a
mother who drowned her five children, one after the other, to free their
souls and thought they would resurrect. I watched an hour-long
interrogation video and it was absolutely chilling. She had no
remorse for what she done. Never shed one tear.
Other sources of inspiration when writing
biggest sources of inspiration were One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest and
The Shining. The Cuckoos Nest has so many characters that stand out, and
that’s what I based the foundation of my script around, characters who
were slightly off their rocker but very distinguished. To me The
Shining isn’t scary; it’s eerie and makes you uncomfortable from start
to finish. And that was the tone I tried to emulate in Postpartum.
There are also a lot of Easter eggs in Postpartum
that reference Friday
the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm
Street, and a few others. And
surprisingly enough not many people pick up on the fact that all of the
character names are based on victims from other horror classics.
talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!
is my first approach into the horror world. I’ve always done the
heavy drama films. Being my first horror film I didn’t want to
overdo the gore/blood factor. I wanted the gore to be tasteful while
making you feel slightly uncomfortable in your own skin. Camera movement and lighting were also of huge importance. I wanted there
to be lots of dolly and steadicam to help build tension. And as far
as the lighting the idea was to have large pools of light and then
complete darkness, which I feel helped keep the audience on edge because
at any moment someone or something could suddenly appear.
is rather multi-layered when it comes to the perception of reality - so
how hard was it to not lose your plot in the process of telling your story
I had a hard challenge ahead of me with making Postpartum. I had
to condense it from a 84-page feature length script to 16 pages. In
post I relied a lot on editing to keep the audience aware of what was real
and what wasn’t. As a safety marker I went back to the
interrogation room when I thought the audience might be drifting.
Also to show that Alice is more or less having a conversation with
herself, and the detective’s questions are distracting her from truly
remembering everything that she thinks is real and what isn’t.
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
You have to
have a vision. These days a lot of “so-called directors” don’t
know how to pick a shot or even how to call a lens. I knew how the
film was going to look, shot by shot, even before we even started
principle photography. I made shot lists, storyboards, and made a
collection of reference photos. In addition having written the
script I spent a lot of time in Alice’s mind and knew the interrogation
scenes were so pivotal in making the film work with the intercutting of
scenes. One of the stylistic decisions I made before principle
photography was to not to shoot coverage on the detective. I felt
that if we ever cut to him, even for a simple reaction, we would miss what
Alice is experiencing. Plus there is no reason the audience should
ever care about him.
about your cast, and why exactly these people?
Harris who plays a spin on the good ol’ Nurse Ratchet is someone I
always envisioned being in Postpartum. I even put a picture of her
in my vision board when I was writing the feature length script.
What a delight to work with, a true professional. Jenny Curtis plays
Alice, was someone I almost didn’t bring into casting because she looked
too sweet in her headshots. But when she came in to read for Alice
the room came alive. Her voice was haunting, her eyes were black,
and her tone was evil and her heart felt distraught. I knew after
ten seconds she was Alice. Nicole Sterling who plays Carrie was the
ideal casting. She had this wonderful headshot and I said I have to
bring her in. When she read for Carrie, she transformed instantly.
Sold. And Katie Beresford who plays Carol Anne did things with the
Teddy Bear that no one else did. She used it to comfort herself in
times during her read where she convinced me that she was this scared
child-like adult. I do feel that I had the perfect cast, and no one
ever needed help finding their performanc,e just an occasional tweak.
words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The mood on set was very fast-paced as we had seventeen scenes to shoot
in 3 days. One day of filming in Anaheim, and two days at an animal
shelter in Riverside. At the shelter there were so many dark
hallways to walk through to get to set, you occasionally would run through
a handful of cobwebs or see remnants of blood from other horror shoots, or
see the end of a crew member crossing into the other hallway. And I
ended up sleeping there the second night of filming to help finish
painting the therapy room, and to set up the shock therapy set. And
let’s just say that I heard some strange noises coming from the vents
that first hour alone. Or maybe I was just going crazy from lack of
$64-question of course, when and where will your film be released onto the
Once the festival circuit ends in November
I will put the film on Amazon, Indieflix, Vimeo, Youtube, and a few other
sites for everyone to see. The new trick is now is to make a good
short and let the studios seek you out.
Anything you can tell us about audience
and critical reception of Postpartum
I did a test screening over the summer before it was
finished. I like to sit in the back and watch people. If they
move in their seat a lot it means they’re bored. When they’re
still you have their complete attention. The test audience watched
it without the haunting score by Karin Okada or the brilliant sound
design/mix thanks to ToneMesa, and yet the response was very positive.
That test audience helped me fill in the missing pieces. So far
everyone has said how much they enjoyed it, and how creepy it was.
We have gotten into three festivals so far, and it’s only February.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
writing two new horror films. One is about a 911 operator, and the
other is about a Vietnam soldier. Can’t say much more than that at
this moment. Looking like we will be filming the Vietnam story in
September or October this year.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
Star Wars. My dad took me
to see it when they re-released it and it ignited a never-ending passion
for wanting to be a filmmaker. Even when I was five years old I
wanted to make my own version of Grease. Having no concept of money
at five I did try, but didn’t get very far. As far as colleges, I
went to Columbia College Chicago and had some really amazing old school
teachers who were very hard on me and always pushed me to do better.
If I were four minutes late to class my lighting teacher would tell me I
might as well go home because I wasn’t going to get credit for showing
up late. His mindset was if I got to class on time I was
“late”. But nowadays these young filmmakers, artists, new wave
DPs don’t go to film school. They feel entitled and think they can
just buy a camera, read the latest edition of American Cinematographer,
and go make a film. And sadly enough a lot of them do.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Postpartum?
Primarily I have been a cinematographer and have worked on several
docs, reality shows, music videos, commercials, just about everything.
Before Postpartum I directed a feature length film called Officer Down
about a rookie police officer suffering from survivors guilt. Filmed
that in Chicago and wrote that based on my time working as a cameraman on Cops. And after that I began work on a bucket list documentary about
children with cancer called Before I Die. Two years into that film
now, and hope to finish it before 2020.
would you describe yourself as a director?
As a director I
am very calm, efficient with everyone’s time, will do my best to make
everyone feel important even when I don’t have a second to spare.
I do not yell as I feel that people who have to yell are telling everyone
that they don’t know what they’re doing. I will not eat until I
know everyone else on set has, so I usually don’t eat when I’m
directing. And I will do everything I can to create a safe place for
an actor to be vulnerable, and allow them to just trust me. If that
means kicking the entire crew out of the room to give the actors time
together to really find their way or crying with them when they want to
know what they should feeling. And I never say the word
“action.” I let the room settle and breathe, and then say,
“Whenever you’re ready.”
who inspire you?
P.T. Anderson for starters. Magnolia
is a rare piece of art from start to finish. Clint Eastwood, who I
have built my directing style around. Steven Spielberg and Martin
Scorsese are probably two of the greatest storytellers of our time.
The movies they’ve made, unfortunately we will never see films like that
Your favourite movies?
With Wolves, Forrest Gump, Rocky, Back To The
Future, One Flew Over The
Cuckoos Nest, Magnolia, Goodfellas, and The Empire Strikes
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I totally despise
the shaky cam horror movies. It worked once with The
Blair Witch Project but has
not worked since. I am hoping that this kind of format goes away
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
was made as a proof of concept / short film to generate an audience and
see if we could find investors to make the full-length feature.
Hopefully in 2018 we’re talking in greater detail about the feature film
Postpartum filled with old familiar faces as well as a couple fresh ones.
for the interview!