Your new movie In the Pitch Black - in a few words, what is it
In the Pitch Black is a dark fantasy/cosmic horror about a supernatural event
that impacts upon (and drastically changes) the lives of a dysfunctional
family, bringing them closer together.
In a way, In the Pitch Black sounds like a ghost story of
sorts to me - would you at all agree, and if so, is that a genre at all
dear to you, and what will make your film stick out of the crowd?
Most definitely. I mean, there aren't ghosts in it. It's
something else, something you don't get to see often. Something we all
take for granted. But it definitely has a similar approach to the age old
haunted house movies. In particular Poltergeist (1982).
(Other) sources of inspiration when writing In the Pitch Black?
away I have to say Rod Serling. I grew up watching, and being totally
enthralled by The Twilight Zone and
Night Gallery. Reruns, of course. But
these were the shows my Nana loved so these were the shows we watched
together. I also drew heavy inspiration from 90s “horror for kids”,
shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Eerie
Indiana. R.L. Stein's
Goosebumps TV series (and his books) as well. John Carpenter and Guillermo
del Toro movies, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu
mythos. There's probably more but if I listed every single influence, the
interview would go on forever.
can you tell us about your movie's approach to horror, and about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
horror grows almost organically through the entire duration. There's no
jump scares. At least, we didn't consciously set out to create any. And
there's no gore. This is good, old-fashioned atmospheric storytelling. I
put the family dynamic at the fore because (like most of the best suspense
films) I want the audience to be immersed in the plight of these
characters. The antagonists only feature in it as much as is absolutely
necessary, the rest is camera trickery and build up. We wanted it to be
directed at as large an audience as we could get so we used a similar
approach to Robin Williams' original Jumanji. Mainly the start where the
younger Alan Parrish ends up sucked into the board game. It's soft enough
for older kids to watch but might be a little scary for younger ones.
talk about In the Pitch Black's key cast, and why exactly these
We knew of each other and wanted to work together
for a couple years, but this was the first time Bella Rose (who played
Peta) fit in. Initially I was looking at casting another young actress,
someone I'd just worked with on Crisis Point (my feature film), but she
wasn't available. One day, Bella's name came up in conversation on the set
of Without A Hitch (a project I was producing with my friend and
fellow director Phillip Paton). And I decided to reach out and see if
Bella liked the script. It wasn't long after that she signed on. When I
look at what we achieved with In the Pitch Black, I know I made the right
choice. She countered Pennyanne Lace (as Mia) perfectly.
was someone I did have the privilege to work with previously, albeit only
for a brief moment. The experience was so pleasant that we discussed
working together again right after. It wasn't till almost a year later
that this project came up, and another 3 months till I started approaching
cast. She was one of the first actors I approached with the script. But I
wasn't sure if she'd accept the part because Aiyai: Wrathful Soul (2020)
was doing remarkably well. I had no idea who I'd cast as Mia if I couldn't
Rounding out the on-screen family was
Brent Dunner as Jim (the father), who people will mostly know from
Australian TV commercials. I can't remember the last time I made something
without him. We've been friends for years but he's also got a good
presence. His rather stoic look and gruff mannerisms brought the character
I can't say much else. But I want to give a shout out to Connor
Clarke and Charlotte Ridley, who were excellent to work with. They play
the film's supernatural antagonists. And Wayne Bassett in a role I think
he was born to play.
What can you tell us about the shoot as such,
and the on-set atmosphere?
I run my sets like a summer camp.
There are rules and they are adhered to, but for the most part it's fun.
There's a lot of laughs. And when we get to the last day, it feels like
we're saying farewell to family. I've only made one film where there was
any animosity between cast or crew, and that was Crisis Point. Pushing
through it changed the way I make films now. That was the darkest I've
ever gone with content, and it took a toll. When it came to In the Pitch
Black, despite being a “monster movie”, I aimed for a much lighter
tone, and everyone really enjoyed working together. Some of my crew have
even worked together since because they enjoyed the experience so much.
It's an incredible feeling when you're responsible for creating both films
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The $64-question of course,
where can In the Pitch Black be seen?
unfortunately, it won't be available to the general public till 2022. But
once its VFX are completed (we're nearly there now), and post-production
is done, my producer and I have discussed Toronto After Dark and Berlin
International Film Festival among other possible places to unveil it.
projects you'd like to share?
I'm hanging up my horror
directing hat for a bit and focusing on a sort of love letter to Jim
Henson, creating a puppet fantasy pilot episode for a possible TV series.