Your new movie The
Covenant - in a few words, what is it about?
is a film that
explores the internal consequences of difficult life choices.
How doubt and regret can sadly turn internal struggles into
external threats. Thatís
basically the story of Monica Engesserís [Monica
Engesser interview - click here] character Sarah.
For Richard, my brother Owen [Owen
Conway interview - click here], itís about the hazards of
unconditional love. And with
Father Frank, Clint James, itís about confronting pure evil.
The Covenant being
about demonic possession, exorcism and the like, did you do any actual
research on that aspect of your movie?
I was raised Roman Catholic so that was the basis of my knowledge of the
spiritual world but in addition to that, my fellow writers and I did some
general research on demonology. According
to Judeo-Christian myth, demons are supernatural beings; Once angels of
heaven who have fallen from grace and now serve Lucifer.
Very interesting characters to write. A demon is pure concentrated
evil but can appear in many forms. In The
Covenant, we have a demon that reveals itís self in several
different manifestations from horrific to seductive.
of inspiration when writing The
came from films such as The Exorcist or
The Exorcism of Emily Rose but also Faust and
other classical sources.
What can you tell us about your
co-writers Owen Conway [Owen Conway
interview - click here] and Christopher R. Smith, and what was your
Monica Engesser, Jon Alexander, Owen Conway
was great to work with Chris and Owen and I would love to collaborate with
them again. I usually write my
scrips alone but involving other people can be very rewarding.
Both of these guys brought a lot to the script and helped shape it
into something I was very happy with. Iím
doing this again as my next project is a collaboration with writer Paul
Shrimpton. Film by nature is a
collaborative art form and itís a great benefit to a project if youíre
lucky enough to have others
helping you with what is often a solitary phase of production.
For all the gorehounds among my
audience, you just have to talk about the bloody bits in your movie for a
bit, and how were they achieved?
Monica Engesser with Cat Bernier
of what you see is the work of the amazingly awesome Cat Bernier.
This was our third movie together and she always brings so much to
the projects. Cat and I agreed
that the gore should be minimal in this story so that we could maximize
its effectiveness. What you do see
is disturbing but used carefully and only after we have built up enough
tension to warrant a graphic reveal. Also,
when speaking of effects, I have to thank Jon Alexander of Alexander
Designs who crafted the horrific demon birthing scene and Cory VandenBos
for his efforts as well. There was
a lot more to the birthing scene but we cut it down as it was incredibly
graphic and we worried that some outlets might not take the film in its
entirety if we left it in but someday, if we do a special edition, that
could be a cool thing to show. Lastly,
I was lucky to have the very cool visual effects of Joseph Mbah and Kyle
What can you tell us
about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
me itís always about the people. Even
when weíre doing a straight up monster flick like Krampus
Unleashed, I try and
make it about the characters as much as possible.
Covenant this was easy as the story is more intimate than a
lot of my other films and as a filmmaker, it was an incredibly rewarding
experience. But my approach
when dealing with my actors is always the same.
I create the characters but then hire actors who want to develop
them further than whatís in the written word.
I only work with actors who want to be my creative partners in
bringing their characters to life. I
listen to what they are saying and what they are feeling and this produces
the best result.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
advantage of making several films with people is I get a strong feeling of
who they are and what they can bring to a role.
When I started writing the parts of Richard and Sarah, I knew I
wanted Owen [Owen Conway
interview - click here] and Monica [Monica
Engesser interview - click here] to play them. Clint,
who Iíve also worked with a lot was a later addition to the cast as
initially the part of Father Frank was written for a much older man.
But then in the re-write I wanted someone younger to create a
contrast to Father Burke (Sanford Gibbons) so I went with Clint and he and
I did a lot to shape Frank together. Clint
really should have gotten a writing credit as we basically replaced most
of Franks initial dialogue to make it a better fit for a young priest.
It was a lot of fun as heís a great talent and a close friend.
Then there were some new additions who really impressed me.
Maria Olsen [Maria Olsen
interview - click here] and Richard Lippert were amazing and they were both
basically cast on the spot.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Clint James, Owen Conway, Robert Conway, Maria
Olsen, Travis Amery
was really fun. We shot the film
in the town of Globe Arizona and they were some of the nicest people you
could hope to meet. They were very
helpful and thatís very important when working on a small budget.
But for me the best part of filming this movie, is that we were
able to take our time. Most of the
film takes place in one location but we had something like thirty-five
shoot days. Not a lot for a
Hollywood film but for us, itís quite a bit longer than we usually have.
Having the time to get it right was a real treat.
I was able to get the coverage I actually wanted instead of having
to settle for a couple of angles. Another
fun aspect was that rather than get hotels, I rented a large house for us
all to stay in and it didnít take long for everyone to feel like family.
Covenant was rare in that there was very little drama behind the
scenes as everyone genuinely seemed to like each other.
$64-question of course, when and where will your movie be released on to
the general public?
VOD everywhere on February 7th and DVD later but I donít have
a date for that yet.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of The
far so good. Itís always nice
when your work is appreciated and Iím very happy with how the film has
been received thus far by critics and fans.
Any future projects you'd like to
working on a new script with Paul Shrimpton. Just a working title so far
but itís kind of got the aesthetic of my second film, Exit to Hell, with
the dramatic tone of The
I can say now is it should be quite a gore fest.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
and follow us on Facebook at @thecovenantmovie2017.
We will be posting a lot of cool BTS and other content as we get
closer to release.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
that I hope people check out the movie. Itís
a project Iím very proud of and have been anticipating itís release
for a while now.
Thanks for the interview!