Your new movie Visitor
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about a fertility doctor who's developed a new medication
that allows women in high risk or even infertile situations to be able to
bear children normally. The medication also induces early
accelerated brain development which could translate to ultra high IQs in
the children. She is in the final testing trials and FDA approval is
imminent. But before she can celebrate she begins receiving strange
texts from a blocked number. Her attempts to discover who is sending
them fails until the "visitor" is finally revealed in the end.
The ending, however leads to more questions than it answers and
insinuates some rather sinister things to come.
Why set Visitor
in an experimental fertility clinic, and your own thoughts about
artificial conception, genetic engineering and the like?
fertility clinic, and the drug as a whole, actually play a much larger
role in the feature version of the story, and is the setting for a reason.
In fact, part of the controlling idea of the feature version is just
because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Combine
the layers of ambition versus morality, natural selection and even
mortality, and there are a lot of hidden layers to consider. This is
the metaphorical question Visitor
poses that we deal with in the real life
issues of genetic engineering, cloning, stem cells, etc. In the
fictional case of Visitor, we take the argument one step further by adding
an alien element to the story, which will pose ironic solutions to all of
those questions. With any luck it will certainly make the audience
sources of inspiration when writing Visitor?
is kind of a funny story actually. My producing partner Aaron Sparks
sent me a message one day with a link to an article about a celestial
event that occurred where a meteor hit and phones close to the event
interpreted it strangely and texted folks that they had a visitor and
Aaron thought there had to be a film idea in there somewhere. I gave
it some thought and the idea started to take shape. And as I normally do,
I tried to come up with the worst possible scenario I could think of and
the worse it got, the more exciting the story became. It took less
than a day to develop the broad strokes and the short was written in a few
days. The feature will take longer but will really mess with people.
least in my opinion, Visitor
is a film completely open to interpretation - would you agree to that, and
was that your intention from square one?
written as a proof of concept idea from the alien invasion subgenre with
the intent to leave the audience with more questions than it answers as
well as to induce a desire to see what happens next. All indications
point to success on that level. There actually are answers to all of
the questions which will be revealed in the feature version. But
we're very excited the film is having the desired effect on the audience
and is getting rave reviews. That should make getting the feature
made a lot easier.
As you mentioned, you'd like to expand Visitor
into a feature film - so in what way do you plan to expand on the short?
the short was done as proof of concept, we will begin the feature version
by developing the story of Dr. Price in the first act including the drug's
origin source, the "gamble" that pays off for Dr. Price and then
progressively build the tension on the unknown elements to reveal the
truth in stages and the conflict that results from the revealed truth.
It will be a fun thrill ride.
to the short - what can you tell us about your directorial approach to
your story at hand?
As I do with all of my stories, I work
with the actors to communicate the vision of each scene, the subtext and
hidden desires of the characters, and use shot selections that would
enhance the mood we wanted to set. Then I get out of the way and let the
actors do their thing. And as usual, it paid off huge! In
fact, the end of the scene with Mrs. Eddings (Gwendolynn Murphy) and Dr.
Price (Ashley Maure) was changed from the original scripted version
because Gwendolynn's performance demanded it. When Dr. Price exited
the room, we kept rolling on Gwendolynn and let her move through the
emotions she was feeling. Initially we were going to follow Dr.
Price out of the room, but Gwendolynn's performance was so compelling, and
really drove home the meaning in her character's life this drug and Dr.
Price's work meant for her, that the story was much better served allowing
the audience to feel that with her instead of cutting away and ruining
that moment. Those are the moments you live for as a director.
Do talk about your cast for a bit,
and why exactly these people?
This cast was absolutely
amazing. From the moment I saw Ashley Maure's pre-read audition, I
knew she was Dr. Price. Her approach to the material was spot on and
she just "got it". The same thing with Gwendolynn, who
also actually read for Dr. Price and Mrs. Eddings and she reacted to the
information as a high risk mom with the subtle subtext of her inner
conflict of being ecstatic over finally being able to have a baby versus
the sheer terror of the heartbreak she would go through if this didn't
work. Both of those ladies killed it. Kim Patel, same thing.
Though Kim is actually a nurse in real life, so though she nailed
her audition, I didn't even need to see it because I knew that she knew
how to handle patients and interact with a doctor she admired. She
was my first choice. I didn't actually have a second choice. LOL!
A few words about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The atmosphere on
our sets are always laid back and relaxed. We've been very blessed
to work with the same team since the beginning of the horror anthology 2
plus years ago. Jeremy Mitchell is the man, pure and simple. From
our first shoot together as production manager, he took it upon himself to
keep the set moving while slating, taking shot notes, being 1st AD and
anything else that was needed. And our shoots would never be the
same without Michael Head, who is not only a world class sound mixer, but
also gaffs, grips, PAs, everything. A master of all trades. He's
actually an accomplished film maker in his own right and also edits films.
Our master makeup and effects guru is Kristal White. She is so
immensely talented and her work is astounding. I absolutely love
working with her. My producing partner and DP Aaron Sparks is the
epitome of professional, and a perfectionist. Which makes him
perfect for this team. Sometimes we have conflict, but that is
exactly what we need. That means people care passionately about what
they're doing and want to make it the best they can be. This was
Misti Fields' second project with us as 1st AD, and I absolutely adore her.
She keeps us moving and on point and brings issues to us as soon as she
sees them, allowing us to take steps to ensure we don't get to post with a
huge hole. She totally rocks! This is also Stan Baker's second
tour with us as production designer, and his work is impeccable. I've
come to completely trust his judgement in set design and the audience
loves his work. The creepy Pinocchio statue at the foot of the couch
was his idea, and every time I watch the film I feel like that
thing is watching me. Well done Stan!! This was our first
experience working with Kristin Sutton, whom I've known for years. She
filled the role of Mrs. Jackson in the opening scene as well as served as
our script supervisor. And she was on it from the word go. It
was such a blessing having a dedicated script sup and she made us all look
good! This was also our first time working with Suzanne Williamson,
who served as our on-set photographer as well as PA. She is so talented
and took the most amazing on-set shots. You can see them on Facebook
and IMDb. We just love her work and are looking forward to the work
she's also doing for our next project! Stacey Lea is the other
newest member of the family and is quickly becoming my right hand. She
served as wardrobe supervisor on Visitor, but when she learned we had an
issue with a location, she took action and fixed it. And when we
were on set and had an issue with needing someone to fill a role at the
last second, she stepped in without hesitation and fixed that. And
speaking of wardrobe, she MADE Dr. Price's lab coat patch and the staff's
name tags. She thought of everything. Say what you will, but
she thinks like a producer. And she gets stuff done. Nuff
$64-question of course, where can Visitor
can be seen on YouTube at this link:
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of Visitor
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The response has been nothing short of amazing. All
the reviews are saying the same things. Our cast was amazing. The
score by our long time composer and close friend Ryo Utasato was fantastic
and drives the film, and the post production work by our editor Andrew
Greco, sound editor Aaron Rose and colorist Nathaniel Upshaw is simply
Any future projects you'd like to share?
have a feature in development already called The Sacrifice we're going to
shoot. Plus we've just announced the feature version of Visitor
which will begin work immediately. Down the pipeline we also have
The Zombie Effect ready to go script wise and in development undersea
bullet train thriller The Abyssal Plain, human trafficking thriller
Deeb Web and science fiction fantasy love story Precognition. So we will
be busy little bees for some time to come.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
a keen eye on Ashley Maure, Gwendolynn Murphy and Kim Patel. I am
grateful I got to work with them. They are so talented and I believe
they will all be making their marks in much bigger projects to come. It
was such a joy to watch them work.
for the interview!