Your new movie Black Moon
- in a few words, what's it about?
is about a lunar event that opens a gateway to a supernatural world.
In this film the supernatural occurs in a pedestrian tunnel, but the
gateway created on the night of a black moon can extend anywhere.
has a very "urban legend" vibe to it - so is it based on any
existing urban legend(s)? And other sources of inspiration when dreaming
up Black Moon?
is not based on any existing “urban legend” but a new one all its
own and my hope is that this is just the beginning. The inspiration for Black Moon
was primarily three parts, the location itself which started
the whole thing, nightmares from childhood, and the actual lunar event
called a black moon.
can you tell us about Black
Moon's screenwriter Daniel Shafer, and what was your collaboration
met Dan on the Netflix film XOXO, he was working as a producer,
while I was on as the production sound mixer. We got to know each other
and I saw that he had such an enthusiasm for filmmaking I knew I wanted to
work with him, so I pitched him the idea I had for Black Moon
and he loved
it. Dan was very supportive of my vision for the film from the beginning,
and understood I was going for something different both as the
screenwriter and as a producer. What was so great about working with Dan
was his ability to capture the tone and even the pacing through the script
in a film with almost no dialogue. Scripts can be a funny beast where you
don't want to over-describe and get a novel feel nor do you want a bland
functional description that lacks any interest. Dan was able to deliver
that balance, which made the whole process creatively more cohesive as
everyone had a really unified understanding of how this film should feel
right from the get go.
Moon is intentionally rather skeletal in its plot - so could you
elaborate on this narrative approach for a bit? And did you as a filmmaker
have a more detailed backstory in your mind while filming?
a very functional person by nature. Initially I was just looking to build
out a plot based on this idea of being trapped in this pedestrian tunnel
that I had passed driving home one night. From there it was, who is this
person, what happens next, how did they get in there, etc. The approach
was built around what was important to empathizing with her situation
which first drew me to make the film and not run away with details that
would over complicate it. Knowing that I was going for a character based
experience made keeping the plot simple almost a necessity. If it wasn't
something my character could see, and keep the flow of the story moving,
then I didn't want it in the film.
talk about Black Moon's
approach to horror!
me it is creating a strong, singular perspective that immerses the
audience completely into a world through a protagonist. The events
themselves are unsettling and even frightening but we experience them
through Fabienne's performance and to me its so effective because we are
locked in with her. It's simple, primal, and authentic which keeps your
mind from checking out as though what you are seeing isn't real.
Moon has been shot in one single location, a pedestrian tunnle -
so what was it like filming there, and being bound to just one location,
how limiting but maybe also liberating was this to you as a filmmaker?
was actually completely liberating. The visual appeal of the tunnel is
what started the whole idea and using the available lighting in the tunnel
meant we had the choice to move unhindered. Blocking, both camera and
actors, is one of my favorite things as a director and in this film with
so much going on, even if unseen, gave us incredible freedom to keep the
film very dynamic. There was certainly the fear of running into
duplicating the same shot over and over, but I never remember running into
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
wanted to create a strong connection between the main character and the
audience as well as a grounded realism to the film. I kept the shots as
intimate as possible, giving space where necessary but always within what
she was experiencing. I also avoided anything abstract that would suggest
more of a feeling versus the reality. For example, almost everyone I spoke
to about the film before shooting assumed there would be a dolly-zoom
“Vertigo” shot, but this was the sort of abstract cinematography that
would work against the realism I was going for. This put the burden of
expressing those feelings squarely on the shoulders of Fabienne but she
did a tremendous job and it was a gamble that paid off.
Do talk about Black
Moon's key cast, and why exactly these people?
was really looking for authenticity and charisma. I needed genuine people
to make the film believable and the characters being the focus throughout,
even doing very little, needed to pull in the audience. I felt really
fortunate to work with a cast that did so well with both of these things.
I met Fabienne Tournet for her callback we were in a black box theater in
Hollywood and I had her up on stage with me going through different parts
of the script. I was filming handheld with her sometimes running in
circles pretending it was the tunnel. What was so amazing is even then
just going through it a first time the moments I was getting felt so
candid. It felt like a real person and not a performance which of course
she duplicated during filming and is one of the main reasons the film
Timmons I had met previously, twice actually, while I was working as a
sound mixer and she immediately caught my eye. She is just one of those
rare people with a presence that draws attention, but is also totally
invested as an actor in whatever she is doing. I'm genuinely stumped
trying to find a way to express how good she was. You don't get to see
much of her in the film, but she handled the stark differences required by
the character amazingly well.
Del Buono came from working on XOXO with Daniel Shafer. When working
on the script I think I mentioned him to Dan as a possibility and
immediately Dan lit up. Brett was just lovable and genuine, on and off
screen, and we really couldn't have picked someone better.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
really went the extra mile to make this film what it is and that goes way
beyond on-set and into both preproduction and post. It was a low budget
film, but we cobbled together some very talented people and I am very
grateful for all their help. I wasn't really aware at the time but my 1st AD
Colin O'Rourke and my producers Julian Malagon and Daniel Shafer did a
wonderful job insulating me from distractions or problems so I could focus
on directing the film while on-set. Not to say there were any major issues
but that their efforts made my work so much stronger.
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
is beginning its festival run. I can't make any specific
announcements at this time, but you can follow the Facebook or Instagram
@BlackMoonShort for upcoming announcements.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Black
critical reception thus far has been incredibly positive, we share all
articles on our social media. I have of course shown privately to a select
few who have also been very flattering in their praise, but I am eager to
premiere and get an audience reaction.
Any future projects you'd like to
is a great deal of tinkering and development in the works and I do hope to
have something soon but nothing to announce just yet. I'd very much like
to see where Black
What got you into making movies in the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
always loved movies, that was pretty much ingrained in me from my mother
who was inspired to come to Los Angeles after the release of Star Wars in
1977 and although she didn't follow through in getting into film, the bug
was ever present growing up and got passed on to me. Directing
specifically started in high school around 2002 with directing theater. I
attempted one film and unfortunately none of us knew what we were doing so
that was terrible and was never completed. It wasn't until 2007 that my
then girlfriend/now wife suggested I give it another try, that I started
getting into the industry. I intended to direct but never took any formal
classes in the subject, but I began learning other trades leading to my
becoming a production sound mixer.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Black
was the first film I ever directed, but I have done a few competition
shorts after it was shot and while it was going through post production.
would you describe yourself as a director?
really feel it is too early to tell. I have my own sense of what I find
intriguing and entertaining, but how I go about creating it on the screen
is still very instinctual. I'm very keen on function over form, where I'm
motivated in my storytelling by the effectiveness of a choice over pure
who inspire you?
are certainly many directors I admire but I wouldn't say I have been
inspired specifically by any of them. Among those who I have appreciated
over the years would be Steven Spielberg of course, Ridley Scott,
Guillermo del Toro, Gareth Edwards, Akira Kurosawa, the Russo Brothers,
and so many more. What I could say inspires me about all these filmmakers
is how they approach characters. Each one does it their own way for the
most part, but they find a way to make their characters relatable and
really connect the audience.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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never been good at narrowing down my favorite films, even my top 10 list
is about 200 movies long. Star Wars will always and forever hold a special
place in my heart so that would have to be number one. After that it is a
million ties for 2nd place.
I can certainly say within the horror genre Alien holds first place for
me. Lawrence of Arabia, Pan's
Labyrinth, Indiana Jones and the Last
Crusade which only slightly edges out Raiders of the Lost Ark for me
because of the father/son character dynamic, Arsenic and Old Lace, on and
on it goes. They are all favorites to me, and I couldn't ever rank them.
and of course, films you really deplore?
into me at a film festival, have a drink with me, and I'll tell you all
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
us on Facebook & Instagram - @BlackMoonShort
Thanks for the interview!