We have talked about Sick - Survive the Night
at quite some length already [click
here], but could you bring us up to speed anyhow: What's the film
Since we have talked about it, to keep it simple, it's a story about
survival and the human condition, set in the aftermath of a zombie
apocalypse. The story focuses on three survivors, stranded far from their
safety zones, who take shelter for the night in a house and now have to
work together if they wanna make it out alive.
Over the years, and especially in more ambitious zombie
movies (and I'd call Sick - Survive the Night
one of those), zombies have often served as a symbol for one thing or
another. Is that at all true for your movie?
Well sometimes a spade is just a spade. For SICK, all the symbols and
metaphors and deeper meanings in the story relate to and revolve around
the living. We have intelligent scientists (who happen to all be women,
so take that to mean whatever you want), we have a group of survivalists
known as "Settlers" who are all trying to work together to
rebuild some resemblance of civilization. We have another group known as
"Vultures", who rob, cheat, steal and take what they want to
survive, and there are soldiers who are trying to hold on to and defend a
world that no longer exists.
At the same time, I didn't want the zombies to just be a moving prop or
part of the set dec, so we focused a lot on the science behind the
infection and why our zombies are the way they are and we kept the
science grounded in reality.
being a zombie-movie, I have likened it to the Jean-Paul Sartre-quote
"hell is other people" - something you can at all identify with,
and if so, could you elaborate on it?
Hell is other people
is definitely something I think the story relates to, especially
considering all symbolism and metaphors relate to the living. And it is
definitely a subject matter I like to fuse into all of my storytelling.
It's a great quote, taken from Sartre's No Exit and I think it
really defines us and human relationships. How we allow people to treat
us, how we treat others based on our own gain. To keep it simple, humans
are evil and that's probably why horror films have the best characters and
Christina Aceto, Richard Roy Sutton
Of Sick - Survive
three main characters, who can you identify the most/the least, and why?
That's tough to answer because I can identify with all of them. Maybe
it's a tie. I can identify really well with both Seph (Richard Roy
Sutton) and with Leigh (Christina Aceto). They share a scene together in
the film where they discuss whether they believe in God, especially
considering everything going on and when creating the dialogue, I could
definitely identify with both characters and their reasoning for saying
what they say.
Not to discredit Mckay (Robert Nolan [Robert
Nolan interview - click here]) at all. I love his character and I
think Seph and Mckay are the perfect tag team in a film. But that is
probably because Seph and Mckay are polar opposites.
down the lead characters, you of course also have to talk about your key
cast for a bit!
Ryan with Debbie Rochon
I am very lucky to have worked with so many amazing actors, not just in
SICK but in all my films. Christina Aceto, Richard Sutton and Robert
Nolan, were a perfect dream key cast. During pre-production and all
through the shoot no one ever phoned anything in. They were all there
100% of the time and they were all there for each other. They're not
just the best actors you can ask for, they're the right actors. They
have the right attitude, they have the right passion and they have the
I have been told by many actors and have read in interviews they have
done, that they consider me an "actor's director," which is
definitely a huge honor, so I am humbled by that. The way I work with
actors is I'm creating the story and in most cases I've created the
characters, but they are the ones bringing those characters to life.
They're not puppets. It's like (and Wrestling fans will appreciate this)
Vince McMahon created the Undertaker character, but it's Mark Calaway,
who plays the Undertaker, that is responsible for connecting with the
audience and having all the fans that he does. The characters just
aren't real until the actors take them over and make them their own. And
that is what Christina, Richard and Robert did. Honestly all the actors
did that. It was a great ensemble cast. Jennifer Polansky, Debbie Rochon
[Debbie Rochon interview -
click here], Sandra DaCosta [Sandra
DaCosta interview - click here], everyone!
But just focusing on the key cast, I would work again with all of them
any chance I get.
What can you tell us about the trials
and tribulations of making a zombie film on an indie budget, and do talk
about the shoot as such for a bit!
Ryan with Sandra DaCosta
On any indie film, no matter the subject matter, I think the biggest
issues to contend with all come down to time and money. People try to
shoot way above their means and because of that, things suffer. I'm not
saying don't reach for the stars, just don't be stupid. Even on an indie
shoot time is money, and considering both are limited you gotta think
smarter about it.
With a zombie film it's no different. So really it's about managing
expectations and shooting inside your means. And that's what we did with
There were a few days where we had 30 or so zombie extras who all had to
get done up in make-up. Our zombie make-up artist, Melis Stevens did an
amazing job with the make-up FX and on the days we had all the zombie
extras she assembled a killer team of assistants to help.
My DoP, Michael Jari Davidson also brought many amazing people onboard
the SICK crew and he is always an inspiration to watch and work with.
With his talent and commitment and the hard working ethic of our 1st AD,
Ryan Port, we were really able to run a good set. Executive producer
Cengiz H. Fehmi and producer Bruno Marino really made it possible for
the three of us to do what we do and get the film made.
I think, at the end of the day, with time and money hanging over
everything and because we are creating an emotional roller coaster for
audiences, it's natural for emotions to be high on set... But on SICK we
had such a solid, professional team, that we met everything head on and
at the end of the day, the result is on screen.
What can you tell us
about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?
So far so good. We have had plenty of great reviews. There is no way to
please everyone, so I'm sure there are a few that the film isn't really
catered for. I like a Bill Cosby quote that says, "I don't know the
key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please
So I don't worry about negativity. At the end of the day we have been
getting amazing reviews.
Q&A with Kelly Michael Stewart, Christina
Aceto, Ryan M. Andrews
And the audience reception has been just as good. I'm sure there might
be a few that would have rather seen another 3D Resident
Evil, shoot 'em
up film or some boobs & blood orgy film, but the audiences have
really fallen for this character-driven zombie horror. It's something
different and something intelligent. Speaking as a die hard, life long
horror fan, we all enjoy our bloodbaths and girl running in the woods
horror, but when a smart horror comes along, it's refreshing. Filmmakers
need to trust their audience more. One of the two people I credit with
teaching me how to make a good story is LA based producer and writer
Richard Finney. And one of the many pieces of advice he gave me was to
never cater your script for the masses and keep things simple and
repetitive. Write intelligently and trust in your audience. Fans will
rise to the occasion and appreciate that you gave them something
different and something smart. I hope we did that with SICK.
you had the right script, could you ever persuaded to do another zombie
Of course. Co-writer Chris Cull and I have a sequel
and prequel written for SICK. So we have a lot more to tell, and even
beyond that, I am not against doing another zombie film. But absolutely,
it has to be the right script. And by that, I mean, the story has to be
something different from everything else out there and it has to offer
something to the genre other than taking up space.
Let's talk about some of your future projects for
From what I've heard, you are planning to do two movies
with Jessica Cameron [Jessica
Cameron interview - click here] - what can you tell us about those?
I'm very excited to be working with Jessica. She's a good friend and she
is also a passionate horror artist. We are working on a film that is
currently titled Til Death. It was a script that I first wrote more than
ten years ago. I hadn't touched it for years, but after hanging out with
her in LA last summer, it hit me that she would be perfect for the
lead so I dug it out, dusted it off and sent it to her. It's a haunting
story about a husband and wife who, while on their travels, wind up
staying at a bed & breakfast in a small town. But the longer they
stay in the town the more the wife is drawn to it and she doesn't want
to leave. Little do they know there is a mysterious force driving her to
stay, and before they know what's going on, it may already be too late.
Not only is Jessica acting in it but she is also producing it.
The other film, Save Yourself, is on the other side of the horror
spectrum. It is a grindhouse horror about four female filmmakers en
route to a film festival, but they never make it because they get side
tracked and one by one go missing. They're kidnapped by a mad scientist
and they'll be lucky if any of them make it out alive. While being a
fun, bloody and sexy horror film, it is still rather intelligent and
different. The four women represent the four different kinds of female
characters in horror films. There is the bitch character, the slut, the
brains and Jessica plays the girl next door character.
There is actually a couple other projects as well that we have been
discussing at length.
also recently shot a film called Klymene - so what's that one
Klymene is more of a David Lynch-style horror. It's a bizarre, hypnotic
story. Very Noir. Watching an artist struggle to make it, is like
watching a Shakesperean tragedy or comedy. And that is what inspired
this project. Klymene is the greek Goddess of Fame and the story
revolves around four artists performing in some back alley theatre for
fame, who is represented by one lone person in the audience watching
them, able to give them everything they want at the drop of a hat.
It stars Jessica Cameron as well. Along with Ryan Barrett (NeverLost)
Lindsay Smith (In The House Of Flies) and Sandra DaCosta [Sandra
DaCosta interview - click here] and Robert
Nolan interview - click here] from SICK.
Kelly Michael Stewart and Robert Nolan, framed
by the directors of Tales from Hell
Finally, you're one of the directors of the
anthology Tales from Hell starring Sick - Survive the Night
leading man Robert Nolan [Robert
Nolan interview - click here] - now what can you tell us about
that project yet?
Tales From Hell is a film I am excited to be a part of. It was created
by Producer Kelly Michael Stewart. Kelly writes for Fangoria and created
and runs the Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival, which focuses
SOLELY on Canadian horror film. He created this idea of doing an
anthology in the classic style of Twice Told Tales or The Twilight
Like Twice Told Tales featured Vincent Price [Vincent
Price bio - click here] in each story as a
different character, that's what happens with Robert Nolan. He stars in
each segment as a different character.
Kelly attached me and three other Toronto area directors to each write
and direct a story. The other directors are Chad Archibald (NeverLost),
Gabriel Carrer (In The House Of Flies) and Navin Ramaswaran (Nara). And
to me, that is the best part, I am working with three of my peers in the
industry. The Toronto area has a huge horror scene that is growing
daily. There is a lot of us here and the best part is we all support
each other. One voice might be too quiet to get noticed, but with all of
us horror filmmakers here, making a scene and creating noise, people are
starting to take notice of what we are doing.
Other future projects of yours you'd like to talk about?
Funny enough, on top of all those projects I just mentioned I do have a
couple other films that are written and ready to go. They're just being
shopped around right now, so I won't get into them, but I am hoping to
be able to move forward on them in the near future. I always have lots
of horror films ready to go if the right opportunity arises.
There is a couple I have been working on for years as well, that are
starting to pick up steam now.
Basically there is a lot still to come. SICK is just the
films all seem very firmly rooted in the horror genre. So what does the
genre mean to you as such?
Every genre lends and borrows from each other. Horrors have dramatic
elements and some have comedic moments or action sequences. I just feel
at the end of the day, horror is the best genre to work in. When done
right it can evoke the most emotion out of the audience. Terror and fear
Look at comedy! What is funny in Canada and works well here may not translate well in other areas around the world. But what
does translate well everywhere is fear and the struggle for survival.
Horror is the most primal genre out there.
And the fans make it very fulfilling. With all the horror conventions
out there, horror fans don't just like a film. They love it, they obsess
over it and learn everything about it. In other genres people will go
out and watch the summer blockbuster, rave about it but be on to the
next one the following year, but horror fans hold on to those films they
Your/your movie's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I'm on Facebook: Ryan M. Andrews and I have started a page: Director
Ryan M Andrews.
SICK is also on
Facebook at facebook.com/SickTheMovie
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I just always like to let all the horror fans out there know that in
recent years the Canadian horror scene has been growing and kicking ass.
I'm proud to be a part of it and it's not to be ignored. The Soska
Sisters [Soska Sisters
interview - click here] are trucker-mouthed twins that kick ass with
Dead Hooker In A
Trunk and American Mary. Chad Archibald and Gabriel Carrer, whom I
mentioned earlier in regards to Tales From Hell, have a number of
amazing horror films through their company Black Fawn Films. John Geddes
and Jesse Cook from Foresight Films are the Canadian definition of
entertaining, with their films Monster Brawl and Exit
Humanity, not to
mention a number of new films getting made. Justin McConnell (The
Collapsed) is a damn hard working horror filmmaker cut from the same
cloth as me. And for anyone interested in balls to the wall, shock
horror, Astron 6 has you covered. Over the top and in your face
grindhouse style, Father's Day and Manborg are great choices.
We're not going away, so you might as well check up on us now. You won't
Thank you sir.