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An Interview with Harley Wallen, Director and Star of Beneath Us All

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2023

Harley Wallen on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Beneath Us All - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Itís two stories colliding, first the Viking vampire whoís soon buried in Maine and sealed with an Yggdrasil pendant is later unearthed by a late teen foster kid struggling with her foster parents who arenít the best people. After her attempt to save a bird with a broken wing backfires she decides to save ďthe man from the woods in a barnĒ. Itís not long until the vampire has her whole family in his sight.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place?

 

Me and Bret Miller have been talking a lot about wanting to make a vampire movie and wanted to make some thing that feels a bit like a Stephen King story. When we started having the conversations about the screenplay we wanted two stories that stood on their own, ďthe family situationĒ and ďthe creature/vampire storyĒ, and send those two stories on a collision course.

 

What can you tell us about Beneath Us All's screenwriter Bret Miller, and what was your collaboration like?

 

Bret is such an amazing writer and we work so well together when it comes to getting a story that has layers and influences, itís always fun to dig into a new story.

 

Beneath Us All wasn't the first time you've worked with Bret Miller - so do talk about your previous collaborations, and how did you first meet even?

 

The funny thing is many years ago Bret Miller was my first AD on Eternal Code and we clicked right away. I didnít even know how talented of a writer he was, but after we talked some other influences that lead to us making Ash and Bone, and that has been a big hit for us giving us reason to work together again and again!

 

Back to Beneath Us All: With the film being somewhat of a Nordic variation of the vampire myth, is it based on any actual Nordic myths, and are you personally fond of vampire cinema, and some of your genre favourites?

 

Yes, I wanted to reboot vampires because theyíre suddenly so far away from the old vampire films that I love such as Bram Stokerís Dracula, The Lost Boys, Fright Night etc and even newer stories like 30 Days of Night and another Scandinavian film, Let the Right One In.

 

What can you tell us about Beneath Us All's approach to horror?

 

I think what we really wanted was to blur the lines and make a horror movie that was so much more than horror. We wanted a story that dramatically felt like it was worth watching, characters that were compelling and interesting. Not to mention reset vampires back to mysterious, mischievous and dangerous and add a creature feel to it all.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I really wanted to go after the mystery and develop the characters and make sure that eventually the collision course was locked up between Julie (Angelina Danielle Cama) and Frey (Yan Birch) and her entire family. I wanted to start by showcasing these flawed, not very decent people and then later flip the table and ask ourselves ďWho is the real monster?Ē and even look at ďnature vs nurtureĒ. Ultimately itís a battle of good and evil, and Iím excited itís started off doing very well so far!

 

You also appear in front of the camera in Beneath Us All - so do talk about your character for a bit, what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and how much Harley Wallen can we actually find in Donovan?

 

I actually like Donovan, heís like me in ways that he will literally lay his life on the line for what he believes is right, and I like that quality in him. He is an all-in kind of guy! Iíd say Donovan has more than a little of me in him and after playing Zeb in The Devilís Left Hand. whoís a tough guy, and Lucas in Ash and Bone, whoís more passive aggressive. Itís great therapy though, I learn a lot about myself seeing situations through the eyes of my characters.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of Beneath Us All's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

I canít tell you how excited I was to literally get my first choices for most of my cast. Sean Whalen and Maria Olsen [Maria Olsen interview - click here] as foster parents was a dream come true for me, and they delivered such incredible performances! I absolutely love their tug-a-war as a couple, they were simply excellent! Yan Birch as Frey was another I was really excited about and feel he was perfect! The other character was Stephen (Malachi Myles) we needed to find and Iím happy to have worked with him on the movie Halt and I'm glad I did as heís such an important character to the story. Add to that Kaiti [Kaiti Wallen interview - click here] has been racking up awards and accolades as the tireless social worker Rebecca. Casting is such a puzzle but itís so crucial, especially in the indie world.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

I think the excitement and dedication to lighting and shot selection really made the film. Hats off to Alex Gasparetto (who also was director of photography on Ash and Bone, Tale of Tails and A Bennett Song Holiday), his 1st AC Dominic Todero, Andy Westra my gaffer on Beneath Us All went above and beyond all the time with his key grip Kirk Yoshonis. Some of the sounds you hear in the outdoors are of real coyotes that were all around set on the outdoor shoots and I guess that added to the atmosphere!

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Beneath Us All?

 

Iím really excited, so far itís been a very positive response, we are 100% fresh from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and the very great majority of critics have been super supportive, and Deskpop is telling us the film is doing great right out of the gates both internationally and domestically.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Itís not horror but Iím in very late negotiations on my latest film Finding Nicole, a true story about a high impact case of domestic violence that had Chris Cuomo bringing his Inside Evil-team to Michigan to do a full episode on her case, and I canít wait for this to come out! We are also in pre production for a sequel to Ash and Bone that we intend to film in late winter, and thatís yet another Bret Miller script.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

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Iím Harley Wallen on Facebook, @TheHarleyWallen on Instagram & TikTok and @Harleytheswede on Twitter & Snapchat, and also follow your favorite films on Facebook as well as our production page Painted Creek Productions.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I just want to say thank you for always giving me the time to talk about my films and for taking the time to review them, I truly appreciate it!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

Amazon

Amazon UK

Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!