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An Interview with Jason Armstrong, Director of The Ghost is a Lie

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2024

Films directed by Jason Armstrong on (re)Search my Trash

 

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To kick this all off, can you give us an overview over the overall The Ghost is a Lie concept?

 

I had done some larger projects and wanted to do something that allowed me to collaborate with a lot of new actors and I wanted to do something immersive. I knew it wouldn't be for everyone, but for anyone who wanted to be swallowed up in the nuances and the little awkward moments, I wanted to make something affordable, but cool. Found footage isn't my favourite genre, not at all, but the idea just lent itself to that. In fact, there's a not-so-hidden list of characters here who aren't that excited about the genre, either. So ultimately, it was (The Ghost is a Lie - Take One) to be a quick, fairly simple film about about someone on a film crew snapping, killing everyone, and then assembling all the nonsense footage they could find into an actual piece of cinema as best they could. So the killer, while never revealed, is someone who feels what they are doing on "The Ghost" is disrespecting the art form. Hence "I fixed your movie." That was in 2012, so obviously there was nothing quick about it, lol.

 

So what were your sources of inspiration for the concept as such, and for the individual stories?

 

I had worked with a wide variety of actors and filmmakers. Chris Carnel, who plays a version of himself, was a real Hollywood stunt man and really a good friend to me. We thought it would be fun to sprinkle in people with legitimate Hollywood experience and people who were just getting started. And it was. I haven't been able to work with all of those actors again, but I really enjoyed my time with all of them. Some of the improv was downright inspired - specifically Pat and Lynda's couch interview. Still makes me laugh. The actors had a framework, but then were given the room to flesh their characters out in a direction they wanted to explore. I especially love Christina Schimmel's character Becky V, the cynical actress who's been "demoted" to crew. The actors deserve as much credit for the unique stories of their characters as I do.

 

Do talk about the actual Ghost in your movies for a bit, and what's his backstory?

 

So "The Ghost" is the found footage film the people are making. The Ghost is a Lie is a reference to how the killer feels about that film being made. But then The Ghost kind of becomes the de facto name for the killer, at least to the viewer. Most of the victims barely realize what's even happening. The killer is most definitely one of the people on set, and in careful viewing, it can be fun to make a case for various folks.

 

What can you tell us about the movies' general approach to horror?

 

I love character development, nuance, etc... and I love brutal killers who don't feel compelled to make long speeches and don't screw around unless they are feeling vindictive. The final kill setup in The Ghost is a Lie - Take One is a pretty good example of that, but clearly the killer has time and is now making his/her own movie. I wanted the violence to be aggressive and nasty, but also brief and without all the fancy dancing you usually get leading up to cinematic violence.

 

The Ghost is a Lie - Take One - what's that one specifically about?

 

A rag-tag mix of Hollywood has-beens and young never-weres are grasping at the dying breath of a presumably "easy" genre cash-grab. Someone gets fed up with the proceedings and siezes on the opportunity to make things "right" - at least in their mind. 

 

You've chosen the found footage approach for The Ghost is a Lie - Take One - so why is that, and what are the advantages and maybe also challenges of that particular approach?

 

I don't think I'd ever revisit the genre, at least not for an entire film, but here we had a conceit where it made sense. The genre always stretches the bounds of realism, but having the killer decide at some point to take over the operation and use an annoying trope to create a VERY real story felt reasonable. For example, when Hope is pushed out of the tree and subsequently hunted down, he takes over her camera. A careful eye can keep track of it because it gets damaged when she falls. The BTS camera gets broken and is no longer used, but the footage up to that point is used. Another recovered GoPro ends up strapped to a motorbike. I liked that it could be intentional and not just "accidental" found footage. I chose it because it felt like it could be controlled with this particular story.

 

Do talk about The Ghost is a Lie - Take One's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Honestly it was just a lot of people I really wanted to work with and several of whom I had worked with before. They all had interesting and varied indie film experience, so I knew their improv would come from a genuine place.

 

You of course also have to talk about your film's outdoor locations, and what was it like filming there?

 

Both movies were shot in different places at very different times of year. The experiences were either hot or cold, nothing in between, but I love the end result.

 

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

 

There's always a little tension, especially when there is improv, a pretty big cast and a lot of threads to trace, but generally we had a lot of fun. A couple of guys from Rue Morgue visited the set and hung around, and the out-takes in some cases are downright hilarious. The Ghost is a Lie - Take One had a bit of summer-camp vibe, despite moving through a lot of material at a rapid pace. The The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two-set, happening roughly four years after the The Ghost is a Lie - Take One set, was a well-oiled machine that really cruised. We had a lot of fun, were VERY organized and everyone really clicked. It was also my first time working with Sharon Belle and I could never have predicted that we'd end up working together for several years on a web-series. The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two was a game-changer in terms of collaboration, for sure.

 

On to The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two - what's that one about, and in what way is it connected to Take One?

 

The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two is kind of special for a lot of reasons, but it was part of a paradigm shift in film-making that I think is only now, several years afterward, coming to fruition in my filmmaking journey. It's about a group of life-long friends going on a road-trip and delivering some records along the way. They get caught in a snowstorm with a lovely older man and a kind of mysterious woman that one of them vaguely recognizes. Recognizing her ends up being bad news, because it alerts our killer to the fact that she is alive as well as her location, and that killer is very much motivated to finish the old job while perhaps adding to their film project. But the killer may or may not be keen on taking out the others with the same extreme prejudice. This all leads to a showdown that ends up being pretty tough on all involved.

 

Do talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand!

 

This film is completely scripted and much more focused. The "survivor" of The Ghost is a Lie - Take One maybe could have been any of them, and maybe some did survive, but the hopeful jolt of discovering Elle alive can lend to a very different viewing of The Ghost is a Lie - Take One. The actors were cast as the best fits, and that is the best part of directing. I might offer some tweaks or minor suggestions, but ultimately you cast actors that can embody your characters and trust them to do so.

 

What can you tell us about The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two's cast, and again, why exactly them?

 

The story never contained a love angle of any kind, other than deep friendship. The actresses who auditioned were just brilliant fits, but when Sharon auditioned for the one of the other characters, I decided to cast her and retool the male friend as Watts. Sharon, along with Angela Kaiser (Andie) and Chandler Loryn (Sloane) just had such great chemistry and effortlessly gave each other a hard time. I never had a doubt in my mind they would kill it. Kat Inokai who just kills it as Maizy was also a producer on the project and we owe her a LOT for making things run so well. Her husband Heath Horejda is a fantastic actor who has a lovely turn as Brian, Emmit's son. Emmit, portrayed by Canadian legend Neil Affleck who starred in the original My Bloody Valentine and also worked for many years on The Simpsons, was so much fun to work with and hear stories from over dinner. His wife, appearing only in photos, is a fun little cameo by Lynn Lowry. It's also worth noting that My Bloody Valentine is a true connection here. Chris, who played himself in The Ghost is a Lie - Take One, was the stunt performer in the Miner's costume on the 3D remake in 2009. He even mentions this off-handedly during a conversation in the film about what makes a good horror film.

 

A few words about that shoot, please?

 

It was fantastic. And very cold, but a beautiful location.

 

The $64-question of course, where can The Ghost is a Lie - Take One and The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two be seen?

 

We have simply placed them on YouTube for all to watch and enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=Gw01WaFUqVo
and https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=9FJzlmluUlI

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Ghost is a Lie - Take One and The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two?

 

I guess the jury is still out. We kind of released these under the radar, long after their expected release dates for a long list of reasons. We'll let nature take its course and see what sort of audience they find.

 

Based on your experiences with The Ghost is a Lie - Take One and The Ghost is a Lie - Take Two - will there ever be a Take Three, and what direction will/would it head towards? And other future projects you'd like to share?

 

There will probably never be a Take Three, for a number of reasons, but if there were, I suppose it would be about copycats and the original killer's reaction to them. We have a LOT of stuff in the works for 2024 and 2025, but I'd urge folks to stroll through some of the projects we've put up on our YouTube channel for various series. Specifically Swerve (three seasons) and Circa 1981 (one season, and one of my favourite projects and slyly connected to Swerve) and 9 Days with Cambria, a really great experiment in telling the story of a real woman's struggles.

 

Your/your movies website, social media, whatever else?

 

Feeling lucky?
Want to
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The links below
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Find Jason Armstrong
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports?
Find Jason Armstrong here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
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For now, you can keep up with the SKG Films Facebook page or our YouTube channel.

https://www.facebook.com/skgfilms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw01WaFUqVo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FJzlmluUlI

 

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

 

I don't think so.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

My pleasure, Michael. Any time.

 

© 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
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