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An Interview with Matthew Santia, Director of Chasing the Ghost

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2022

Films directed by Matthew Santia on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Chasing the Ghost - in a few words, what is it about?

 

The film is about a drug addicted anesthesiologist whoís about to enter rehab and has a curse put on him; he must stay high and if he doesnít his friends and family will die one by one.

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Chasing the Ghost, and is any of it based on personal experiences?

 

One of our key sources of inspiration was Jordan Peeleís Get Out, at least for me. I really paid attention to how Peele made the everyday and mundane scary for a specific group of people. Todd and I knew we wanted to do a thriller/horror film. We also knew we wanted it to be about drugs. With that being said, I asked myself what is scary to a drug addict? And then it hit me: Being sober. I know when I was in active addiction thatís what terrified me the most, getting through a day without being high. Which answers the second part of your question. Having been an opiate addict in the past for over ten years, and in and out of rehab five plus times, I definitely drew on my personal experiences to craft the story.

 

What can you tell us about your co-writer Todd Calvin De Pew, and what was your collaboration like?

 

Not only is Todd my best friend, heís also one of the most interesting people Iíve ever met. When we collaborate, thereís never a dull moment, and I think we both one up each other with our knowledge of film and writing and try to wow the other one with what weíve written next. Itís slightly competitive, but being that weíre ultimately on the same team, it really sharpens our skills as artists, I feel. I become a better writer every time I collaborate with Todd, because he forces me to step outside my comfort zone and turn in surprising and different work. We are currently working on our fourth feature length screenplay together, and I canít wait for the fifth and sixth and...

 

Do talk about Chasing the Ghost's approach to horror?

 

Well, I wouldnít call Chasing the Ghost a horror film per se. Itís more of a drama/thriller with a supernatural spin. Sure, there are some horror elements; a couple jump scares and an impending sense of existential dread, for example. But, mostly I wanted to explore the effects of drugs on the family members of the addicted, and this was the most interesting way I could do that without coming across like an after school public service announcement. At least I hope I didnít.

 

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

 

I think it was most important for me to convey to the actors (especially Dan Pesta who plays the lead, Clay) that even though the story may seem over the top and implausible at times, itís very important that they play it straight. That they really root their characters in reality. Because, I feel like if the characters were too over the top the message of the film would get muddled and people wouldnít care about these characters. Hopefully, that came across in the film.

 

What can you tell us about Chasing the Ghost's key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

I really lucked out with this cast. Each and every one of them came to set prepared and ready to work. This goes for every actor, I canít specify that enough. We had a pretty rigorous rehearsal schedule for two months and I think everybody was feeling a bit of fatigue, but it mustíve paid off, because the cast just nailed it. But, Iíd really like to tip my hat to Dan Pesta. He had auditioned for my last film If I Canít Have You and was superb. He didnít get that role, but I knew I needed to work with him after seeing him in the room. He is in almost every scene in Chasing the Ghost. Everyday weíd give Dan something to do, something that couldnít have been too comfortable for him physically or emotionally, and he just handled it like a pro. Whether it be the sex scene or snorting milk powder, the guy never seemed to be out of his element and really delivered something special performance-wise.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

It was a relaxed and fun atmosphere, which I think is important when youíre making a film with such a heavy subject matter. Even though there was a sense of levity on set, the cast and crew never let their foot off the gas so to speak. They threw themselves at the task at hand and I think it really shows. I think this is a lot of peopleís best work. In my opinion, the cinematographer (Peter Poulos) has never been better. We worked together on If I Canít Have You, which is wonderfully shot, however, I feel like Chasing the Ghost is in another league when it comes to cinematography. I also think, Kayden Bryce (who plays Tegan) really turned in some of her best acting work to date and has a Best Supporting Actress award (Kollywood Film Festival) to show for it. And the filmís just getting started on the festival circuit.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Chasing the Ghost be seen?

 

Chasing the Ghost is currently streaming on Tubi.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Chasing the Ghost?

 

Itís really hard to gauge, because the reviews have been favorable, and my friends and family have responded positively, but those are my friends and family. Ha ha. They could just be lying to my face. SoÖIím really interested to see how it performs on Tubi and what strangers, like yourself, think of the film. But in the end it doesnít really matter. Iím my toughest critic and even if I just got done making something people considered to be a masterpiece Iíd still be nitpicking it from wherever I was sitting.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

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Currently, Todd and I are writing a script called A Spider, the Fly and I. Itís about a thief who breaks into a mansion and comes face to face with a woman whoís just killed her entire family. Itís the last part of our thrill-ogy (as Todd calls it) after If I Canít Have You and Chasing the Ghost. We also completed a script called Nightcap for Bradford Clark and Joseph Quick. That oneís about a group of people stuck in a bar with an active shooter outside. Itís much more of a dark comedy and itís a lot of fun. I canít wait for that one to go into production.

 

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

 

Iím just Matthew Santia on Facebook and matthewsantia on Instagram.

 

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

 

No, I think you covered it.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD