Interview: Director Hector Hernandez Vicens

In homage to the late great George A. Romero, director Hector Hernandez Vicens (The Corpse of Anna Friz) takes the reigns in the reimagining of the classic Day of the Dead. I spoke to Hector about Day of the Dead: Bloodline, how he was influenced by Romero’s and much more. Check out the entire audio of the interview below and check out Day of the Dead: Bloodline on Blu-day, DVD and Digital on February 6, 2018.

What prompted you to want to do this film:

HHV: One day I received the script from the producers asking me if I wanted to do the movie. I’m a fan of the George Romero trilogy. I read the script and was thinking of all the zombie scenes and about the movie I could make.

REAL TALK:

I found Hector to be one of the most detailed filmmakers I’ve spoken to. It was fascinating to hear how he approaches his film projects and the details from the set design wall colors to the smallest nuances. He’s like Bill Belichick scheming an opponent. That’s what visualizing a world from script to set is.

There was a bit of a disconnect in understanding my questions, such as when I asked him about his favorite movies he’s seen lately. He told me all about his favorite directors such as Hitchcock and Polanski, which is probably even more interesting, to hear his influences. It was cool hearing him praise 28 Days Later, which I absolutely agree with him as being one of the top zombie movies in the last couple decades.

What I got from the convo is that Hector is a passionate and very detailed filmmaker. It was interesting to hear that they auditioned actors through Skype. If you’re a fan of the George A. Romero movies then you should be pleased withe Day of the Dead: Bloodline.

Day of the Dead: Bloodline releases on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on February 6

Interview: Director Jessica M. Thompson

The Light of the Moon is a really timely film about sexual assault and the aftermath of it. Director Jessica M. Thompson does good work illustrating the struggles a sexual assault victim endures and the aftermath of it is detailed in ways unlike any other films have documented. I spoke to Jessica about the film and she shares her thoughts about the sexual harassment scandals.

What made you want to do this story:

JT: I was thinking what kinda ideas I have in my mind that would work for a low-budget film for my first feature. I was thinking and was very aware and cognizant of the way sexual assault was being portrayed in film and television, as I think a lot of probably women filmmakers are. For the past five years, deservingly, so many of these stories coming out.

How important was the research you’ve done and what did you discover along the way:

JT: I discovered so much, that’s the way I kinda operate because I’ve worked on a lot of documentaries. To me research is key. They say, write what you know, and if you don’t know it yourself personally then I think you should get to know it.

REAL TALK:

I loved how open and outspoken Jessica was with me. Not often do you get someone willing to put themselves out there like she did. She brought up her thoughts on Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson and didn’t hold back at all. So refreshing to hear that honesty and truth.

Jessica went into depth on her research and importance of being factual and honest in her character portrayals in the movie. She definitely accomplished on delivering that truth. She stressed how important it was to relate this movie to men as much as women, which is an aspect that gets overlooked at times that men are also susceptible to being victims of sexual assault and harassment.

The movie is as informative and detailed as you can get. It has a very lifelike feel to it and it feels as much a documentary as a scripted film. You should definitely check this film out and it is certainly capable of giving you a real perspective of sexual assault victims side and the people around them in their lives and the impact it has on them also.

For more information on the film and where you can see it, check out the film’s website

Interview: Director Paul Tanter

So 12 days before Christmas Santa and Mrs. Claus are ready to deliver, not presents, but murders instead. That’s the jist of Paul Tanter’s latest flick, Once Upon a Time at Christmas. I had a chance to speak to Paul about the film. We discussed the idea for it, the comparisons of Santa and Mrs. Claus to two infamous superhero villains, and much more.

REAL TALK:

Paul was enjoyable to talk to. Shared some nice insights into the making of the movie and what he wanted to accomplish with it. The obvious elephant in the room was the comparisons between Santa and Mrs. Claus to Joker and Harley Quinn. Paul acknowledged the comparisons and the thinking behind it. Kudos to the lead actors Simon Phillips (Santa) and Sayla de Goede (Mrs. Claus) for brining in the right kind of intensity to their roles.

The movie is fun. It’s an unapologetic Christmas themed slasher. If you are tired or want a change of pace from the regular family friendly Christmas movies, this is a heck of a 180 degree opposite. This is the side of Santa no one hopes to ever see, unless you’re watching it in a movie of this kind.

Once Upon a Time at Christmas is out now on DVD, Digital and On Demand

The ‘Mayhem’ of Director Joe Lynch

A dangerous virus spreads through a work office causing the workers to lose their minds and act out on their most dangerous thoughts. That’s the kind of scenario that can only play out in the mind of Mayhem director Joe Lynch. According to Lynch the movie script for Mayhem came to him while he was working a dead-end job he didn’t want to be at. “I wasn’t happy at my regular office job, so this script was a life-changer for me.”

The script for Mayhem, written by Matias Caruso, revolves around an attorney played by Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun who is fired from his job after being set-up by a co-worker. That’s just the start of the issues the work office begins to endure. A deadly virus spreads through the office inflicting rage onto all the workers. Yeun’s character Derek Cho takes matters into his hands as he tries to save his life and job.

Lynch was thrilled by being able to cast Yeun in the lead role, and proud to have an Asian actor play this role that stereotypically would be cast a white guy.

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“I’m such a big fan of Steven’s, he was critical to making this movie work and come to life,” Lynch said.

Lynch wasn’t wrong about Yeun’s impact on the movie. Yeun adds a lot of energy to his role with high intensity and timely comedic relief. Additionally, Samara Weaving holds her own alongside Yeun, playing the feisty Melanie Cross.

At one point Lynch said that film was in danger of not happening.

“We had budget restrictions, so in order to make this movie the way I wanted to I had to compromise,” Lynch stated. “We ended up shooting the movie in Belgrade, Serbia.”

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Taking the movie overseas ended up being a blessing for Lynch.

“Shooting overseas, brought all of us (the cast and filmmakers) closer together, in a way we probably wouldn’t have bonded had we shot with more budget in the U.S.,” Lynch said.

The up-and-down production status didn’t stop Lynch from making the movie he wanted. He was determined to get this movie come to reality, at all costs.

“Making this film was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, it was very personal to me,” he said.

Ultimately, Mayhem made it to the big screen. The sacrifices that Lynch and the crew had to make, paid off. His vision came to life and audiences will happily indulge in the bloody fun madness that is Mayhem.

Mayhem is available now on Digital HD and VOD and available on Blu-ray & DVD on December 26

Interview: Director Scott Waugh Discusses ‘6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain’

Scott Waugh has done it all in the entertainment industry. Directing, acting, producing, writing and editing. Not to mention he has 41 stunt acting credits to his name.  A jack-of-all trades in the biz. His previous directing work consisted of Act of Valor and the fun Need For Speed movie, but his best work can be seen in the recently released 6 Below. The film depicts the amazing real life story of Eric LeMarque and his will to survive in the deadly wintry High Sierras. I spoke to Scott about the film and the amazing story of LeMarque. You won’t believe what he told me. This is a must-listen interview.

How important was it to incorporate the wilderness and the surroundings as a central figure in the story:

SW: It is the essence of the story if not its backbone because it is a man against the elements. Being in below zero temperatures and trying to showcase that within those elements and really the change of topography he went through and the change of climate. Dealing with being wet and trying to stay warm and not having food, like in really having those elements being against him those entire eight days.

How much research did you do about human survival under extreme conditions: 

SW: You know, not much, because I wanted to be authentic to Eric and just wanted to talk to him. So I was fortunate to have the real guy and ask him what did you do? Why would I ask anyone how did they survive, I wanna ask the real guy how he survived. I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a story.

MY TAKE: 

I was absolutely blown away by the irony of this story. What are the odds that LeMarque and Waugh actually knew each other and were friends years ago? The fact that they got reconnected due to Scott taking on the film, not even being aware that it’s the story of his friend. Just incredible stuff. Some things in life are meant to be, this HAS to be one of them.

There was this noticeable energy and excitement in Scott’s voice when he talked to me. It’s magnetic and made me want to keep hearing what he has to say. Clearly this is someone who has seen and tried it all in the entertainment industry, so his perspective is definitely one of a kind.

Some of the quotes that came from him, I found to be really poignant. The two that come to mind. “I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a true story.” The other being, “Life is larger than fiction.” Such true and simple statements that make a ton of sense.

I’m glad I had a chance to speak with Scott. Sure, I had to make sure that wasn’t a pic of Survivor’s Jeff Probst. They sure look similar. Scott was very enjoyable and fun. The movie is excellent and may be Josh Hartnett’s best work. A must see.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

 

Interview: ‘Jungle’ Director Greg McLean

Director Greg McLean is stepping into the Jungle. The man that introduced us to Wolf Creek and the recent The Belko Experiment delivers possibly his most ambitious and intense film with Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliffe. I had a chance to speak to Greg about the film and the challenges he had to endure during the making of it.

What made you wanna tell this story: 

GM: It was a script sent to me by a producer friend of mine. I read it and fell in love with the idea. The reason I fell in love with it was because I was very interested in the fact it was a true story. I thought it was a very inspiring tale of what people are really capable of. The real reason was that I thought it was an amazing parable of how people use their imagination to escape from uneasy situations of horror in their life. 

Since this film is based on a real person and their story, how much freedom did you have to incorporate things on your own, or did you just try to honor all of the facts and reality that was available to you:

GM: Well because it was based on a book and because I had the writer of the book, the real person there with me when I was prepping and shooting, you know my job really was to try to use my filmmaking craft and skills to tell the story. I was trying to get out of the way and trying capture the essence of the real people, the real texture and atmosphere of what really happened. To me the most interesting part about was trying to authentically recreate the scenario and these relationships. As a filmmaker I tried to get out of the way of the story and tried to tell it very simply and honestly.

MY TAKE: 

I really enjoyed Greg describe the process of making Jungle. I feel he elaborated well and really makes you understand what they went through and the conditions that were presented while filming. I can only imagine how the rain threw them a curveball attempting to film the river scene. I could sense in the way he spoke about the river scene that there was genuine fear for the talent attempting that. Looking back on it, even in the movie it looks daring.

The casting of Daniel Radcliffe simply works for this role. This is the most physically demanding and intense role I’ve ever seen Radcliffe in. His range and diversity of roles he’s taken in recent years is noticeable. He’s really good and to think he plays a real guy who actually endured all these hardships is quite incredible.

I thought it was awesome that Greg plays video games, collects Marvel comics and Star Wars memorabilia. That’s the fun part of talking to these talented filmmakers and actors, you get to know a side of them and their interests away from the business. They are the same like every one of us, but just happen to be doing a really cool job they are passionate about, but also have their own passions and interests on the side.

Jungle is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

Interview: ‘Escape Room’ Director Will Wernick

Lionsgate’s Escape Room is a perfect mystery horror film treat for Halloween. The film is out now on DVD and I had a chance to talk about it with the director Will Wernick. This interview contains the film’s *SPOILERS* so beware while listening.

What made you want to direct this film:

WW: I was working on another film with one of our producers Kelly Delson and her husband, I was at their house one night, at the end of a meeting he pulled me aside and asked why hasn’t there been a movie about an escape room? I said that was a really good question. So I went home an outlined it and came back the next morning and said I have a writer that can write this quickly and we can get it going and we were shooting three months later. I’ve never seen anything get financed that quickly. 

This movie seems like it’s set in real time, there is a lot of mystery, is this something you were going for: 

WW: Absolutely, I’m a big fan of fun thrillers. We didn’t stick with it, but in the original outline the idea was that there would be a clock that you always saw, so escape room portion would be exactly an hour. That doesn’t really work out when you make a movie, but I think we we were pretty close. It ends up being a little less.

MY TAKE: 

This is the kind of movie that I’m fortunate to speak to the director of it about. Escape Room is like a puzzle and it leaves you with a few interpretations, especially the ending. I enjoyed hearing Will elaborate on the motives and ideas they had for the characters and plot. Will proved me right, when he confirmed that the movie was supposed to and was consciously trying to have the escape room take place in real time.

The actors chemistry really worked, so I was surprised to hear that they haven’t met or knew each other prior to the filming. Credit to their professionalism and skills. This movie couldn’t have been done without a solid ensemble cast that clicked together.

Escape Room really impressed me. It’s a thought provoking movie with a compelling story and theme. The ending had me wanting more, so I’m glad Will is working on a sequel. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Escape Room is out now on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand