Q: What prompted you to shoot the first part of DARKNESS? What are your influences and inspiration as a filmmaker?
Originally we started filming DARKNESS back in 1998, just for fun. I always get in the mood to film something around Halloween. There was no script, just a few ideas. So we filmed about 4 minutes of it, with 'in camera' editing so we could watch the finished product right away. We stopped filming that night and never finished it. We lost the footage which broke my heart because I never like to leave anything unfinished.
So in 2000 we decided to do it again, start from scratch and make it even better. I wrote a 10 page script, and we abandoned the idea of 'in camera' editing, which took away a lot of the stress of continuity, and gave me the freedom to choose the best takes from every scene. I edited it on a VCR, which diminished the picture quality as a result. Editing it this way also proved to be insanely difficult as I couldn't change anything I didn't like without re-doing everything. It turned out being 21 minutes long, and we ended up finding the footage of the original 1998 version right before the completion of the 2000 version, so I put that on the DVD as a bonus feature.
DARKNESS was never intended to be viewed at film festivals or for distribution. It was only made for family and friends to enjoy at Halloween. If I were to put it up for distribution with DARKNESS 2, I would need to re-edit it digitally (I still have the original footage on digital 8).
As far as influence and inspiration as a filmmaker... I'd like to mention that I'm an actor first, and a filmmaker second. If I make a film, it's because it's something that I'd like to act in. Making a movie, for me, is kind of a love/hate thing because I love everything about it (filming, editing, sound and music mixing), but I also hate it because I want everything to be perfect, and I won't stop until it's the best that it can possibly be. I love horror movies, always have, always will. I like to be scared, so I want to give that feeling to other people. DARKNESS was influenced by the FRIDAY THE 13th movies, and DARKNESS 2 was influenced by the movie SCREAM. My favorite director is M. Night Shyamalan. I love the way his movies take you on a journey... they make you laugh, they make you cry, and they scare the SH T out of you!
Q: The second part picks up a year after the events of the first. Why did you decide to make a continuation of the first short rather than create an entirely different story?
I never planned on making a sequel or continuing the story. The thought just came to me one day (a year later), and it seemed like a great idea. I like sequels, and it gave me a chance to expand on existing characters, and to create new and interesting characters for part 2. So I sat down and wrote a 40 page script and gave it out to everyone I wanted to work with. Since DARKNESS was never meant to be seen, I put a 2 minute summary at the beginning of DARKNESS 2 intending to thrust the audience directly into the second chapter. So, in a sense, DARKNESS 2 was an entirely different story, and a movie on it's own. It's only now that I'm considering putting them together on one DVD, and letting people see the first movie.
DARKNESS 2 ended up being 47 minutes long. I used an editing program this time around, which made it easier and harder at the same time. Love/hate, easier/harder, you see how my life is complicated? It was easier because I could change things around at any point, and it was harder because I had to count on a computer to do it.
Q: How long did each of them take to complete, from shooting to final edit?
We started filming DARKNESS on October 1st, 2000. I thought we could film it in one night and have it finished for Halloween. Stupid me. It took 4 days of filming, including re-filming the ending because I wasn't happy with the footage we had. The last day of filming was on October 26th, 2000, and I still thought I might have it finished for Halloween. Stupid me again. After editing it on a VCR and filming the titles off of a computer screen, the movie was completely finished in February of 2001. So... it took approximately 5 months to finish.
We started filming DARKNESS 2 on October 18th, 2001. I thought we could film it in 3 or 4 days. Stupid me once again. It took 10 days of filming, mostly in October and November. And our last day of filming was January 24th, 2002. The delayed last day was to give one of the actors (Marc Beauchamp) time to recuperate after a drunken skateboarding accident. We did our best to shoot around his ankle injury during regular filming, but there were key scenes of his that needed to be finished.
Then the editing began. I had edited half of the movie, about 22 minutes, when the computer just said F CK YOU, and corrupted the entire project. Woo hoo! I love filmmaking (love/hate remember?). So I had to elicit the help of an editor with a more powerful computer than the one I was using. We painstakingly re-edited the first half, trying to duplicate what I had previously done, and then we finished off the rest of the movie. Then two of my friends created the music for the film. Then came the sound and music mixing. I had the final DVD in my hands on November 5th, 2002, which gave me about an hour to take a shower and put some gel in my hair before showing up for the DARKNESS 2 screening at THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD here in Montreal, where there was a hundred people there waiting for me. (Talk about last minute!). So... it took a little over a year of my life to finish.
Q: You're also an actor. How did this perspective affect your approach to the story and also about casting the other characters?
I wanted to give myself something interesting to do acting wise, but I had to be careful not to make it too complicated that I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the other aspects of making the movie (directing, continuity, script supervising... etc). In hindsight, I would have liked to worry less about the movie and more about my character. As for the other characters, I pretty much knew who I wanted to play what roles while I was writing the script. I even let them choose the names for their characters. I found it easier to write the story, knowing who was going to play what part. It was interesting to create similarities between the actors and the characters, and at the same time make the characters do and say things that were uncharacteristic of the actors.
Q: You have an acting part in the recent movie DECOYS, which is now out at video stores. How was it working on that movie as compared to working on your own production?
First of all, it was extremely difficult to film that movie because I had torn three ligaments in my knee, three days before my first day of filming (doing a back flip in a martial arts show). I was literally on crutches in between takes. But with the injury aside, it was much easier to do because all I had to do was worry about my acting. One of the major problems with DARKNESS 2 was that it was too big of a project for the amount of jobs that I had to do. I wore way too many hats for one person. So in DECOYS I got the chance to concentrate on my character. It was refreshing and quite a relief.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?
I had a small role in the film 3 NEEDLES, directed by Thom Fitzgerald, which just wrapped up. As far as my own projects are concerned, my last short I made was called RESOLUTE which was filmed about a year ago, and was finished around February, 2004. It is the story of a man who continually challenges himself through abnormal activities, and is 13 minutes long. It's sitting on the shelf right now. I haven't done anything with it because I didn't realize how much work it would be to get it into film festivals. Another hat which I do not choose to wear.
Because of the stress I experienced on DARKNESS 2, it's hard for me to take on any new projects. I would need more help in making the films, to make it worthwhile. I love to do it, I just can't do it all.
Q: How can people contact you if they want to order a copy of DARKNESS?
There's nothing in the works right now as far as distribution is concerned. Because horror/scary movies are so popular right now, there's too many big budget movies being made for anyone to worry about a low/no budget movie like mine.
If anyone has any questions about DARKNESS or DARKNESS 2, or has any info or advice to give me on what I can do with them, I can be contacted here.