You know the Old One is a fan of independent horror, and am always excited to find those films that, while they may be lacking a big budget, are filled with content, strong story, and undeniable passion from the young filmmakers determined to bring their visions to life.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to review one such film, "WORM", and had the happy opportunity to speak with those young filmmakers, Richard Powell and Zach Green of Fatal Pictures, about their projects and their passions.
Q: Your films thus far have delved into deep, disturbing psychological areas; what encouraged the decision to produce these kinds of stories?
RICHARD: I'm a fan of "characters" in film, more so than plot. I feel characters create the worlds they live in, internally and externally. Many films are plot driven but too much plotting without regard for the character seems contrived. For me it starts with the creation of a character, if I have done my job right the character is the world to be explored and his actions will drive the story. I also love horror films, so if you combine horror with character study you come up with something that resembles WORM and CONSUMPTION.
ZACH: Richard happens to love horror and that kind of dark genre, so naturally those are the films I'm going to produce, and to be quite honest I've gained a very big appreciation for genre films over the years. I also love how we can make people cringe and feel sick, etc., from what we are creating on camera. Any strong emotion that we can create and make the viewer feel, I love it.
Q: What are some of the films or fiction that inspired you?
RICHARD: I'm inspired by the films of Todd Solondz, Gaspar Noe and Michael Haneke. Their films explore dysfunction, obsession and insanity in daring and original ways. Damaged characters inhabit their films and most often serve as the protagonists, something I'm very interested in exploring myself. Films like Taxi Driver, There Will be Blood and I Stand Alone all feature villainous leads and they are some of the most morally complex and rich films around for just that reason. I like villains in fiction and find them more appealing than the heroes more often than not. A villain typically has an agenda, all the hero sets out to do is defeat him. I love Shakespearian villains, Richard The 3rd and Iago to name a couple. Iago's villainy in Othello is so insidious and exact it has to be admired and studied. He is a thousand times more fascinating than Othello because of his complexity. I see a bit of Iago in WORMS' central character Geoffrey Dodd. Both characters have mastered the arts of duplicity and manipulation and both seem to revel in their self styled supremacy over others.
Q: Where did you receive your education in filmmaking?
RICHARD: I did attend film school in Toronto but I consider my real film education all the years I spent watching film. From the age of 3 or 4 I would stay up all night watching movies with my Uncle or Grandmother. They exposed me to everything from "Clash of the Titans" to "They Live". My Uncle in particular had a massive library of TV taped movies. Each VHS tape had three films on it and there were a couple hundred of them. It was amazing. The other half of my education came by way of simply making films, practicing over and over and learning what works and what doesn't. Film school did allow me to meet my producing partner Zach Green however, so in that sense it was completely worth it.
ZACH: I got my film education at a film school in Toronto/Canada.
Q: I have to say, I loved "WORM"; is there a real-life story that prompted this film?
RICHARD: Thanks, I'm glad you found it worth your time! As for any real life inspirations I can't point to any specific stories or individuals. WORM is really in many ways a projection of some of my deepest fears and anxieties concerning my own life and possible future. Geoffrey Dodd is a man who had dreams and a passion for writing at one point in his life, but somewhere along the way he was sidelined and burdened with an existence he neither wanted or asked for. He becomes stuck in a rut from which there is no escape and eventually all of that resentment, frustration and untapped imagination festers and grows into something disturbing and dangerous. WORM is really about failure, my own fear of it and what life could be for me if I give up and take the easy out, as Geoffrey did all those years ago. Perhaps the film is a personal reminder to never quit, never settle until I've achieved all I feel I'm destined to achieve.
ZACH: Well, I do know Richard has a few nightmare stories about when he was back in high school that might have had an effect on writing "WORM", as well as I know we both love the dark cynical characters. I also think its quite interesting to watch a character like this, because I can promise that you or someone you know knows someone like this but you will never know that part of them.
Q: Writing, producing, directing, editing; it's a lot on the plate for the two of you. Do you also do your own casting, set-design, sound, etc.? How are you able to wear so many hats yet turn out quality productions?
RICHARD: Zach and myself do our own casting, but we have also come to rely on referrals and suggestions from trusted peers. Once you know a pool of talented actors its really easy to go to them for help. We found Robert Nolan in that exact way, he was suggested to us by an actress we had worked with in the past and it was the perfect fit. Zach and I do wear a lot of filmmaking caps, but its not by choice; its a monetary necessity at this point. We know no one will do as good a job as we will at this stage for the little pay we can offer, so rather than rely on half hearted help in the casting, promoting, producing departments, we do it ourselves. We have come to work with many great filmmaking pro's however, and we trust them dearly. I love writing and directing, but I assist in editing and producing because these projects are my babies and I only want the best. Zach produces and promotes like a machine, but his original job was post production; as a necessity he put on the producers cap a few years ago, and it just happened to fit him well! He's a natural and really knows how to get things done.
ZACH: Wonderful question. As far as casting goes me and Richard always have to be a part of that process of as these days. They just wouldn't be the same film if we didn't have control of who we cast. As for the set design and sound, we now have a production designer and art department if needed, and of course we have on location sound recordist/mixers.
Q: What advice would you have for other aspiring filmmakers?
RICHARD: I would say become proficient in a production skill such as cinematography, editing, lighting or sound. These skills will get you on sets and in demand from the start. They will also provide the highest possibility for pay at the beginning stages of your career. If you want to write or direct great, do it, but learn the technical craft of filmmaking as well.
ZACH: Save your money.
Q: What projects do you have in the works for future releases?
RICHARD: We are currently in pre production on our next horror short "FAMILIAR" The film will star Robert Nolan as Johnathan Dodd, twin brother to WORMS' Geoffrey Dodd. This film is definitely horror and I'm excited to be working with some great FX people once again. The project will be lensed by Michael Jari Davidson on the amazing RED Digital cinema system.
I'm also currently scripting a WORM feature screenplay which we hope to try and make in the not too distant future. I'm very excited about how that project is turning out and hope for it to be FATAL PICTURES' feature film debut.
ZACH: As Richard said, we are currently working on a WORM feature as well as a CONSUMPTION feature, and a couple other feature films are being written.
Q: How long have you known filmmaking was your calling?
RICHARD: I've always been a film lover but some time during high school I realized I wanted to try and make them as well. I was part of a class where we got to shoot videos and edit together films. I became enamoured instantly with the process and kept trying to make films after school. I remember one of the films I wanted to make was a cheesy slasher rip off of Scream. I gathered a few friends and headed out to the local forest area with a camera, a costume and a knife. Five minutes into trying to make that film I had the knife stuck in my hand. Needless to say that film was never finished but I do still have the seventy page hand written script sitting in my closet.
ZACH: Well, I went to film school in 2003/2004, but I think I knew I'd like to take a run at the business in 2000/2001. Then shortly after, I figured out what I needed to do, then went off to film school to learn my foundation.
Q: Have you always been horror fans, or do you plan to expand into other areas?
RICHARD: I have always and will always love horror but I do plan on doing other things. I love dramas and documentaries and hope to do a fair share of both at some point. As you already know, WORM isn't technically a horror film, but it has horror elements, primarily the main character Geoffrey. He is a horror movie villain dropped into a drama. I think that dynamic creates an odd and uncomfortable sensation for the viewers. The horror is a subtle, creeping presence. As the film starts the audience wouldn't even consider the possibility of ensuing violence and blood shed but towards the last minutes it becomes clear that this is an eventuality. I didn't want to depict that massacre, but allow the viewer to imagine it in their heads and wonder just when it will come.
ZACH: Always been horror fans, and knew those were going to be our first few films that we would go onto produce. But I'm sure one day we will both dabble in other genres.
Q: "Re-makes" and "re-imaginings" are all the rage these days. Many are abysmal, but in the right hands, some have been done very well. Are there any existing stories you'd like to tackle from your own unique perspective?
RICHARD: I'd love to do an adaptation of an H.P Lovecraft story. I find his work to be some of the most terrifying and imaginative literature in the horror genre. Perhaps an adaptation of "The whisperer in the dark" or "The color from space" would be my choices. Id also be interested in an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Richard The Third". King Richard is one of the best villains ever put to page. I know there are a few films of that play already but I'd do something much darker and bloodier and grittier. These would be amazing stories to adapt, perhaps one day if everything turns out!
Q: What directors or actors in the genre would be your dream to work with? Maybe it'll be THEIR dream to work with YOU guys one day…
RICHARD: I'd love to work with Gaspar Noe, Todd Solondz and maybe Lars Von Trier. I really respect daring directors such as these. Eli Roth would be fun, seems like a funny guy and he clearly loves the genre. I'd also just like to meet Werner Herzog, he's as entertaining as his films.
ZACH: I would love to work with actor Steve Buscemi, and director David Cronenberg. The list can go on and on.
I'd like to thank Richard and Zach for taking the time to talk to an old soul like me, and share their thoughts and experiences whilst they work on their latest film. I certainly wish you luck, and look forward to your future releases!