Premiering at Cannes this year will be Outsider Pictures’ new thriller 5 Souls. The Brett Donowho (At Silver Falls) directed film stars Ian Bohen (Pearl Harbor), Steve Bacic, Kristina Anapau (Black Swan), Steven Schub (The Thirteenth Floor), Samaire Armstrong (“The OC”) and Allison McAtee (“NCIS”). The other day I had the chance to catch up with Donowho on the phone and we talked about the Souls, shooting on location and the three other films he has going to Cannes this year (Silver Falls, No Tell Motel, and The Sacred).
In the film, “After falling into a coma after a routine doctors visit, Noah awakens to find a man sitting at the end of is bed. The good news is that he has come to kill him, and then there is the bad news…” This clip comes straight from that premise, it’s here that we first see Noah awake in the hospital to less than a warm welcome.
Head inside for the interview!
Where did the idea for 5 Souls come from?
Colet Adedi [the screenwriter] is a former client of mine. She ran Granada for a long time and now she’s on her own. I used to represent her years ago as a writing client and she sent me the script and I just fell in love with it. It’s a Faustian tale, the dialogue is intense and the esoteric elements are so present that you really have to play catch-up with what’s going on. I love that type of thriller. In all of my films I try to make movies that make the audience think. You have the typical commercial scares but at the same time there’s something there that’s not quite on the surface. You really have to understand these characters.
Did you shoot it on location?
What’s exciting is that’s the only movie I was able to go back to my hometown to shoot. I’m a small-town boy from Denison, TX and I went back home and the city showed up in spades and really helped me pull that movie off. They wound up giving me the fire department, the police department, locations. Anything I needed basically. That was a really fun experience. My family and friends got to see that I was actually doing something with my life.
What was your approach to casting the film?
You know what I love about the current state of our industry? The articles are finally coming out – and I’ve been saying this for 15 years – we like our movie stars but a good story will draw us to the theaters. And finally we’re at a point in the industry where the audience is, because of the medium of the digital age, able to find what they want and you’re not necessarily banking on a big theatrical release to make your money back.
For me, I want to capture the essence of that character on the page. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m a actor as well, that’s how I came up. I want to find the essence of the character and the person who can best encapsulate it. Ian Bohen, who plays Noah, just did an amazing job and Steven Schub as Yusef [is great as well]. I don’t want to give anything away, but the dynamic between them and what they’re able to pull off onscreen is remarkable. I think people will be surprised. It takes place in a hospital so there’s not a lot of locations…
Yeah but hospitals make great locations.
True. That’s an interesting story as well. It’s so hard to be able to use them in features and film in them but in Denison the staff there was just so supportive.
Let’s talk about Silver Falls. It looks to be more of a classical ghost story. How does it differ tonally from 5 Souls?
What I love about that movie, and what people have been saying after they’ve seen it, is that it’s kind of a cross genre. It’s a thriller and a horror film but it’s also a detective movie. I kind of compare it to The Lovely Bones. It’s based on a true story about these twins that were murdered. We amalgamated the stuff from the true story with a fictional idea we already had and that’s sort of where Silver Falls was born. It surprises you in the sense that you walk into it just thinking it’s a ghost story, but it’s disturbing as hell.
You’ve also got No Tell Motel wrapping up.
Yes, and it’s anything but your standard “teenager stuck in a motel” movie. I read a 100 screenplays over the course of about 3 weeks to find that script because we were all set to go make a movie in Canada. And i found T.J. Cimfel [the screenwriter] on inktip.com. He’d never even had a produced screenplay before but he had won several awards for this piece. It’s amazing and disturbing, and it’s anything but the standard motel slasher. Everyone I’ve screened it for has said, “My God, I didn’t see that coming at the end.”
And you’ve also got The Sacred.
Yes, that movie is very interesting. It’s about a novelist, she goes to a cabin and she’s got writer’s block. She hasn’t been able to deliver her novel. She’s been bequeathed this cabin, but she hasn’t been in a long time because of these bad memories she has of the place. Again, this is something that you think you’ve seen before, but quite the opposite occurs. You don’t quote know who or what the characters are and you have no idea what’s coming.