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[Interview] Ti West On ‘V/H/S’ And Bringing The Unexpected Into Genre Film

V/H/S is now available on various On Demand platforms (a month before its October 5 theatrical release!)! While iTunes (AppleTV) has it, it’s also hitting Amazon, Charter, Comcast, Google Play, DirecTV, Playstation 3, SuddenLink, Time Warner, VUDU and Xbox Zune via Magnet Releasing.

Ti West (The Innkeepers, The House Of The Devil) directed the segment called “Second Honeymoon”, which stars Joe Swanberg (You’re Next, A Horrible Way To Die) and Sophia Takal (24 Exposures) as a young married couple trying to get some excitement back into their lives via a road trip through the southwest. Do things go according to plan? No. Sh*t gets scray (I heard some skate kids using that word and I’ve co-opted it).

I recently spoke with West about crafting his segment, his character-centric approach to filmmaking and how thrives on what you’re not expecting to see in a genre film. Head inside to check it out!
I know we talked about 8 months ago regarding this movie, but I wanted to followup a little bit. I know your segment came out of this desire to recreate road trip that you’d been on. When did the theme of betrayal work its way in? And where did some of the key visual elements, like the switchblade, come from?

Yeah, I had just gone on this road trip. We had gone out to the Grand Canyon. And the day before that I had been asked to be a part of V/H/S and I was like, “I’m not sure if I have any ideas for it.” But it was in the back of my head while I was on this trip. And about halfway through, after dealing with these weird Arizona meth heads and all kinds of weird stuff – the weirdness of the southwest – the grand canyon and the hotels I was staying in I thought, ‘there might be something here.” That’s sort of where it came from.

I don’t know why I wanted to do something relationship oriented. It’s just the first thing that popped into my head. I knew the actors I wanted to work with. And I had the idea that someone watching you while you sleep is really scary. So I wrote a paragraph about my idea, sent it in, and they liked it. And a month later I was right back where I was on that trip, making the short.

I know you’d worked with Joe Swanberg before, and he’s great in it. But a lot of the balance relies on you trusting Sophia Takal’s character.

That was another thing, because I was making a horror relationship segment I went looking for people whose natural instincts were relationship stuff. So I kind of went out and got people who were great at it. There was a pretty detailed outline, and I gave them pretty detailed instructions, but then I just kind of let them do their own thing.

Also, since Sophia and Joe are both directors I could just send them out on the streets with a camera and they’d come back with something cool.

In your work you seem very interested in people, is that the focus of your next project?

Yeah, the next one has a social element. For a lot of people the draw of genre films are the genre elements. For me, it’s a little bit of the opposite. I mean I know there’s going to be horror in it, so I don’t go for that because I know that’s going to be there. I go for what I don’t know is going to be there. And I think I make movies the same way.

With something like The Innkeepers you know ghosts are going to show up eventually. Maybe it takes too long for some people, but they’re there. What you don’t know is that it might be kind of funny. What you don’t know is that you might relate to the characters. And it might have certain things that surprise you.

When you make a movie called The House Of The Devil, suffice it to say, eventually she’s going to end up in the house and it’s going to get bad. To me the interesting stuff is everything leading up to that, because the audience is clueless about it [going in].

So do you agree with Nicolas Winding Refn’s assertion that genre is the only way to sneak real stories into film anymore?

Um, I don’t know. That’s worded really nicely and it sounds really great but I’d have to think about it some more. I know that’s what I try to do. I’m trying to sneak other stuff into genre movies. I can get you in because I can do stuff with the genre that’s exciting, but hopefully when you leave the other stuff resonates just as much.




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