[Interview] Katie Aselton Talks Directing And Starring In ‘Black Rock’, Transitioning From Drama To Horror

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After playing last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Katie Aselton‘s Black Rock was acquired by LD Entertainment (The Collection) for a theatrical run. Here’s a new clip from the thriller starring Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth, Jay Paulson, Anslem Richardson and Will Bouvier.

In the thriller opening in theaters May 17, “Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival.

I hopped on the phone with Aselton last week to talk about the transition from directing drama to horror and what it was like performing out in the elements with her co-stars. We also discussed how and why the film became partially funded through Kickstarter Check it out below!

The movie opens up a canvas for you, Lake [Bell] and Kate [Bosworth] to really chew into things. Did improv contribute to the relationship dynamics or were they pretty much all scripted?

Absolutely. Their past and where they’re at today was all very defined in the script and it was within those confines that the girls got to play a little bit.

You shot the film in sequence and you’re out in the elements a lot. Were there any moments you felt you physically wouldn’t be able to continue?

No, I still have my high school track coach in my head who is just like, “power through. Keep going. Power through.” Same with Kate and Lake, it was a group mentality. No one was going to get left behind.

These guys on the island, the antagonists who have been dishonorably discharged, also have a life of their own. They’re not cyphers.

No, not at all. And it’s not in any way a big sweeping generalization, it’s incredibly specific. I actually had [the actors] all in my head [beforehand]. The guy who plays Henry, Will Bouvier, was a guy I went to theater school with. I’ve always wanted to work with him and felt very safe with him in that role. I was very particular about who I wanted. And then Anslem [Richardson], who plays Alex, is someone I’ve known for ages through film festivals and I’ve really enjoyed his work. He has a very tough exterior but is very clearly sensitive and has these sensitive eyes. I love the idea of that character being sort of like a pit bull who is physically intimidating but very sweet and loyal. I loved the idea of these guys not being beefy, I like how Derek [Jay Paulson] is a little wiry and strung out looking and tired.

What were some of the genre films that influenced this? I guess a big touchstone would be Deliverance.

Yeah, Deliverance was sort of my biggest touchstone, but sort of modernizing it. I’m not a fan of when filmmakers say, “well the location is one of the characters in the movie,” but there was something very special about where we were shooting. The locations were stunningly beautiful and made the girls feel very small to me, they feel very fragile and vulnerable.

As a director, moving from something like The Freebie to this, there have got to be some challenges.

I think the hardest thing about doing this was jumping into action sequences and fight sequences. That’s something that is out of my wheelhouse and hard to deal with, and also difficult to track. When you’re having a conversational scene, it’s easy to gauge where the scene is going as an actor and as a director. You’re very aware of everything around you and as long as the camera’s capturing what you’re seeing, you’re getting it. It’s very hard to track that with an action sequence because it’s so intense. It’s all about surrounding yourself with people who you trust to help you tell your story.

There was a portion of this budget that was garnered via Kickstarter. But I looked up the campaign last week and the movie certainly looks like the cost exceeds the amount raised there.

Yeah, well the Kickstarter was just for the camera package. We budgeted for a much cheaper camera, but once we scouted the locations and realized what we could do with what was then the new Arri Alexa, which can capture images in low light situations so beautifully. We paid for this movie ourselves, so that extra amount [to get the camera] was beyond our comfort level financially. An extra 25 grand was a little more than we were willing to do.

It was sort of at the beginning of Kickstarter, when it was at its genesis and it was very exciting. I’m glad we did it, it was a fun way to get fans involved and invested at a very early level.