Black Fawn Films and Latefox Pictures have been hacking and slashing their way into the horror scene over the past few years. The company has been responsible for films like If a Tree Falls, Devil’s Night and The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger, and now their fourth feature film In The House of Flies from director Gabriel Carrer.
Carrer’s latest film is a slow burn horror/thriller set in the late 1980s where two young lovers, Heather (Lindsay Smith) and Steven (Ryan Kotack), find their lives inadvertently changed forever when they’re suddenly abducted. With no idea who has taken them, or for what purpose, the couple struggle to escape. Alone, isolated and imprisoned in a cold unforgiving basement, Heather and Steve soon find themselves pawns in the psychological game of their captor.
Director Gabriel Carrer sat down with Bloody-Disgusting for exclusive interview to talk about his approach to the horror genre, his new distribution company Black Fawn Distribution, and the making of his new film, In The House of Flies.
Bloody-Disgusting: Even though you have a number of productions under your belt, you are still a relatively new horror director. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you jumped into your role as a director?
Gabriel Carrer: I think every film director these days is new, even if you’ve directed three films, because of saturation and the fact that everyone is making a movie, you are constantly introducing yourself with your film and trying to reach new audiences outside your comfort zone. I’m currently 32 and have been making movies for exactly 10 years now. It all started with my love for creating, horror movies and the movie Point Break! The first film I wrote and directed was with a very close director friend of mine Chad Archibald. Back in 2002, we wrote and directed a film called Desperate Souls. It was extremely low budget and we shot it on the brand new DVX-100. That camera invaded the scene because of its capabilities to record at 24p. It was a very different industry back then. We caught the attention of two huge distributors and the movie was released across the world on VHS and DVD through Lions Gate and Alliance Atlantis. That was a huge dream for us. Being under two major distributors at the age of 21 with our first film with no festivals, no Youtube and no Facebook. Big distributors still had a huge demand for horror and would pick up low-no budget horror films like the one we made. We never went to film school, never shot a movie, yet a movie we made in our backyards with a passion to learn got out there. It was a different time period though, nothing like today. That film was our launching pad and really gave us the passion to continue writing and directing films. (Even though it was a pile of crap when you watch it today and it would never see the light if it was made today).
BD: What are some of the benchmarks films for you not only as a director but a horror fans?
GC: My benchmarks are always changing. It’s funny, the stuff that inspires me the most, I never attempt to copy or make, because it’s already being done. Anything David Fincher does, I am almost always in awe. His approach and his team. With horror films, it’s the obvious like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I won’t have to list the staples (Evil Dead etc) because all us horror fans know that. But the stuff in horror I’m drooling over is coming from France and French filmmakers. Some films like High Tension, Martyrs, Inside and Frontier(s). Those films are phenomenal and for me, are big benchmarks for comparison when I’m watching other horror films.
BD: Tell us a bit about ‘In the House of Flies” and how this project was conceived?
GC: The script for “In the House of Flies” was written around the year 2000 by the writer Angus McLellan while he was in film school. But then it just got pushed aside. Then the SAW movies came out 4 years later and there was some hesitance to make it. Then back in 2012, I was looking for a new script to direct after coming off of my previous film “If a Tree Falls”. Angus dug up this old script and handed me the reins. So I went into it, trying to do something different from any other movie I directed. When you are working on no—low budgets, you barely get time to really work with the actors and focus on them. As an indie filmmaker, you’re usually running around with the camera yourself with a small crew. So with this, I wanted the chance to just work with two actors and see what happens, and “In the House of Flies” happened.
BD: The film is more of a psychological horror than a grotesque slasher flick. Tell us a little bit about your approach with this film and how you translated that fear the couple feels being abducted onto the screen…
GC: I stayed as true to the script as much as possible and I highly respect the work of writers and their stories. The script was a very intense slow burn and I wanted to try and capture some of that. I did so by using lots of one shot takes and not cutting around so much. It breaks the reality in a film like this if you start cutting it and using flashy editing techniques. The actors had to know the scenes, knowing well that we will be rolling on full scenes without a cut. The actors also brought in their natural fluidity with the scene and blocking. I wanted them to use the small room at their own will and not command or direct them to do certain things unless it was extremely warranted. I also wanted to shoot the film in a chronological order, which I’ve always wanted to do and I always try to do. But this film really enabled me to literally shoot from page 1 to page 120 of the script. That was crucial for the actors and the energy on set. There needed to be a sense of impending doom over the set to help translate that fear not just through the actors, but with how the camera moved. I also think it’s more fearing if we never see the abductor or villain, why should we? Transforming the term “the sense of wonder” with various vices into more of the dark side can help elevate the fear level as well.
BD: The film takes place during the 80’s, what is it about that era’ that made it the perfect time period for this movie?
GC: I love films that take place in different periods. I personally believe people behaved and reacted differently in situations, even just 15-20 years ago. Nowadays, technology is integrated everywhere. I wanted to play with simple communication instruments that exist and strip them down to a phone line. That’s their only connection to the outside world and they can’t even use it. They have no knowledge of cell phone technology, the internet, scanning, GPS systems or anything. So naturally, someone who is abducted may have a different view, a different hope and fear that will shadow over them, compared to someone in the year 2013. So when this movie relied on fear of the unknown and survival, it was important to play with those features to see what would happen. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a huge fan of the 80s.
BD: Henry Rollins provides the voice of the caller. Tell us how you landed a punk-rock icon to be in the film?
GC: I am a huge fan of punk music. I also may not look it, but it’s deep inside me. I also try and approach the actual making of movies in more of a punk way. No government funding, no rich people telling me what to do (so far) or giving me money to do something. Myself and the crew, we do it ourselves. I’ve always been a fan of Black Flag and a huge fan of Henry Rollins spoken word. Is voice is so distinctive and potent. I think that’s why his spoken word was so well received. His voice can be heard as the voice of a normal mans conscious. I remember walking up to him after a show and telling him about the flick and how can I get in contact and if he’s interested. Two months later, I was in L.A in a recording studio eating salsa and nachos with Henry Rollins. He really liked the script and where it was going, and from what I remember him saying, he was extremely interested in the couple’s relationship with each other and how they deal with things off screen, especially the ending.
BD: The film has received a fair amount of critical acclaim being selected for countless film festival all over the world. When you were creating this project did you ever think that it could have the potential to take off like it has?
GC: I didn’t think it was going take off in other countries like Spain. Which it played 4 festivals there, including the wonderful FANT Bilbao. Everywhere from Mexico to the UK to Spain to the U.S this film has had a nice little run. It’s funny, because in my own country of Canada, the film has had only one screening at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto. I think it’s also a western and European thing. Europe for some reason just “get it”, people over here don’t. I’m not sure why or what that means.
BD: Not only did you direct ‘In the House of Flies’, but you also started your own horror distribution company in Black Fawn Distribution. Tell us why Black Fawn was a necessary extension of what you do and some of the projects you guys have released, as well as have coming up on the horizon?
GC: Filmmaker Chad Archibald and I have had each other’s backs for a while. We’ve seen what the industry has turned into since we started making movies and only want to help other filmmakers like us, who are struggling to get their films out there by a “non-taking-advantage of distributor”. So many filmmakers are promised things when a distributor approaches them, and they end up seeing nothing. No sales report or anything. Big distributors these days are like vampires. Your film has to be an above average commercial hit with huge sale gimmicks to make ANY money from it. So we jumped together with another partner and formed Black Fawn Distribution. I’m the creative manager in the company, so it’s my duty to protect the creative interests of the filmmaker and make sure the company is functioning “well” on a creative level, everything from artwork and the films we put out. These are important. We also make sure the filmmakers see actual cheques! And every film we’ve distributed, you can ask the filmmaker yourself, and within 6 months they’ve gotten a cheque. It may not be thousands and thousands of dollars yet, but it’s a start and not bad for a company that’s only 2 years old . We are doing things our way, by ourselves with no subsidiary funding, no hidden costs and no bullshit. Like a record label, it enables us to have a family mentality with the filmmakers and each other. We literally walk the pavement with the filmmakers friends at conventions and festivals. We don’t sit behind a desk and twiddle our thumbs and wait. We are always looking for new films to release and are currently on the prowl for 2014’s releases.
BD: How do you feel about the new wave of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go? There have been a lot of criticism from detractors who feel it’s nothing more than begging for money….
GC: Put it this way, if you dying to tell a story and make a movie. Do whatever you gotta do. Just be honest with yourself, your crew and the people around you. Everyone can smell a stink bomb now, audiences are smarter than ever and they know when they are buying into commercial crap. I think those services are a great way to see if there’s an interest in making the film or not. Even if it doesn’t make the money you wish it would have, try and make it anyways! Don’t let a crowd-funding service discourage you. Find a substitute, be patient and stick to your guns. But there’s also the other side, it’s quite annoying when 25% of your news feed on a social network application is all filmmakers trying to pimp their stuff, and asking for money. There needs to be a middle line and filmmakers need to know certain etiquette for crowd-funding.
BD: As a director what are you working on next? What’s next for Black Fawn Distribution?
GC: Right now I have a few things on the go, but I’m the incoming months off for some down time to spend with family, friends and loved ones and to work on some experimental film stuff with our company Latefox Pictures. I’m also a huge FUTURE KILL fan and I’m trying to figure out how to get the license and permission to remake the film or a reimaging of it. I own a full print of the film on 35mm and a bunch of other stuff for it. I’ve also been filming surfing because I am very slowly piecing together a documentary on Great Lake Surfing with Angus McLellan. Next year we’ll start fresh off the bat with a film called THE DEMOLISHER then next summer we are working out details for an IF A TREE FALLS 2 and IF A TREE FALLS 3 shoot. Shooting those two films back to back, hopefully. Then in 2015-2016, I hope to get going on a film I wrote called BULLETHEAD. So it will be busy once 2014 starts up and it’s all about funding and finding money to make these projects. For Black Fawn Distribution, we are still marching the pavement and are on the lookout for any new films. If you know a filmmaker who wants to get their film locked down for the Canadian territory, we can help.
BD: For horror fans out there that haven’t checked out ‘In the House of Flies’ what can they expect or why should they give it a shot?
GC: In the House of Flies is a true psychological horror. If you’re looking for something that has an intense slow burn curve that’s based in realism with the way human nature is portrayed in horror, and love the 80s, then you’ll dig it for sure.
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