In XLrator Media’s post-apocalyptic thriller Drifter, in limited theaters February 24 and on VOD and iTunes February 28, a pair of outlaw brothers (Drew Harwood and Aria Emory) seek temporary refuge in a desolate town inhabited by a family of psychotic cannibalistic lunatics.
In his feature film debut, Drifter was directed and produced by Chris von Hoffmann, who previously directed several short films, including “Fuel Junkie”, “White Trash” and “Vodka 7”, which have won awards at various film festivals.
We caught up with von Hoffmann to talk about Drifter, who talks about what drew him to (co-)writing this apocalyptic tale.
“I wanted my first film to be as nihilistic and mean-spirited as I possibly could make it,” says von Hoffmann, adding that he “was a very frustrated and angry filmmaker at the time of my developing the project, so I figured since the post-apocalypse has such a niche market, it made complete sense to mix all those elements together as well as exercising my psychological state of mind.”
While you may think Mad Max is an inspiration, it’s actually the brilliant The Proposition that drove this project.
“There’s an enormous amount of influences scattered throughout the film but that was the whole point,” he explained. “I felt my first feature had to be extremely personal so I simply wanted to approach this story as more of a deconstruction of genre and a celebration of films that I’ve loved since birth. As far as specific inspirations, The Proposition was the first initial reference that kicked everything off. All the films after that were secondary but The Proposition was always the main influence all the way through.”
Drifter has a phenomenal look, which von Hoffmann hoped would feel like a comic book: “I essentially wanted the film to feel, look and sound like a twisted comic book or a graphic novel that’s taking place inside of a dream. Despite the nihilistic content, I wanted to make the color palette far more vibrant to balance things out because last thing in the world I wanted to make was a depressing film.”
He continues talking about achieving the look of the film’s apocalyptic wasteland: “Having a fearless cinematographer Tobias Deml certainly helped but also just driving out to the outskirts of California day after day by myself and burning a lot of gas money trying to find desolate locations that work because since we had such a micro budget, I was so petrified that the locations were going to look cheap so I went insane trying to find these locations that would take the production value to the next level but also not break the bank which was an extremely frustrating task.”
Drifter has a sick score, which was composed by Nao Sato: “My composer Nao Sato has worked on two previous shorts of mine as well so at this point we have a pretty strong short hand with each other. I knew I wanted this particular film to be heavily driven by music so him and I worked extensively on the soundtrack which honestly was the most time consuming aspect of post production. He’s a terrific talent and a wonderful human being and I want his work to be heard across the planet.”
Fans of the bloody and disgusting will love hearing that the effects in Drifter are top-notch: “I was lucky enough to team up with this special FX guru named Kris Kobzina. One of the more recent films he worked on was Beasts of No Nation. He really helped us out with a good deal because I guess he was passionate about the project enough. I loved watching him work in his personal workshop while talking about horror movies with him and his assistants. He’s the man and everybody should hire this guy.”
Lastly, von Hoffmann wants viewers to take away from his film: “I obviously want them to enjoy the ride but I also hope it lingers in people’s brains long after they watch it. I hope it makes people feel uncomfortable.
I hope it gives them nightmares.”