The Indie horror flick DEAD WOOD is now out on DVD (get it here) and we got first time feature length director David Bryant (who made the film with Sebastian Smithand) in the house to talk about† how he got his baby off the ground to then bring it home. Its nice to read about dudes who want to make a film and they don't wait for it to magically happen. They just pick up their balls and their brews and make one - guerilla style yes - but without sacrificing quality in the process. This drink is for yall! Cheers!
DAVID BRYANT INTERVIEW
What was the creative seed, the initial spark, which got DEAD WOOD going?
We (Richard Stiles, Seb Smith & I) just wanted to make a movie! We had another script but the budget was pretty high for first timers and we didnít want to piss around for 5 years looking for bits of investment here or there. We wanted to shoot something NOW! We were struggling by making music videos and corporate so we had a small kit with 2 Canon XL-1 cameras and just thought fuck it, letís just go shoot a movie.
You co-wrote the film with two other writers (who were also your co-directors). How did you go about it? Did you all lock yourself up in a room with a bottle of JD or was the process more intricate and ďcleanerĒ? : )
We spent a lot of time in the pub! There is a space between being sober and pissed that you become very creative, thatís when we did our best work. Then you get a bit too drunk and your ideas get ridiculous. The three of us basically wrote out the structure and had a list of ideas from these meetings, and then I locked myself away and wrote the first draft in three days. Our initial idea was that the van crashed in the opening and we had the Sixth Sense/ Dead End/ Reeker ending where we realize they were dead all along, but we felt it had been done beforeÖ sometimes we think we should have stuck with it.
The film was made independently; how arduous and how long did it take to lock the financing for the picture?
There was no financing. We basically funded the film as we went along, just paying for what was necessary which amounts to tapes, petrol, red bull and snickers.
Gorgeous Emily Juniper as Larri
Once in production; how many shooting days did you guys have to play with?
As we had no financiers we had nobody on our backs wanting to see the film finished. We had the freedom to shoot as much as we wanted, and we shot a lot. We filmed so many scenes, even re-filmed some that were cut out of the movie. Itís impossible to count the amount of shoot days. There were bits here and there where we would grab an actor and drag them out into the woods to shoot picks ups etc.
Was there an obstacle at any point during the shoot that threw you off? If so, how did you overcome it?
There was no great immovable obstacle but the whole experience was daunting. There was just the three of us- we were the whole crew, so there were times weíd be exhausted but had to keep going. We were learning as we went along, learning what worked, but more often, what didnít.
What were you going for tone wise and visually with this movie? Do you feel you succeeded?
First off, our aim was to make a movie that looked and felt like a movie. Not like a no budget film made with our friends. In visual terms that meant trying to keep the visuals interesting and cinematic. This wasnít necessarily a planned thing- most of the time it just comes naturally when you think about visualizing a scene. In this respect I think we were successful and are happy with the film. Tonally we started out, inspired by the J horror trend, to shoot a very straight horror, to keep things on edge and creepy. This kind of eased off as the cast filled their roles and we realized there needed to be a bit of a sense of fun or youíll just have four dull friends.
Fergus March as Webb
Would you say that directing a film with two other directors was a positive experience for you? Would you do it again?
I think on Dead Wood three directors worked out great. It was totally guerilla film making where we shared all roles so if one of us had been sitting around talking to the actors and giving orders the other two wouldíve kicked his ass. It was a very collaborative experience and as none of us had directed a feature before we all had equal skeptism of each other. The down side is that itís not ďyourĒ film, it takes away some of the personal feeling toward it, though that can be a plus when you read the IMDB boards! We plan to shoot another film together.
Once the film was done with Post you hopped on the Festival run. What would say was your highlight from that journey?
Itís great going to festivals, though we couldnít afford to fly to the US for the screenings. We went to the UK screenings where the movie got a brilliant response and done some Q&As. My best experience was Salento FearFest, a horror Festival in Southern Italy where the film screened in the town square. It was like being in Cinema Paradiso, everyone was very friendly, and I just wandered around in this other world eating pizza. The film was watched by what seemed like the whole town, teenagers to very old people and they all enjoyed it, they jumped in the right places and laughed in the right places. The mayor seemed to enjoy it!
At the distribution stage; did you get a sales agent to rep your film or did you push it yourselves?
We were approached directly, after links to our website www.dead-wood.com appeared on horror movie sites like AITH- so much thanks you all you boys! We sold to the US for a Lions Gate release first then met with the sales agents who had contacted us at the Berlin Film Market. We then deliberated on who would treat the film right and they sold the film for us. I think without a sales agent you could get totally lost in the deals- itís a very specialized language, Seb & Rich started to pick up the basics of how to do it but Iím still lost!
What do you hope audiencesí will feel while they watch DEAD WOOD?
I hope they wonít feel ripped off for buying it! I just want people to enjoy watching it, simple as that, to feel like I feel when I watch a movie. Obviously some people will hate itÖ but thatís the fun of movies, what one person loves passionately the next one will fucking hate!
So whatís next for you? Any other projects in the works? Will it be within the horror genre?
We have a few projects but know the one we really want to make- a military action thriller (with plenty of horror) titled Hunting Ground. Beyond that I cannot tell- yet. Itís a very cool non stop action screenplay by a horror author Paul Finch and will make an awesome movie! Itís a leap in budget from Dead Wood but we hope to get to work on that soon. Iím also writing and developing a 3D ghost movie, a low budget slasher and a comedy. Basically keeping myself busyÖ
Will you direct your next film by yourself?
Hunting Ground will be co-directed again but we have other projects (like the comedy) that we would direct separately.
What was the first drink that you guzzled down at the DEAD WOOD wrap party?
Whatever was closest! We never really had a wrap party, because we never really wrapped until the screening! But as the credits rolled I was downing a bottle of beer, followed swiftly by many more.