The Arrow interviews Matt Hastings
Veteran of the TV shows "The Outer Limits" and "Higher Ground", director Matt Hastings now makes his directorial debut with the very fun looking DECOYS which by the trailer looks like a reversal on "The Faculty" where a group of students ARE the aliens causing a ruckus in the school. I had the chance to chit-chat with Matt about the film (which opens limited on February 27th in Canada) and here's what he had to say.
ARROW: You wrote DECOYS with Tom Berry. How did the idea come about?
MATT: The idea was one that Tom and Paul Graton had. Paul is one of the top executives at the SPACE CHANNEL. They always wanted to work together and wanted to get into the feature film business. They had this idea and gave me a treatment, a synopsis of the movie they wanted to make. They had seen my other work from the Outer Limits, Higher Ground etc. and hired me to write the script.
ARROW: How would you describe the tone of the film? Humorous, serious, scary?
MATT: It's very unique. There are certain moments of drama and pathos and there is also humor and very good scares. It's a rollercoaster ride!
ARROW: Horror often acts as a metaphor and reading the outline of DECOYS, I could see how it could be open to make a social statement of some kind. Did you go that way?
MATT: I think the film is a romp and is highly entertaining first. Sure, there are messages, but nothing oppressive. Our first goal was to highly entertain!
ARROW: This was your first feature length directorial gig. How did you approach the film from a visual standpoint?
MATT: I'm a very visual guy and I'm a fan of very visual directors. I took all the influences that I had and used them in this film. I also found innovative ways to shoot particular scenes and shot some footage on DV cam. I like to think that the visual style is kinetic. I used a lot of different lenses and didn't shoot anything traditionally. I tried to keep it as interesting as possible.
ARROW: That sounds like my cup of tea! How about the special effects? I'm assuming you have a lot of those in the flick, since it involves chicks with tentacles.
MATT: LOL. No, those are real men!
ARROW: Oh god, my last date!
MATT: LOL. Yes, they're all based on ex-girlfriends of mine!
ARROW: LOL. So I'm curious, what would you say is the ratio of practical effect and CGI effects in the picture?
MATT: That's an interesting question. What we did is combine both the prosthetics and the CGI. They were developed simultaneously where the prosthetic people and the CGI team both worked together. So there are scenes that seemingly blend practical effects and CGI effects. We're pretty stoked about it. I'm a giant fan of horror and sci-fi, and even though we were dealing with a limited budget, the whole team and I wanted to give out great effects for the bucks. We didn't just put an alien here, or an an alien there...we were very particular about the designs and everybody just kicked ass with them!
ARROW: So with sex and violence in the film, did you have any trouble with the MPAA?
MATT: There's not a lot of sex in the movie, but there's a lot of sexiness. We didn't want to make a "sex" movie, we wanted it to be sensual, funny, intelligent and as I said before...entertaining. As for the violence, you see some stuff and some stuff you don't see. Being a big horror fan yourself, you know that sometimes the most frightening stuff is the stuff you don't see, that happens off-screen or through a sound effect. We really wanted to reach a broad audience.
ARROW: What's the rating actually?
MATT: I believe in Canada it's the equivalent of a PG-13 in the States. There's brief nudity, really brief, one scene for about 3 seconds.
ARROW: What kind of distribution do you guys have secured so far?
MATT: Lions Gate Films is handling us in Canada, Crystal Films is handling us in French Canada and in the US, we have three major distributors looking at it. It would be nice to get a theatrical in the States, but as you know, since you're experiencing this stuff yourself...it's very difficult.
ARROW: Oh yeah!
MATT: If we get a any kind of theatrical distribution, it's a pie in the sky for us, but we're very confident in getting something strong like an HBO or a SHOWTIME premiere and a release on DVD.
ARROW: A straight-to-DVD release nowadays is no longer looked down upon...it just "is". Especially within the genre and I see it as very positive.
MATT: Yes and you see a lot of smaller budgeted films that just blow up on the DVD market. If you can create a good DVD, which I think we're doing, with a lot of strong EXTRAS and behind-the-scenes footage, they can become cult films and find their own fanbase. You know, we put all the money on the screen, nobody will be driving off in a Mercedes after this.
MATT: We all really worked hard, many of the actors were first time feature film actors and I was a first time feature film director and I was obviously very happy to be doing the gig and was not jaded at all.
ARROW: That always helps.
MATT: Yes, it does. And the visual effect guys and the prosthetics guys... just gave their all and I think it shows on screen.
ARROW: Sequel? Is that a thought if it makes money?
MATT: We're actually in the middle of writing the script for the sequel. We are hoping that DECOYS does well, we're confident in it and are planning the sequel. Of course, if it tanks...there won't be one, but if it does moderately well, makes its money back, we'll be back to shoot the follow up.
ARROW: Beautiful! Last question What's you favorite horror movie?
MATT: It's kind of a tie between "The Shining" -- when you watch the film, you'll see some Kubrick influences -- and "Alien". That film scared the shit out of me! I had never seen anything like that when I first saw it.
ARROW: Good choices. Thanks Matt!
MATT: Thank you John!
I'd like to thank Matt for dropping by the site and would like to wish him, and all involved on this production, the best of luck with DECOYS. It sounds like it was a genuine labor of love for the cast and crew and I for one, am very curious to see how it comes out. Thanks again, Matt! Talk to ya when the sequel is on the way!