Director Toby Wilkins has been hitting the North American horror scene hard now of late with the Indie fav SPLINTER owning on DVD and the upcoming straight to DVD sequel THE GRUDGE 3 that will spook the shelves on May 12th 2009. I recently got the chance to have a game of verbal ping-pong with Mr. Wilkins to yap Splinter, Grudge 3 and beyond. And here are the balls he slammed my way.
TOBY WILKINS INTERVIEW
What was the creative seed that ignited SPLINTER in your
The creature concept was something a friend and I had been toying with for a while, as an expansion of the weird and scary parasites that are found in nature.
Was it arduous to get the film off the ground in terms of locking the financing?
That was the work of producers Ted Kroeber and Kai Barry, I had nothing to do with financing other than pitching my take on the film at a few meetings.
You had a very strong cast on your side; did you find your
gems early or late in the audition game?
Shea Whigham, who plays Dennis, was the first person to sign up, and that was quite early in the process. But once he was on board it raised the bar for the rest of the casting process and opened a lot of doors. Jill Wagner and Paulo Costanzo actually auditioned on the same day as each other which was a fun coincidence.
How long did it take you and your partners to write the
I didnít write the screenplay, with the help of Kai Barry I just added the creature concept to an excellent original script by Ian Shorr.
Once on set, did the script change much during the course of
Not once we started shooting, no. There were little tweaks here and there, but once we found our locations and locked down those elements we were basically done with major changes.
Was it a conscious decision to not have any female nudity in the film? I had to ask manÖbecause Iím THAT guy :)
We certainly didnít set out to hit those clichťs of the low budget horror genre. Iím not a fan of gratuitous nudity, which is certainly what it would have been in this setting, Iím much more focused on creating likable, believable characters and telling a compelling and terrifying story.
I loved the monster in the film; how much of a hassle was it
to shoot it in way that it would appear convincing onscreen?
Thanks, that means a lot. I knew from the start that practical effects were the way to go, and cinematographer Nelson Cragg and I wanted to get as much in-camera as possible. So we enlisted Quantum Creation FX who delivered pretty much everything we needed to bring the creature to life on the set, and we showed just enough to convince the audience they were seeing things we werenít really able to do on our budget.
Did your background in visual effects help at all when it
came to tackling the beast?
It definitely helped make the decision to not go CG with the creature. I knew that would be a disaster. And then, when youíre working on a tight schedule, with puppets, and special effects make-up, and guys in creature suits, you always have to do some retouching work in post. That was where I leant most heavily on my vfx background.
A SPLINTER sequel, feasible on your end? Any talks about it? The film begs for one.
I would love to see this creature expanded into a sequel, there is so much more horror to be seen from it. But itís completely out of my hands and I guess it will depend on how the fans respond when the film hits DVD and Blu-Ray this spring. Also piracy can be devastating to indie film like this and could easily kill any chance of a sequel.
You recently directed THE GRUDGE 3 with what I assume was
more money than you had on SPLINTER. How different was it to direct a film for
yourself and direct a film for a Studio?
Ghost House Pictures arenít a typical studio, they are passionate about horror, and are very filmmaker friendly. We were really lucky with both films to be able to make the best film we could make with the given resources, and I donít feel like we had to compromise for any of the reasons I think youíre hinting at.
What did you try to bring to this second The Grudge sequel
that was pure Wilkins?
I think this third Grudge represents a more Westernized story-telling style, itís quite linear compared to the other Grudge films. But really I focused on the same things I always do, creating real human characters, getting the best performances from a great cast, telling a compelling and personal story, and scaring the crap out of people.
Whatís next for you, any other projects lined up?
A lot of really exciting doors have been opened by doing these two movies back to back, and I have a number of projects on the boil, but thereís no one title I can give you a scoop on just yet. Stay tuned.