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INT: Gregory Dark

05.17.2006

Director Gregory Dark is a complicated man indeed. The visionary director, who’s helming this summer’s horror feast SEE NO EVIL, starring WWE’s Kane, started his career in the most unusual of places - adult films. Having made over 40 sexy adult-themed films, he then went on to do even more memorable work directing various music videos, including one for Britney Spears. It’s quite an unusual start for a guy who graduated from Stanford and whose work has been compared to visual artists like David Lynch and David Fincher. SEE NO EVIL, a film about a deranged serial killer, marks Dark’s first foray into the horror genre and he sat down to talk about his early work, his arresting visual style, and some of his own favorite horror films.

Gregory Dark

The road for people in adult material is usually one of no real mainstream success. How did you go from doing that, to music videos, to now directing a feature film?

I haven’t done adult stuff in a long time. What I did was very kind of conceptual art adult stuff that was really not about eroticism, it was about anti-eroticism. I have a Graduate Degree in Art from Stanford and I used to do performance art. So I thought to myself, if I could do performance art using sexual content, that’s what I would do to, sort of, mess with the adult audience, which is ultimately what I did. I subsequently then did the thrillers for Showtime and Cinemax and many, many music videos.

I’ve heard your work compared to the likes of David Lynch. How would you describe your unique visual style?

David Lynch? You know, I’m very much a music video director. You know, I kind of like working with camera techniques, coloring techniques, every kind of mechanical technique you can imagine that I think I’m probably comfortable with. David Lynch is more, I don’t know, he’s very surrealistic I suppose, right? David Lynch is a surrealist. So I think a lot of my early work is very surrealistic. Now I try to make it…infuse the realism into realism.

Who are some of your influences in terms of directors, regular and in the horror genre?

In terms of regular directors, David Lynch, (Jean-Luc) Godard, for editing styles; I’m a big post production sort of maven and editing styles and why scenes would play a certain way for French new wave. Horror movies - Wes Craven. They’re sort of standard guys; it’s just that I’m more interested in a bit more surrealism, surrealism in cinema.

As far as Kane goes, did you call him Glen, Kane, or Jacob?

I usually called him the name of the character (Jacob Goodnight), so he constantly identified with the character. That’s sort of a technique I always use, cause they have to be the character for it to come off at all.

What was it like working with Glen Jacobs aka Kane?

Glen, Kane? (Laughs) He was amazing, he truly was the character; he became the character. He has a really great apprehension of acting technique, both Meisner and method. And he only had one line in the movie, but you could see every one of his emotions, you could see every one of his decisions, it was fantastic. He was really this character.

Was he different then his on screen character, in between takes?

He would stay there, in character. He wouldn’t joke around so much; he’d kind of be the character that he was supposed to be. He’d sit alone in the corner, he’d stare, you know, he was very interesting. But I encourage that because I think that the character becomes more believable. You know, from the time he hit the set, until the time he left, he was Jacob Goodnight.

Was it a conscious choice for Kane’s character to have little to no dialogue right from the get go?

Yeah, but when I got involved I thought he shouldn’t talk because I think the more you talk, the less frightening he may be. So I thought to myself, shit he shouldn’t talk, he should just be this killing machine, that has all these emotions that we see during the killing machine aspect of his personality.

So what made you want to take on this particular movie?

I’m a big fan that 70’s flicks like Friday the 13th, Halloween, these kinds of movies. And I thought to myself, if I could apply a bunch of music video techniques and also some realistic special effects CGI work to a movie of that kind, I think that would be…also that gritty. You see what I’m saying? As opposed to being slick, that would be kind of a really fascinating challenge and that’s what this movie had for me.

Who do you see as the audience for this film?

It’s for people who play (Grand Theft Auto) San Andreas, videos games, it’s very kind of graphic novel, very gritty, realistic.

What are some of your favorite horror films?

I like the original Eye, the Japanese version, the original Ring, the Japanese version. I don’t like any of the, sort of, milk toast, PG-13 horror movies that are coming out periodically lately. Those are like thrillers - they’re an excuse to do a thriller. After Se7en, it was very hard to do a thriller, cause TV does such a good job. And so now they’re trying to thrillers, they’re trying to put a supernatural overtone to it, because it’s hard to beat TV in thrillers.

With the arrival of a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, what’s your take on horror remakes?

I think it depends on how they’re remade. I mean, I like the original Hills Have Eyes, it was better then the remake that I saw, you know I just thought, it was okay. I think it’s hard to remake those movies, I think you have to change them to some degree, if you’re going to remake them. I kind of did like new Texas Chainsaw that Marcus (Nispel) did, although I still like the first one. But you know, I didn’t hate that movie. I was engaged and I thought it had an interesting look and he tried to do something a bit different and I think he did a good job.

What’s next for you?

Not sure yet, we’ll see what happens, you know, see how this does. I may do a smaller movie; I may not, not sure.

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