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INT: Gregory Jacobs

03.27.2007

After checking out the set of WIND CHILL (see Part 1 HERE), I had the opportunity to interview director Gregory Jacobs, who was nice enough to show us around the set while we were there, and answer all the questions we had. So without any further adieu, the interview!

Gregory Jacobs

Can you set up the movie for us?

Really it’s about 2 kids who don’t know each other, and they share a ride home for the holidays, and they find themselves, for a reason not to be revealed yet, sort of stranded on this stretch of highway when they decide to take a shortcut. The movie’s really about them trying to survive this night and make it home alive.

Writer Steven Katz said he was inspired by Japanese horror when he wrote this. Is that your inspiration for shooting this as well?

Not really. To me, what’s great about it is that it’s a sort of classical ghost story, so it’s, there’s a couple of genre’s that work. I think the Japanese horror movies are great, but I’m not shooting this like one of those. I’m shooting this more, sort of classic style, and I watch a bunch of stuff before I start shooting, and I have my own storyboards and I think about what I want the movie to look like, but for sure I’m not riffing Japanese horror. I think the script may be inspired by that but I’m not sure it’s necessarily like those type of movies.

Talk about casting Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes.

They were really my first and only choices. We started working on the script a while ago, and once we got the go ahead this past summer, I saw this movie called ‘My Summer of Love’ that Emily was in, and very early on saw ‘A History of Violence’ and really had to meet the two of them and thought that they were perfect. They had good chemistry from the very beginning. They’re just great actors, and both have a very good theater background, and they’ve both worked with some great directors and have been in good movies. They come to work with this great training, and so I feel like I’m really lucky and I think that half of good directing is casting the movie well, and for sure I made the right decision there, I mean, they’re great.

What type of influence as a director do you have in this particular piece?

Because it’s not just a pure horror movie, it’s sort of a psychological thriller and horror and a lot of different things… but I love THE SHINING, and I think that it’s an amazing movie. ROSEMARY’S BABY, these early repulsion, these early Polanskian… I’m not trying to sound pretentious, I’m just saying that, but I really like the choice of those directors made and those films, and I think that those movies moved the camera in interesting ways and there’s not a lot of jump-cutty cheats in this movie. I feel like I’m trying to pitch these performances pretty naturalistically and unlike a number of genre movies, I feel like this sort of ilk… there aren’t like 10 kids, and you end up with the two best looking ones. This is really just the two of them and it’s 24 hours with these two, and there’s a lot of amazing character development and a lot of emotional stuff that happens. When they’re going through this, and revealing who they are to each other, it resonates because they’re so good, the script’s so good, and the story just focuses on these two characters.

Is the cold and the snow a character in itself?

For sure. Them trying not to freeze to death is part of the horror of the movie. The cold is a big impact.

Talk about shooting the exteriors on location.

For me that was part of the fun. I love that ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of feel. We’re out there freezing, trying to come up with cool stuff and make an interesting movie and you can’t cheat that. If we had done this movie all on stage, it wouldn’t have felt the same, because when you’re out there in the cold. I mean, it was cold. Minus 8 or 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and who knows what the wind chill was. I’m not saying every night was that way, but there were a number of nights that were like that, and I feel like it put them in the right place character wise, and it was tough to keep everyone motivated and going. The crew was solid and the actors were into it, and I love being there in the trenches.

Was there a point in this grueling shoot where you said ‘what the hell am I doing out here’?

No. I knew what I was getting into.

How did you get involved with this particular project?

I’ve known [Steven] Katz for a long time, and I’ve been a fan of his writing, and he was a fan of my movie called CRIMINAL, which was this movie with John C. Reilly and Diego Luna which I wrote and directed. That was 24 hours in the life of these 2 con men in L.A., and so Katz thought it’d be interesting for me to read this- and I loved it. We all started working on it together. I’ve read tons of genre movies because that’s what everybody seems to be making and I felt that I just really liked this. I like this day in the life with a couple people where you can really get a sense of character and I thought they did a great job. Fortunately it came together in a great way. I got to cast who I wanted to in the movie, and it’s so far so good.

What can we expect here that we haven’t seen before?

I really feel like the relationship and the emotion of it all is deeper than what I’ve seen in a lot of stuff. There are tons of great movies out there, but I feel like, in our case, we’ve got amazing actors and the script really digs deep as far as their development. There are great scares and all that, but you actually give a shit about people living and dying here in a big way. By the end, it’s really visceral and emotional.

Talk about your transition from all the A.D. work that you’ve done to the directors chair.

It was a great graduate film school for me being an A.D. for Soderbergh and Richard Linklater. I’ve always wanted to direct and make movies, and I went to film school, and have been writing, and was lucky enough to get CRIMINAL off the ground and that went great and it was a terrific experience. Soderbergh and [George] Clooney were really supportive of me and executive produced CRIMINAL for me. I went back and co-produced OCEAN’S TWELVE after that, and just finished this movie called THE GOOD GERMAN, and while I was producing that, I developed this. I like the idea of producing and directing. I don’t have any specific agenda for my career. I’m going to direct if I feel that the project is right, or I’ve written something that I think is cool, or if it’s worth me spending the time doing.

I'd like to thank Gregory Jacobs for his time on set, and for the awesome interview. And stick around, we're not done yet! Look for our interviews with stars Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes in the next couple of days!

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