INT: Chris Shadley

Second unit director CHRIS SHADLEY just graduated to the top of the filmmaking food chain via his feature length directorial debut NINE DEAD which stars Melissa Joan Hart and the great Daniel Baldwin. And if I go by its TRAILER, the flick which is slated to be released early next year, look promising! Chris recently got kidnapped by a couple of AITH goons and was then slapped in a dark room and forced to answer a series of questions at gun point. Here's what came out of it.

What was it about the NINE DEAD screenplay that made you say; I want to direct this?

It was the kind of script that once you started it you couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t the same old story just revisited. It was nice to find a script that focused on story and acting instead of effects.

You’ve worked as a video assistant, a production assistant and as a second unit director in films before; was directing a feature always your ultimate goal or did it just kind of happen?

I actually started out wanting to be an actor. It wasn’t until I started working behind the scenes that I really found my passion for directing. I wanted to learn all aspects of the process. As a PA you kind of get to work with all departments and see what everyone does. It is a great place to start. I went the route of Video Assist because you get to work directly with Directors. You record everything the camera sees so that you have it for them to watch instantly or refer back to. Honestly, for me it was like going to school and getting paid. The experience I gained was invaluable.

You cast Melissa Joan Hart as the lead in your film. Not the most obvious choice taking into account her past work. What was it about Melissa that made her your “it” girl for this?

I kind of grew up watching Melissa as did a lot of people my age (30’s). When we started looking for money we used all the resources we had made while working in the industry. We had a connection to her and I believed she could bring this role to life. I also felt she might be up to the challenge of something different than she had done in the past. A more serious adult type role. We got her the script and the rest is history.

The forever underrated Daniel Baldwin is also in the movie; how prominent is his role and how was he to work with?

Daniel was great. He was a professional. We had mutual respect for each other. His role in the original script was much larger than what ended up in the final edit. During the edit the story took a little bit of a turn and his role was cut down.

NINE DEAD was your directorial debut. What would you say was the most challenging aspect of the production?

It was getting the money to get the film made. We spent a little over 5 years searching for financing before it happened. When we finally got into filming the hardest part was making sure we shot everything we needed. We had such a tight schedule - we didn’t have any time to waste.

What kind of style were you aiming for visually on your film? Do you feel that you’ve accomplished it?

I wanted something kind of dark but still compelling for the audience. I wanted to make you feel as if you were in this situation with the characters. In the end I feel proud of what we did. I believe that it will grab your attention and hold it all the way through.

How many days did it take you to shoot the picture?

We had 15 days to shoot it but what actually ended up on the screen in the end is only 11 days worth. It was quite challenging, we were shooting on average 6 to 9 pages a day. We lucked out and shot on a sound stage in Baton Rouge LA.

Did you improvise a lot on set or did you mostly keep to the script?

I tried to keep to the script for the first take or so, then give the actors the freedom to bring themselves into as well. I was always open to suggestions. You never know where genius is going to come from.

What would be the most valuable thing that you’ve learned as a director on this gig?

Make sure you have a vision and a plan to reach that vision. The most important part of the plan is to surround yourself with amazingly talented people. My DP Mark Vargo ASC. was my saving grace. Also, that there is a lot more to making a Movie than everyone thinks there is. It’s over a year later and I am still working on things for this film.

Watching the NINE DEAD trailer I couldn’t help but think of SAW. Was the latter an inspiration? What are the differences that make you film stand on its own in your opinion?

We hear that a lot. The truth is we started shopping this script back before the first SAW ever came out. This film is about revenge and morality. It’s not about the most creative way to kill someone or how disgusting it can be. It is completely story driven and I think everyone will be able to identify with one of the characters.

Where is the film at in terms of worldwide distribution?

US DVD will be out sometime in February through Image Entertainment. The rest of the world is still be worked out, we had our “World Premiere” at the American Film Market on the 6th of November and there was a lot of interest so we will see. Fabrication Films has the rights to all non US.

A NINE DEAD sequel. Feasible? Would you be interested in returning to it?

The way this one ends there is a possibility for a sequel. I’m not sure if I would want to do it. I think I personally would be more interested in doing a Prequel if I were to revisit “Nine Dead”

What’s next for you as a director, anything else lined up?

I am working on a few new scripts and am always on the lookout for more. I plan to have another project started by the end of this year or the first of next. It will either be another Thriller/Horror or an Action Adventure. I will keep you all in the loop.

What was the first drink you guzzled down at the NINE DEAD wrap party?

It started with a Dr. Pepper, then moved to Corona followed by I can’t really remember.


Source: AITH

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