INT: Jordan Barker

Fellow Canuck Jordan Barker's horror film THE MARSH (READ MY REVIEW OF IT HERE) will finally see the light of day come April 17 2007 on DVD. The film stars cutie Gabrielle Anwar and the always solid Forest Whitaker and tells the supernatural tale of a children's book author plagued with visions of a grisly murder. She of course takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. BAD MOVE! Jordan recently stopped by the site to talk all things Marsh and here's what he had to say.


What’s your favorite horror movie?

I’d have to go with the Exorcist, a classic. Something about psychological horror that really scares the shit out of me.

How did The Marsh come about? Did you read the script, love it and run with it; did you have the script commissioned? What led you to it.

Michael Stokes had written the draft a few years before I became involved. They were looking for a fresh approach to the material. Some of the material in the original script was reminiscent of some other films that had come out since the script was written so it was important to me to try and come up with some new ways of telling the story. I love problem solving and as a director that really becomes your main day to day objective. ;)

How long did it take you and your team to get the project off the ground?

Well I was involved for just over a year before cameras rolled. Peter Simpson, who produced the film, is a huge supporter of the creative process and wanted the script to be the best it could possibly be before production. Financing and casting is always an interesting time, because it’s a chicken and egg scenario. Money is in place for this script with these actors, but if anything changes that can throw the whole thing off.

What were some of the more straining obstacles that you encountered while in development?

There are two characters in our film, Brendan and Rose, that hardly utter a word but have a ton of screen time. These characters didn’t have a lot of back-story in the original draft, but it was essential to give them a history, not only for me, but for the actors. There are also 4 very dramatic scenes that take place in the studio at the farmhouse. I was very interested in trying to develop a way to intensify the drama each time. This was very difficult because we were dealing with a very confined space, basically a box about 25 feet x 25 feet, with nowhere to hide and conflict that couldn’t be resolved until the end.

You have some solid actors in your film (Anwar and Whitaker); how arduous was the casting process and how difficult was it to lock those names?

Casting is such a great joy for me. To see so many actors give something different to the same words on a page. The second I met Gabrielle I knew that she was our Claire. It sounds so cliché to say she just walked in the room and she had me at hello!, but essentially that’s how it went. We were so lucky to have Forest interested in the project. He and I had some great meetings before principal photography discussing the Hunt character. What was most surprising about him was his sensitivity and desire to please me and my vision. He is such an extraordinary actor and director and for him to let go like that was very humbling.

Once on set, how much did you deviate from the shooting script (if at all)?

I was never happy with the various incarnations of the “death scenes” and allowed myself to re-write those just before shooting them. I come from a film/animation background and do a lot of pre-viz (animated storyboards) to show the crew what I’m planning ahead of any big shots. I was constantly reworking some of the bigger “action” type sequences. All of the flashbacks of our younger teenagers were improvised based on outlines we had. I wanted those scenes to hit the plot points without them being too on the money…and improvising them was the best way to achieve that.

The Marsh was fairly CGI heavy; was it mind-numbing to deal with those types of effects during production and then post prod?

It’s fair to say that The Marsh is effects heavy. A lot of the effects are invisible and were done both practically and with CGI. I’m quite comfortable with effects, but stressed throughout that I wanted everything grounded in the reality of our film. It can be quite overwhelming to have to keep it in order in your head. Again, the pre-viz came in very handy here as I could show the actors exactly what was going to happen in post. We worked with SPIN a fantastic VFX company here in Toronto.

Would you say dealing with your actors on set was smooth sailing or “prima donna” madness?

Working on a film is like being in a relationship. So you’ve got all these different people trying to do their best for the film. We worked under very harsh conditions. Some nights we were outside in -30 C weather, some actors spent hours buried up to their necks in mud, and we had an extremely tight shooting schedule. No prima donnas, no drama, just some cold fingers and toes.

What’s next for you? Any other genre films in the works?

I’ve got 3 projects in development, one is along the same lines as what they’ve been doing with Sin City and 300 – entirely shot green screen. I have a psychological thriller script that I’m planning to do after that.

Is a The Marsh part 2 feasible in your world?

Its funny, I always joked on set about the Rose door and how in the sequel someone would buy it on eBay and the story would continue. It wasn’t until I moved into my new loft that I went to this old antique door store and saw all these old doors lined up in this creepy basement…each one with a history and a story. I’m not sure the story is right for The Marsh 2, but there is definitely a story there.

In your opinion, what is the greatest thing that comes with being Canadian?

Poutine? Fries, gravy, cheese. Oh and feeling special when you tell people where you are from.

What’s the first beverage that you consumed at the “The Marsh” wrap party?

A Pint of Stella. Purchased with my free beer ticket that was given to me at the door.

When genre fans finally see The Marsh, what do you hope their first thoughts will be as the end credits roll?

That they were entertained. Some may love it, some may not…lets face it the genre crowd knows their stuff. We are all so educated with how films are made, why they are made, the hype etc, but at the end of the day we are hopefully giving people a visceral thrill or a vicarious experience so that they can forget about whatever is on their minds, work, the state of things, etc and just escape.

I'd like to thank Jordan for dropping in and for the morbidly good looking flick that was THE MARSH! Keep up the good work bro!



Source: AITH

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