Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ILHM Interviews EVIL THINGS Director Dominic Perez!!

As many of you may have noticed, a fantastic little Indie Horror film entitled EVIL THINGS has been taking the online Horror network by storm through a clever marketing technique paired with an even better film. ILHM had the chance to sit down with up and comer Dominic Perez, director of EVIL THINGS, to discuss this newest venture into the "Found Footage" film:

ILHM: Dominic, thanks for joining us! Numerous confidential packages containing screeners of your first feature film EVIL THINGS have been surfacing across the industry lately. Has your faux FBI investigation proved to be a successful advertising campaign for the film?

Dominic: When you receive a package from the FBI with "CONFIDENTIAL" stamped all over it, you're sure as hell going to stop and pay attention. You immediately start thinking about all the naughty things you've done in your life. "Oh my God, after all these years that snickers bar that I stole from the grocery store has finally caught up to me, Eeeek!" After you open the package and the adrenaline rush subsides, you're excited to learn that the FBI is asking for your help as they investigate a missing persons case. Then as you watch the enclosed video evidence you get to be an amateur investigator. Lots of people seem to be responding well to that kind of opportunity, so to answer your question, Yes, the advertising campaign is successful. It makes people eager to PRESS PLAY and that's my goal.

ILHM: Bring us back to the conception of EVIL THINGS. What were your major influences in the writing and directing of the film, and how long has the film been in development?

Dominic: I was primarily influenced by a real event which happened to me when I was a 10 year old boy. It was an event that tapped into my greatest fear... Someone is out to get you, but you don't know who or why, and you don't know when, where, or how they will strike. EVIL THINGS is essentially a movie-within-a-movie which was created by some very sick individuals who have seen one too many horror movies. Therefore, in EVIL THINGS, you will see elements of so many other horror movies. The ones that seem to directly influence EVIL THINGS include: JOYRIDE, CACHE, DUEL, VACANCY, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, THE HAUNTING, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THEM (ILS), EVIL DEAD, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, LOST HIGHWAY, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (the original one). Oh and the movie was developed over a period of 4-6 months during 2008.

ILHM: Has the success of such micro-budget films as PARANORMAL ACTIVITY opened new doors in the industry for independent filmmakers like yourself?

Dominic: The enormous success of PA (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY) proves that there certainly is an audience for spooky micro-budget movies. Before PA came out, distributors would see the trailer for EVIL THINGS and say "wow scary, but not for us". Most distributors just don't know how to market this kind of movie. After PA made $100 million, distributors all over the world are now reaching out to me with "please send us a screener of EVIL THINGS as soon as you can." Yeah, I'd say it's opening doors. Kids of all ages (including me) are tired of all the slickly produced torture porn that's out there, and they just want something different. PA and SAW 6 were out in theaters at the same time. SAW 6 was produced for $11 million and made $26 million in the U.S. PA was produced for $15 thousand and made $107 million. If EVIL THINGS pulls in just 1% of that it will be enormously successful considering its budget.

ILHM: Viewers will note that each of the cast members of EVIL THINGS look and feel incredibly real, each with their own distinct "boy or girl next door" appeal. Were the actors and actresses chosen with this in mind, or was this a fortunate coincidence that resulted from budgetary constraints?

Dominic: Watching a movie is like going on a long journey. If you're going on a journey for 2 or more hours with someone that you don't know, it better be someone that's likable, believable and for whom you have great empathy. Otherwise, why go on the journey? I often find that the weakest link in many horror movies, and movies of all kinds, is the actors and the acting. So many movies that I've seen recently have these chiseled model types that have zero charisma and are not good actors. Of course we all like to watch good looking people, but a pretty landscape or a pretty face alone can not engage my interest for 2 hours. I intentionally looked for likable, believable actors that had some kind of twinkle in their eye. "The 3 most important things in a movie are casting, casting, casting." -Billy Wilder

ILHM: You have taken a daring approach in EVIL THINGS, leaving a large majority of the film relatively uneventful in order to strengthen the integrity and reality of the film while also leaving the ending entirely open ended. Do you feel this will help or hurt its performance when it reaches a wider audience?

Dominic: EVIL THINGS is structured the same way that ROCKY, THE EXORCIST, and John Carpenter's original HALLOWEEN are structured. We use the first part of the movie to allow the viewer to become invested in the characters so that when really bad things or should I say evil things start happening to our characters, the emotional effect on the viewer is incredibly powerful. The viewer never wants bad things to happen to people that they've come to know and like. Most horror writers/directors are so afraid to lose the attention of their viewer that they start splattering blood on the screen and killing characters off in the first minute of the movie (i.e. MY BLOODY VALENTINE, JOYRIDE 2...etc.). Those "horrible events" that happen to characters that we don't know or care about end up being empty and meaningless. Regarding open endings? There are films that you forget the minute the credits start rolling. Those are the movies that give you all the answers and tie everything up nicely for you in the end. There's no mystery in those films and they're not interesting to me. Many people have told me that the ideas in EVIL THINGS haunted them long after they viewed the movie, and they often argue with friends about so many aspects of the movie and what they just saw. That's a good thing to me.

ILHM: The DVD market has become many filmmaker's greatest ally in achieving a wide release on a tiny budget. If EVIL THINGS never received a theatrical run, would you be satisfied with a successful DVD release?

Dominic: I will not be satisfied until EVIL THINGS is playing on every multiplex movie screen, hi-def widescreen TV, Airline TV screen, Video-On-Demand channel, cable system, i-pod, computer screen and every electronic billboard that flickers any kind of image anywhere and everywhere in the universe for all eternity. Having said that, I'm grateful just to be able to talk to you today. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

ILHM: What has been the most personally fulfilling experience in completing your first feature film?

Dominic: It took me 4 months to write EVIL THINGS, 7 days to shoot it and 2 months to edit it, but it took me 40 years to believe in myself. I encourage anyone who has a dream to stop dreaming and go out and make it happen. I once took an acting class and when it was my turn to go up on the stage the teacher always used to say, "don't be scared, you're just as worthy as anyone else to be up on that stage." I didn't believe her then, but now I do.

ILHM: Do you feel that computerized imagery and big budget FX have helped or hurt the Horror genre?

Dominic: At this point, CGI is great when it comes to creating inanimate objects (buildings, machinery..etc.), but when it's used to create living, breathing monsters, ghouls, goblins and freakazoids of all kinds, it simply sucks the big one. A prime example of this is to be found in the movie I AM LEGEND, which by the way is a remake of THE OMEGA MAN from the 70s. Those CGI vampire/creatures in I AM LEGEND were so cartoonish and unscary that I was speechless. The CGI totally ruined an otherwise amazing movie. On the other hand, a movie like 28 DAYS LATER which used real human beings as their monsters made my skin crawl.

ILHM: What are some of the things that drew you to write and direct Horror above any other genre of film?

Dominic: When I was 6 I went over to a friend's house to watch FRANKENSTEIN on his black and white TV. I was a horror fan from that moment. Now I find myself buying a ticket to see any and every horror movie that comes out in the theater even if I know nothing about it. I've been disappointed so many times, but I keep coming back for more.

ILHM: What are some of the current trends that you love and hate within the genre?

Dominic: I'm not a fan of torture porn of any kind. I'm more a fan of THE EVIL DEAD type of horror than I am of the HOSTEL or SAW movies. I don't find enjoyment in seeing people being tortured, especially people that I don't get to know or care about.

ILHM: If given the opportunity, would you prefer to work on smaller independent films, or would you like to take on a multi-million dollar project in the coming years?

Dominic: For now I'd like to be continue producing a few smaller, totally independent features, and be able to take risks and have almost complete control over the process. I'm in the best place right now. I don't have to ask anyone for permission or depend on anyone else to make a movie. That is both liberating and terrifying.

ILHM: Are you a fan first and a filmmaker second, or do you find that they both go hand in hand?

Dominic: In order to be a filmmaker I must be a fan first. If I'm not fanatical about what I'm making why should anyone else be?

ILHM: What is your favorite sub-genre in Horror?

Dominic: My taste in movies is all over the place. Some of my favorite horror movies are John Carpenter's THE THING, THE EVIL DEAD, CARRIE, THE DESCENT, ZOMBIELAND and SPICE WORLD.

ILHM: Are you currently working on your next feature?

Dominic: Yes, I'm writing, writing, writing. That's all I will say for now.

ILHM: What are the next steps in the process of marketing and distributing EVIL THINGS for a wide release?

Dominic: EVIL THINGS will soon be going to the European Film Market this February in Berlin where it will be introduced to movie distributors from all over the world.

ILHM: Where can fans go to find out more about EVIL THINGS?

Dominic:
The website www.evilthingsmovie.com would be a good place as well as www.wikipedia.com and www.imdb.com.

Dominic, it has truly been a pleasure. Having seen the film, I can honestly say it is one of the strongest Independent Horror in recent years alongside PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and GRACE. We wish you and the cast a profitable return and hope that the film is picked up quickly so that more genre fans have the opportunity to see it in theaters!

Dont forget to check out our previous interviews:

Judith O'Dea
Robert Kurtzman
Paul Solet
Pat Higgins


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2 comments:

  1. Awesome interview. I'm glad to hear PA has opened doors for Evil Things. A film like this is a testament of DIY indie filmmaking.

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  2. Great interview Carl! Thanks for doing it.

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