“Dark, twisted and utterly captivating…” (Horror Cult Films) and featuring “great performances” (Scream Horror Magazine) from the likes of Sean McGrath (Grimm, Twilight) and John Nielsen (Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen), Deep Dark has played to a resoundingly positive response at film festivals right around the world. It’s highly anticipated DVD and VOD release has been skidded for November 10 via Uncork’d Entertainment.
We would love to share with you the facts about this movie in form of exclusive answers by the writer/director Mike Medglia.
Where does the story come from Mike?
The kernel idea for Deep Dark came from the note-pulling scene, where Hermann first discovers the Hole. At first he just finds a string, then he discovers there’s a note at the end. The note is old and worn yet their conversation is happening in real-time. That scene just felt so compelling to me—I eventually created a story around it. Rather than have the Hole be an evil creature, I wanted to portray her as more of a misunderstood, albeit powerful, monster. I’m a big fan of the early creature movies like Bride of Frankenstein where you end up sympathizing with the creature.
How did you find your cast? Was it important to cast relatively fresh faces in this?
We were working with an extremely small budget so for the most part we had to cast locally. Fortunately Portland, Oregon has a great talent pool to choose from. Prior to Deep Dark, Anne Sorce had pretty much only acted in theater, which I liked because the Devora character is meant to be a little over-the-top. By far the hardest role to cast was Hermann. When you think about it, this actor is essentially carrying a scene with an inanimate object— not an easy thing to do. So I payed attention to the actors in town. I had been tracking Shawn McGrath for a while and I felt like he could do it—even though he’d only played smaller roles before. Then, during the first meeting with our casting director, Lori Lewis, she said to me “I have a great idea for a guy to play Hermann.” “You do?” I said. “Because I had someone in mind too.” She pulls up a talent agency site and starts scrolling down the headshots. We both pointed to Shawn and said at the same time “That’s him!” In hindsight, he was a great choice. He’s an incredibly talented guy.
Where did you find those amazing locations?
Again for budgetary reasons, they’re all in and around Portland, Oregon. The one exception is Uncle Felix’s villa, which was at a gorgeous house in Santa Barbara, California. Boy do I wish we shot more days there! Most of it was shot on location except for Hermann’s apartment, which is a set built by that our production designer, Rebecca Micciche. We actually created it in a warehouse used by a Halloween haunt. It was during the height of the summer so it was their off-season. So they were happy to have us renting it out. It was pretty fun, I think all the crew members got lost in their haunt maze at least once while we were shooting. I remember the first scene we shot was Hermann entering the apartment for the first time. In the scene he steps inside and closes the door on the camera. On the first take, Shawn went inside and slammed the door—and it locked shut! He couldn’t open it and we were all stuck outside. I actually had to climb inside the ‘window’ and it took the two of us to get the door open. I thought ‘wow, this does not bode well for a first take’.
Has it done the festival runs? Do you believe festivals are a must for independent films?
Yes and I’m glad we did that. It’s a great experience any filmmaker. It’s not really a must for indie films these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get into a big festival it can be a dramatic help. At the same time, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the festival circuit or you’ll be waiting 1-2 years before releasing your film. Some filmmakers totally agonize over a festival rejection. You really shouldn’t hedge your bets on getting into a Sundance or a SXSW.
Can you tell me about some of the responses you’ve had?
At first I honestly had no idea how people would react. I mean, we have a guy literally talking a hole in the wall! But so far the reaction has been nice—polarizing but generally pretty good. I think it’s finding the audience we intended it for: the movie-watcher who is looking for something different. Someone willing to try something a little more out-there. After a Deep Dark screening a few people will come up and tell me how much they loved it, which is a great feeling.
Do you google the film? How much notice do you take of critics?
Yes, I enjoy reading them. The reviews so far been generally positive (knock on wood). Usually when they’ve been critical it’s for justifiable reasons. I think most critics seem to understand how much we were able to pull off on a limited budget.
Had the film been done through the Hollywood studio system how much different do you think it’d be?
Oh boy. I’m not sure the current Hollywood system would ever take a risk on a film like Deep Dark. It would probably star Jim Carey and The Hole would be some crazy CGI monstrosity. Nothing against the studio system, but it was indie films which inspired me to get into film making in the first place.