Hey there, creeps! Pull up a coffin and gather ’round, because die-rector John Suits and producer Gabe Cowan just stepped across my dismal doorstep to chat up their latest flick PANDEMIC!
Famous Monsters. Welcome, welcome, my fiends; please take a load off… mind that throw pillow; it’s genuine werewolf hide. Anyway, let’s get down to brass tacks. PANDEMIC, how did that come to be?
John Suits. We were reading through a bunch of scripts looking for our next projects and came across Dustin T. Benson’s script, VIRAL (the name was later changed to PANDEMIC), which was on the 2012 Bloodlist. We loved the story and the idea of shooting a movie in the style of a First Person Shooter.
Gabe Cowan. At the time we were looking for something fun and different for John to dig his visual mind into. We’ve always been guys who like to try new and different things. With STATIC, we built a 3D rig and shot a 3D film on less than $200k. People said it couldn’t be done — but we found a way. With PANDEMIC, it was originally written to all be in one shot. That was a little too ambitious for us, so we scaled back a little, but kept the awesome POV idea Dustin had.
FM. Was filmin’ POV an ass-pain?
JS. We faced a lot of challenges. Very little has been done in the First Person Shooter style, so there wasn’t a lot to go off on in terms of figuring out how to pace it and what editing style to use. We also dealt with the camera operators having to change costumes each time we changed characters, and they also had to learn the movements that the actors had choreographed.
GC. We knew we’d be faced with challenges trying to shoot an untested form with our limited resources. I always say that there are 3 resources: Time, Money, and Creativity. We didn’t have time or money, so we had to be creative. John is incredible at that! One challenge we didn’t anticipate but that took a lot of time and was hard to find a creative solve for was the costume changes the camera operators had to go through, because every time they were playing a different character, they (the operators) had to be wearing the right outfit. Even though now it seems obvious, in pre-production somehow it fell into a blind spot and we had to figure out other ways to make up the time.
FM. You mentioned FPS games; how big of an influence were they on the flick’s visual style?
JS. I grew up on First Person Shooters and loved the idea of trying to create that style in the film space. I studied the popular games out there to take notes on visual style and also the way they utilize sound design. We also did a lot of camera testing to figure out the best way to emulate the perspective in terms of the weight of the camera movements and the depth of field.
GC. There was also a lot of discussion and thinking about which lens would best feel like the human eye. 18? 24? 32? Ultimately we changed lenses for different circumstances, but I think we used the 24 most.
FM. Even though the film isn’t technically a “zombie” film per se, it does share characteristics with the genre. Are you a fan of the living dead, and if so, what are some of your favs?
JS. I’m definitely a fan of the genre. One of my zombie favorites is 28 DAYS LATER. I‘m also a big fan of the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD as well as Zack Snyder’s remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD.
FM. Before we bring this shindig to a halt, where can my Coffin Club keep up on your upcoming endeavors?
JS. Next up is a film Gabe is directing called WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT. You can follow us online on Twitter. We also have some films coming out later this year including FEAR INC., which premieres at TriBeCa.
GC. Yes! And CHUCK HANK AND THE SAN DIEGO TWINS is coming soon, as well as THEY CALL US MONSTERS which premieres in a few months.
FM. Fangs guys! If you creeps want to know e’en more about what John and Gabe are up to, be sure to visit their official website right here!