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Interview With Anthony DiBlasi Director Of Cassadaga
By James Whittington, Friday 24th July 2015

Anthony DiBlasi SmallAnthony DiBlasi is one of the most exciting directors around. His first feature, Dread was critically acclaimed around the globe and he’s never looked back delivering some of the most effective movies of the last decade.

His superb chiller Cassadaga will get its Network Premiere on August 1st so we decided to chat to this talented fellow about his career so far and what he has planned for the near future.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AD: Definitely, my father is a huge film lover so I watched all kinds of movies at a really young age. I never had restrictions on what kind of films I could watch, so digging into R rated stuff really young was the norm for me. And I was particularly drawn to special makeup effects and model work. That was my first calling. At like 7 and 8 years old that’s what I wanted to do. Loving films like Star Wars of course but also Fright Night, The Lost Boys, American Werewolf In London, Robocop. All films I poured over growing up.

HC: Is there any one in particular who has influenced your work the most?

AD: One of my favourite films growing up was Once Upon A Time In America. So I’d definitely have to say Sergio Leone. And also Kubrick’s films like Full Metal Jacket and The Shining.

HC: Your first movie, Dread, ended up in the Top 10 of many people's lists for 2009, that must have been satisfying but must have put some pressure on for your next project?

AD: It was fantastically satisfying. Dread was really close to my heart and I’m glad it was received so well. I think what was important to me as a director was to keep directing and improving my craft. And to also not do the same kind of film I had just finished.

HC: Let’s chat about, Cassadaga, how did you get involved with this project?

AD: A producing team from Florida had watched Dread and really enjoyed it and they felt I would be a good match for their project, so they flew over to Los Angeles to take a meeting with me and we hit it off. I’ve done other films with them since.

HC: What interested you about the script?

AD: When Cassadaga came a long it was a great mix of Southern Gothic and Giallo and also it was the first project that I worked on that I had not developed or wrote myself so that was a new challenge for me.

HC: Was it a tough movie to cast?

AD: Casting is always a mixed bag, sometimes it’s quick and painless and sometimes you look for the right person for a long time. Kelen Coleman who stars in the film came in for an audition and I knew she was the right choice for it. But you play the game with the agencies and try to get a “big name” to satisfy the financiers. Eventually I was able to come back to my top choice and our casting director, Andy Henry, did a great job of keeping Kelen’s agents in the loop over the casting process and letting them know I thought she was perfect for the part.

HC: Did you use a lot of practical effects?

AD: Tons, which was amazing, and also important to me as a film maker. Lee Grimes did our special makeup effects and he is such a pro, and does fantastic work. Lee’s worked on The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Pirates Of The Caribbean and tons of other great effects heavy films. We were extremely lucky to get him because we were looking to hire local and to have such a well-respected effects guy living in Florida, where we shot the film, was a God send.

HC: What was the shoot like?

AD: It was extremely hot and long days. Shooting films on tight schedules is always a challenge and we had a lot of locations to cover in only an 18 day period. But the production team worked very well together so we were able to pull it off without too many hiccups.

HC: Is it true there is an actual place called Cassadaga?

AD: It is, and we did shoot there. Cassadaga, Florida is the psychic capital of the world. It was established in 1894 and it’s home to a very large number of Mediums and Psychics who have a spiritualist community there.  It played a great backdrop for the film.

HC: What state do you consider the horror genre to be in at the moment?

AD: I think it’s healthy and that’s a good thing. As long as people are seeing horror films I’m happy. I do think there’s a downside though to the lower budget found footage model that is trending right now. Not to say there’s anything wrong with the films; it just makes it harder to get a horror film made with a larger budget, such as films like The Exorcist, The Shining and What Lies Beneath. Studios can turn a much greater profit on a film made for 50,000 dollars than they can on a film made for 20 to 90 million. And audiences still comes in droves to see it so it sets a precedent for horror that other genres don’t necessarily deal with.

HC: What do you think the next “big thing” will be in horror movies?

AD: I think we’re just going to ride Zombies out till the actual apocalypse hits. People are well prepared for Armageddon now, so why distract that with another trend.

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

AD: I have a horror film being released October 6th called Last Shift and also my latest film Most Likely To Die, starring Heather Morris from Glee and the infamous Perez Hilton, is making its world premiere at this year’s Film4 FrightFest in August.

HC: Anthony DiBlasi, thank you very much.


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