FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Interview With Anthony DiBlasi Director Of Cassadaga And Last Shift
By James Whittington, Sunday 7th February 2016
Anthony DiBlasi is a truly talented director whose work is appreciated all over the globe and is really making a name for his himself. One of his best, Cassadaga is showing tonight on Horror and his latest, Last Shift has just been released onto DVD. We decided to chat with this fine fellow about his work and how he created what is being billed as one of the best horror movies of 2016.
HC: Hi Anthony, last time we chatted was at FrightFest about your fantastic slasher, Most Likely To Die, were you pleased with the reaction it got?
AD: I was, I think it played pretty well. I was curious if fans would embrace that style of slasher again, and I was really interested in how people would embrace Perez Hilton in a lead. And I was very happy with the reaction.
HC: Would you consider a follow up?
AD: I’d love to do a follow up. We definitely planted the seeds for another one. For me, it played the same way Scream did, it’s more focused on characters you don’t want to see die rather than characters you enjoy seeing picked off by the slasher.
HC: Let’s chat about your latest picture, Last Shift, how did this project come together?
AD: I approached my longtime collaborator Scott Poiley with a really contained idea about a dispatcher alone on a night shift. Something really contained and very driven by sound design. We started to scout police stations, and found an empty one in our area, and that’s when we were really able to flush the story out and cater it to the location we found.
HC: The movie is pitched as being a traditional horror, meaning it utilises the environment and sound for scares, would you say that’s accurate?
AD: I definitely do. I some ways I think it’s my first true horror film. My other films are very dramatic and psychological in nature but with Last Shift I really wanted to scare people and create and experience. And put yourself in the lead character’s shoes. We’re always within her bubble for almost the entire movie, which helps with that sense of environment.
HC: Juliana Harkavy is getting some fantastic reviews for her portrayal of Jessica Loren, was it a hard movie to cast or did you write the script with people in mind?
AD: We approached her very early on. We had met her while casting another film and my first AD Mike Finn brought her up while we were in pre-production on Last Shift. I remembered her right away and loved her the first time we had met. So we sent her the script and then really started catering the part for her.
HC: What sort of a budget were you working with?
AD: Small. A lot of people don’t like to share numbers, but now that the film is out there and doing it’s things I think it’s fine too. It was a challenge to say the least but that’s exactly what Scott and I wanted. We really wanted to use our skill sets and push ourselves to see what we could achieve on a limited budget and time frame. So we shot the film for 150,000 US in 10 days of production. All night shoot work.
HC: Is it true you didn’t tell her about some of the things she’d encounter on set?
AD: Yeah, I like to keep the actor in the moment while shooting and I think getting a real reaction the firs time around is the best way when the cameras are rolling. So keeping Juliana on edge and unsettled was a great way to keep her in character. What better way to be taken off guard on camera than actually doing it, and revealing these monsters to her for the first time while her reaction is on camera.
HC: The movie contains your now signature ability to crank up the tension to nail-biting levels but how do you know such scenes will work? Is it a gut instinct?
AD: Well thanks for that! That’s a good thing to be known for! I think a lot of it is gut instinct and also trying to put myself in the shoes of the viewer as much as possible. And I think tension is built with emotion more than anything else, I want an audience member not to just empathize with the protagonist or antagonist, but to slip into their emotional state. Good tension is built when that line is blurred between participant and viewer.
HC: What was the atmosphere like on set?
AD: Well it was a night shoot, which I love; I feel like it adds and air of mystery to things right away, it also puts people in a different state of mind. Switching their rhythms like that, it adds to the performance. We all want to be a little bit more dangerous and mischievous after 10PM. Also the building and area was creepy and at sometimes dangerous. There were a lot of gangs in the area of Florida we shot in, and a couple nights and gunfire really close by. So when that would happen, we’d make sure to stay inside for a while.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
AD: Right now I’m in production on a thriller I developed with an actor friend of mine, Patrick Fischler. We’re going to be announcing it soon.
HC: Anthony DiBlasi, thank you very much.
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