LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Chad Archibald director of I'll Take Your Dead
By James Whittington, Wednesday 28th August 2019
Chad Archibald has been behind a number of FrightFest favourites in the past including Bite which is showing on Horror in September. With is latest movie, I'll Take Your Dead wowing audiences at FrightFest we chatted to Chad.
HC: We last spoke a few years back about your fabulous movie, Bite, I loved it, and would you consider a Bite 2?
CA: I would love to do a Bite 2 if there was enough demand for it. Bite was the most fun I've had making a movie and I think if we made a second, we would just amp it all up. More goo, more gore, more laughs. I've got tons of ideas already so it's never off the table.
HC: Where did the story of I'll Take Your Dead come from?
CA: Years ago, I was hired to do a film that was meant to keep kids out of gangs. It was government funded and, for research for the writer, I was flown to most of the major cities in Canada to interview kids in shelters that have been affected by gang violence and manipulation. It was an eye opening experience. I didn't realize how common serious gang activity was in Canada and how so many good people get sucked in. I'd speak to parents who worked normal 9-5 office jobs and one day they ran into the wrong person and it changed their lives. A lot of gangs use fear to manipulate people into doing what they want and that's how these good people would end up going down a horrible path. When I finally got home, I started writing I'll Take Your Dead.
HC: It's very different from your other movies, do you deliberately move from genre to genre to keep your work fresh?
CA: Absolutely, we've created 10 films in the last 5 years and we never want to make the same film twice. We want to always stay fresh for audiences but also for ourselves. Always challenge ourselves and with I'll Take Your Dead, we wanted to create a blended genre film that had a lot of heart, some solid scares, and mix it with a bit of a Canadian western.
HC: How did you get such an amazing cast together?
CA: They did great eh! We made an offer to Aidan as we've seen him in many films over the years. We knew he could play the strong silent type that could explode if backed in a corner. We did extensive auditions for both Gloria and Jackie's roles. When Ava Preson auditioned for Gloria, we knew right away that she was perfect. The second she left the room we all erupted in how great she was and we were lucky enough to get her in the film. She's become a fan favourite and deserves every bit of praise that's been sent to her. Jess was actually in Spain and sent in a video audition. It was great and after asking around, we heard the most amazing things about her talent on and off camera. She was a dream to work with and brought the edge that Jackie's character needed. Lastly, Ari Millen who play's Reggie, is a good friend of ours and such a talented human being. We knew right away that he was perfect for Reggie and he nailed that cocky, arrogant character to a T.
HC: Was it all shot on location and if so, how hard was it as it seemed to have been in the middle of winter?
CA: It was 85% shot on location in the dead of the Canadian winter. The house was basically abandoned so we went in and thawed it out. It was like a frozen tomb and we had to bring in industrial furnaces to heat the house while filming. We really wanted to capture that desolate feeling that you get when you live in the middle of nowhere in the winter. I grew up in a farmhouse in the country and man when you are snowed in, you feel alone in the world and that's how we wanted William and Gloria to feel. The basement of the house was actually a set that we built. It was just too hard to find a farmhouse that had a big enough basement for us to create the burnt man's home.
HC: The way you crank up the tension is perfectly paced, how hard is it to achieve this as a director?
CA: I think a lot of it is created at script stage. If you're not feeling it when you read the script, it's going to be hard to create it on set. I think it's a flaw of a lot of indie filmmakers (and I've learned from making the mistake) but assuming that when you get on set with the cameras and lighting and cast, you'll be able to create tension and suspense that's not coming across in the script. Get it on paper! If you feel it during the read, it's much more achievable to capture it on camera. A great cast helps too.
HC: The special effects are very subtle, was this deliberate, as not to distract from the complex relationships between the main characters?
CA: We never meant this film to be horribly gruesome even though the concept sounds like something that could be really gory. Anytime I hear the word "Butcher" in a horror movie, I think of a cheesy hick in a blood covered room with a huge cleaver and a bloody apron. I really wanted to stay away from making the gore too sensationalized. I want it more about seeing how this man deals with what he's been forced to do. For him, it's like cutting up a cow to package and sell... But it's obviously not a cow. I wanted it to more about the people that the blood and guts.
HC: Do you believe that there is some sort of "afterlife?"
CA: I think I do but I don't think it's anything like anyone on this planet imagines it. I think it's something we really can't comprehend yet. I guess I would say I think there's some sort of afterlife that has more of a scientific explanation than a godly one. Maybe in a thousand years, if we're all still here, we'll know the science of the human spirit and that's will be where some of the answers to afterlife will come from.
HC: We are currently showing The Drownsman on Horror, what are your recollections on the making of this movie?
CA: Oh man, The Drownsman was the hardest shoot of my life! We built The Drownsman's basement set in the middle of a field on an apple orchard. We had no money to make this movie so it was just a bunch of friends working to achieve something so ambitious. The insane challenges we had with water, and heating water, and moving water and containing water were endless! It was a journey and to this day when I see someone who worked on The Drownsman, we share an unspoken moment of respect for what we went through and what we managed to pull off.
HC: After all these years do you get nervous when your movies are shown at festivals?
CA: I hate watching films I directed with an audience. I usually watch it once at the world premiere then never again. I feel like all I can see is what's wrong with the film or what we never had the budget to achieve or what I would go back and change. That being said, it's such a great feeling seeing an audience laugh at a joke, jump at a scare, or cry at a performance... Or puke at a disgusting scene ha ha.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
CA: We just wrapped Black Fawn Films and Breakthrough Entertainment's latest feature called "The Oak Room" which is directed by Cody Calahan and is starring RJ Mitte and Peter Outerbridge. It's a thriller mystery that once again captures Canada's cold northern winters. It's very different than anything we've done in the past and we think it's going to be something pretty special. Can't wait for it to get out to the world!
HC: Chad Archibald, thank you very much.
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