LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Chris Bavota, co-director of Dead Dicks
By James Whittington, Sunday 6th October 2019
Horror is the perfect genre for getting across very serious issues. Dead Dicks, which is showing at Grimmfest today does exactly that by looking at the sensitive subject of mental health. Here co-director Chris Bavota talks about this intriguing movie.
HC: How did you and co-writer and co-director Lee Paula Springer first meet?
CB: In case people don't know, Lee and I have been married for almost 10 years and we have 2 young daughters. Making movies somehow came as a natural evolution of that but wasn't really a part of our lives until about three or four years ago. We originally met back around 2004 through a mutual friend and honestly, we didn't really get along. Not too sure why, but it might have been because one of us was a jerk and the other didn't want to have anything to do with me. But skip ahead a couple of years and thankfully we met again. I was my annoying self but Lee was probably in a better mood and decided to put up with it. Our first official date was on Halloween, and I guess that set the mood for how our relationship unfolded.
HC: Where did the idea for Dead Dicks come from and did you write it with a cast in mind?
CB: I had the idea for a few years, but it was originally meant to be a short film about two friends. The one guy goes over, discovers the orifice and the main guy explains that he's been killing himself and being reborn. But that was all I really had. Then last year Lee and I were at TIFF for a bunch of meetings about another project we had been developing. That all fell through and on our drive back to Montreal we decided we couldn't go another year without making a movie. So we discussed the idea I had for Dead Dicks but nothing was really connecting in regards to why we wanted to tell this particular story. That's when the subject of mental health came up and we switched it from being two friends to a co-dependent brother and sister. Then things developed quite quickly and by November we had a first draft. We actually did write Richie with Heston Horwin in mind, but we never thought we could get him. I met him at the Chattanooga Film Festival in 2018 where he was screening Rock Steady Row. We hung out and really got along and kept in contact since. When the script was ready, I asked if he would read it. I think he did it as a gesture of kindness, but then he got back to us almost immediately with nothing but good things to say about the script and the character of Richie. We started discussing it right away but had to figure out how to get him from LA to Montreal, and also how to get permission for him to work in Canada through ACTRA. That alone was a huge challenge but somehow we managed to pull it all off.
HC: Did they have much rehearsal time?
CB: We spent a lot of time on Skype with Heston discussing Richie's character and how we saw the whole film. He arrived a few days before we started shooting so we kept talking and watched the documentaries Crumb and The Devil and Daniel Johnston to help Heston understand how we envisioned Richie's mindset. Matt is a good friend so he was always around while we were worked on the script, which meant we were always discussing Matt's character and just how far we might be able to go with him being the comic relief. Jillian only came on board a few weeks before we started shooting, so we didn't actually get a lot of time with her before we tossed her into the fray. All in all, we officially only really had one day of rehearsal, though we also did a quick table read through the night before that. Then we went straight into shooting at the beginning of March.
HC: This is your first time directing a feature alongside Lee Paula Springer, how did you divvy up which scenes each of you would direct?
CB: Lee and I have been talking about making movies together for a long time, so we somehow instinctively understood how we would actually pull it off. While we prepared for the shoot, we discussed every single aspect of the movie and each fleshed out our opinions to find which ones played out the strongest. Sometimes my ideas won out, sometimes hers did. But that didn't really matter. All that mattered was what was best for the film. A lot of people were nervous working with us, firstly because we were a duo, but mostly because we were a couple. No one wanted to get stuck in the middle but we worked really hard to make sure that we were on the same page before we stepped one foot on set. When the shoot began, I spent more time with the camera department and Lee spent more time with the actors. We would always discuss scenes together and then separate to deal with our "department." It ended up working out quite nicely. The shoot was short and intense but the mood on set was always positive and the crew really bonded. We wanted the set to feel very collaborative so we were always open to discussing ideas and allowed the best direction for the film to always win out.
HC: Were you nervous at all?
CB: I was honestly terrified. From the moment we raised the budget I stopped sleeping. Having the money meant we actually had to do this thing. And suddenly things were moving outside of our control and before we knew it the first day of shooting had arrived. I was so freaked out by it all that I didn't realize I had to yell action or cut. Lee didn't want to do it so I was responsible for that, but I totally messed it up. I couldn't believe that it was my set and it took that whole first day before I felt comfortable and confident enough to take control.
HC: The effects are quite incredible, were they hard to realise and were they all practical ones?
CB: We wanted to do as many practical effects on set as we could pull off, which meant there were a lot of demands placed on our FX artist Nina Anton. She was incredible and so many people pooled their talents together to make sure that we could realize all of our crazy ideas. We shot the entire film in 10 days, and that included stunts, the fights and all of the special effects. It was a lot and some things honestly came together the moment we had to shoot them. But everyone helped out. That final tunnel scene really came alive because we had six people pushing from all sides as Jillian crawled through it. In editing, we realized that a few things needed to be enhanced so I figured out how to do a few VFX shots and luckily we lived next door to Glenn Curry, who is an amazing visual effects artist that has worked on big Hollywood films. Our kids play together, so we were really lucky there. Glenn spent the majority of his summer vacation putting together the shot of the "bobber," which is what we called the corrupted version of Matt that rampages through the living room. It only lasts a few seconds and was originally meant to be all practical, but it didn't work out exactly as planned. Though what Glenn and our compositor Alexandre Clermont put together looks so amazing that many people think it's actually a practical effect.
HC: Underneath the humour and bizarre situations, the movie has a serious comment to make about mental illness, much in the same way as Dave Made A Maze did, would you agree?
CB: One hundred percent. Dead Dicks is a very personal film. It's about our own struggles and the struggles of some of the people we love dearly. But we didn't want it to feel preachy or for it to come across as heavy-handed. And we are also the type of people that feel comfortable defusing serious subjects by using fantastical storytelling and humour. Both Lee and I think that genre films have often taken very serious subjects and placed them at the core of their stories.
HC: You must be happy with the positive reviews it's been getting?
CB: We're actually really shocked. Obviously, we think it's a pretty cool movie but we really didn't know how people would react to it. After the world premiere, people came up to us and immediately started discussing their personal experiences with mental illness. It was really overwhelming but exactly what we kind of wanted to happen. Then we started getting positive reviews and even the critics opened up about their personal experiences. It's been incredible and we can't really believe how well it's been going. The fact that we are going to be at Grimmfest for the UK premiere is unreal. I've never actually left North America and back when Lee and I first got married I joked about taking her to Europe for our 10-year anniversary. It's a year too early but I'm still gonna count it.
HC: Canada is a hotbed of horror entertainment talent at the moment, who should we look out for?
CB: It's kind of amazing that Grimmfest screens so many Canadian films. This year they have Harpoon, She Never Died, Rabid and Dead Dicks. Last year there was Lifechanger, Alive, Summer of '84 and I'll Take Your Dead. We've been at festivals with a lot of those filmmakers over the years and it's amazing to see so many break out with features around the same time. Gigi Saul Guerrero's Culture Shock is a must-see. Seth Smith's The Crescent. Mike Peterson's Knuckleball. Elza Kephart's Slaxxx (comes out next year). Jeff Barnaby's Blood Quantum. This country had such a huge influence on horror films in the 70s so it's great that Canada is back on the map.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
CB: We've seen a bit of movement on the project we were working on before Dead Dicks, which is a loose adaption and modern reinvention of H.P. Lovecraft;s The Outsider. I'm the son of Italian immigrants and Lee is of mixed race, so we wanted to subvert the underlying racism in his writing to discuss these themes further. We also love the idea of developing and realizing a kick-ass monster.
HC: Chris Bavota, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Cameron Macgowan, director of Red Letter Day
Posted on Friday 1st November 2019
FrightFest 2019 exposed a lot of new talent in the movie industry and one of the stand-out pieces was Red Letter Day from Cameron Macgowan.
HC: Where did the idea for Red Letter Day come from and did it take long to write?
CM: I have long been a fan of the 'Humans Hunting Humans' subgenre of film (Battle Royale, The Running Man, Hard Target, etc.) and was inspired to set one of these films in what many people consider the 'safe' location of the suburbs. Suburban communities feel like the perfect setting for a horror film as you can walk for miles without seeing a single soul all while knowing that you are surrounded by many people. This mixed with a desire to satirise the current socio-political climate ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Carlo Mirabella-Davis, director of Swallow
Posted on Wednesday 30th October 2019
Ahead of the UK premiere of Swallow at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween, director Carlo Mirabella-Davis reflects on the personal inspiration behind his feature debut, healing psychological wounds and his empathy for the genre.
HC: Swallow is your directorial debut. How difficult was it to get the project off the ground?
CMD: Getting a film made is a fascinating process. My late, great teacher at NYU, Bill Reilly, would always say "script is coin of the realm". The early stages involved perfecting the screenplay as much as I could, writing and rewriting until I felt confident sending it out. The sacred bond between the producer and the director is the catalyst that brings a film into being. I ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019
Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...
HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?
PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019 It was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.
HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?
LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.
HC: W...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Robi Michael, writer and director of Every Time I Die
Posted on Saturday 5th October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is well underway and one of the stand out movies so far has been Every Time I Die from director Robi Michael. Here he chats about this gripping movie.
HC: Was there one person or movie that you saw that made you want to be a director?
RM: Hard to think of one person or movie, because as long as I remember, it was clear to me that all I want to do is make movies - I was in love with films and decided to pursue it from a very early age. I was too young to realized what it takes to make movies or what is the job of a director. I can say that an early big influence in story telling is the legendary graphic novel writer, Alan Moore. Books like "Watchmen" and "V for...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom Botchii, director of Artik
Posted on Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 begins tomorrow and Horror will be there bringing you news of all that happens as well as three Facebook Live events on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October.
One of the movies showing is Artik from director Tom Botchii so we chatted to him about this superb, brutal shocker.
HC: Where did the idea for Artik come from?
TB: The idea of Artik came from two things - 1) Getting my car broken into and seeing the initials A-T-K tagged on the wall behind it. When discussing with police they said that stands for a local gang member named ARTIK and when he spray paints ATK it means that you're marked and he or one of the other gang members is coming back to brea...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Rob Grant, director of Harpoon
Posted on Monday 30th September 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is only days away and Horror Channel will be there delivering all the info you'd want from this fear-filled festival as well as bringing to you three Facebook Live events on 4th, 5th and 6th October.
Here we chat to Grimmfest regular Rob Grant about his superior psychological shocker Harpoon which is showing at the festival this year.
HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted when Fake Blood played at Grimmfest, what have you been up to since then?
RG: Been very busy... was a director for hire on Alive. that I unfortunately had to miss at last year's Grimmfest due to an illness in the family, made Harpoon and been travelling around ...SHARE: READ MORE Brand new interview with Dee Wallace, star of Cujo, The Howling and now Beyond the Sky
Posted on Sunday 12th May 2019
Dee Wallace is one of those people who seems to have be around forever and yet never ages in enthusiasm or her ability to bring to life some of cinema's most memorable characters. With a resume that includes E.T., The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo and now Beyond the Sky, we chatted to Dee about her career to date and how she prepares for each acting project.
HC: What made you want to be an actress?
DW: Oh, you know... I was born! (laughs) Seriously, I think creative people are just born to be creative and they have to find an outlet for that. My mother also was a beautiful actress, locally in my hometown and did all the plays at church so I think I naturally found my way into a family that supporte...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Horror's Channel Manager Stewart Bridle
Posted on Friday 10th May 2019 Stewart Bridle is Horror Channel's longest serving Channel Manager. He has guided Horror for almost a decade and has managed to bring to our screens many classics as well as introducing us to some new horror movie talent. In this, our 15th anniversary month we chat to Stewart about his role and some of the juicy pieces he has lined up for the rest of 2019.
HC: Have you always been a horror movie fan?
SB: Yes! I've always been interested and fascinated with horror and all genre stuff. I have an older brother who would manage to rent or get bootleg VHS of some great horror titles and I have memories of watching things like the original Dawn Of The Dead or slashers like The Burning while far too youn...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with exploitation legend David McGillivray
Posted on Wednesday 24th April 2019 Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Pete Walker's Schizo on April 27th, horror and sexploitation movie writer/director David McGillivray reflects on disastrous scripts, his volatile relationship with Walker and writing smut for Julian Clary.
Q: Schizo is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?
DM: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.
Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you've written - you're 'Man at Seance' in Schizo. Any particular reason?
DM:...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Abner Pastoll, director of Road Games
Posted on Thursday 21st March 2019
Horror Channel loves to promote new talent in the industry and one of the most exciting new directors around is Abner Pastoll. His first feature, Road Games, is an adrenaline packed killer of a thriller which is showing on the channel on March 22nd at 9pm. We decided to chat to Abner about this tense movie and his plans for the future.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?
AP: Yes. I remember being as young as 4 or 5 and just knowing with such clarity that I needed to make films. My family had a cinema, drive-in and video store, all of which certainly enhanced my obsession with movies of all shapes and sizes.
HC: Was there one film t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Zach Lipovsky, director of Leprechaun: Origins.
Posted on Thursday 28th February 2019
On March 1st, Horror is bringing you the UK TV premiere of a real corker of a shocker, Leprechaun: Origins. The movie follows two couples backpacking through the Irish countryside who end up spending the night in an old cabin, and learn the terrible truth about Ireland's most famous legend. So begins a living nightmare... The movie is a smart entry into the franchise so we decided to chat to its director, Zach Lipovsky.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to work in this industry?
ZL: Yes, I grew up as a child actor. Mostly as an excuse to be on set and not at school. I was quickly more interested in making movies than acting and from the age of 10 started shooting silly pro...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 22nd November
Friday 29th November
Friday 29th November