LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Awake Director Joby Harold
By James Whittington, Saturday 22nd November 2008
Joby Harold is an up and coming talent in Hollywood. His first movie, Awake was a tense shocker that dealt with a rather unusual situation so we though it was the right time to catch up with him and see what things scare him the most.
ZH: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a director?
JH: When I was a kid I was obsessed with the idea of working in special effects and I would devour books on ILM and Harryhausen and anything that was to do with creating the illusion. That turned into staring at posters of The Thing and An American Werewolf in London outside cinemas, imagining what watching those movies would be like if I were old enough to get in. Movies served as a good place to ground my rather overactive imagination as a kid.
ZH: Which writers or directors did you admire whilst growing up?
JH: It pretty much ran the gamut. William Goldman, Shane Black, Paddy Chayefsky - all sorts, all kinds of styles. For some reason the Jacob’s Ladder script was a big deal for me. As was Marathon Man. I was a Spielberg kid, and then I got very into Polanski and Kubrick like everyone else. Loved Aliens too. I would obsess over the structure of James Cameron scripts. To this day, no one structures an action film like James Cameron.
ZH: Where did the idea come from for Awake and is it true 700 people a year suffer from “anaesthetic awareness”?
JH: I had a kidney stone which is famously painful and was really screwing with my head. Felt like I’d been shot in the back, it was nasty. The idea for Awake came after around the third hour of screaming like a little girl in hospital. Statistically, it is true that there are that many occurrences of anaesthetic awareness. We consulted with dozens of doctors as well as patients who has experienced it. Of course, there are all different kinds of “anaesthetic awareness.” This film represents the worst case scenario. It could just as easily be Hayden’s character having heard the doctors speaking, or having a faint recollection. There is a pretty significant spectrum.
ZH: Did the script change much from your first draft till you arrived at the shooting script?
JH: The script changed dramatically. It started out as a much more surreal story about illusion versus reality. It had a twilight zone style narrator who was on the screen for half the movie, walking around the scenes, watching everything. It was a trip, and much more lyrical. That version got swallowed up the process. As the money and cast came together it got diluted, and I realized that we were making a different kind of film – something a little more conventional. So we embraced it as more of popcorn Friday night movie.
ZH: Awake is your first major directing job, how nervous were you on the first few days of shooting?
JH: I actually wasn’t that nervous. It’s a real sink or swim feeling, you just kind of get on with it. If I were dropped into the middle of the I imagine the feeling would be somewhat similar. I wouldn’t spend too long treading water and worrying about it, I’d just get to the business of swimming home. It was a fun shoot. 38 days.
ZH: Was it a hard movie to cast?
JH: We were casting for a long time, there were many stops and starts, and there were many different variations of the cast through the years. Casting is a very tricky process.
ZH: Is it true Helen Mirren was connected with the project at one time?
JH: Yes, Helen was attached for a while. As was Sigourney Weaver. Both of whom would have been terrific and both of whom had to drop out for various reasons not related to the movie. It was frustrating. But I was incredibly lucky when Lena Olin agree to sign on at the last minute. I think she did a phenomenal job.
ZH: Jessica Alba really shines in this movie and is given more to do than she normally would as her character of Sam is really complex, do you think it’s helped casting agents to see her in a different light?
JH: I certainly hope so. Jessica is a very talented, very capable actress and she deserves it. She is fiercely ambitious. She’s also, incidentally, one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. I like her very much.
ZH: How did you decide on the amount of surgery on show? Did you censor yourself at all?
JH: Pretty much we showed as much as we could without it looking too fake. We were restricted by the authenticity (or lack thereof) of our rubber prosthetic. I didn’t worry about censoring it for the ratings board or anything, I knew from the beginning the kind of film we were making.
ZH: Awake, to me, is the kind of movie Alfred Hitchcock would be directing if he was alive today, is this the kind of atmosphere you were aiming for?
JH: I don’t know. His films have such weight and psychological complexity. I knew pretty early on that we were just trying to be a good night at the movies.
ZH: Is this your greatest fear then, being awake during surgery or do you have a greater dread?
JH: Helplessness is a pretty big one. Any of the primal fears are good ones when it comes to dread. That’s why Jaws works. Or Rosemary’s Baby. They’re all to do with penetration. Violation. Helplessness.
ZH: What’s next for you then?
JH: Looking hard for the right project to direct next. Trying to be really picky, which is hard to do, while also taking advantage of opportunities that have arisen. I have been writing an action/horror zombie film for Zack Snyder called Vegas Rising. I’m also adapting Frank Miller’s Ronin for Warner Brothers right now.
ZH: Joby Harold, thank you very much.
Awake directed by Joby Harold and starring Jessica Alba and Hayden Christensen is released on DVD by Icon Home Entertainment on Monday 25th August 2008.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.
HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?
AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.
HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?
FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.
HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?
TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.
HC: Did you know from an...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2020
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...
HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?
AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lukas Feigelfeld, director of Hagazussa
Posted on Friday 17th April 2020
The themes of witchcraft and the occult are making a bit of a come back at the moment. Movies such as The Witch and Midsommer have brought the genre back into focus and now Hagazussa from writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld takes the genre to another, even darker level. Here he chats about this incredibly atmospheric movie which is being released on May 11th thanks to Arrow Video.
HC: Where did the idea for Hagazussa come from and how long did it take to write?
LF: I had been living with the idea of doing something witch and folklore related for many years. Part of my family originates from this particular area in the Austrian Alps, and from a young age on I was greatly fascin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Posted on Monday 30th March 2020
Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".
Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.
(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?
NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.
HC: What...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Vendetta
Posted on Thursday 19th March 2020 Vengeance Season on Horror contains the UK TV premiere of Vendetta, the superb all-male maelstrom of mayhem from Jen and Sylvia Soska. We chatted to these incredible talented creatives about this action-packed thriller and what they have planned for the future.
HC: Have you always been wrestling fans and if so, when growing up, who were your faves?
Sylvia: We got introduced to wrestling during the epic Kane brother storyline during the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid feud that led to the first ever Hell in a Cell. I mean after that kind of an introduction; how doesn't the magic of wrestling have your heart for the rest of your life? If it isn't obvious, I'm a Shawn Michaels fan.
Jen: Und...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...
You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?
AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.
His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.
HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?
SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.
HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?
JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
Posted on Friday 20th December 2019
The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.
HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?
SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lo...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 14th August
Thursday 13th August
Monday 10th August