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Exclusive Interview With Dick Mass Director Of Saint
By James Whittington, Thursday 10th November 2011
Dick MassThe season slasher movie Saint has just been released onto DVD in the UK. This smart, funny and blood-drenched picture is a smart take on the hack n' slash genre so we had a quick chat with its director, Dick Mass to see where the idea came from.

HC: We know you mainly in the UK for Amsterdamned and more recently Killer Babes but your output very varied. Is there one genre you like working in the most?

DM: I like to work in different genres. I started with a horror movie called The Lift. I made action movies like Amsterdamned and Do Not Disturb (aka The Shaft) and I did comedies, The Flodder trilogy, Killer Babes. Saint again is a horror/action movie and currently I'm editing Quiz, which is a thriller.

HC: Where did the idea for Saint come from?

DM: It started about ten years ago. I wanted to turn this iconic figure, which is the epitome of good heartedness into an evil killer. I wanted to show the dark side of the St. Nicholas celebration, which is the biggest event every year in Holland on December 5th.

HC: Were you inspired by other seasonal slashers such as Silent Night, Deadly Night or evil Santa shockers such as Santa's Slay?

DM: Of course I'm aware of the Santa horror movies that were made. But I wasn't inspired by them. When I saw Santa's Slay, I had already finished the final draft of my screenplay. I didn't want to make a spoof, like Santa's Slay, or a parody of the myth, but I wanted to approach it in a serious way. I also wanted to give an epic feel to the movie. I also didn't want some guy running around in a red gown, murdering people.

HC: Did the script take long to come together?

DM: I started on the script about ten years ago. It took several drafts until I had the final one. So the script was finished 5 years ago.

HC: Saint has a very dark main plot but has plenty of moments of comedy, did you find it hard to balance both?

DM: I really wanted to make a dark brooding movie, with a lot of scary moments, but somehow the comedy elements always creep in. I hope the movie is both suspenseful and funny.

HC: One scene, where the three girls are walking down a street from school looks like a similar one from Halloween, was this a deliberate homage?

DM: It didn't start out as a homage. But it is almost inevitable to have a steadicam shot of three girls walking home from school and not being compared to the shot from Halloween. But Halloween is one of my favourite movies, and John Carpenter is a hero.

HC: There's a lot of CGI work in this movie, does that mean a lot of time was spent in post-production?

DM: I think we had more than 200 CGI shots.That took a few months in post. Our budget for the whole movie was around 5 million dollars. So we had to come up with inventive ways to achieve them.

HC: The rooftop chase is a particular stand-out, that must have taken months to prepare for, how did you go about shooting that sequence?

DM: That sequence was by far the most difficult to accomplish. We had to shoot galloping horses against a greenscreen and combine them with plates we shot on the Amsterdam rooftops. We had to figure out how to accomplish that. We ended up with a horse on a treadmill and a building ten foot high, 150 foot long scaffolding, on which the horse could run at full speed and provide us with the camera angles we needed. For a few shots we used a 3D computer generated horse.

HC: The movie has done very well in your home country, is it true its smashed movie records?

DM: It didn't smash all records, mainly because of the age restriction (16 and older). But it opened better than Blackbook (Paul Verhoeven)

HC: Have you had any negative feedback about using such a legendary character as a source of terror?

DM: There was a lot of controversy. Several St. Nicholas societies and parent groups protested the movie. They even tried to prevent the movie from being shown in the cinema. They also protested the poster. They even went to court, but lost. Because of all the commotion, the awareness was very good and that helped at the box office.

HC: Would you like to bring the evil St Nicholas back to the big screen?

DM: That depends on how the movie will be received by foreign audiences. We have some storylines worked out for a sequel. So who knows?

HC: You also wrote the soundtrack, how did you approach that?

DM: I always do the soundtrack for my movies. I play guitar and keyboard and work with samples. I tried to go for music with an epic feel to it. I think this is one of my better soundtracks.

HC: So what's next for you?

DM: I just finished shooting a thriller called Quiz which I wrote and directed. I'm editing right now. Quiz is a thriller about a famous game show host who has a dinner appointment with his wife and daughter in a restaurant. They don't show up. After some time a strange man presents himself at his table and he claims to have kidnapped the wife and daughter. He shows a photo on which we see his wife and daughter tied up. The game show host has to answer ten questions correctly within one hour if he wants to see his family back alive. So the man turns the tables around and plays the part of the game show host and the game show host is becoming the contestant. That is the start of an evening full of surprises, twists and turns. Quiz will be released in the beginning of 2012. Besides Quiz I'm preparing a big action movie called Para, which I'm planning to shoot next year.

HC: Dick Maas, thank you very much.


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