Exclusive Interview With Infestation Director Kyle Rankin
By James Whittington, Thursday 20th August 2009
One of the most anticipated movies of FrightFest 2009 is Kyle Rankin’s Infestation. The movie which is all about a giant insect invasion is an amazing piece (I know as I’ve had the privilege of seeing it already!) so we thought we’d hunt him down and and bug him (ha ha) for some answers.   ZH: How did you get into the movie business?   KR: Am I in it? Huh, guess so. Looks different than I thought it would. It’s still a lot of work... what’s up with THAT!? I’m self taught; started making films and videos around the age of 14. I come from the independent world, where you hit up everyone you meet to invest in your pictures. My big break came in 2003 when I submitted two clips from two short films I’d made with fellow-filmmaker Efram Potelle. We ended up besting 8,000 other hopefuls to win Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Project Greenlight... this meant we co-directed The Battle Of Shaker Heights with Shia LaBeouf while camera crews followed us around for a 13 episode HBO series.   ZH: Was Reindeer Games your first stab at professional writing/directing/acting etc?
KR: Yes and no. Yes because I was 23 at the time and had the lead role in a feature film I’d co-written and co-produced... no, because it’s probably not the same Reindeer Games you’re thinking of! I made an independent film on 16mm in Portland, Maine in 1996... about two years later, a major theatrical release starring Ben Affleck (ironic, given our later Greenlight connection) was released with the same name. MY Reindeer Games was released in North America last year under the new title The Girl In The Basement, so I’m happy it's finally seen the light of day. In it, I play a man named Alec who has a bad date with a woman he’s in love with, and decides to trap her in his basement for several days. Making it was an amazing learning experience, my own private film school. I’m still very proud of it.   ZH: You seem a pretty “hands on” person, do you like being in control of the projects you’re involved with?
KR: For me, being in control is the ONLY way to be involved in a project. I like having no one else to blame but myself.   ZH: Do you have a favourite role when creating a movie?
KR: I always thought I’d act... then I realized how fun and fulfilling directing is. My career goal is to be an Auteur, to write (or at least re-write) all the films I direct (so they have my personal stamp).   ZH: Let’s talk about your latest project, Infestation, where did that idea come from?
KR: From an image I had years ago of a man waking up in a big cocoon, having no idea how he got there. When I saw the beginning of 28 Days Later and the guy wakes up in a hospital I thought, "Damn, I’ve been beaten to it" Then I realized it’s an oft-used idea among Sci-Fi and fantasy films (like Day Of The Triffids) So, a lot of what I do starts with a picture or an idea for one key scene... then I expand things to see if there’s something compelling there.   ZH: Did any of the other classic creature features from the 1950's inspire you at all?
KR: I’m more a fan of the Post-Apocalyptic genre: Road Warrior, A Boy And His Dog, and Hell Comes To Frogtown. If a film starts with a lone figure stumbling across a desolate landscape (maybe with a ruined city behind them), I’m hooked. Also, giant insects hadn’t been exploited in cinema in a while... oh, and I was certainly effected by the beginning of the 1954 film Them! where two cops find the a mute girl stumbling through the desert. We find out later she’s not speaking because she saw her parents eaten by huge ants!   ZH: Did the script take long to polish off and was it hard balancing the horror and the humour elements?
KR: I did a dozen rewrites or so on the script, not counting tweaks here and there. I did find it hard to balance the horror and comedy, but I also believe we don’t live our lives in genres... so why do we expect our films to be? Haven’t we all been to a serious engagement, like church... or even a funeral... and ended up laughing at something (which is very close to crying)? Our lives are messy and complicated, so I try my best to write that way. What’s working against me is the that after a hard day, people would like to know what they’re getting when they pop in a DVD... I can’t blame them for that. SO, in trying to please both masters, I feel it’s my job to straddle genres while at the same time being true to them.   ZH: How did you go about casting?
KR: We worked with a casting director in Los Angeles named Annie McCarthy (and her company Engine). It was several months of appointments and meetings to find the right people. There’s a lot of talented actors in LA, but casting an ensemble film is a puzzle -- all the parts need to fit together. There’re often several people that could play each role, but it’s about getting a whole group assembled and how they all look and play off one another.   ZH: Talking of the cast they really do handle the premise perfectly without turning the movie into a farce, did any of them over do the comedy?
KR: I can’t recall a time when anyone overdid it. That said, I often find myself telling the actors to make it smaller while I’m on set. This isn’t because they’re hitting the comedic parts per se... but because whatever they’re doing is being pushed too hard. Many actors have a theatre background, and they’ve been taught to play their performance to the back of the house... film is about being subtle and letting the camera do the work. Also, the only kind of comedy I don’t care for is “camp” I don’t enjoy watching something that’s supposed to be funny, and you can FEEL the actors thinking they’re funny while doing it. I like comedy that comes from circumstance and character and the reality of the moment.   ZH: Was it a difficult shoot bearing in mind it has a lot of effects shots?
KR: The hardest thing was that I wrote a lot of action... and action takes twice as long to shoot as a regular scene. So, the big set pieces with the bugs took a VERY long time... and more often than not I felt rushed and left wishing I had another few weeks.   ZH: The film does look amazing, did you have a large budget?
KR: By industry standards, no. We had under 5 million... which probably sounds like a lot to independent filmmakers, but considering we had 265 VFX shots, this is really stretching things. For the money we had, I’m very impressed with the quality of the effects... both practical and digital. Both teams did an amazing job!   ZH: The movie is getting its World Premiere at FrightFest, how do you think the UK audience will react to the movie?
KR: Oh, man. I hope they like it. Naively, I think a UK audience will appreciate the story’s subtleties and random humour more... but I don’t know. I make films so people can enjoy them, so that’s all I truly hope for. I’m really looking forward to hearing some UK reactions!   ZH: Would you consider Infestation 2?
KR: If ever the day comes when the film’s been enjoyed and recouped its budget and there’s a cry for more... I’d love to make another. There’s more I’d love to do with these characters... more challenges I’d like them to face. And plus I already have a cool title: Infestation 2: Buzzkill.   ZH: Kyle Rankin, thank you very much.
KR: My pleasure. Thanks to you for your interest.

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Interview with Tyler MacIntyre, director of Patchwork
Posted on Thursday 12th December 2019
On the eve of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Patchwork on December 14th, director Tyler MacIntyre reflects on body image issues. twisting audience expectations and his admiration for current female genre directors.

HC: Patchwork finally gets its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel. Excited or what?

TM: Relieved actually. It's been a long time coming. The third screening of the film ever happened at FrightFest in Glasgow and since then I've had people asking me when it was going to come out. The UK genre fans are among the most diehard in the world, so I'm very excited to finally have it available for them.

HC: You were in attendance when Patchwork, your directorial feature debut, rece...

Interview with James Moran, writer of Tower Block
Posted on Monday 25th November 2019

Writer James Moran is about to do what few other writers have done in the past, the Horror Channel Triple! He is one of the few creatives who has had three of his movies play on the channel; Cockneys Vs Zombies, Severance and now Tower Block which is playing on November 29th. So, we decided to chat to this talented chap about this superior thriller and the rest of his career.

HC: Your first movie, Severance is a huge favourite with Horror Channel viewers, were you ever tempted to pen a sequel?

JM: Thank you, I'm really glad that people can still discover it with every new screening. Everybody wanted to do a sequel, we actually had several meetings about it. Nothing came of it, they carried on with...

Interview with Gary Dauberman, writer and director of Annabelle Comes Home
Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2019

Gary Dauberman has been the scriptwriter for some of the most successful horror movies of the last few years including IT: Parts 1 and 2, Annabelle and The Nun. His latest movie, Annabelle Comes Home which is also his directorial debut, has just been released onto DVD and Blu-ray. We caught up with this talented chap about his career to date.

HC: What was it about the horror genre that grabbed your imagination and made you want to become a writer?

GD: The earliest movie going experience I can remember was my parents taking me to Raiders of the Lost Ark and I was 4 or 5 or something and I had to sleep with them for a week, you know the opening up of The Ark and the face melting, a rea...

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 ...

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 ...

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...

Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019
CHILDS_PLAY_Universal_2D_BD_Pakcshot_UKIt 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...

Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
Star Trek: Voyager
Monday 2nd March
7.00 PM
Dr Terror's House of Horrors
Sunday 23rd February
6.35 PM
An American Haunting
Monday 2nd March
9.00 PM