LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
By James Whittington, 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 break that movies meant more to me than they did to those around me. And that's not a low bar - my Dad worked as a projectionist all through his college years, and my Mom takes my Aunt to see at least one movie a week. I remember seeing Pulp Fiction in the autumn of 1994 and suddenly realizing that a) cinema is far more elastic than I had previously thought, and b) it helped the world make sense in a way nothing else could. That was when I knew this was my path. But I grew up in Northern Kentucky, which felt like the furthest you could possibly get from Hollywood. I spent my 20s trying to do anything else and be happy, to no avail. Towards the end of my 20s, I was mired in a severe depression, getting wine drunk and writing scripts on the weekends. Then, my dog died, and it put into stark relief just how alone I was. So I sold as much of my stuff as I could and moved the rest to L.A. so I could pursue film.
Quickly I had the thought that I'd feel pretty stupid if I moved 2000 miles and just sat in my room, so I started volunteering in the Creative Screenwriting screening series. After eight months of that, I wrote for a magazine, which closed down, then a friend asked me to work on his movie. I was not supposed to be the 2nd AD, but they ended up with a budget far smaller than they thought they'd get, so as people left the production for higher-paying gigs, I kept getting promoted. It was an incredible experience, though, and the best education I could have asked for in terms of no-budget filmmaking. It clarified for me where money needed to go, and where money went out of habit. So yeah, that's a game plan...
Did the story of A Ghost Waits come as a sudden flash; were you inspired by the likes of Ghost and Beetlejuice?
AS: The idea for A Ghost Waits came from a video game and a web comic. I am not a gamer, but I was visiting some friends and they told me I needed to play a game called P.T. which was designed by Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima. It's a first person puzzle game where you have to walk through an L-shaped hallway in a haunted house, doing specific things in time in order to open the door at the end of the hallway, which then puts you back at the beginning of the hallway. At some point, it occurred to me that there might be a movie in someone like me having to deal with a haunted house. While I was working on that, I saw a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic where a man asks a woman what she thinks is the most American film. She answers, "Ghostbusters", and he asks why. She explains that people get demonstrable proof of an afterlife, but the whole thing is about growing a small business and navigating government bureaucracy. I thought, "That's hilarious, and also I want to see that movie.! So I wrote it!"
How long was the development process and where did you obtain financing?
AS: Development on A Ghost Waits moved irresponsibly fast, haha. I had the idea in November 2015, and we shot in August 2016. Normally I have all the time in the world to write, since nobody cares about a spec script being written by a no-name, so the process of writing with so many eyes on me was equally exciting and daunting. Fun fact: I usually name characters and title the piece late in the process, but I wasn't able to do that here since we needed to create documents for casting and whatnot. So I went home, opened up my Tom Waits discography, and named every character after a Tom Waits song. And then named the movie after him, because he is one of my creative north stars... MacLeod and I had spent the previous year trying to get another movie made, but just weren't able to raise enough money. One of the investors we met in that time remained very excited to make something, so when I had the idea for A Ghost Waits he immediately said he'd invest half the production budget. My Mom had told me to let her know when we had a firm budget number, so once we had half the budget, she invested the other half. That covered principal photography, and then MacLeod and I put in our own money to cover pickups and post-production.
How do you describe the movie, a supernatural comedy, a paranormal romance, what?
AS: I've been referring to it as a haunted house love story, but paranormal romance is good - maybe I'll start using that!
Was the choice to shoot in black-and-white more an artistic or budgetary consideration?
AS: A bit of both, to be honest. I love the B&W aesthetic, so it was always a possibility in my mind, I mentioned my idea to my UPM during prep while we were on a location scout, and she told me not to do that. We shot in color with the intention of staying that way, but we also shot with two different cameras, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema, which yielded slightly different looks. I drove myself crazy trying to match the images in color-correction, and one day MacLeod said, "Have you thought about just making it B&W?" Because MacLeod is the best person ever. Once we put a B&W LUT on it, it felt right, tonally and aesthetically. Would we have gone with B&W even if we had more money? Who knows! Just another possibility for the pile...
When did you first meet MacLeod Andrews? He says you've wanted to make something together for years? So did you write the part of Jack with him in mind?
SM: MacLeod and I met on the set of a film called Split, a bowling rom-com, which filmed in Louisville, KY. I met the filmmaker on a panel, and he asked if I'd be down to come work on his movie. MacLeod is a native of Louisville, and had worked with one of the producers on the film before. We instantly hit it off, and I was struck by his obvious talent and charisma so I sent him a script I'd recently written. He dug it, and we decided we wanted to work together. I absolutely wrote the part of Jack for MacLeod. To the extent that if he'd said no, the movie would not exist. Fortunately our brains function on similarly weird frequencies, so we're usually intrigued and excited by similar ideas.
What about Natalie Walker? How did you come to cast her as Muriel?
SM: I'd been following Natalie on Twitter for a while, and was impressed by her humour and brilliance. I had a feeling that casting her in a role that demanded she sublimate her energy would yield a similar result as when Robin Williams was asked to do the same for dramatic roles. I emailed and told her about the project, and offered to send over the script so she could check it out and see if it interested her. She responded that she was very interested, so we talked and she did a self-tape, which was perfect. We hopped on FaceTime and I offered her the role.
The chemistry between MacLeod and Natalie is wonderful. Was that instant or did it need nurturing?
SM: Instant! We never even had a table read, much less any rehearsals, so the first time they met was on set. Since we had such a small crew, I was always doing a multitude of jobs, which limited how much time I was able to spend with them. A lot of their dynamic is due to the work they did on their own. It is my profound hope that the three of us are able to work together again.
Where did you film and for how long?
SM: We filmed in Cincinnati, OH, and Lakeside Park, KY. Principle photography was 12 days in August 2016, and then we did the first set of pickups over four days in April 2017 and the last set over a week in February 2018.
What does having the World Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow mean to you?
SM: Cesar A. Cruz once said, "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." At my lowest, movies have made me feel less alone, and I wanted to make something that could do that for someone else. We made a small, personal, weird film, and it means the absolute world to know it means something to others and is finding its place in the world. Absolutely thrilled FrightFest get to show it first".
Finally, what's next for you?
SM: We're working with a couple producers on two films, which we're obviously hoping to make soon. One is an existential horror drama, and the other is a coming-of-age comedy-drama. In the meantime, just writing a few things and hoping for the best.
Related show tags: FRIGHTFEST MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Andy Nyman about his role in the classic TV version of The Woman in Black
Posted on Sunday 9th August 2020
Andy Nyman is one of the most popular and hardworking actors working today. From thrillers to chillers, from comedy to drama, Andy can turn his hand to any genre. Thanks to Network Releasing we are able to appreciate his first ever TV appearance as they release a remastered version of the acclaimed television adaptation of The Woman in Black. We chatted to Andy about his role in this legendary piece.
HC: Let's chat about this TV version of The Woman in Black, was it one of your first ever roles very first TV role?
AN: That was my very first TV role, I was 23, the same age my son is now. It is a shock, isn't it? I was like, when I saw it ...SHARE: READ MORE 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 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
Sunday 16th August
Thursday 13th August
Saturday 15th August