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Interview with Brett and Drew T. Pierce co-writers and co-directors of The Wretched
By James Whittington, Sunday 25th August 2019
Brett and Drew T. Pierce are firm FrightFest favourites who originally won over the audience years ago with the superb movie, DeadHeads. Noe they're back with another must see movie, The Wretched so we grabbed them for a quick chat.
HC: Is it true your father worked on The Evil Dead?
BP: It's true. He served as the photographic FX artist on the film. Tim Sullivan and he are responsible for the amazing stop-motion melt down sequence in the end of the film. As a kid I snuck into the basement when they were screening the test footage of this for Sam and the crew. Scarred me for life!
HC: We last chatted at FrightFest 2011 with the crowd-pleasing Dead Heads, what have you been up to since then?
DP: It's not a big secret that making indie film is not great for the wallet. Brett and I were so broke after making DeadHeads we had to find work and we actually took jobs as production assistants after directing the films. We ended up both moving up the ladder and I eventually worked as a storyboard artist on some amazing films such as The Interview with Seth Rogen and Happytime Murders with Brian Henson.
HC: Did you write it with a cast in mind and what is your writing process like?
BP: We didn't. Our process usually involves us plotting out the film for a month or so and then I take a shot at a first draft. Our not so good 'vomit' draft. We just try to get that first one out so we have something to rework and mold into something that could be a movie. As we move into the second draft, we just pass the script back and forth taking turns on scenes till we feel we've got something we like.
HC: The film deals with the breakup of a family as well as demonic possession, was it difficult combing these elements?
DP: We wanted the dramatic narrative of the family breaking up to mirror the supernatural element that Ben is going up against. In the film Ben is fighting against his family's imminent divorce while also fighting a supernatural creature that literally devours and destroys families. When we landed on that idea, we felt confident about the story and emotion we could pull from it. Brett and I are children of divorce so there's a lot of us in the film.
HC: Was it all shot on location?
BP: It was. We, as always, shot in Michigan where we grew up. We can't help but see Michigan in our minds when we write stories. We shot in two amazing towns, Northport and Omena, and it was the best experience. They've had very few films shoot up there so the people were very excited and supportive of our band of horror freaks making a movie in the woods right in their backyards.
HC: Its visually stunning, did you have a large budget?
DP: Not really. Much more than DeadHeads but that's not saying a lot. No matter how much money you have, or you don't have it's the same challenges. We always try to push our budget and get as much up on screen as we can. On every film you have to pull as many favours as possible and we pulled every favour we had and then some. Case in point, our father was picking up actors at the airport in his car while our mom was working craft service on set.
HC: The movie is getting its European premiere at FrightFest, are you nervous?
BP: Of course! FrightFest crowds are the best but they're also not afraid to share how they really feel about your film. I love it. Everyone is very candid but it's always a very educated critique. The FrightFesters like what they like and in the end it's helpful to us as filmmakers. We're going to make more films and hearing what people think of previous ones helps inform the next one.
HC: How do you work as a directing team?
DP: We're planners. We spent a month story boarding and shot listing the film with our DP, Conor Murphy, before principal photography. That's one of our ways of stretching the budget as best we can. The more we plan, the more hours a day we can shoot. By the time we land on set, Brett and I have spent so much time discussing the script and the plan for the film that we're pretty much a hive mind. Ask either of us a question and you will probably get the same answer. It's a little freaky for the cast and crew.
HC: Do you believe in the paranormal?
BP: I want to so bad, but I've never seen anything. I'm a seeing is believing type of person and I really want the world to be that weird and amazing but so far, I haven't met beast of the ancient world. It's probably why I can't write anything without a witch or a dragon in it. I want to believe.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
DP: Writing a werewolf movie. We have a new take on the myth and we're incredibly excited about this one. Brett had a battle with cancer in his early twenties and it's served as an inspiration for this story. We're also on the fest tour with The Wretched. We have a ton of those on the horizon that we can't mention yet.
HC: Brett and Drew T. Pierce, thank you very much.
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