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Interview with Eric Pennycoff director of Sadistic Intentions
By James Whittington, Friday 23rd August 2019
If you like your horror to be a slow-burning with a sense of dread throughout then Eric Pennycoff's Sadistic Intentions is for you. We recently chatted to this very talented creative about this intelligent shocker.
HC: Have you known from an early age that you wanted to work in the movie industry?
EP: I grew up working in a haunted house around Halloween with a passion for not only horror movies but how others worlds were designed. The engineering behind these haunted attractions were as much an obsession as the experience itself. My desire to write and direct films came a bit later in life but it all traces back to those days working at The Haunted Cave.
HC: Which creatives did you admire when growing up?
HP: The first time I ever heard the title Director, Director of Photography or Production Designer was on my VHS copy of The Making of Jurassic Park. I ran that tape to death. I still admire the creatives behind those childhood classics but it's directors like Nicholas Roeg, Kelly Reichardt, Larry Fessenden and John Cassavetes whose work I really fell in love with around the time of wanting to make films myself.
HC: Where did the idea for Sadistic Intentions come from?
EP: The film was born in some ways from the ashes of another film that never happened. That other film had the same cast and was predominately set in the same location. Once it fell apart for various reasons, I decided to pick up the best pieces of what I knew I still had and write something even more contained, thus resulting in Sadistic Intentions.
HC: Did it take long to write and was it written with a cast in mind?
EP: The script came fairly quick. I was in the process of moving from one state to another and on the rebound from that other film not happening. Sadistic Intentions was written for those specific actors and largely exists because of an obsession I had with the three of them.
HC: Talking of the cast, they have a real, natural connection between them, did they have much rehearsal time?
EP: We rehearsed a bit once we arrived on location but not before then. The four of us all lived in different states at the time; however, those years spent prepping a film that never happened contributed greatly to our relationships with one another. As frustrating as that time was, it made all the difference going into this one.
HC: The film is dark, grim and brooding throughout, what was the atmosphere like on set?
EP: Definitely not as dark as the film. Although I'm the type of person who sees comedy in most situations, especially dark subject matter. I think the same could be said for the cast and crew.
HC: The score is initially very industrial, and plays a crucial part ramping up the tension. Did that take long to get so right?
EP: The toughest challenge we faced with the score was deciding on when to introduce it versus when to allow for sound design to guide a scene. That dance took some time to get right and I owe a great deal of thanks to both our composer Eric Romary and sound designer Shawn Duffy. The only real reference I remember giving Eric Romary was the theme song to the video game PERFECT DARK, which I certainly hear in the first cue that he delivered.
HC: Are you a heavy metal fan and if you had a band what would its name be?
EP: I listen to metal, in all of its strange and beautiful forms, on a regular basis. I played guitar in a variety of extreme bands from age 16-23. The first one was called She Will Fear The Eater Of Spiders. We were an anti-religious grindcore quartet performing alongside Christian hardcore bands in rural Indiana. Everyone hated us.
HC: This is your first feature, how nervous were you the first day of the shoot?
EP: I was certainly nervous yet much more comfortable considering I personally knew the cast and the majority of the crew for quite some time. Prior to that, I would shoot baking videos for our locations owner so there was a level of familiarity with the house as well.
HC: What does it feel like when your work is shown on the big screen at festival like FrightFest?
EP: This is my first time going to Fright Fest and certainly the largest screen it will have been shown on thus far. I've seen the film a million times but it's the surround mix and the colour grade that I still get excited to see/hear, especially in a proper theatre setting.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
EP: I have a comedic revenge thriller that I'd love to make. It's set in the southern United States and features melodramatic characters on a self-righteous mission to cleanse their peaceful hometown of local criminals. It leans into genre territory by way of films like Rolling Thunder and Hardcore.
HC: Eric Pennycoff, thank you very much.
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