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Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
By James Whittington, Monday 26th February 2018
There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.
HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?
PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I had to make it a career. At a young age I saw An American Werewolf in London, Thriller, Aliens and Predator, and they were big influences on me.
HC: How did you get your big break?
PM: With a lot of determination and dedication I worked. I worked on my own, and developed a portfolio. When I was 21 I was fortunate to meet Screaming Mad George, and worked for him for some time.
HC: What made you go from special effects to director?
PM: The biggest factor was wanting to have total control. Total control over what was made, how it was made, the story told, how it was shot and edited. With wanting to having control of the creature being made, directing was the best way to achieve that. A lot of special effects, especially if its a sequence, requires director's knowledge, knowing how to shot and edit it, so it was a natural progression.
HC: Where did the idea for Primal Rage come from?
PM: I wanted to make something that I wanted to watch. Since I was a kid drawing monsters and creatures, Bigfoot was one that I was gravitated towards. I felt like I had something to add to the genre. I was always a big fan of Harry and the Hendersons, and always wanted to make the opposite. I wanted to make a scary Bigfoot.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
PM: It was not written with a cast in mind, at all. I had such a long pre-production time, the cast just fell into place. I knew the cast previously, for the most part.
HC: A lot of movies that involve a Bigfoot type creature are semi-serious but yours is done very straight. Was this a deliberate choice during the writing process?
PM: Yes, it was very deliberate to play it as straight as possible. While doing that, I wanted to assure that it started in a higher place, and take it very seriously. It is very easy to go to a campy and cheesy place, with a guy in the woods in a monkey suit.
HC: What sort of budget did you have?
PM: It was a very limited budget. The pre-production build for this was very long. I could only build what I could afford, so it took many years to produces all of the props, costume pieces and effects gags needed for the film. Most of principle photography was shot in February of 2015 and February of 2016. Rest assured, every dollar spent on this film is seen on the screen.
HC: Was all the movie shot on location and what was the most challenging aspect of it?
PM: Most of the film was shot on location. With the exception of a couple interiors, which were sets built in Los Angeles. We really wanted to shoot in the pacific northwest in the awesome Redwood Forrest, where so many Bigfoot sightings happen. It also benefited the production to have everyone together, and isolated. I was able to have everyone's full attention. I'd say the most challenging element of it, without a doubt, was getting our two leads, Andrew Joseph Montgomery and Casey Gagliardi, into the position they are in, in the woods. The car crash scene and the water scenes were the most challenging elements to shoot. Especially with a limited budget, it added extra stress and difficulties to get the the lead characters into their position. Both Andrew Joseph and Casey did a phenomenal job, as they had no stunt doubles, and did all of their stunts themselves, including jumping into that freezing cold water, along with myself, and DP, Jay Lee. There were moments of real danger shooting those scenes.
HC: Is it true you play the creature?
PM: Yes, it is. It became clear knowing how long the build was going to be, that I'd always be available for myself. I am pretty tall, and had played creatures in various productions in the past, so I knew I could do it. I know that I could always count on myself, and be committed to me.
HC: The effects are superb, how much were you involved with their creation?
PM: Thank you. I was heavily involved in all of the effects. I took it upon myself to sculpt the entire creature, on my own. The muscles, head, teeth, hands and feet, complete with fingerprints. I also sculpted everything on the Whispering Woman. I was directly involved with the victim as well as the kills. That being said, it was not a one-man show. I had an amazing crew that took items from sculptural phase into molding, casting and fabricating stages. I had a crew of people punching individual hairs into the creature head, hands and feet for weeks, if not months at a time. I also had mechanical designers to handle the moving elements on the Bigfoot's face. I had several fabricators that where integral to sewing the entire Bigfoot suit together. Lastly, I had myself a crew of four others who applied make-up during filming.
HC: The score is awesome, will it get a release of its own?
PM: Yes, Ceiri Torjussen did a phenomenal job. I believe he will be releasing this soundtrack on iTunes.
HC: What was the most important lesson you learned on this shoot as a director?
PM: It is very important to be open-minded, to change. You have to be able to adapt, and you can't be too stuck in your "vision." Things change, weather changes, performances change, you have to be flexible.
HC: You've worked in the industry for some time and on some of the biggest movies around, what's the main difference between studio movies and independents?
PM: Money, and some of the luxuries that a larger budget can afford. Which can afford you more time, when it comes to shooting. As well as equipment, and a larger crew to handle it. Typically, with a larger budget comes more opinions, suggestions, and input from the higher ups. Which we didn't have on this. We had such a small cast and crew, and I really appreciate the people that I had. I was able to take the story places that a larger production might not have let me to have.
HC: So, what are you working on next?
PM: Currently, I am making a really cool beast for an Australian Production, shooting at the end of the year. I also have several smaller projects in the works, and am in development on two other scripts.
HC: Patrick Magee, thank you very much.
PM: Thank you! Hope you and your readers enjoy Primal Rage.
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