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Interview with Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer, co-directors of For the Sake of Vicious
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th October 2020
for-the-sake-of-vicious-posterFrightFest has always championed creatives from Canada and 2020 is no exception. A stand-out movie is the brutal shocker For the Sake of Vicious. Here co-directors Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer talk us through its production.

HC: Where did the idea come from?

The initial story was was from Gabe. We had talked it over at a mall food court one afternoon, the idea of the nurse coming home from a shift, and finding this guy holding another man hostage in her kitchen. And these was something intriguing about the story that made us both latch onto it and say that we should work on this together. The idea was born out of a certain frustration that we had brewing between the two of us. A frustration that was the result of our filmmaking careers not necessarily moving the way we wanted them to. We had both had films that were released around the same time (Defective & Death on Scenic Drive) that were not particularly well received and didn't have the legs we had hoped they would. There was a certain anger that was coming from that.

A lot of that anger spilled out into the script. It's a pot boiler, it's about putting people in an uncomfortable situation that forces them into fight or flight mode. Which I think is something that we've all collectively felt over the last few years with our current state of the world. On a less serious note, we both enjoy watching movies on the big screen and experiencing the audience reaction. We like that kind of spectacle. We wanted to make a movie that would be a ride for the audience, sort of an exercise in tension. How far can we stretch this out before it leads to this inevitable violent conclusion.

HC: You both co-wrote and co-directed the movie; how did you decide on who would write certain and parts and who would direct which scene?

The writing part of it was never an issue for us. Gabe did the initial story outline which he then presented to me. I took that, expanded into a larger treatment, and wrote the first draft from there. After, we would consult on story points and character motivations, but for the most part I was left to my own devices while writing the script. We shared the building of the story. Especially as we moved closer and closer to production. Such as setting the film over one night (when it was originally a few days), setting the film in the fall (it was originally set in the summer, though are eventual production dates dictated the fall setting), and finally deciding upon the Halloween setting. Having the movie take place on Halloween night seemed to be the big lightbulb moment, everything fell into place after that.

Because we ended up being in such a time crunch rushing the film into production, and because we also had to wear multiple hats on the production; we didn't have time to divide who was directing what. There wasn't any clear set of you're doing this scene and I'm doing this scene. You just put your backs together, tried to support each other as best you can and make the movie. It was easier to split directorial duties up in the sense that, for dramatic sequences for instance, Gabe will focus on visuals and work with the camera department, and Reese will focus on the story elements and work with the actors. You make that work and you give each other notes as you go along. When it comes to action sequences it's all hands on deck. It becomes a mechanical process where you both work with the stunt team and the camera team to pull off these scenes to the best of all your abilities. At that point you're not necessarily directing as you are more providing guidance to those who are more experienced in that field.

HC: The cast are simply superb, did they have much rehearsal time together?

The reoccurring theme here is going to be that we just didn't have enough time. Scheduling is always an issue when making a film, and by the time you negotiate with agents, you work out your own schedules and then you sit down... you realize there's no time for you to have rehearsals when the shoot is two weeks away. The best we had was a four-hour read through of the script with the core three leads. We were able to talk about the characters, get a feel for our personalities and emotionally prep-each other for how hard the shoot was going to be. Ultimately though this is where co-directing became a very big asset on set. If Gabe could focus on setting the stage for a scene, working out the lighting and camera work; then Reese could take the actors and work out the beats and character emotions of a scene. We'd take the time between scene set-ups to rehearse in the moment and figure out what's going to work vs. what wasn't going to work. I think rehearsing for a movie like this would have been fruitless. Because of our budget and time, we constantly had to rework scenes just before we shot them.

HC: The fight sequences are breath-taking and brutal. Did they take long to choreograph?

We had phenomenal stunt co-ordinators (Tj Kennedy & Adam Ewings), who were always calm, professional and never, ever stressed out. The fight scenes were very detailed in the script, they provided a good blueprint for how we wanted them to play out on camera. We were able to work closely with Tj beforehand and specifically outline exactly what we wanted. Which is that we wanted fights that didn't feel planned and rehearsed, we needed these to be bar room brawls. Where issues came to pass were the lack of time on production. We didn't get our house location till just before we shot the film and that didn't give the stunt team much time to prep within the actual space.

Furthermore, because of scheduling it was nearly impossible to get the cast, crew and stunt-team together before hand to rehearse. All the fight scenes where choreographed and rehearsed on the day. We had figured out earlier that that's how this would play out, so we scheduled our shoot around the fight scenes to give them some time to breath. The action is planned out, broken down safely and carefully, and it's just a matter of getting in there and shooting it. With the exception of some long hours on set (and the physical toll), they were all relatively simple to get through.

HC: How many buckets of fake blood did you use?

We can confidently say we only used three quarters of one five litre bucket. The remaining blood is sitting in that bucket, wrapped in a bag and in Reese's garage. The shooting draft is far gorier and more graphic than what ended up on screen. Unfortunately, due to do some budgetary restraints on set, we weren't able to go as far as we thought we would. That might be a good thing, people have already been saying that the film is too bloody and violent... they have no idea what they've been spared! At the end of the day though the best used expression for filmmaking is "less is more". There's a scene in the film where a character has a crowbar jammed into their head. We don't show any of it, and the reaction is always far greater than some of the violent acts that are actually shown in detail.

HC: It's a dark, chilling film, which makes the viewer think about what they would do in each situation, what was the atmosphere like on set?

It was a very difficult shoot for all of us involved. It just felt like we didn't have enough time to really get things to a place where we wanted them to be. And we were constantly in flux with what crew we had access too, what crew we didn't... it became a hodgepodge of people we know vs. people we've never worked with before. Gabe and myself were also wearing several different hats during production. And we both come from a very specific school of filmmaking, which is the "do it yourself" mentality. And that also means that we push ourselves harder than most people are probably willing to be pushed otherwise. And when you're asking cast and crew to work on a smaller budgeted production, it's understandable that they may not want to be pushed that hard. And you've got 10-15 people crammed into a very tiny house, during a cold fall, with long hours each day, complicated scenes to pull off... it was tough. Tensions were often incredibly high each day, especially as we got to our last week and some of us, we're even communicating with each other anymore. But that's what it is, filmmaking can be a little bit like going into battle sometimes. It's how you emerge on the other side of it that counts.

HC: The score is almost a character in itself, pushing forward the narrative with its tens building "throbbing". Did it take long to get this right?

The score was being tinkered around with before the film went to camera, but there was some hesitation on how much score would be used. Originally, we talked about having no score in the film at all. Gabe goes under an alias called "Foxgrndr" and had scored a few films before. Given some of our limitations (and the fact that we didn't know how much score we actually wanted), he seemed like a good fit as composer. Some sounds and noises he produced were already banked up.

On set, Gabe had an iPhone app that enabled him to come up with simple synth notes and keys, then it linked to his home computer where it was saved. In between long setups and lunch breaks, he was sometimes walking around messing with sounds with his portable synth apps, capturing some sort of mood. In a sense the score was a character on set, because the root of that "throbbing" sound was literally created on the set itself. While Reese was editing the film, Gabe was sent clips from the film to score. Since a lot of skeleton sounds and arrangements were made on set and before shooting, there was a solid ground to launch from sonically. Then we both pieced it together over a couple months while we were in post-production.

HC: Will you be nervous when the movie shows at FrightFest?

We're just both so honoured to be included in this year's line-up for FrightFest that it kind of numbs any nervousness that we may have towards it. I know we're both feeling deflated this year due to the lack of physical presence at these film festivals. Obviously Covid-19 has a very serious hold on the world at the moment, we both respect and understand that. Part of the joy with filmmaking is sharing these movies with audiences across the globe. When you make a film like this, one that has an action-packed final half, you know you're making an audience movie. And to be denied the opportunity to watch it with an audience... to meet with other filmmakers on the circuit, to be with these festival programmers; it's heart breaking. Part of the job is being able to network, and we're not able to do that this year. But at the same time, we need to be safe right now and have each other's backs!

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

From August 2019 to September 2020 we worked extensively on For the Sake of Vicious. Including having to do pretty much all of post-production during the initial break out of Covid-19. It's been a very busy year for us. Now we're both back to being movie fans again, and to talking about other film ideas. We're both working on separate projects (that we're still actively involved in each other's films regardless), and we're working with our partners at Federgreen Entertainment and Raven Banner Entertainment who helped get Vicious off the ground! Hopefully later next year we'll both be behind the camera again for these films. And there's always hope that there's a Vicious Part Two on the horizon...

HC: Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer, thank you very much.


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