LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Rob Grant, director of Harpoon
By James Whittington, Monday 30th September 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is only days away and Horror Channel will be there delivering all the info you'd want from this fear-filled festival as well as bringing to you three Facebook Live events on 4th, 5th and 6th October.
Here we chat to Grimmfest regular Rob Grant about his superior psychological shocker Harpoon which is showing at the festival this year.
HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted when Fake Blood played at Grimmfest, what have you been up to since then?
RG: Been very busy... was a director for hire on Alive. that I unfortunately had to miss at last year's Grimmfest due to an illness in the family, made Harpoon and been travelling around with that, and also changing my day job from editor to post supervisor on some projects here in Vancouver. I know I can't complain since its all good things, so I'll just say I need a long nap...
HC: Where did the idea for Harpoon come from?
RG: I live on the west coast in Vancouver, BC, Canada and there's a bit of a boating culture in the summer. I always thought I could shoot a project cheaply on my buddies boat if I needed too, and it was just a conglomerate of many ideas over the years that kind of came together at the last minute when my Producer Mike Peterson finally asked me to write it. A lot of it was desperation though... I didn't know if I'd get another opportunity to make a movie, was considering giving it up and decided to just go all in on stuff I wanted to see happen in a movie that I wasn't seeing elsewhere.
HC: Did the script change much as you wrote it and did you have a cast in mind?
RG: The narrator was very different, a lot more aggressive towards the audience, and I'm sure scenes had some worse dialogue, etc. We did three days of rehearsals before going to camera where it was just me and the actors and we went through the full script each day. We'd discuss and Id make notes and then rewrite when I got home. So, I'm sure it advanced over those days but nothing substantial changed if I recall, just making it tighter and more natural.
HC: How much was shot on location?
RG: All of the interiors were a set we built in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the middle of winter... it was madness. We built the set before our exterior was even chosen or had a boat to match too. But the producers eventually found Belize, and after 9 days of interiors we brought a reduced crew to San Pedro, Belize and shot 6 days of exteriors plus a bonus day where we were half drunk and shot the flashbacks ha ha.
HC: Which sequence, without giving too much away, was the most difficult to shoot?
RG: Nothing stands out... the exteriors overall were a bit more problematic in that we had zero control over the weather, the ocean, and damn kayaker's paddling through the background of our shots...
HC: You keep cranking the tension up throughout the movie, how hard is this to achieve from a director's point of view?
RG: I try not to think too much about that while directing, my only goal is to record something engaging while on set and to support my actors and crew. Once in editing is when I start thinking of how its all's gonna work together. It just takes a lot of time and work to massage the pieces together and then go through various versions testing with audiences, etc. At the end though it's just a big damn guess, when we finished the movie, we had no clue anymore if it would work or if anyone would like what we were trying.
HC: Do you get nervous when your movies show at festivals?
RG: Oh yeah... I mean the worst is really when you are submitting. You mentally prepare yourself for all the 'no's' that are going to come your way. On this one they kept building up as well to the point where we were worried, we made a piece of junk. It was only when I got the call from Rotterdam on Dec. 26th that kind of changed the course of the film. From there people started taking a closer look, I guess. And then once you are in the festival, it's a different nervousness, you just cross your fingers that the audience isn't going to BOO you right out of the building. It's a very vulnerable thing to present a personal film to an audience of strangers ha ha. But that goes away whether they liked it or not shortly after. Then it's just a pleasure to drink and eat food with fellow film geeks and just hang out.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
RG: I'm in the process of writing the next one but I might take a bit of time off just to get a breather. But it will definitely have the same levels of crazy tension. It's basically the opposite themes of friendship, how far would you go to help a friend...
HC: Rob Grant, thank you very much.
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