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Interview with Toby Poser, co-director, co-writer and co-star of The Deeper You Dig
By James Whittington, Friday 2nd October 2020
TheDeeperYouDig-Ivy_and_candle

Themes of family, loss and survival intersect on the thin line that separates the living from the dead in The Deeper You Dig, the latest feature written, directed by and starring filmmaking family the Adams Family. Here, co-director, co-writer and co-star Toby Poser tells all about this superior chiller.

HC: Where did the idea for The Deeper You Dig come from?

TP: Horror Channel, hey! We are still floating from our time with some of you at FrightFest 2019. Ok, so my husband and creative partner, John Adams, is always having these crazy nightmares about burying people, so it seemed appropriate to slap that concept onto film. I'm hoping that if he can stretch that urge on camera maybe he won't have to try it out in real life.

HC: What is your writing and directing process as you co-wrote and co-directed with your husband, John Adams?

TP: This is our fifth feature together so by now we've found a rhythm that works for us. We three (our daughter Zelda included) conjure up ideas nonstop as we drive to soccer practice or have a meal... then usually I cull those scenes into a loose treatment and even looser script.... and we just start shooting. Often the weather or something unexpected like a snowstorm or misty day will dictate what we shoot and when. And usually we just use our original ideas as a jumping off point. John is very spontaneous; I'm a thinker; Zelda has a keen artistic eye. So, between the three of us we usually come up with something that works. A lot of the time we shoot three different ways and then fight over the end result while editing.

HC: Did the script take long to come together?

TP: As loose as the comprehensive script was while shooting, because of Ivy's tarot thread and her incantations regarding the Seven Circles, we worked hard to stick to the dialogue in those scenes. But mostly the script unfurled while we were actually shooting.

TheDeeperYouDig-clown

HC: What's it like directing members of your family? Do they listen to you or argue back to your suggestions?

TP: Ha! That's a good question. Because we are all essentially acting, directing, and shooting, it can be amusing doing this winding dance while taking on and off the various hats. We have moments where we clash, but in general this has been a great lesson on how to listen and take turns like good little children. I'll direct a scene one way, then John or Z may want to try another angle. We give each other what is being asked at the time, then see which take fits best while editing. It's taken a few films to hone this skill, but it's always important for the smoothness of our productions and the health of our relationships. I'll say from my own experience that directing Zelda and John is really fun because there're both very natural, wonderful actors.

HC: It's surreal and beautifully shot, how did you manage to produce something that looks so good on a low budget?

TP: Thank you. Low budget isn't a problem when you are surrounded by such generous scenery. We live in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and each season is cinematic, offering its own charms and colors. We shoot a lot outside because of this. Also, we don't have any lighting equipment, so we rely on natural light. When indoors we have used a single construction light hanging above to get that eerie spotlight look surrounded by blackness. So simple works for us. We're used to making things work with what we've got.

HC: What does it feel like when a major label picks up a movie you've made?

TP: Wild! And exciting. And a little strange at first because we are simply used to doing everything alone on our end. Basically, every day we pinch ourselves. It's such a thrill awaiting a limited-edition Blu-ray from the likes of Arrow. Their design team is off the charts, and the personal communication has been such a pleasure. And anticipating their subscription service and the attention they're shining our way - we are incredibly grateful. I wish we could hop over and buy everyone a pint. And on the US end, MPI and the Dark Sky teams have been such dreamboats as well. They made it so clear from the get go that they understood the heart of our little film, and we know we wouldn't be where we are today without them. So it's been a wild ride but also feels very right.

Deeper_You_Dig_2D_BD_UK

HC: You and your family are unique in the film industry in the way you work and produce your movies, you must be proud of that?

TP: Being this tiny band of film makers that also happens to be a family is really cool. I can't deny that. Not only is it convenient, but it's something we will carry with us forever as long as our films exist. They're a testament to us and where we've been and what we've learned and how we've grown over the last 10 years. Our kids were 6 and 11 when we started; John and I were 43 and 41. So we've all developed as humans and artists. (Lulu missed The Deeper You Dig because she was studying college abroad.) The films are also lend to a life outside and on the road. And we are wanderers. So when we shoot and when we travel to festivals, we're building in these fun and life changing elements we can't get enough of.

HC: Do you prefer theatre work or film work?

TP: I really miss working onstage, I do. It'll always be in my bones. But those instincts and the foundation I gained from working in theater has surely helped me as a film director. I'm often looking at a scene theatrically, as if it were in a proscenium. I love the concept of a play within a play.... or a film/video within a film. And what makes good stage acting is good listening, which carries over to film acting. So while I have an itch to get back on the boards, I'm dedicated to film right now love the subtlety (and not to mention the longevity) of film acting.

HC: You're a creative of many different talents, but do you have a favourite job that you do?

TP: Thanks! These days I'm really drawn to writing. Writing feels more natural to me than talking, and it's something I really enjoy, whether for film or blogging or, fingers crossed, one day for a nonfiction book.

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

TP: We are on a concrete conquest! We're exploring the United States with a travel trailer (The Wonder Wheels!) while Z does remote learning (Covid!), and we're chasing down cool spots to shoot for our next feature, Hellbender. We just left the northeast - a veritable candy shop of fall colors - and are headed out West next.

HC: Toby Poser, thank you very much.

TP: Horror Channel, thank you!

The Deeper You Dig will be available on Blu-ray from October 5th thanks to Arrow Video.


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