While we were gifted a chance to chat with scribe, Frazer Lee just days ago, director Chris Crow sat down and offered us a nice chunk of his time as well; what better day to share some great insight into the genre, than Halloween day?
Matt Molgaard/Horrorbid: Was the idea of shooting a film that takes place in one primary location (which is a pretty limited locale) intimidating at all?
Chris Crow: Yes and no, I was more concerned about keeping the audience with us in a limited location, but I was fairly excited about building the tension, claustrophobia and paranoia in a small space. Gradually pushing the walls in.
HB: Were there concerns about keeping the audience's attention given the tight confines of the film?
CC: As above, yes. My main concern was keeping the audience with us during the very structured games. However I was fairly certain that the visual approach I wanted to take would very much aid us there.
HB: You really siphoned some magnificent performances from a small handful of performers. What was it like working with the cast, and was the chemistry between the crew as natural as it seems on screen?
CC: The cast and crew were great. It was a very challenging shoot. 15 or so people stuck in that tiny set during summer and under a lot of lights. It was gruelling, smelly and claustrophobic. As a director I’m very much about character, realistic performances and believable/naturalistic dialogue. I was lucky enough to work with an incredible young cast who gave me their all. We did a lot of improvisation, and a lot of work on the reality of the situation, I didn’t ever want this to degenerate into a scream fest, it had to be tense and the terror had to be gradual and believable. The cast all shone I think, they really did deliver the goods.
HB: What was the casting process like for a film of this nature? You've kind of got to nail every role perfectly in order for the film to come together in the cohesive fashion it did; was it difficult to find the right actors for Panic Button?
CC: It came together really well and fairly easily. I’d worked with Joshua Richards, Michael Jibson and Vern Raye on Devil’s Bridge so I knew I wanted to use them. Mike recommended Scarlett, and Elen and Jack were recommended by a number of people. We didn’t have a casting Director, it all fell together as it should. We were very lucky I think, they all had to be spot on, and that’s what we got.
HB: I loved the fact that there isn't an over abundance of crazy CGI or absurd practical FX; everything is really straight forward and primarily character driven. How do you feel general audiences will respond to the personalities at work, and do you feel the lack of over-the-top FX and copious gore will help or hinder the reception?
CC: It’s hard to say really. When you’re on a budget you have to be a little more creative, we didn’t have the luxury of just throwing money at problems. Equally, I always wanted this film to be very much a thriller/horror and not another gore fest/ torture porn movie. I chose to elevate the psychological horror over the gore. I’m pretty sick of watching films with 2D characters that you don’t believe or give a shit about, it’s all about character for me, I personally don’t want to watch films that are full of massively expensive effects but ultimately flat.
HB: In my review of the film, i described the picture by saying "Catfish crashed into Saw at 30,000 feet (with a bit more taste)". Do you feel that's a fair assessment of Panic Button?
CC: I’ve only ever seen the first Saw film and I’ve not watched Catfish yet, so I’m not really sure!
HB: What kind of obstacles did you encounter while shooting the film?
CC: Every kind! That’s the nature of making a film. We couldn’t get the set into the air, the Alligator trainer got mauled in the first week….
Seriously though, probably too many to start, but as I say that’s the nature of making a film dependent on budget. It’s always great fun getting over these obstacles though, you learn with each one.
HB: There have been some great horror films released the last few years. What are some personal favorites of yours?
CC: It’s hard to watch films without your visual / technical / Directors head on sometimes, with that in mind I loved The Road (I know it’s not technically a Horror film but man it’s pitch black) in that vein I also quite enjoyed Stake Land recently. Really enjoyed REC 2 on a very technical level (the mood and tension). Again, not a horror but I loved District 9, I came out of the cinema thinking ‘Thank the gods, it’s about fucking time!’.
HB: I assume you'll be basking in the glow of this gem for a brief time period, but I've got to know: Any other projects slated for the near future?
CC: I’m not one for basking, I’m an ocd workaholic. You don’t get long on this Earth and I want to make a few more films before I fall off it. There are a few projects being discussed with other people, and myself and the ‘Devil’s Bridge’ boys are currently developing essentially a Revisionist Western / Samurai film that plays out in post Norman Conquest Britain, a kind of medieval ‘Heart Of Darkness’. It’s very dark, very brutal but also fairly cerebral, it deals with the psycho geography of an Infant Britain, medieval religion, superstition and the savagery of conquest. I’m also working on a near-future, dystopian sci-fi called ‘Black Static’ - I read too much 2000 AD as a kid you see….
I’ve also got some personal projects I’d like the time to do, not drama, just visual/motion graphics chunks of weirdness.
HB: Thanks Chris!
CC: Thank you!
Visit http://www.panicbuttonmovie.com for more info, including purchasing details!