Cult Projections: You’ve got a thing for dangerous animals. Where does this stem?
Andrew: Actually I have a thing for survival tales and these, especially in Australia, often involve a large predator. Also I believe a movie must a strong protagonist, what better protagonist that fifteen feet of muscle and teeth that's trying to eat you.
CP: Your movies are primarily considered horror movies, but they rely heavily on suspense, on the terror, rather than the horror. What is it about the horror genre that excites you?
A: I like horror for its ability to cut to the chase of so many of our basic fears; it can be a very direct way to trigger some ancient psychological buttons. I prefer suspense because I think anticipation is usually more intoxicating that depiction; that the monster behind the door is more terrifying than the monster you can see.
CP: What were the movies that made you decide to become a filmmaker? Has there been a particular movie that “changed your life”?
A: It was seeing behind the movies that made me want to make films. In late teens I one day went onto a film set and when I saw the warping of reality that goes into making a film I was hooked.
CP: When you set out to make Black Water did you always intend to use real footage of a crocodile and edit it in and around the actors? Did you ever consider using animatronic, or CGI?
A: As I mentioned before the "villain" to me has to be wonderfully strong and dangerous. Animatronics and CGI just didn't cut it in being able to deliver a convincing croc or shark. We decided the best way to make a dangerous and realistic croc and shark were to use real crocs and sharks. Seems obvious but no one else had done it before Black Water and The Reef.
CP: One of the standout elements of The Reef is the very impressive editing of the real shark footage? How did you get such frightening coverage?
A: Many seasick days in a boat!
CP: What part of the movie production do you enjoy the most; the scriptwriting, the principal photography, the editing, etc? What part do you not look forward to, if any?
A: It's all fascinating. I find it important to try and keep the overall picture in mind. It can be easy to get lost in details that might ultimately mean very little to the film's emotional impact. I place a lot of emphasis on script writing and editing. I think those two aspects of making a film are extremely important.
CP: It’s been said that it’s easier than ever to make a feature, but harder than ever to get anyone to see your movie. What truth is there in this statement?
A: Yeah there's probably some truth in that but I don't think its ever been easy to get a film seen, especially getting an Australian horror or thriller seen in Australia!
CP: The Jungle must surely have been a difficult shoot. How was shooting in Indonesia? Did you use any animatronic or CGI this time round?
A: All my shoots have been hard because I have chosen difficult environments, swamp, sea and jungle. Indonesia was hot but actually we also shot here in Australia and here it rained solidly for a week, so everything turned to mud.
CP: What are the elements of a nightmare movie that a filmmaker should concentrate on getting just right? What were the filmic elements in your “trilogy of terror” that concerned you the most as a director?
A: Well of course there's always story and character but for me suspense is a big part of trying to engage the audience. I think if you can make people feel uncomfortable or tense about what is about to happen that's always satisfying and of course its always good if you can get some good jump out of seats scary in as well. From a more psychological perspective all three of my films are about survival and I like looking at the question of who survives and why?
CP: Do you have any desire to make a horror movie about the supernatural, about fictional beasts or monsters, or perhaps a serial killer, or even better, the boogeyman?
A: Absolutely, give me a good script and I'd be interested in making it no matter what the evil or threat is. A good script is a rare beast.
CP: Ok, so you’ve had a killer croc, a killer shark, and now a killer big cat. I’ve asked you this question before, and but now I’m going to make a plea; you have to do a remake of Razorback. Come on!
A: Aha, it's not a killer big cat! … Sure with the right script and budget I'd love to have a go at a remake of Razorback although I think the original will always have a warm place in people's hearts.
CP: Thanks Andrew, I look forward to jumping out of my seat during The Jungle!
The Jungle screens as part of Melbourne’s Monster Fest, Saturday November 23rd, 7:30pm, Cinema Nova.