Cult Projections: Tell me a little about your background as a filmmaker; are you self-taught, did you study film at university or in depth at a film school?
Glenn: I have been making films since I started high school. When I was young I was very interested in circus performing and magic, so film just seemed to be the next progression from that. It’s a very personal and expressive art form and I love every aspect of it. I studied at the VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) then went out alone into the independent film world and haven’t really looked back!
CP: How did you make your first two features, Cinemaphobia and 41? What kind of release and reception did they get?
G: Cinemaphobia was the movie I always wanted to make. A group of kids all get killed by a killer wearing a mirror on his face during a horror movie marathon. That film was shot over a whole year and was an amazing and educational experience. Where as 41 was the film I knew I had to make and that film has received incredible feedback and we will be starting a cinema distribution in the states next year with it! You can get copies of both these films in Australia from our website www.darkepic.net
CP: Apparently you shot Apocalyptic in seven days. Was this due to a very strict shooting ratio? Did you allow much room for improvisation?
G: I love making films fast. When I was younger and I couldn’t make a film in a day I hated it – so I would always try to figure out ways to make films fast and learnt very quickly that was no way to make a movie. So I designed this film to be able to have the freedom of fast shooting and being able to improvise whenever needed which was great. The found footage genre lends itself to short setups and quick turnaround. We shot in one location too with all actors on standby for any scenes so that made things fast also. We worked with three cameras that I am very comfortable with – so overall a very fast production!
CP: How did you come by the location of the compound and the surrounding property? Where exactly is it?
G: Kattemingga Lodge in Newbury was our location for the film. Our incredible producer Chris Gibson (also the star of my last film 41) went scouting and this was one of the first places he sent me photos of. I think we both knew quickly it was the perfect place. It was totally isolated, silent, you could shoot in 360 degrees and not see any power lines, cars, roads or houses that shouldn’t be there and it was creepy as hell. Plus we had full accommodation only a few hundred metres away. So everything fell into place very easily!
CP: What did you shoot on? What’s your opinion about film vs. digital?
G: We shot on three Sony EX1R cameras. Which have a great film aesthetic. They are very easy to hold focus (unlike the Canon 5D) and have a good dynamic range. I always knew I wanted to shoot on these cameras. In regards to film – I shot a short 20 minute on super 16mm back in the day and hated the process and cost of film. So I am very happy and confident in the digital era we have entered!
CP: You edited the movie and also did the sound editing. How important is this part of the filmmaking process?
G: Sound is the most important part of any film and especially in a found footage style of film. So that came first. I knew what we had to deal with in regards to what coverage we had, and which takes were best. So being able to edit the film myself was very easy. I edit a lot of video for all sorts of projects – so I had the film edited in less than a month. All the sound was recorded in sync on the video when we shot – so that saved a lot of time which was great.
CP: Apocalyptic is a movie that has a slow burn of dread, yet it’s quite restrained in depicting anything graphic, was this a conscious decision to suggest the violence rather than show it explicitly?
G: Yes. I never wanted to really show anything violent or bloody. I think the biggest downfall of the found footage genre is showing too much. Especially in regards to CGI. Seems every found footage film that comes out has a little goblin, ghost or monster (usually done badly with CGI) running around and it totally takes you out of the ideal of the film being "real" or "found". So we wanted to stay totally clear of that. We went with the idea that your imagination is far worse than anything we can try to capture with cheap effects.
CP: Tell me about your approach to directing the young girls in the more adult-themed scenes, such as the stoning, and the finale. Did you find yourself in any awkward or difficult situations?
G: Not really at all. The girls knew (sometimes more than me) the whole script back to front. And we had spoken with their parents about the film; its themes and the stuff we would be filming. The production was actually a lot of fun and girls had a ball on set with everyone – so it was never really a scary thing to film.
CP: Probably one of the creepiest scenes in the movie, apart from the end, is the discovery of the men. It’s powerful and original horror imagery, where did it come from?
G: Just somewhere in my head I guess. Chris (Gibson) went out in the middle of the night and put some cheap rubber hands I bought of eBay into the dirt and he didn’t tell the actors where it was. So they went out with the cameras and had to find where the hands were. It was a lot of fun.
CP: So, are you religious at all? Have you had much experience with organised religion or a cult? How much research did you do into the cults, their leaders, and their followers?
G: I am not religious in any way. Yet find the idea of belief in a higher power very interesting. I guess you could call me an atheist, although that is a label. I don’t believe we will ever have the answers to life’s bigger questions, so enjoy living the mystery. The difference between a cult and religion is numbers.
I have always had a great interest in doomsday cults, suicide and death itself, which I think a lot of people do. So making a film about it seemed to be a creepy element to add into a horror film. I watched a lot of documentaries about cults and shared them with the cast to get our heads into the space of people that believe so much they would die for it.
CP: What are some of your favourite horror movies and/or directors?
G: I love a lot of older VHS horror titles – so I have a huge collection of VHS tucked away. Movies like Brainscan, Body Bags, Halloween, Night of the Comet, Clownhouse, etc. I’m a sucker for the big directors though; Peter Jackson, Mel Gibson and James Cameron, etc.
CP: Were there any specific movies that had an influence on you when you wrote the screenplay and/or during the shooting process?
G: The Blair Witch Project was obviously a huge inspiration with Apocalyptic and we tried to stay within the boundaries of what made that film work to some degree. I knew we would have no music throughout the film, no CGI, and minimal sound design to keep it real, so to speak.
CP: Apparently you shot several endings. I’m very curious about these, do you intend to include them on the DVD/BD release?
G: Yes all the alternative endings will be on the DVD/BD release. That was a bit of a nightmare for a few days having to realise that the first ending we shot just didn’t work for the film. So you can check them out in the bonus features soon. We have four or five different endings.
CP: Congratulations on such an accomplished movie. What other film festivals will Apocalyptic be part of, or hopefully part of?
G: Thank you! We have entered a few big festivals and have our fingers crossed for a good result when we find out in early Dec. So wish us luck!