Interview: CONTRACTED Director Eric England talks ROADSIDE, GET THE GIRL

ROADSIDE_DVD_THUMBEric England definitely knows the meaning of patience. After shooting his feature debut, MADISON COUNTY, he instantly jumped into ROADSIDE, a thriller about a young couple whose car is stuck in the snowy roads, while a sniper takes his aim at them. It’s a psychological wild ride, and while it would have made sense to release it after MADISON COUNTY, England moved onto the film that really put him on the map with the much loved CONTRACTED. Now after recently wrapping yet another film, the dark comedy, kidnapping gone horribly wrong film GET THE GIRL, England’s ROADSIDE is finally available on DVD, courtesy of Image Entertainment. Eric was nice enough to hop on the phone and chat with Icons about the journey of getting ROADSIDE released and what’s coming next. Read on!


It’s definitely been a journey from when you shot ROADSIDE to it finally being released. 

Yeah.

The casual horror or thriller fan is going to pick this up and think it’s a followup to CONTRACTED, but in reality, you shot this before that films. Can you tell us a little bit about the whole process from shooting it to it finally coming out this week?

We sort of starting coming up with the idea for ROADSIDE shortly after the trailer for MADISON COUNTY was released. After the trailer was released, my producers Ace Marerro & Daniel Dunn and I started getting asked what we had coming next, and wanting to kind of get on board. We knew that as first time filmmakers, one of the hardest things to do is plan your followup movie, especially when you’re at the independent level and not working within the studio system yet. Still, right away, we knew we wanted to get busy on something, so we were actually shooting ROADSIDE about six months after we finished shooting MADISON COUNTY. We were kind of juggling two movies at once.

Oh wow. 

MADISON COUNTY came out and we were still shooting ROADSIDE and in that time, I was approached to do CONTRACTED. That film kind of took precedence while we were still trying to finish ROADSIDE, and then things started to shift and VOD started to take off. Four years is a long time when you’re talking about the horror genre, things change. When CONTRACTED came out, there was kind of the question of “what’s the best home for ROADSIDE, what’s the best route?”, and eventually the success of CONTRACTED jump-started a lot of interest in what was left on the table, so to speak.  It was a movie with just a few character and no big names, so it’s kind of hard to sell a movie like that, but we just wanted to find the right home for it, with people who would take care of it. Luckily, Image swooped in and said, “Hey, we like your other stuff and we had a good run with MADISON COUNTY, what do you think about releasing ROADSIDE with us?”, so that was kind of how it came out.

Shooting this one must have been a completely different experience than shooting MADISON COUNTY was, I mean, ROADSIDE has a very cold feeling to the film. 

It was great, but yeah, it was a huge challenge. It was probably the hardest shoot I’ve ever had, but as a filmmaker, you kind of love the punishment (laughs). It was a tough struggle, continuity-wise, with filming on the side of the road, in a car, and shooting out of order sometimes. You’re shooting with limited characters and a limited budget, it was really kind of a thrown together kind of movie. Both ROADSIDE and MADISON COUNTY were my producers and I saying, “What kind of movies do we like, and want to make, and better yet, CAN we make with the resources we have?”. It was kind of the last movie I made with that mindset, and CONTRACTED was the first film I made that I wanted to make as a storytelling, as opposed to just what COULD I make, you know?

Yeah, I definitely understand that. 

I think when you figure that out as a filmmaker, you kind of change your entire trajectory. ROADSIDE was why I did change that trajectory, because there’s a difference between making movies because you can and making movies because you SHOULD. It was about taking what the viewers had said about MADISON COUNTY, with wanting more character relationship stuff, and really trying to make the film more about those relationships.

It’s always impressed me how you’ve grown as a filmmaker from film to film, and ROADSIDE really showed that to me. When you make a character-based thriller, it kind of transcends whatever genre it’s in and becomes something else. Were there any particular films like that, that might have inspired you to make ROADSIDE?

Well thank you first. But yeah, absolutely. Movies like BREAKDOWN, that was a huge inspiration. I just LOVE the relationship between Kurt Russell and his wife and the history of it all in that one. PHONE BOOTH was a huge one, and Adam Green’s FROZEN was a also a big inspiration to me. Where those movies had bigger budgets and bigger actors, I wanted to really take advantage of what I had, which were great actors, so I focused on that. Blowing up the car, or stuff like that wasn’t really an option, with the budget we had to work with, so I figured I’d just wound the narrative as tightly as I could. I felt that if people really identified with those characters, and were going on that journey with them, then the conflict with them would be as big as those other films, hopefully.

I know it’s pretty early in the process, and you’re in post-production on it, but I remember being excited when it was announced that you were going to rework and direct Graham Denman’s story for your film GET THE GIRL. Is there anything you CAN tell us about that film?

Once again, GET THE GIRL is something COMPLETELY different, it’s a lot more comedic, a lot more fun, but still really dark. It’s kind of a kidnapping gone wrong type of story. It’s just a really wild ride, from beginning to end, with it starting really funny and then getting REALLY dark. I’m excited to see how audience respond to it.

 

 

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