Interview with THE VOID Creators Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie and Producer Casey Walker
Taking a chance and investing in any horror based project through fan funding is not only a challenge but can at the same time, be a very rewarding aspect in this new frontier of filmmaking. Exceeding its goals and opening a dimension darker and more visually spectacular than we could have ever imagined, THE VOID (review), a film filled with demons, monsters and mayhem, was the another worldly result. The first feature from the talented filmmaking duo of Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, returns us to everything that makes practical FX horror fun, creepy, entertaining and the stuff that nightmares are made out of. I grabbed the duo, along with producer Casey Walker to get some insight just the day after their screening at this year’s Fantastic Fest.
SK: Steven Kostanski / JG: Jeremy Gillespie / CW: Casey Walker
You guys did this one via fan funding. I was a backer of the film and I love the perk of the Astron-6 soundtrack to play on my radio show. You raised over $80,000.00. That was far and above the goal you were looking for.
SK: Well the whole point of the campaign was to get money in advance of filming because building creature effects is obviously a very time intensive thing. So with that money, it allowed us to hire the team that we needed and have a time that we needed to assemble all of the crazy shit in the movie. It allowed us to essentially force people to quit their jobs on SUICIDE SQUAD by enticing them with an actual wage to come work on this movie and the funds went to making everything a big, bloody and crazy as possible.
JG: Its right off the bat that you get a sense like there’s the audience for this kind of stuff and it’s nice to know that especially in this day and age where you can download a movie in like a second, people are still willing to put money into something. I don’t know, it was just so overwhelming that the movie was so creature heavy that without that money we would’ve been so screwed. I think it’s fair to say that without those people this movie couldn’t be made.
CW: Oh, I have to completely agree with both of them. We would not have been able to move forward at all if that campaign had not been successful. The tricky part with any indie film is getting your funds just in time to start rolling the camera let alone having five months? We had eight weeks’ total and it was a very limited time so just to have the team and all the resources in place in advance because we were shooting creatures almost every day or an effect of some sort every day so I don’t know how we could’ve ever got a green light and gone started working effects. It would’ve been impossible.
Casey, based on what you just said, was this film shot in linear sequence because of the effects? I would believe it wouldn’t have been but you never know! What went into the shooting schedule and were there any scenes in particular that you wanted to film first because of the effects or the location?
SK: There were definitely sets where creature stuff was incorporated into them so we had to shoot kind of the precursor to those things first before we could move on and that had to be integrated into the schedule so it just became a juggling act. Like when we could shoot certain things? Where and like what’s creatures are ready? What time? So it was a big juggling act basically.
JG: I think like most movies, it was mostly based on actor availability so I was kind of like juggling around that and trying to make that work. Then also, the sets being done in time! We lost every single location on this movie that we had booked except for the one main one so it was constantly game of catch up trying to get everything ready.
CW: It’s the funniest thing that some of the simplest sets that are literally just transitions have a huge dressing but they were the ones dropped out so a lot of the creature stuff, a lot of the stunts and a lot of the effects all had to land at the front of the schedule instead. This made things even more stressful and then on the backend, we were like, “Hey! We’re walking down ghostly hallways!” It was all little frustrating.
JG: There was literally for the creature stuff, we would have like half a day to shoot an entire monster sequences.
SK: Ya for major sequences, we would have like several hours to accomplish major sequences and huge gags that on big movies with lots of money, they would have a whole day but we would have like twenty minutes so it was a real run and gun situation.
You know what, looking at the main set for THE VOID, the hospital. I was told that the way that deconstructed wing of the hospital was, it was the way that it was and you did not have much work to do to make it look the wat we see it. Did you have to do much work on it? How much did that location reflect the way you planned the monsters?
JG: That’s an interesting question. I guess not that much in creating the creatures.
SK: I feel like our DP Sammy (Inayeh) was able to plan around what we brought him with the creatures and he was the one to integrate everything with lighting. I think that was done as were shooting the creatures and the way they were designed was the priority first over the top of the sets or anything else.
CW: We wound up making the sets what Steve’s team had put together because they were out ahead of us so we were able to go, “Oh what do we need to choose from this hallway. We need to build everything around here because we need it we need all the space.” Same with the burn of the creature we had to find a space, we could not find a creature to build in that space.
Did that influence the score and soundtrack at all?
JG: Ya! First off, I didn’t do all the score.
You’re known for that primarily.
JG: Yeah, I mean definitely right from the beginning of this movie we had like a certain tone and atmosphere in mind, so we kind of exactly knew what we wanted for that. I would say in the way of the sets were created around that. So some of the music actually came before anything and I would say it definitely influenced the look of the movie.
Can you speak on Aaron Poole and what he meant to the production with his performance in THE VOID?
SK: Aaron was amazing, like he is the heart of the movie. I feel that he brought so much to the role and so much to the character. He elevated the whole project with what you brought to the table and manly because he took it seriously. One concern that we all had was that people were going to come into this project and be like this is just a bunch of rubber monsters. Whatever, but he would get right in there and he would bring up things that we never even thought about. How the characters would have an aversion to the smell of the creature which is something I never thought about! Yeah, I guess these creatures would smell horrible and so to take that and go beyond what was on the page, I really think he went above and beyond.
JG: That guy is like the real deal! I wouldn’t say he’s method but he most certainly is approaching that. He’s like a very intense guy and it comes from his eyes which are selling the movie.
SK: Well, I think we agreed on a kind of tone for the movie that we wanted to achieve and that tone I don’t think goes hand-in-hand with being jokey necessarily. Like we discussed a lot of movies like PRINCE OF DARKNESS and also THE THING where they have the overall dread of the movie. I think this is like a different kind of tone than what we were used to doing and we wanted really to commit to that and challenge ourselves to try and grow as filmmakers and try to make something that’s like got a bit more actual or atmosphere to it.
JG: I think if you watch a movie like THE THING, the first sort of like 15 minutes of the movie are almost kind of like a comedy as they are ripping on each other.
It kind of sets you up for what’s coming.
JG: Yeah, exactly! I don’t think you ever wanted to completely really remove humor from your movie. You want things to feel natural but we did that stuff and we got sick of doing the same thing over and over. You want to do something different.
Anything that you want to add to that Casey?
CW: I’m just incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and the reactions starting to come in. I don’t think a lot of people knew what to expect because these guys are stepping out of there wheelhouse but I think they are pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Thank you guys so much and congratulations on the screening of THE VOID!
THE VOID: Thank you for the support!