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Published on June 3rd, 2011 | by gareth

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Q&A With Eric England, Writer & Director of “Madison County”

Director and writer Eric England answers a few questions of Skewed & Reviewed about his newest movie Madison County and his love of horror films.

What were some of the more memorable moments and your fondest memories from filming Madison County?

Some of the most memorable moments from filming would have to be the first few days of shooting. It was the first time we were really together as a group and just starting to feel each other out. The cast and crew were getting used to the way I shoot and just getting to know their characters. On the second day we had one of our biggest stunts on a bridge and it was truly a scary day because our actor tripped and fell in front of a moving vehicle. Luckily, no one was injured, but it was a pretty intense moment. Those sort of things, that usually only happen on low budget films really helped get a lot of the nerves off of us early on.

Then, when the FX guy, Joe Badiali, showed up the last week of shooting, it was like a breath of fresh air to have all the “fun stuff” to look forward to shooting. That’s when we did most of our blood and gore and adding new people to the family was great. Joe is a super talented guy and did a really great job with the tools he was given from Almost Human. I definitely see Joe making a huge name for himself in the genre.

But some of the best times we had were in between the takes because we were all out in the middle of nowhere and it was a lot like camping. No one could just run to the Holiday Inn — we were all roughing it in a way. So we all bonded and really came together as a unit. It was definitely a great experience that I’d give anything to re-live again.

Horror has become such a standard now, how have you attempted to infuse something new into the genre with this film. I know the “psycho-on-the-loose” story has been done so many times it has to be hard to come up with new twists.

Well it’s really hard to do something “new” now because everything has been done. There are so many “genre-bending” films out there so even if it hasn’t been done in the horror genre, it’s been done in a thriller/action/drama/sci-fi film that has similar elements and people will compare it to that. So what I tried to do was take what we’re used to and tell the story a little differently, and do it in a much better way than what’s been done in the past. Madison County isn’t a Friday the 13th type of film where there are tons of naked campers getting killed by a slasher that pops up out of nowhere all the time. We really tried to add some suspense and mystery to this film. The main thing I wanted to do with this film is make sure that people know that this is NOT a film about killing people. It’s a film with a story.. the story just happens to involve people dying.

Are you a fan of horror films and comics? What are some of your favorites?

Oh, man — I live and breathe horror films. I could go on for days about my favorite horror films. I think anyone that knows me knows that my favorite film of all time is SCREAM. I saw the film when I was about 9 years old for the first time and it just scared the hell out of me. I watched it over and over through out the years and I just never got tired of it. It just had everything I wanted in a horror film. I’m also in love with Carpenter’s Halloween (and the sequel), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the remake is really solid too). I especially dig old slasher films like The Burning, My Bloody Valentine, Psycho, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street (obviously). I have a soft spot for foreign horror as well. A lot of new French/Spanish horror films and old Italian horror films from Argento and Fulci. And for more recent films, I love Eli Roth’s work (Cabin Fever is the film that made me want to move to Hollywood and make films), Ti West’s House of the Devil and Adam Green’s Hatchet and Frozen. Really dig what those guys do for the genre. I know I’m leaving out tons of others..

What future projects do you have coming up that the readers can look forward to?

Right now, as I type this actually, I’m sitting in the editing room piecing together my new feature, ROADSIDE. It’s a Hitchockian thriller that takes place on the side of an empty road. It was a really tough challenge to tell a story in such a confined place, but I think that’s the appeal of films like this. They’re extremely entertaining if pulled off correctly, and I think we made something really good. I wrote/directed it and my fellow producers, Ace Marrero and Daniel Dunn, from Madison County co-produced it with me.

I’m also currently writing my next feature film that will be my love letter to 90’s Horror/Thrillers. If everything goes right, I should be shooting it in the fall of this year. More details on that when I can give them!

Horror has often earned a bad rap for placing women in the position as being helpless objects and glorifying violence and torture. What are your thoughts on this and how would you say your film is different from other horror films?

I don’t agree with that at all. There’s a difference between horror and exploitation. People often get the two confused. True horror films actually empower women. There’s always the “Survivor Girl” in these films, so how can someone say they make women seem helpless? They’re talking about the films where girls are looked at as sex objects and get killed off one-by-one, but if you look at it– there is usually a guy they’re fooling around with that gets hacked up right after them. The unfortunate truth is sex sells, so we’re always going to run into this debate.

As far as glorifying torture and violence, we’re not showing anything to the public that they can’t see on the internet already. Horrible things happen out in the real world. All we’re doing is playing with corn syrup and food coloring. Yes, horror films can be graphic and scary, but they’re nothing more than entertainment. It’s not like we’re making documentaries that feature real footage of people dying and we’re putting it out there as entertainment. REAL horror films are telling stories. Like I said early, some of these stories involve people dying.. just like Madison County.

How did you balance out the makeup and gore in the film with the suspense?

Balancing violence and suspense can be tough, but it really depends on the type of story you’re trying to tell. To me, Madison County was always about the characters and their journey to find what they’re seeking. It just so happens that what they’re seeking is something they don’t want to be a part of. So my film is much more about getting to this place and finding these answers, rather than what happens when they do find them. To me, that would be exploitation and there is a story to be told there– but that’s not the story I wanted to tell. I left some questions unanswered and let people draw their own conclusions because I want people to be involved in the story and care about what happens. And it’s not suspenseful or scary if you don’t care. So you have to get to know your story and your characters. The blood should only accent the story, if it fits with the story you’re telling.


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