Movie Interviews

Published on August 17th, 2015 | by gareth


Writer/Director/Star Terrance Zdunich Talks Alleluia! The Devils Carnival

What is the background and setting for the film?

Alleluia! takes place in Heaven and Hell. In the word of The Devil’s Carnival, however, Hell is not fire and brimstone, nor is Heaven clouds and halos (although we do have a harpist!). No, in our world, these two imaginary kingdoms act like elaborate musical theme parks, with Hell taking the form of a broken-down carnival and Heaven functioning like a totalitarian 1930’s Hollywood backlot. Alleluia! also gives a peek at how each of these kingdoms looked and function in the past. A fan in attendance at our premiere described the “past” sequences as, “It’s like God and Lucifer: the high school years”.


What attracted you to the part and how would you describe your character?

Lucifer is the ultimate anti-hero, so who wouldn’t want to play him? Especially with that sweet smoking jacket? On the surface, he’s a vain and dramatic fellow, but behind the horns and blasphemous quips he’s quite complicated and vulnerable. He needs an audience and needs to be worshipped and feared, and goes to great links to keep everyone in his life at a distance, but then is confused as to why no one seems to recognize his sensitive side and more human needs… wait, were you asking about Lucifer or that Terrance guy?


How did you get into acting and what would you say was your big break?

Big break? When’s that gonna happen? When I think of the concept of a big break, I imagine a Cinderella-type story, where a talented servant is at long-last recognized and bolstered by her “betters”. While there’s a part of me that would love to be taken care of like a princess (and I must confess, I do have a bit of slipper fetish), I don’t know anyone for whom that has been their experience. And I don’t think I would like that person were we to meet. Every project I’ve made has almost killed me. It’s always been way more risk and struggle than reward. So there must be a part of me that enjoys the struggle. Fuck Cinderella. And her little prince, too.


Compare writing to acting, which do you find harder and which do you prefer and why?

Writing, hands-down. Even though it’s the acting for which I get the most attention, the filming portion of movies like Repo! or The Devil’s Carnival is always the shortest part of the process. I’ve been working on Alleluia! for almost four years now, for example, but the totality of filming was only thirteen days. And of those days, Lucifer was in front of the camera for only four of them. I both love and hate the writing journey, but it’s the world-building process that motivates me to keep working. By time we get to set, it’s almost like devil autopilot for me.


What was filming like and are there any moments you want to share that stood out?

With so many returning crew and cast members, the set of Alleluia! really felt like a family reunion. Even though there was a lot of stress and long hours spent on set, there was music and hijinks everyday, so it often felt like a party. I suppose the biggest challenge was being told halfway through our shooting schedule that we had to lose two days of filming due to budgetary constraints. This loss of days also meant a loss of script pages, and an entire song. Welcome to the world of independent filmmaking!


What would you say were your biggest challenges in the film and did any of the action sequences pose a problem for you?

Even though he looks like a bad ass, Lucifer is too much of a pansy to perform his own stunts. That’s why Tom Cruise was brought in for all of my action scenes. Actually, Lucifer’s prosthetics and makeup, while cool-looking, are very impractical for most actions. Even turning the pages of his big book of fables is nearly impossible due to the three-inch claws. Lucky for me, most of my scenes took place inside of a study, seated in a throne-like smoking chair.


How would you describe the music in the film and how long did the composing process take?

The breadth of musical stylings on Alleluia!‘s soundtrack is much greater than that of the first The Devil’s Carnival film. There are also bigger singers, including stars from the world of Broadway, like Ted Neeley and Adam Pascal. The music of Heaven is modeled after a Golden Age of Hollywood big band sound, and even features players from the popular swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Everything from tuba to theremin is featured on the soundtrack, which is now available on iTunes and Amazon.


What do you have coming up?

Shortly after touring Alleluia!, co-composer Saar Hendelman have plans to release an entirely new music-based project. It’s dark. It’s visual. It’s storytelling through music. We’ll be sharing a sneak peek of the project nightly to fans in attendance on Alleluia!‘s Road Tour, so get your tickets!


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