Interview by Benjamin Poole
In Pernicious, the use of locations is so colourful and local flavour is in abundance - there’s even an elephant at one point! Did the process of filming in an unfamiliar country present any challenges?
I love filming in Thailand for all of these reasons. This was my second film that I produced there and we specifically wanted to do a horror film for these reasons. The biggest hurdle to overcome was the flooding that was taking place due to a typhoon. The opening scene where the girls arrive in the boat was actually supposed to be a taxi cab and a drive way. The waters rose so high though we had to build a dock and have them come in via boat.
Regarding Pernicious’ ancient hex; the curse seems very Eastern in nature, with its implications of family and honour, certainly a complex departure from the usual revenge driven slasher formula. Was the backstory of the ancient curse based upon any existing mythology?
Yes it was. We had James research Thai folklore and put together some concepts that he would like to write about. As a director/writer he really loved the idea of having a child covered in gold and thought he can make a cool movie about it.
With Pernicious under your belt, and a production role in the forthcoming spooky sounding Ghost House, you seem closely involved with horror movies. What is it that attracts you to the genre?
What really gets me excited about horror are the horror fans. They truly love the genre and are amazing in supporting indie movies. They make this all possible and keep us pushing to make more horror films!
The camerawork in Pernicious is gorgeous, and really shows off the locations to proud effect (that floaty overhead shot during the opening sequence is just superb). Although a low budget film, the style and sheen of Pernicious belies this. I wonder if you could talk a little about the process of how Pernicious was filmed, and how such a slick look was achieved.
We really owe this to three things. First being our DP Seo Mutarevic, second to our DP and Director talking through the shots and creatively understanding the location and how they can accomplish their shot list. Finally, to the Red Epic that we shot on, we really love working with Red; it is such a great camera and we can digitally play with the image in 4k, which is great in post.
Certain scenes in Pernicious are rather visceral and gory (as they should be, of course!). As a producer, did you feel a responsibility to reign in the bloodshed at all (in order to avoid an NC-17 certificate), or were you all for a hard core horror? Was there any conflict with the MPAA?
We did have to reign in the gore a bit. I remember James wanted to gut one of the guys through the rear end and we had to draw the line on that one. As for the rating we are NR, the MPAA didn’t review this film.