The Movie Waffler Interview - NOISE IN THE MIDDLE Director Marcus McCollum | The Movie Waffler

Interview - NOISE IN THE MIDDLE Director Marcus McCollum

Marcus McCollum interview
Director McCollum discusses his feature debut.

Terror Films has acquired the worldwide digital rights to Marcus McCollum’s feature film debut, Noise in the Middle.

After the sudden death of his wife Sara, Richard, a grieving and emotionally ill-equipped father, is left on his own to care for his severely, non-verbal autistic daughter Emmie. Before her death Sara had arranged for Emmy to partake in an experimental therapy and rented a house near the facility where the treatments would take place. Little does Richard know the house has a haunted history. While Richard struggles with his wife’s death he soon realises he has no patience, skills, or even any empathy to deal with Emmie’s condition and begins to find solace in drinking and drugs. As the spirits in the house grow restless, so does the noise in Emmie’s head, awakening her psychic abilities along with Richard’s personal demons. When visions of his dead wife begin to appear, Richard is convinced she has returned to help him. But is the spirit really his wife or something more sinister sent to take them both?

Written by McCollum and Glen Kannon, the film stars John Mese (Night of the Scarecrow), Tara Buck (True Blood), Tom Konkle (Hornet), Juliette Jeffers (Lemon), Jim Holmes (How to Be a Vampire) and features Faye Hostetter as Emmie. The film was produced by McCollum and Mark Conley under their Whiskey Tango Films production shingle.

The film will make its exclusive, worldwide premiere on the premium AVOD Horror Channel, Kings of Horror Thursday, October 29th and will include a live stream chat with the filmmakers and several cast members. It will remain on the platform exclusively for six weeks before launching onto multiple US digital platforms beginning Friday, December 11th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

noise in the middle poster

We’re very keen to hear about the film’s conception. What can you tell us?

This story  really dives into me and my writing partner’s (Glen Kannon)  acute and frustrating inability to communicate with our six daughters in modern culture. I have four and he has two. Social media, cancel culture, politics, pandemics, media, screen-time, self-esteem followed by mental health, the list continued to grow. We couldn’t even start to communicate, because we couldn’t understand our daughters' language. But worst of all everyone had a place to hide in the “noise”… including us. We didn’t like that and wanted out. But there’s no real book for modern parents to deal with this. There’s no long-term studies or history to fall back on. We are the first and that goes for both kids and parent. In a nutshell this story came forward as a way for us to explore that area between us and our girls which we loving call… “The noise in the middle.”

I have to ask, a lot of independent filmmakers start out with a horror film because they believe they’re an ‘easier sell’. Is that the case here? And have you found it to be an easy sell?

Comedy and Horror are both hard to make good. So I wasn’t naïve about what I needed to do to produce a good original scary movie. I also learned there are absolutely no easy sales in this thing. I know people don’t want to hear that, but it’s a bit of the wild west out here. Horror films I think have a better spring-board and the fans are hungry, but it still needs to be a good story. I think horror gave me an advantage, but only as a way to really show the dynamics of a very difficult and uneasy relationship in a very clear demonstrative way.


How hard is it to craft a horror film that’s not only frightening but original in this day and age?

Thank you and yes it does strive to be original, but in a very relatable way. I think originality can work against you just as much as help. I tell other filmmakers if you have an original idea make sure it's wrapped in a familiar package. And that is not to diminish the product, it’s just the way human beings operate. That is a dance I have played my whole career. I tend to thwart this by finding my originality in my characters, who are just living in the extraordinary world. I also love films that you have to figure out. So I didn’t give the audience a crumb up front and I kept that going all the way to the end. The fun part comes on the second viewing. The film is actually one massive Easter egg after you figure out what is really going on. Then you can go back through and if you “Listen” you will realise that you were caught in the noise just like Richard. So if you want to have a fun take on the film watch it twice and you will see/hear what I’m talking about.


Is there a type of horror film you personally enjoy more?

I got my start in comedy so you can imagine that just like Jordan Peele, I loved playing in the razor thin line that separates the two. I love the classics the most, but recent films such as Get Out, A Quiet Place, Us have delivered much of the quality, intelligence and nostalgia of horror films of the past. I gravitate towards films that have a cultural metaphor or delve into the deep psyche where real horror lives. I also gravitate toward characters that are marginalised or have disorders. To me they represent that part of the human condition that wills life into the most hopeless situations.


Has the pandemic affected your release plans at all?

For sure, but it has also brought new possibility. Basically, we saw this as an opportunity, in the current COVID climate, that will allow us to capitalise on a potential audience that would have been lost in a quick sale/lease. I’m incredibly grateful that Kings of Horror, with over a million dedicated viewers, loved our film and understood what we are attempting to do. They love the film and were just as excited to premiere it before Halloween as we were. We will likely be on most platforms by the end of this, but we want to see if the audience will try this with us. We feel our film is worth the swing, it’s well reviewed, has a great cast, excellent acting, shot beautifully, fantastic original score, quality script, and I hear it’s scary. So, a non-traditional release is probably a good thing right now since “the traditional release” is being reinvented every two hours.


Where did you shoot this?

Our Director of Photography Doug Hostetter went above and beyond to get the look of this film. We had the house and the locations secured in Spokane Washington. It’s a fun story to tell since the entire process was derived from using as little light as possible. Our location was key due to the windows and sun position. We were really just containing the light that existed. He used the Panasonic Varicam LT with Ziess primes. And due to its low light capabilities it’s perfect for the Horror genre. We spent more time containing light than producing it. Doug really did the research on this and if you look at the quality of the film he nailed it. He also loved the camera so much he bought it for the next shoot.


What have been some of your favourite horror films in recent times?

I had a slew of films that I watched to find inspiration, everything from Rain Man to The Shining. I really was taking a swing here thinking I could direct a young, unseasoned actress to be a believable non-verbal autistic child. I am inspired by movies that hit a cultural hot button and dealt with marginalised persons or disorders. I loved the films that deal with human communication or empathy or even that scary place between your heart and your head that is left to dark interpretation.  i.e. A Quiet Place, Get Out, A Clockwork Orange, Alien, The Sixth Sense, Us.