The Movie Waffler Waffling With... <i>BACKWATER</i> writer-director CHRISTOPHER SCHRACK | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With... BACKWATER writer-director CHRISTOPHER SCHRACK

Writer-director Christopher Schrack discusses his upcoming thriller, Backwater, which hits DVD November.

Where does the story come from?

It mostly came from needing a story that would fit what we had, which was pretty much no money. A few months before I wrote the script I had been camping with some friends and just started thinking about what we could do with using nature as a whole setting, and if we could use that with only a couple actors. The woods can be spooky, especially at night, and I figured that we could eliminate a big portion of the budget if we stuck to an outdoorsy setting. It ended up being much more difficult than I had thought!

How did you find your cast? Your leads are brilliant!

Thanks! I met Andrew Roth (Glenn) on my first film, which was even more crude and low-budget than this one. He was the one that actually introduced me to the rest of the cast, Liana, Justin, and Tom. I had actually written the role of Deputy Helm for Tom, but did a little bit of casting for Cass and Mark before I had met Liana and Justin. When I did, we did a few screen tests and I was delighted at how much personality they both had. I could believe they were an actual couple. I really lucked out with the cast – they had a lot to put up with and some very challenging moments, but handled it all beautifully and really gave their characters the personas they needed.

Where did it shoot?

Again, I thought writing a script that took place entirely in the woods by a river would be easy to come by, but we could not find one spot that had everything the script called for. We actually shot on five different locations, but the two main spots were on Goose Creek Reservoir in Ashburn, Virginia, and Chapman State Park in Maryland. A few pickups were shot on a couple of friends’ properties, and even did some scenes in my parents’ backyard. Fortunately a forest is kind of difficult to screw up in continuity, but in the first 30 minutes of the movie the characters are actually walking from one state to another and back.

How important were festivals to the movie? Do you think they’re a must for any indie film?

I don’t know if it’s always a must. That might depend on the situation, what kind of distribution they have lined up, and so forth. Personally, I wanted to do film festivals because they can be a lot of fun, they’re a great way to meet people and to have others see your film and hopefully talk about it. The buzz you can generate from festivals can be invaluable to helping you find the right distribution, too. Plus, you get to travel! Backwater allowed me to go to Telluride, Colorado, which was amazing, and I wouldn’t have had that experience if I had ignored the festival route.

How did you pick up distribution?

After our screening in Telluride we were hooked up with a sales agency that ultimately led us to Osiris Entertainment, our distributor.

Do you google the film? How much notice do you take of the film reviewing community?

I don’t very much, but this question prompted me to do so! I try my best not to care what the reviewing community says one way or the other. Horror films are polarizing by nature, and I’m fully aware I might have one glowing review followed by one scathing review. All I can do is hope most of the word is positive, and if so, avoiding most reviews is a good way to keep myself level-headed so I can continue to learn as a filmmaker. The same goes for if the reviews aren’t so good!

It’s been a few years since you’ve made the movie, I imagine? What have you done since?

It’s been a while since we wrapped shooting (June of 2011) and post-production (early 2013), but it seems like there was always work to be done! Now that Backwater is finally coming out, I’m glad to sink my teeth into something new. I’ve been writing a lot since, and have got a screenplay for a monster movie that I’m pretty excited about. Hopefully that one won’t take quite as long!