Last June we brought you the first news from
Reunion, a new horror film directed by Shawn Chou, with cinematography by Derrick Sims and
starring Jack Turner, Maria Olsen and Sarah Schreiber. Set against the backdrop of mistaken
identity, mental illness and the blurred lines between reality and belief the
film is due to set hairs on end –but before that we were fortunate enough to
get a little reunion of our own…see what we did there?
Reunion seems to be a movie that deals, very
much, in the perception of knowledge.
Rather than have any of you tell us about the movie, why don’t you tell
us how your character would see the movie?
JT: I think Brad would see the movie as an exploration of family, reality, and perception. I think he’d find some good material in it for a song he wanted to write.
MO: Contrary to everything you’ve seen so far, all Mia wants to do is find and protect the person she loves most in the world…
SS: Carly is very much a strong character who wants to fix and heal everything and everyone in her life. She does not like failing, so I think that should be frustrated by her naïveté with Mia. She wants to protect Brad from the pain in his life, and she ultimately is the reason for the disastrous outcome
KiV: Primarily your work has been in editing for Network television. How do you go about approaching directing a film like this? Do you find your background has aided the step behind the camera for a genre of film that possibly allows for a greater emphasis on the editing process?
SC: If you listen to the great directors, they say the film is made in the edit. Directing is all about getting the shots and footage for the editor to piece it together. I think that if I wasn’t an editor, I would have never been able to make this ultra-low budget film into what it is. We were able to cut in the camera and shoot only what we needed. We can play a lot of things off-screen. It’s like the shark in Jaws, you don’t need to see it to be afraid. This makes it easier to direct, when you know what you want and need. Ultimately, this is a horror-thriller and we want to scare people.
KiV: Were you attracted to the project first (as producer) or was it the character (as actor) that sparked your interest?
MO: It was the character of Mia that first attracted me and also the amazing quality of Bert Havird’s writing. When I started shopping the project around to potential producers, I did it with the hope that I could also somehow be part of the producing team, but, of course, nothing is set in stone until the deal is signed. I was very lucky to become involved with such a wonderful production team as Shawn Chou, Thelonius Alexander and Precious Hilton.
KiV: The level of intensity for a character like Mia is quite high, how do you go about getting yourself into gear for her?
MO: I need to find my way to the place in my head that will allow me to be totally in the moment and to react to everything that goes on around me with clarity and truthfulness of emotion. I find my way to that place by thinking about…stuff…stuff that’s both common to myself and to Mia and that I know will get me into the desired mood. I also need to give myself permission to be vulnerable in front of the entire cast and crew, and to find and hold onto that inner stillness and purpose that will let me stay in the moment while, sometimes, all hell breaks loose around me during the filming process.
KiV: There’s a shift in the balance of power between your character and Maria’s during the course of the film, is it captive or carer that’s the more interesting for you to play?
SS: For me I find being captive more thrilling to play. The stakes are so high and I'm fighting for the ultimate goal, the fight to live. It's also just incredible working opposite Maria who commits to her character so much that she even put a hammer thru a wall (another story, another time). As an actor in a scene with her, she makes it easy to do our job, she successfully scares the bejeezus out of me. I must add, she is absolutely lovely...when the cameras are not rolling!
KiV: Have there been any moments during filming were your own personal fears have been tapped into? What makes your skin crawl?
SS: Well, I don't know if Shawn knows this or not but yes, in this film I had to face some fears. Tight, dark, confined spaces. I get in elevators and I'm like, if this gets stuck, so help me god. Carly gets tied and taped up and thrown and locked in places for half the movie. The first time on set when Shawn showed me where I had squeeze in to, I had to do some major deep breathing techniques and just do it. Shawn just had this big grin on, and Jack, well he's my hero, I knew he would get me out of there!
Lastly, one of my ultimate favorite films is Jaws. I love suspenseful thrillers, with a great story and a dynamic cast of characters. That's why I’m proud to be in Reunion. I love the story and my actors I’ve had the privilege to work with. But back to Jaws, when I was a kid, if I was in the pool, I always thought there was a shark in the deep end. Let's just say, not much has changed...
KiV: The hospital ward, the besieged house, the storm. There seems to be a lot within
Reunion that’s constructed in order to confine
and restrict. How does that inspire or
restrict what you do as DP?
DS: Based on the script, we knew that the house (especially certain parts) needed to feel restricting. The fact that we shot in the house we did made it not only feel that way on screen but on set as well. The story is sort of claustrophobic anyway, so having your cast and crew in that sort of environment only added to it.
I remember shooting in a bathtub for three-days-straight. The room was probably 5x10, and it was a proper functioning bathroom (at least before we shot in it), so we couldn’t really pull away any walls. Not only was it small, but there was a lot of action to be covered in such a small space. To top it all off, there was a key set piece mirror on the wall that we had to dodge at every moment.
We relied mostly on the “lightning” we created outside and a little rig we built above the tub. As for the rest of the spaces, many were really tight too. We just had to make it work.
KiV: Historically in horror cinema the role of the object of desire is a female role while the destructive influence is male –with Reunion this gender designation is inverted was the role reversal something that set this script apart for you?
JT: That’s not something I considered, and calling me an object of desire might be an assertion I contend, but it is an interesting twist, I hope people like it!
KiV: There’s talk of a deep twisted past. As an actor how do you separate those two different Brads in order to play a scene “in the moment”?
JT: I prepare them both separately, working on one at a time. Sometimes even with scenes where only one persona is active. Then just trust the preparation and the moment to deliver the complexity you’ve prepared. If you get in your head or try to “present” that complexity in the moment you’re in deep trouble as an actor, so for me it’s all about preparation.
KiV: Where do you fall on the biggest message in
Reunion? Cautionary tale about the pitfalls of fame or
the shortcomings in treatment of mental health problems?
SS: Running away from your problems does not fix anything, they will always find away to come back and "haunt" you.
SC: Prescription drugs means big business in this country. Doctors are rewarded for prescribing certain drugs and companies have an interest to sell these drugs. Sometimes it’s not what’s best for the patient, but what’s best for big business. And morally, that’s an issue. Without giving our surprise twist away, I think the audience will leave the theatre questioning these moral issues.
MO: If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out of it! Don’t stick around as things will only get worse!
The official trailer for Reunion will premier May 15th with theatrical and home entertainment releases coming later in the year.
Check out the film's social media to keep up-to-date with all the goings on.