Baron Craze: What is Live-Evil about and why was this title selected?
Ari Kirschenbaum: Live-Evil is about a small town deputy who stumbles into the end of the world.
BC: How long did it take from writing the script to completing of the movie? What was the budget?
AK: It was an old script written years before. But once we started preproduction it took about two years because of all the efx I had to complete myself.
I was told never to tell anyone your budget. I’m sure it’s different if you are working on a Marvel film, but for indie films, it’s a double edge sword. If it’s too low, people will be turned off. Who really wants to watch something that cost $10k if it hasn’t been certified by society like Paranormal Activity. And if your budget was high and it doesn’t look like it, then people will be disappointed that it isn’t up on screen. So let’s just say our budget was considerably less than a Marvel film spends on a camera rental.
BC: How did you get Tony Todd involved with your independent project?
AK: We were talking to a few people about that role and we were actually filming while still casting it. Once his name came up we jumped on it. I had a phone call in between takes with him and he, like all actors, I think, wanted some indication that we’ll get along, that I wasn’t a moron, or some raving lunatic. So it was a quick call, he understood the tone, I was open to what he was thinking and that was that.
BC: Which scene after you wrote it did you really want to or couldn’t wait to film and why?
AK: I was looking forward to shooting most of the script, because it was so clear in my head. Unfortunately, locations and budget, etc. change how all of the scenes played out. My favorite things to shoot are long takes with big reveals or finishes. Hancock’s search through the Copeland estate is one long steadicam take, which was fun and essentially how it was written although because of time, it had to evolve too. The morgue scene was fun to shoot, but the set was much less flexible that written, so that was a scene I was really looking forward to shooting and it got muted until I could “fix it in post”. Bedlia’s entrance was another one that I was really looking forward to. However, it was supposed to be a basement, not an attic, but I think it worked out. The Dead chasing the FBI in slo mo was great and that wasn’t even written. It was a last minute fix to get from A to C in the script when we couldn’t film B. Those surprises are my favorite things, a short hand or addition that you didn’t even write. The long shot of Rosie attacking Sharon came out as written, although when I wrote it I didn’t really take into account how opaque police car windows are.
BC: What challenges did you face working on the film? What was the overall mood on the set?
AK: The entire thing was challenges. It was brutal. First, it was winter and we had a lot of night exteriors, but on top of that, oh, let me count the ways – We kept losing locations, we had to delay start of production, we had to recast the lead five days in and then make up all that time without extending the shoot. That led to problems with SAG, which threatened a shut down. We lost a couple more days to power outage. We had to fire the production designer and then didn’t have a replacement. We had problems finding extras. It seemed never ending. It was a battle to get everything in the script, since we had to make up so much time. Unfortunately, film sets are a magnet for manufactured crisis and I think it increases when people sense instability. So it was a constant fight to squash that paranoia, but if your key crew can gel, particularly camera, then they will help you power through it.
BC: There are quite a few zombie (undead) creatures in your film, how did you come up with their creations? Did you initially know what you sought in the design?
AK: The bids we were getting from Professional makeup efx people on creating from scratch were just not feasible at our budget. So I was looking at premade masks, etc and how I could enhance or change those to suit my needs. I found Kyle Thompson’s studio Midnight FX. He’s makes primarily for Halloween attractions, etc. So we asked him to customize some of his designs he already had and create the central voodoo type mask from a drawing I did. Then I added stuff to the dead to make them more earthy and old.
BC: I know you’ve been asked why you sought to become a filmmaker however what film hooked you on both wanting to be a director as opposed to another job in the film industry? In addition, what is your favorite horror film?
AK: Actually I don’t think any film made me want to be a director. I think most film buffs idolize the big directors like Spielberg, Kubrick, etc. I really wanted to be in efx, I wanted to be a Makeup EFX artist. I loved Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Dick Smith. I had all the Starlogs, Cinefex, and Fangorias. Then it briefly became animation. Then it evolved into writing, because under all of it was a desire to tell stories. Writing is then an obvious leap to directing. The irony is, only after directing and writing did I meet Stan Winston, one of my idols. He was interested in directing one of my scripts. It fell through because he had a producer who didn’t believe he could sell dark Alice in Wonderland. This was before all the dark fairy tales stuff you see now, before Burton’s Alice, and Once Upon a Time, etc. In fact, the same script supposedly went to Burton too. Oh the painful irony. My favorite horror film is always shifting slightly back and forth between The Exorcist, The Thing, and The Shinning, but the Shinning is usually king of the mountain.
BC: In your opinion, why does the horror cinema attract so many fans?
AK: I think Horror and sci-fi are the most escapist, and that’s what cinema really is about, escapism, so they have a naturally high appeal as genres. But horror, I think, stands alone in its basic chemistry. The most escapist, because who really gets chased by monsters and chainsaw maniacs, and yet also the most relatable, because the foundations of horror are always in everyday life. That’s why it’s horror – normal being shattered.
BC: Thanks Ari Kirschenbaum
AK: Anytime Baron.