I had the opportunity interview director and screenwriter Brandon Christensen latest film entitled “Z” which deals with family dynamic horrors, primary between a mother and son, while embarking on a fearful journey of past torments and vengeful imagery friend. While Brandon has done multiple interviews concerning his new film to me there’s no point in asking the same old questions, the point of these interviews is to discover something new, hence I jumped right into the story the movie.
Baron Craze: There’s one scene I like to discuss it involved Joshua he’s in the now deceased mother’s home and looks up at the ceiling fan, why include this foreshadowing scene? And why shouldn’t he be there?
Brandon Christensen: We’re slowly getting a peak into Beth’s childhood – we can see that there’s a lot of stuff going on and in her house totally immaculate and sparsely decorated with photos and things like that whereas when you go into her mother’s house there’s just a lot of things around it that makes Beth feel very uncomfortable and I think it’s been long enough that whatever tragedy happened she remembers the role that she had as a kid like don’t go into dad’s study and all these things like that so when Josh is in that room just going in that room brings back bad memories and I don’t think she fully understands yet – it’s been 30 something years since she’s thought about it – there’s just something about this place and thinking about her mom – it just gives her unease so I think just being in the space she just doesn’t like it and dealing with her mom’s death and packing up all her stuff and adding the memories coming back to that and her mother’s death brings her and her sister together and remembering their past together but that room is foreshadowing and whatever happened as a kid that’s likely where it happened.
Baron: Does it opens the door – I think that’s the room I think that she tries to hang herself in is that correct in that presumption?
BC: Yep, that’s the room that she sees and gets the flashlight that you’ll see later in the film and she sees something as well.
Baron: Is Z a manifestation projected from Mother to son, something shared subconsciously while he was in womb, or something much more as Z appeared to her as a little girl?
BC: I think it’s definitely a situation where we’re playing with nature vs. nurture. Is this something that is actually going down the family tree was it something like we elude to the idea that father dealt with something is it Beth and her imaginary friend or did he have the same imaginary friend there are definitely some hints on how that goes – it’s almost playing on the metaphor of hereditary illnesses going down through your bloodline it’s definitely keep somewhat vague and maybe allowing some interpretation and possible for the audience to think of experiences they might have onto the characters themselves – but it seems like something that was passed down from her to take the supernatural route it was something that she could use something another cipher (not sure if that’s what he said) to get back to her and in this case it was her son so there are different ways you can look at it.
Baron: What was the most difficult scene to film?
BC: The train sequence as far as the elements was pretty disastrous we were in the prairie in Alberta it was almost 40 degrees Celsius which is closing in 100 Fahrenheit and it was just brutally hot and we’re dealing with a 2 hour window with the train which is all we could afford at the time so we had to do a bunch of stuff and cameras going at the same time and for some of the shots we had as many as 5 including a drone and so we had an x amount of passes to do with this train so we had to make all of them count and just the stress level of having a huge production and all these cameras going we really had to be on our best behavior like we had to be really dialed in on exactly what we were shooting and we got fortunate because we had a good plan in place but it was a ton of stress and with your dealing with weather elements like that you don’t expect in Canada it just made it much more grueling we were just constantly thirsty and sweating it was just very punishing.
Baron: Was it helpful that you had a small crew and that you were all dialed in with each other rather than an extensive crew?
BC: Considering our budget level we had a pretty big crew it’s one of those situations that we’re dealing with a lot of younger crew in their early 20s it might be their first film working on this level and others working on other projects in different crew roles and we were using as many people as we can to build it and it was one of those situations where by the end of the film the crew had totally transformed into a fully functional professional film crew whereas in the beginning there were some struggles like our gapper had pneumonia early on and had to leave for a week so in the beginning we were scrambling through the days and by the end we were a solid unit.
Baron: Interesting to see the transformation Sara Canning’s character Jenna go from serious struggling to life to becoming parent to her sister and assuming the mother role for her nephew it clearly opens a new door for a sequel
BC: Potentially but the main thing we’re trying to say is that no matter who you are where your station is in life when a tragedy happens in your family hopefully you’re able to find some strength inside of yourself that you didn’t know you had and for Jenna she didn’t have a good relationship with her mom and doesn’t have a great relationship with her sister but as things start to unravel around her she at first starts to fall apart to alcoholism but when she no longer has anyone to rely on because of what happened she finds the strength inside of herself to become that new parent and take on this responsibility. If you had told her at the beginning of the film that you’re going to be a mom in a few weeks she would have balked at the idea and say there’s no way I can do that but when push comes to shove she showed her strength as a character and a person by being able to handle knowing that there’s going to be some learning curves but she’s doing it because in life everyone it going to experience tragedy but people in general people can find something inside themselves to find that inner strength.
Baron: Which other directors have influenced your films?
BC: I think the biggest one for me is David Fincher he’s just got a technical mastery that I don’t think any other filmmakers have right now just the way he moves the camera, the reason he moves the camera and frames things I feel it’s perfect there’s no room for error everything is very technical and precise and that’s what I aspire to and I think it’s interesting to use that kind of style of filmmaking where there’s very little handheld or shaky camera they’re there for a reason and I think that blending that with a genre like horror can yield some pretty interesting results so I have a crazy amount of respect for David Fincher. You can pick his films out of a lineup because they have a unique feel.
Baron: Would you consider Your movie as more of psychological thriller than solely horror? Since thrillers allow for more exploration that just straightforward horror.
BC: I think the genre of horror can cast a pretty large net on films in general there are so many subgenres under the horror banner so it’s hard to label it just a horror film I think there are a lot of psychological aspects to it there’s some family drama aspects to it but I think at the end of the day I think it’s definitely a horror movie because it is there to scare which is one of the primary motives but we’re also trying to tell a story that can invoke some sort of emotional response too by putting these characters into certain situations but I think calling it either is fine as long as you watch it I’m ok.
Baron: We’re out of time so thank you, Brandon and have a good day.