Piana, Dario (The Deaths of Ian Stone)
When I first heard of The Deaths of Ian Stone, my immediate reaction was "oh, it’s a horror Groundhog’s Day ... brilliant!"
In fact, it seems like there’s a lot more to the film than meets the eye. The concept follows the titular character who dies a horrible death,only to wake up the next day in a slightly different life, only to get killed again by the same assailants. No real room for comedy in that concept?
From what we’ve seen the film looks very different, so of couse when offered the chance to pick the brain of the man who directed it, Dario Piana, I jumped at it. The Deaths of Ian Stone will be in this year’s After Dark Horrorfest; I hope this helps give some leverage to your expecations!
Johnny Butane: You’ve done it all; storyboards, illustrations, writing; why did it take so long to finally direct your first feature?
Dario Piana: I've done more than 400 commercials and I always wanted to do a movie. Everybody would like to start a career with a masterpiece like Orson Welles , but you might die waiting for the greatest script in the world, especially if you're based in Italy and there are not so many opportunities to do the kind of movie you like .
After more than 15 years doing commercials all over the world , 5 years ago I've started to do commercials also for an American production company and I was introduced to the "movie world" , I wasn't expecting so much but ,with the help of my manager (P.Kelmenson) and my agent (T.Hoffman at ICM ), I found some producers who liked my work and met Stan Winston . He gave me the chance to direct DOIS , and I thought it was a great opportunity to start my career in feature film.
JB: Talk a bit about where the idea for Deaths of Ian Stone came from...
DP: Brian Gilbert (Stan winston ex. producer) gave me the script written by Brendan Hood and I liked it immediately. Originally the film was much bigger , but we had budget and time limitations , so we worked on the script to make it affordable. We avoided all the expensive and complex situations in favour of something more mysterious and creepy.
But behind the never ending horror story , there's a deep and strong love story. Fear and pain can't win against love.... A simple message but it's the truth. Basically it's about how difficult is to get rid from an addiction , but if you find the right person , you'll gonna make it . DOIS it's based more on the characters relation then just on gore and special effects and there was lots of space to do my job properly , even if we had very short time and very low budget ... A monster movie with a surreal script like DOIS for me is like a fairy tale, a little bit over the top with a constant eye winked to the audience.
JB: How did you settle on Mike Vogel for the all-important title role?
DP: We were looking for the lead role , but we couldn't afford a star because the budget. I was impressed by Mike , he has a very strong presence and character, he's a natural actor and he believes in what is doing.
I met him only one week before the shooting (we had a very tight schedule) , and we worked hard together because it's not easy to get such a difficult acting performance: 5 different lives with different emotions and a strong crescendo ... and he did it amazingly ! He is the movie!!
JB: How did the film come to the attention of After Dark?
DP: To be honest I don't know , that's producers job and I think they did it pretty well ! I was so excited when I heard about After Dark. It was over my best expectancy. I hope DOIS will not be disappointing.
JB: Obviously everyone would love for their film to get a wide release, but did you know from the beginning that Deaths was going to be something more than other horror films?
DP: Definitely not. I did my best on DOIS and even doing a movie for USA market was already a great goal for a non-American director...
JB: You have some pretty amazing creature designs on your official site, will we be seeing any of those in Deaths or are they for something else?
DP: Some of the drawings belong to projects that were in development, some of them only created for fun; some belong to "dream projects"... In the film you’ll see Stan Winston creations based on my vision, and Stan’s team did it pretty well despite the budget! In the movie there are also some weird hospital torture machines that came out of one of my nightmares, not on the screen for a long time, but enough to be disturbing…
JB: What’s next for you, now that you’re first film is getting a major release?
DP: I've already signed for a very creepy thriller with some supernatural elements; no monsters or gore but very suspenseful and breathtaking. Still looking for the lead role on that. I'm also developing two different projects: a family movie in the way of Goonies or Back to the Future and a kind of horror/noir set up in San Francisco during the prohibition era: Marlowe meets Anne Rice . A very original script, maybe too original, looking for the right studio...
I'd like also to develop a project for a very outrageous comic book, but It's very difficult to found a brave publisher.
JB: Finally, what are you going to do to celebrate on November 9th?
DP: Unfortunately I'll not be in USA on the 9th, but it's not bad because while I'm a tough director, I'm a very sensitive guy and I couldn't stand the premiere of my first movie ... Anyway, as you can see from my website, I'm a jet fighter helmet collector and a good rock and roll guitar player, so I'll play all night a guitar solo on top of my house, wearing one of my helmets all covered in blood, hoping that my kids will be already in bed and the police will not come too soon...
Thanks to Dario for taking the time to answer my questions (so quick, too!) from him home in the UK, and of course to the After Dark folks for setting the interview up! The Deaths of Ian Stone is part of the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest, November 9th-19th in theaters across the country; don't miss it!