Even though director Jennifer Lynch has been out of the game for a while now, putting her family and her health first, that doesn’t mean that the director has lost any of her focus. That’s why 2009 is shaping up to be such an important year for Lynch as she has two films ready to herald her return behind the camera — Surveillance and Hisss.
Surveillance, which opens in theaters on June 26th, centers around Federal Officers Elizabeth Anderson (Julia Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Bill Pullman) who have three sets of stories to figure out so they can solve a string of vicious murders. The stories come from a zealot cop, a strung-out junkie, and an eight-year-old girl; but as the Feds begin to expose the fragile little details each witness conceals so carefully with a well practiced lie, they soon discover that uncovering ‘the truth’ can come at a very big cost…
Surveillance was an unintentional project for Lynch. Her friend Kent Harper gave her a different script to review for some friendly advice, and from there the duo started to co-write the script for Surveillance.
“We started developing this story surrounding the idea of serial killers and I’ve always been fascinated by them,” explained Lynch. “As a society, we try to see them as monsters or someone who is inhuman, but the truth is, we make serial killers. So much of what happens in society breeds their behaviors and their motivations.”
Telling a simple serial killer story didn’t interest Lynch at all so with Surveillance she took a very different approach.
Lynch said, “My daughter Sidney inspired me to create aspects of the story from a child’s perspective. Children are so amazing with their clear and unclouded perspective on life. It’s almost painful to even think about as an adult. We tend to never listen to them because we think we have a certain wisdom they possibly can’t.”
“It’s the old adage that you never listen to the ones who know the most (like children or animals) until it’s too late,” Lynch added.
Stepping back behind the camera wasn’t as daunting as Lynch had feared it might be, mostly due to her cast. Both Pullman and Ormond made her feel like every day on set was a gift.
“Both Bill and Julia were so brave and fearless,” said Lynch. “We had some exhausting days on set and you couldn’t tell from their work at all. As a writer, all I can do is write the blueprint, and it’s up to the actors to breathe life into the characters. Their performances added a level of texture to their characters I hadn’t even imagined when I was writing the story.”
For Lynch’s next project, Hisss, the director took on one of India’s oldest legends of the fertility goddess, which she found as an American to be a fascinating tale to translate into a horror film.
Lynch explained, “In Hisss, we have this greedy American who learns of a legend of an Indian fertility goddess that possesses the gift of eternal life. He thinks that her powers can heal his brain cancer so he goes on a quest to find her and use her powers for selfish reasons.”
“What he doesn’t realize is that her power of immortality is actually the idea of how people live through the creation of their children and how that legacy is passed down for all time, which causes for some disturbing things to happen along the way once the goddess is angered by this ignorant man,” Lynch added.
The director has characterized Hisss as a creature feature, a subgenre of horror that she feels has been overlooked since the days of An American Werewolf in London. For the F/X on Hisss, she brought in Robert Kurtzman.
“Filming in India was an eye-opening experience for me, especially as an American,” Lynch said. “There’s no way a crew that generally works over here would have been able to put up with and perform the way the crew there did. Most of our crew were even running around barefoot.”
Lynch added, “They fear nothing there, not even death. Most people there are just happy to wake up and be alive that day.”
With Hisss in post-production, the director is taking her time “falling in love with my next project,” as she puts it. However, one thing that’s certain is that Lynch isn’t going anywhere this time around.
“It just feels so good to be back after missing it for so long. I am grateful to get to do what I love to do for a living, and I just want to keep working and telling stories that I love.” Lynch said.
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