SDCC 09: Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton Talk The Collector

San Diego Comic-Con 2009Generally in horror you really aren’t supposed to talk about fairy tales. However, longtime friends Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have enjoyed a whirlwind (and fairy tale-esque) career since they arrived on the scene in 2005 through their involvement with “Project Greenlight”.

When I met Marcus, he was in film school in Iowa,” explained Melton. “Most people were doing the ‘My Dad Touched Me’ movie and Marcus was doing ‘The Slowest Zombie Chase.’ One morning I see a car driving down street and there’s Marcus being dragged behind it. He was filming his movie and I said to myself, ‘I have to talk to this guy. That was the start of everything for us.

Dunstan and Melton’s first script, Feast, which was penned for “Project Greenlight”, spawned two sequels, and soon after they were brought on board to write for one of the most lucrative franchises in recent horror history, Saw. Their scripts for the fourth, fifth, and sixth (so far) installments of Saw brought them to the place they are now — getting ready to celebrate the nationwide release of their horror flick The Collector.

Dunstan said, “Patrick and I have had the good fortune of having six or seven of our screenplays made, and The Collector was our one chance to really do something for ourselves. We knew that if the topic was horror enough, somebody would let us do it.

Both Melton and Dunstan are keenly aware of the current state of horror, where most projects being made these days are either remakes or sequels. They knew getting The Collector made, let alone into theaters, was going to be a challenge.

Melton said, “We have always wanted to do an original horror film ourselves, but it is difficult in Hollywood these days. It’s no coincidence that there are numbers at the end of the titles of work we do.

When you do sequels and remakes, creatively you are in a box because you have to serve that story and adhere to a mythology,” Melton added. “The Collector is really our vision. It’s going all up on the screen, and we are making no apologies for this one. It’s the hardest R-rated movie coming out this year, and horror fans should really embrace the film, especially anyone who liked Martyrs or Frontière(s).

The Collector was also an opportunity for Dunstan to get his chance to step back behind the camera and take on the role of director once again.

Dunstan explained, “The scale was tremendously larger this time for me since the last time I did this, I was in school. There was a new level of responsibility and accountability for me, and what I’ve realized is that all those stumbles from my past were a badge of armor this time around. Without them, I wouldn’t have had a gauge to work against then.

As a director, there wasn’t anything that Dunstan wasn’t willing to do on behalf of The Collector. He was even willing to inflict bodily harm on himself when their budget wouldn’t allow for the effects needed to get certain shots.

There’s a scene where the lead character gets a hand burned from a lighter,” said Melton. “You need to see the hair getting singed and everything. Because we didn’t have the money to bring in a ‘stunt team’ to do it, Marcus just went ahead and did it. He even used the same hand for a scene where a fish hook had to be pushed through the skin and for a razor blade stunt.

The Collector is the smallest budget compared to most movies we’ve worked on, but we couldn’t compromise anything because of money. ‘No’ was not an acceptable answer for us. Just ‘OW!’” added Melton.

Going to great lengths definitely paid off for Dunstan and Melton. Originally The Collector was slated for a July 15th DVD release, but Freestyle Releasing felt so confident in the finished product they decided to give the film a theatrical run.

We know that this is a big risk, and since we are only on 1,500 screens, there is only a limited window of opportunity,” explained Dunstan. “Almost everyone who has seen the movie has reacted just how we have wanted them to. For us, The Collector getting a theatrical run is the equivalent of the Make-A-Wish Foundation showing up and we aren’t even sick. It’s amazing and gratifying for both of us.

The Collector will open in nationwide on July 31st.

Heather Wixson

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