This week those involved with making the indie horror film Midnight Son have reason to celebrate. Their hard work some three years in the making is finally paying off as the project is making its world premiere this Friday, March 4th, in San Jose at the prestigious Cinequest Film Festival.
In honor of their perseverance in independent filmmaking, Dread Central is putting the spotlight on those involved with Midnight Son (review here) over the next several days to kick off our Indie Horror Month celebration.
For his role as the lead character Jacob in Midnight Son , it was almost like fate knocked on Zak Kilberg’s door one day. The up-and-coming actor was referred by a friend to writer/director Scott Leberecht’s website to check out a possibility of being part of a brand new independent horror film. To Kilberg’s surprise, Leberecht’s artwork had some haunting similarities to his own presence, and the two had never even met.
“When I saw that the lead character looked a lot like me actually, that’s when my interest was piqued for Midnight Son,” explained Kilberg. “I couldn’t believe it – I never met the guy, and yet, his vision of Jacob was me to a ‘T.’ And I can honestly say that I have never wanted a role more than I wanted the role of Jacob at that very moment; it was just so uncanny. I got in contact with Scott, and from there I knew we were going to do something special. He has such a great vision for storytelling so I knew this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill horror movie.”
Different take, indeed. Midnight Son is anything but your standard vampire tale these days – there are no sparkly vampires, no sexy vampires, no vampire hierarchies in Jacob’s world. Played with an almost meticulous restraint by Kilberg, Jacob is just as confused about his condition as the audience is. He’s been allergic to sunlight since he was a kid, and as the years pass, he has an appetite that can never be satiated no matter what he eats until he discovers the power of consuming blood.
Kilberg said, “I’ve always gravitated towards darker roles, which is probably due a lot to the way I look. So when I read this script, I immediately felt a connection to Jacob – I loved that there was an intensity to him but also a vulnerability as well, and I thought it was the juiciest role I’d ever had the opportunity to read, and ironically enough, I actually read for the part of Edward Cullen when they were casting Twilight way back so that will tell you something.”
“There are times when I read for roles and they don’t even feel within my grasp, but everything about Midnight Son felt so right. Jacob resonated with me especially because he has so much going on which is deeper than you see in a lot of horror movies these days,” added Kilberg.
The actor said much of the power behind Midnight Son was due to Leberecht’s passion for wanting to give audiences an almost voyeuristic look into this world that Jacob gets involved in once he starts to put the puzzle pieces together about his ailment and has to try and cope with what he is becoming. Kilberg said most of the magic behind the project came from their collaborations together while in the early stages of production that helped shape the story into what it is now.
“The first version of the script was much broader (and even included my character becoming a bat at one point), but what’s so great about Scott’s genius is that he realized that this story was more about these characters than actual vampires so we worked together to mellow those things out,” explained Kilberg. “Midnight Son wasn’t about answering questions or taking audiences from Point A to Point B and that was it. It was more about the ambiguity of Jacob’s condition and how it affected his life and the lives of those around him and the uncertainty that everyone was facing because of him.”
Not ready to settle for just looking the part, the actor set off to embody the character of Jacob through and through. “To prepare myself for the role, I did a fast and lost 20 pounds just so I could be more emaciated like I imagined he would be. When we started shooting, I totally became Jacob, and having four weeks of mostly night shoots really helped plunge me into that lifestyle that I imagined he lived. It was a little unsettling at first to only be up at night and sleeping all day, but I adjusted.”
Even though fasting itself is a dangerous approach, it was actually food that almost did Kilberg in one night while on set and almost completely shut down production entirely on Midnight Son. “This was so surreal – I remember I was still kind of fasting but had to eat something so I had some Chinese for dinner. Right after I ate, I proceeded to shoot a fight scene for 45 minutes which proved to be a bad idea because all I remember was that when we were done, I could barely move and I had to be taken to the hospital. I got there, the doctors ran a bunch of tests, and they told me I needed my appendix out because my white blood cell count was really off. And if that would have happened, production would have been dead in the water because I would be laid out for a few weeks recovering.”
“I actually talked them into one more blood test right before surgery was scheduled the next morning at 7:30 am, and I was so relieved when the tests came back and it wasn’t my appendix but rather just a bad case of food poisoning. I checked myself out of the hospital at 10 am, got some rest, and went back to set the next day,” Kilberg added.
Even though the actor said that sometimes the shoot would become grueling, he never minded because everyone involved on the project was there because they believed in Leberecht’s vision. “Everyone working on Midnight Son was there for the right reasons, and I think that’s what kept us all going. We definitely did something special on this movie because I’ve never seen people come together the way everyone came together on this film, and it inspired me to want to produce movies myself because I saw how collaborative independent filmmaking could be.”
Midnight Son – Trailer
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With Midnight Son set to be unveiled this week, Kilberg said he sees himself working more behind the scenes in the future rather than in front of the camera.
“Right now I’m really focused on the producing side of things rather than acting,” said Kilberg. “I do love acting, but it’s an exhausting process. I love having control over things so I think that’s why I love being a producer. I honestly didn’t realize what sort of resources I brought to the table until I worked on Midnight Son, and I guess I really never knew what a producer did until then.”
“I love working on the independent level of film, too, because there’s something special about people coming together to collaborate outside the system. I’ve come to realize that the key to being a successful indie producer is knowing what your own strengths and weaknesses are and then bringing in the right talent and resources to help balances out both sides. It’s still a learning process, but I am loving the process every step of the way,” Kilberg added.
For his first production, the upcoming twisted thriller Alyce, Kilberg teamed up with writer/director Jay Lee, whom fans may know from his work on 2008’s Zombie Strippers. “Jay brought me the script a while back, and I really liked the ‘cult’ film feel to it. I liken it to Alice in Wonderland on crack meets Taxi Driver. It takes place in Echo Park and starts off as an indie drama, but 30 minutes into it everything starts spiraling out of control, which leads to an insane climax. To say it ends with a bloodbath and a slaughterfest is almost putting it too lightly.”
Kilberg added, “There are some really dark and disturbing elements to Alyce, and Jay told his story in a very intentionally over-the-top way, which I completely let him run with. I will admit I am kind of nervous but also excited to see what the response will be to the film.”
Look for more from the Midnight Son crew soon, and be sure to stick around all month as we celebrate Indie Horror Month at Dread Central! In the meantime visit the official Midnight Son website, befriend Midnight Son on Facebook, and follow Midnight Son on Twitter!
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