Interview: Victor Mathieu, Corbin Billings, and Phillip Sebal Discuss The Monster Project - Dread Central
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Interview: Victor Mathieu, Corbin Billings, and Phillip Sebal Discuss The Monster Project

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Just a couple of weeks ago, Epic Pictures Group’s The Monster Project (review) hit Amazon Prime, allowing subscribers to catch the found footage horror mockumentary. Packed with practical FX and compared to movies like Hell House LLC and Grave Encounters, The Monster Project comes from the mind of director Victor Mathieu, who co-wrote the film with Corbin Billings and Shariya Lynn.

Today, we’ve got an interview with Mathieu and Billings, as well as producer Phillip Sebal, about the film, diving into what sets it apart from other found footage entries, how their multi-faceted roles impacted the making of the film, and what’s next for each of them!

To watch The Monster Project, head on over to Amazon Prime!


Dread Central: Victor and Corbin, can you walk me through writing The Monster Project and where the inspiration came from?
Victor Mathieu: I came up with the idea for The Monster Project back in 2012, and Phillip happened to live with a writer, Shariya Lynn, who I quickly decided to co-write the film with. I had the spine of the film already developed, but Shariya helped me add the flesh, blood and veins to it. We spent about three weeks breaking the scenes down and then writing. Almost two years later, Corbin came on board as an investor and added/modified the script further until we all felt it was ready for filming.

The inspiration for the film came from a few things — my love for Goosebumps, the video game Call of Duty, and the found-footage genre (particularly The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). The other inspiration was a movie called The Hamiltons, which featured a young boy filming his family with his video camera, and in the end you find out that they’re all vampires. I was sitting in my car with Phil, and I was aching to make my first feature film, and I remember thinking to myself how great it would be to make a movie about a documentary crew going to interview a family of vampires. Then, I thought about marketing, and I knew it would be a smart move to throw in a mix of multiple types of monsters to feature on the poster and trailer.

Corbin Billings: When I received the original script that Shiraya and Victor co-wrote, I was immediately struck by the potential of the premise. In approaching the rewrite, my main focus was to add as much complexity to the characters as I could. I wanted to show how the personal demons of each crew member was reflected by one of the monsters that they were interviewing. For instance, Murielle being manipulated and controlled by her ex-boyfriend is akin to demonic possession. Jamal’s two-face nature is similar to how a Skinwalker can shapeshift. Bryan’s struggle with addiction is similar to a vampire’s need for blood, so it became really important to me that Bryan’s history of drug abuse was not simply a story of his past (as it was in the first draft), but a present reality for his character.

DC: The Monster Project comes at a time when found footage films are on a downward spiral, at least in terms of theatrical releases. What drew you all to this particular style of filmmaking over a more traditional approach?
VM: I had about a dozen feature film ideas at the time that I wanted to make. However, they were all too expensive to make as a first time filmmaker, and I knew that I needed to think of a cheaper way to make my first film. So I came up with the idea for The Monster Project, which to be clear, was always going to be a found-footage film from the start. To me, The Monster Project would not have worked as a non-found-footage film. I loved it the way I thought of it and I just really wanted to make the film so I could share the images in my head with all the horror fans out there.

DC: Victor, Corbin, and Phillip, what were the challenges in producing a found footage film where the monsters were put in front of the camera rather than kept off-screen or obscured like so many other found footage films tend to do?
VM: It’s a lot more work to put the monsters in front of the camera, let’s just put it that way. Seeing a shadow or door open or close is a lot easier to do than a flying vampire that tackles an actor, or two people crashing through the floorboards of a house down to the floor below, and all the other stunts and practical effects that we executed to make these monsters come to life.

For a studio, The Monster Project would have been less of a challenge to make since they would have been able to make it with more money, therefore allowing for a more controlled production. But for us, we were first time filmmakers diving straight into it with a very small budget. And with a very limited budget comes a limited schedule for shooting. We had to film the entire movie in 15 days which with stunts and special effects, which take up a lot of time on set, meant we had no time to breathe.

Because of all these constraints, I personally think that this was the biggest challenge for us in terms of putting the monsters in front of camera — finding enough time on set to actually make these monsters believable and bringing them to life.

Phillip Sebal: The biggest issue in my opinion was, as it often is, budget. When Victor first created the concept and we started working on it we knew we wanted to clearly see the monsters and quickly realized the money raised through Kickstarter early on wouldn’t facilitate this properly. This led to a several year fundraising process where we had to attempt to convince investors that this was not what the same running from the shadows style of filmmaking that often is used in found footage.

CB: The most challenging task for me as a writer was to figure out how to mount a camera on one of the monsters (specifically the Skinwalker because we didn’t want to show too much). For me what you don’t see is always scarier than what you do. I think back to the show “LOST” and how disappointed I was when they finally revealed the smoke monster in season two. Before that, the “security system” as it was referred to was simply a POV shot that would chase the characters, and it worked beautifully. It became clear to me that we needed the same element in The Monster Project, and making the skinwalker a police officer with a body camera seemed the only sensible motivation.

DC: Phillip, you also edited the film and were the cinematographer. How did those two roles play against and with each other during the shooting of the film?
PS: I’m glad I had the opportunity to both shoot and edit this film. I think knowing the footage as well as I did allowed us to work smoothly in post. I was also able to think as the editor on set so, along with getting the best shot possible, I needed to consider where my seamless cut points were or could be. I also had to have several backups if we chose to cut to anything else in the house before the camera frame crossed a wall which was often used to cut.

Victor had the film completely storyboarded so we knew where the beats needed to hit in the rooms. It was getting our characters from one room to the next flawlessly with a very frantic camera that was difficult. We had to consider the character holding the cameras energy, thought process at the moment, blocking, and their height when going from each room into another. The cameras are very much characters in this film and we wanted to remain consistent. The biggest issue for me was that as cinematographer and editor I was unable to start editing throughout the short process of filming to see if any connecting material was missing. Luckily, we were able to do a few days of reshoots after putting together a rough cut.

DC: What do each of you think The Monster Project does differently than other found footage films that will draw the interest of horror fans?
VM: The Monster Project does basically the exact opposite of what other found-footage films do. It brings action to the horror genre and puts the monsters, like you mentioned in one of your previous questions, right into the viewer’s face. I wanted for the film to be a joy ride, a monster rollercoaster, a Goosebumps for grownups type of film. And the mixture of all three monsters into one found-footage horror film just sounded like a wild entertaining ride that I hadn’t personally seen before in this sub-horror genre.

PS: The Monster Project takes a very non standard approach to the found footage genre. I always considered this a traditionally paced and structured film shot in the found footage style to really put the viewer into the action and horror.

CB: Up to this point, we are the only found footage film to feature a dream sequence. I know it seems inherently paradoxical… how could you record footage in a hallucinatory dream world, but we’ve got a digital demon haunting the footage of this film, showing up sporadically in static and pixelation, so it only seemed natural that the demon could transport our protagonist into a literal nightmare to revisit the demons of his past and explore his backstory in a way that was visually interesting.

DC: What’s next for each of you?
VM: I’m currently filming a TV show called “First List”, which I am the writer of. I’m also in development on four feature horror films, all of which I will be directing and will not film in America but in Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Romania, independently. I’m looking forward to turning the page on the found-footage genre and stepping into traditional cinematography for my next feature and prove my love and passion for beautiful, elegant and poetic storytelling within the world of horror.

PS: On March 20th I have a comedy feature called Game On releasing that I produced and co-directed it will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and On-Demand. Currently I am working at Uproxx Media and always in the process of developing new feature films that I hope to bring to life in the future.

CB: I’m currently pitching three other horror scripts that I wrote, including a Western-Horror genre film that delves into the real Navajo mythology surrounding Skinwalkers. Additionally, I wrote and produced a majority of the diagetic music in The Monster Project. You can find me performing locally in the LA area under my rap alias, Floowood, producing dark industrial hip-Hop music that sounds like a mash-up of Nine Inch Nails and Eminem.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual

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Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.

Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!

Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Ryan Schifrin’s Abominable Gets a Sasquatch-Sized Blu-Ray

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A recent scientific study concluded that since the year 2000 there have 4,374,139 killer Bigfoot movies. 2006’s Abominable is one of the better Sasquatch-ploitation flicks of the era. Now this creature feature is getting a collector’s edition blu-ray complete with a brand new cut of the gruesome flick.

MVD Rewind Collection has announced they’re planning a special edition of Ryan Schifrin’s gory Hitchcock-influenced Bigfoot flick Abominable, which cast Matt McCoy as a wheelchair bound man who begins Rear Window-ing a psycho Sasquatch terrorizing his hot-blooded cabin neighbors that then turns his big foot towards him. Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace, Jeffrey Combs, Tiffany Shepis, Haley Joel, Karin Anna Cheung, and Paul Gleason co-star.

It has been sighted 42,000 times in 68 countries, a vicious creature of myth and legend called Sasquatch, Yeti, and perhaps most infamously, Bigfoot. It’s been hunted it for years. But what happens when it decides to hunt us?



After recovering from a horrific accident, paraplegic Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) moves back into the remote cabin where he and his now-deceased wife once lived. When his new neighbor Karen, is attacked by a gigantic creature, Rogers contacts the local authorities. But after the police and those around him dismiss Rogers as a delusional widower, he sets out to stop the abominable creature himself.

This won’t be your typical collector’s edition as not only will be getting a new high definition transfer of the film originally shot on 35mm, this will also include an all-new cut of the film with improved CGI-effects overseen by filmmaker Schifrin and editor Chris Conlee with enhanced color timing and correction.

As if two cuts of the film weren’t enough, MVD’s Abominable release will also boast a ton of extras both new and ported over from the original DVD release:
-Brand New 2k Remaster of the Film from the Original Camera Negative
-Brand New Introduction from Director Ryan Schifrin (HD)
-‘Basil & Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked’ (16:28, HD) – New short film written and directed by Ryan Schifrin featuring a score by legendary composer Lalo Schifrin and starring Zachari Levi, Ray Park, Malcolm McDowell and Kane Hodder
-Audio Commentary with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, Actors Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Combs
-‘Back to Genre: Making ABOMINABLE” featurette (SD)
-Deleted and Extended Scenes (SD)
-Outtakes and Bloopers (SD)
-“Shadows” Director Ryan Schifrin’s USC Student Film (SD)
-The original 2005 version of “Abominable” (Blu-ray only, 94 mins, SD)
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Poster & Still Gallery Storyboard Gallery
-Collectible Poster
-Audio: 5.1 Surround Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)

The MVD Rewind Collection release of Abomimable stomps its way to blu-ray on June 12th.

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Horror Retro Caps Boasts Hats Featuring The Lamp, The Video Dead, Rosemary’s Killer and more!

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Yesterday I was stumbling around on Instagram and I came across this killer account called @horrorretrocaps. They make horror movie-themed hats and I felt the need to share their work with you guys today.

It’s not so much the hats (which are cool), or the quality of the product (which looks sound as a pound) but it is the obvious love of horror by the guys behind the scenes that gets me all warm and fuzzy.

I mean sure there are products like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But they also have hats celebrating such classics as The Outing, The Lamp (hell, yeah!), The Gate, Zombie Lake, and The Video Dead.

Nice!

On top of that, the product that sealed the deal for me was their Rosemary’s Killer hat. As some of you might know, Rosemary’s Killer is the alternate title of Joseph Zito’s underrated slasher The Prowler. That alone just earned them horror-cred for days.

You can check out some of their choice caps below and then head on over to their account to purchase some product: @horrorretrocaps.

All caps are $15 plus $4 shipping in the U.S., and he also takes requests for $20.

Enjoy!

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