Exclusive: Oscar Winning Director Barry Levinson Talks Horror on a Small Scale in The Bay

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Exclusive: Oscar Winning Director Barry Levinson Talks Horror on a Small Scale in The BayWith The Bay (review) hitting theatres and VOD this weekend we sat down with director Barry Levinson to talk horror, found footage, Isopods, and more!

“The Bay kind of evolved,” says Levinson regarding the genesis of the project. “I was originally asked to do a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay because it is 40% dead. I started collecting the information and the facts, and they were quite frightening. Once everything was in front of me, I didn’t think the subject would be best served by doing a documentary. So I thought to myself, ‘What if we just told this story in a traditional narrative way?’ So from there we brought all of the facts into it, and it just kept getting scarier. This led to the form that the film eventually took. We ended up shooting the film in eighteen days for two million dollars, and that’s how it all happened.”

Levinson continues, “We were running around with our cameras and just shooting like crazy, and to be honest with you, we never felt pressed for time as we seemed to get everything accomplished that we needed to within that set time frame.”

The Bay has a very organic feel to it that lends to the film’s credibility. Levinson went on to talk about the smaller scale film process. “We looked at the upscale digital cameras that you could find on the market. The really high-end stuff, but when we degraded it, it still didn’t look real enough to me. It looked too good to be the fake version of real footage we were trying to capture. More so, those upscale cameras are much bigger and heavier and so you have to hold them differently as people do with consumer cameras. In the end we decided that the best route for us to take would be using the consumer grade cameras so it would look more real. We examined over sixty to seventy cameras to see what their capabilities were, and from there we whittled the number down to around twenty that were used for production. You would have to use these cameras the same way a consumer would, and that more organic effect ended up lending a lot more credibility to the look that we were hoping to capture. Once that was settled, we had to go and find actors who were absolutely unknown and anonymous to preserve that illusion.” Adding, “As a director it’s always good to keep pushing the boundaries in terms of what you’ve done and where you may go. It’s all part of the learning curve. It’s exciting when you don’t have it all figured out. I love doing that. I love the challenge of it all.”

A horror film is only as good as its menace, and the ones found in The Bay will have your skin crawling for sure. “Screenwriter Mike Wallach came across a few articles about Isopods (check out The Tongue-Eating Isopod website for more) as we were starting to work on the film. After looking at the stuff he was showing me, I was blown away. I was like, ‘Okay, this is the villain, this parasitic thing that evolves.’ Another thing we loved about the Isopod is that no one has really heard of them, but they are really out there. They’re in the Pacific, and now they’ve spread into the Atlantic; in our case we took the liberty of having them move into brackish water, which is what the big bay is. These are frightening creatures, and as soon as we hit on that, we knew this would be a great thing to add to our story. They’re as frightening as could be.”

From here Levinson reflected on the found footage phenomenon and its extreme popularity. “This was the first time in history that this generation had recorded a lot of its most private moments. So therefore, if there was no media in place, how would we know what happened to a town like this? Now, with all the technology, all the cellphones, we have an idea of how people would behave when faced with imminent danger. All this footage out there right now in my opinion will become archeological. Maybe even anthropological. Look at Pompeii. All we know is that the volcano erupted. We didn’t know what people were doing or what was going on earlier in the day. Now there are video records of some truly intimate moments. That’s what occurred to me when I was thinking of how to do a found footage film. That was my thought process.”

Starring Will Rogers, Stephen Kunken, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, and Kristen Connolly, look for The Bay in theaters and available on VOD November 2, 2012, from Roadside Attractions.

Two million fish washed ashore. One thousand blackbirds dropped from the sky. On July 4, 2009, a deadly menace swept through the quaint seaside town of Claridge, Maryland; but the harrowing story of what happened that Independence Day has never been told – until now. From Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson and the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious comes this nerve-shredding tale of a small town plunged into absolute terror. The authorities believed they had buried the truth about the tragedy that claimed over 700 human lives. Now, three years later, a reporter has emerged with footage revealing the cover-up and an unimaginable killer: a mysterious parasitic outbreak. Told from the perspective of those who were there and saw what happened, The Bay unfolds over 24 hours though people’s iPhones, Androids, 911 calls, web cams, and whatever else could be used to document the nightmare in Claridge.

Exclusive: Oscar Winning Director Barry Levinson Talks Horror on a Small Scale in The Bay

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