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Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Gabriel Cowan Talks Growth





Part of the challenge to independent filmmaking is the ability to adapt to circumstances you have no control over that could very well determine whether or not you get to make your movie. Cowan learned that first-hand when he had to scrap the notion of using practical effects for his creature when a snafu prevented the special effects company from completing their work on the project.

Cowan said, “We had a lot of challenges with production, including the need to pretty much make the creature completely computer-generated, which is something that hit us out of the blue. We had to scramble to get 180 VFX shots done in three months. We ended up using Thinkwell Architecture Firm for the VFX work, which sounds a bit unusual, but they hit a lull with the recession, and since they already had the technology to do the work, we hired them for Growth.

Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Gabriel Cowan Talks Growth

Another adaptation Cowan had to do to his filmmaking approach involved a scene in the movie that required filming in Korea. Due to budgetary restraints, it was impossible for Cowan to be overseas filming, which made the director think outside of the box on how to get the shot he needed without breaking the bank.

For one of the sequences in Korea, I ended up directing the entire scene through Google Video from my office in LA,” Cowan explained. “It’s amazing what you can do with technology these days. What could have been an insanely expensive sequence ended up costing us $2,300 in the end, and I love that I could do something that most people would have thought was impossible just a few years ago.

Something else that makes Cowan stand out in terms of indie filmmakers is his generosity and commitment to his entire team. “Everyone that works on our films is part of our profit-sharing. Every person takes some kind of an ownership stake in the projects they are part of. That’s the incredible thing about independent filmmaking.”

That giving spirit Cowan has on his own features is also part of a new venture he’s embarking on alongside producing partner Suits. The duo are investing in the future of the horror genre, one feature film at a time.

Cowan said, “John and I are now producing for first-time filmmakers on projects that are under the 300k budget level. We’ve got two first-time feature filmmakers that are currently in production on their own films, and from there John and I are hoping to generate about four movies a year. Both of my parents are philanthropists, and we have been fortunate to make our movies on our own terms so we wanted to give back to the independent film community.”

The producer went on to discuss the first two projects which started production last week.

The first film is called Shadow Man, which explores the concept of creating a machine that takes you back into your own memories to experience life-changing trauma so that you can deal with it and move forward,” explained Cowan. “However, in the film, the Justice Department finds out about the process and wants to use it on criminals to determine their guilt in the crimes they’re accused of. During the first trial run of the machine, they end up getting one of their own trapped in a criminal’s mind, and it’s up to him to find his way out of the disturbed mind of a criminal.

Static is a little trickier to explain without giving away the biggest twist to the story, but what I can say is that it’s a very unique take on home invasion. You’ll be shocked at how good it is,” Cowan teased.

Special thanks to Gabriel Cowan for taking time to speak with Dread Central!

- Heather Wixson

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