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At Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012, I stumbled across a little movie called Jacob (review here), and it completely blew me away. For a completely independent picture made for extremely little money, it packed an emotional punch that few mainstream horror films can pull off.
Truth be told, I’ve paid to see movies in the theater that display less skill and power than Jacob, and that’s a damn shame, but finally someone was wise enough to pick up this gem for distribution, and as of April 16th, Jacob is out on DVD and Blu-ray for your viewing pleasure courtesy of Kino Lorber’s Horizon Movies.
Jacob had a return performance at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend to celebrate its release, and I sat down with main man Larry Carrell to chat about writing, directing, and acting in the film.
Mr. Dark: Give us the background on yourself, and what you’ve done so far.
Larry Carrell: I started off recreating my favorite monster makeup and props as a kid, which led to me doing my first haunted house in high school. I went on to do it professionally, running big haunts with 40+ actors, a special FX team, and six-figure budgets. Back in 2002, after 14 years of scaring people, I realized that I was already building sets, working with actors and effects; I just needed a camera.
MD: Several members of the Jacob team met at Texas Frightmare Weekend, right?
LC: Some of the crew met for the first time at the show in past years. Texas Frightmare Weekend 2012 was also probably the only time we had all of the principal cast members in one room at the same time. James Hampton, Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Grace Powell, Krystn Caldwell, Leo Wheeler, Parrish Randall, Keli Wolfe, Nick Nicholson, and Dylan Horne. Stacy Davidson and James Martinelli were also on hand to celebrate. It was a really special evening. Going to Texas Frightmare Weekend is like coming home for us. Loyd Cryer and the Texas Frightmare crowd have always been huge supporters of the Texas independent horror scene.
MD: Talk to us a little bit about how Jacob came together as a project. I understand it wasn’t shot all at once, correct?
LC: Jacob began principal photography on January 2011 and was shot in 21 days. Once we had the film in the can, so to speak, we quickly put together a rough cut so we could see what worked and what did not. That is when we decided to give the audience a little more explanation as to why Jacob is the way he is. In the first version of the film, there was a recurring theme with several townsfolk commenting on how bad Jacob’s father had been. I really like the idea of giving the audience a few clues about a situation and then leaving it alone for them to imagine what might have happened in their own minds. It turned out that with this piece it was going to be a lot of fun to actually let the audience experience the tragedy of Jacob’s dad first-hand. Michael Biehn has always been one of my favorite actors so I wrote the scenes with Michael in mind even though I was pretty sure there was no way we would get him. Sometimes it really pays off to think big because this is one time that I got exactly what I wanted. So with Michael on board we scheduled an additional ten-day shoot for pick-ups and the new scenes.
MD: Some people have the idea that Jacob is a traditional slasher film, where I think it’s better compared to a film like Carrie, a drama that goes very wrong in the end. What was your inspiration and thought process while writing the film and creating Jacob‘s world?
LC: When I write, it just kinda pours out of me. It is like I can see everything happening in my head and I am the only person on earth who knows these characters stories and it is my job to tell the world about them. I like stories that move me. I like characters that you care about. Otherwise, when bad things happen to them, who cares? Being an actor helps because I really spend a lot of time in each character’s head. I know what they are feeling. What makes them happy, what makes them sad. Once I know them that well, it becomes about pushing their buttons.
MD: What made you choose to do a double role in the film as well as direct? And all your other roles, too. I was expecting to see your name under “Catering by” in the credits!
LC: I had always planned to do it that way. The story is very personal to me, and I knew that with a limited budget there would be challenges that would arise that could best be overcome by adapting the story on the spot. Since I wrote the story and knew each character so closely, it just made sense for me to direct. Playing Billy and Otis was just something I needed to get out of my system. I really like to challenge myself as an actor, and I wanted to see if I could convince the audience not only that Otis and Billy were two different people but to hate one and root for the other at the same time. It seems to have worked. I can’t tell you how many people come out of the screenings thinking they were two different actors.
MD: How did you find your stars, Dylan Horne as Jacob and Grace Powell as Sissy? Just how scabby are your knees from getting down there and thanking God every night that you were the first to find Grace? She’s kind of amazing.
LC: Grace and Dylan are both amazing, Back in the days of my dreaded “day job,” Dylan walked into the video game store that I managed seeking gainful employment. I instantly knew he was going to be Jacob. So I hired him on the spot, and a great friendship was born. I met Grace working on a public service announcement about terrorism. There were maybe 150 extras there. I had already scoured the kids and sadly didn’t see anyone that had Sissy potential. I was helping the casting director move a massive pile of head shots when one fell out on the floor. It was Grace. I knew instantly she was Sissy. I went to the holding area, found her and her mom, convinced them that I was not a creep (despite my “Sexy” belt buckle), and (after having me thoroughly checked out) she brought Grace out for a screen test. The rest is history.
MD: The film looks fantastic, especially for the budget and conditions you were working with. Talk to us a little bit about the process and cinematography on Jacob, how you nailed that look and feel.
LC: The first thing (cinematographer) Stacy Davidson and I did when we started talking about shooting Jacob was get together with a stack of our favorite DVD’s and talk about what we liked and what we thought we could achieve with the cameras we were using. We had a Canon T2i, Canon 7d, and a Canon H1. We decided on shooting 2:35:1 to give the film this big, wide, epic look. We decided to try to recreate the style of the 70’s era cinematography from the movies we loved growing up. Stacy did a great job with the cinematography and editing on Jacob. The man is a real artist, and the movie would not be what it is today without his touch.
MD: I know Jacob has been screened at many festivals and cons, and you’ve finally got a home video release. Tell us about that.
LC: Jacob has screened all over the States and in Canada and has won over 14 awards, which led us to distribution with Paris-based WTFilms, who has acquired the international sales rights to Jacob. Kino Lorber’s new label Horizon Films has the rights to North America. The street date was April 16, 2013, and we held a launch event at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend.
MD: Now that Jacob is in the can once and for all, what’s next for you?
LC: Acting-wise I have several films in various stages of production. I just wrapped on Stephen Wolfe’s The Doll Factory, and I am currently shooting on Shawn Welling’s The Legend of Darkhorse County, in which I share a lead role with Lee Majors! He plays an older version of me as the Sheriff. It was super cool working with him. I am also acting in a new film called Sorrow from writer/director Millie Loredo that stars me and Mayra Leal, Eric Martinez, and Donny Boaz.
MD: Traditional final question: What’s your favorite horror movie?
LC: Damn it, man! I have so many. It really depends on what kind of mood I am in. I’ve been on a Clive Barker kick lately so I am going to say horror-wise it is Nightbreed. That one really takes you out there. But my favorite movie of all time is Jaws.
Big thanks to Larry, who provided Dread Central with an exclusive clip from the special features on the newly released Jacob disc, so check that out below as well as a list of all the extras included. For more visit Larry Wade Carrell on Facebook.
Lonely and disturbed Jacob Kell loved his little sister more than anything on earth. When her drunken stepfather tragically murders her, Jacob retaliates the only way he knows how… and anyone who crosses his path will know there is no limit to his brutal vengeance.
– “A Killer Cast”
– “The Shoot”
– “Childhood Heroes”
– “An Award-Winning Score”
– “Yell Magazine Interview at the Jacob Canadian Premiere”
– Actors Commentary with Dylan Horne (Jacob), Grace Powell (Sissy), and Larry Wade Carrell (Billy and Otis Keller)
– Filmmakers Commentary with writer/director Larry Wade Carrell and producer/cinematographer Stacy Davidson
– Photo gallery slide show
– Screen test
– Deleted and extended scenes with commentary
– Storyboard to scene comparison with commentary
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