With filmmaker John Fitzpatrick’s horror short Skypemare set to premiere Monday, October 14, in Los Angeles at the Screamfest Film Festival, read on for our exclusive chat with the filmmaker and his star.
Directed, produced and written by Fitzpatrick and starring Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever) and Annika Marks, the seven-minute horror short Skypemare revolves around the character of Allison (Vincent), who home alone on Halloween night while Skype’ing with her best friend Jenna (Marks) witnesses something terrifying unfold on both sides of her computer screen.
“There was sort of a twofold agenda that created Skypemare,” filmmaker Fitzpatrick told us of his inspiration. “I wanted to so something simple but with impact, and I also wanted to do something where the true villain and the true source of suspense comes from the technology and media we surround ourselves with. The idea of two friends harmlessly chatting over Skype and something going terribly wrong just seemed to make sense. I guess it’s that idea that you are helpless on the other side of a proverbial ‘window’ and can only watch from the other side as terrible things happen that I became obsessed with. That’s what happens to Allison. She’s just stuck there, watching. It’s so alive and happening right there in front of you, and yet you can do nothing. That was the goal, to make people feel that horror.”
As for Vincent’s involvement, “Cerina and I met over a year when a mutual friend, Ryan Dillon, introduced us at a premiere for a film he was in at AFI Fest,” stated Fitzpatrick. “At the time he and I were prepping this crazy experimental film noir called Reflex that we were going to shoot all improvised, and he had mentioned Cerina as the femme fatale. She and I hit it off and she agreed to do the project, and when we finally started filming in Laguna Beach, she was just on fire. I was truly blown away. I mean, we did this thing from dawn ’till dusk, sometimes all night, and she and Ryan literally had to make up all their dialogue and deal with me giving adjustments on the fly, and she never missed a beat. She was just on top of it and never really even broke character. Even when she wasn’t speaking, you could feel her character’s story behind her eyes and, to me, that’s the toughest part – still making a scene interesting even though you are just looking at someone.”
“Anyway, that short is finishing now and will be out next year. Ever since then, she and I have been talking about doing something in her wheelhouse, but we wanted it to be different than the usual slasher-style horror film. After several tries and various scripts, we finally settled on Skypemare. Working with her on this was the same as with Reflex. She has an incredible work ethic, brings her ‘A’ game and knocks it out of the park. Sometimes I think she’s harder on her self and her performance than I am, and I am maniacally a picky bastard.”
Stated Vincet on what drew her to the project, “Well, it’s not a short answer. Ryan Dillion and John Fitzpatrick, and our whole ”crew’ who we call ‘Team Sledgehammer,’ all have such a blast working together. We’ve done a few projects over the years, some drama, some comedy, and we were working on writing a horror feature together. But it just seemed like a natural next step, to do a horror short together, first. John and I threw around a bunch of ideas, and one day he called me and said, ‘I got it!’ He told me the concept of Skypemare, sent me the script, and I was ready to shoot. I’ve done a lot of horror, but nothing in the vein of Scream, so i was really excited to get into this version of the genre. It’s so fun! And funny! But of course John and Nicholas Kaat, our DP, were genius at creating those suspense moments. I called my girlfriend Annika (Marks), asked her if she wanted to come play with us, and we just found a weekend that we all had available and started shooting! We shot in my house, my apartment actually, and it was a total blast. We are like a family. We all genuinely love each other and know how to communicate through the creative process. We get shit done, we have a lot fun doing it, and then we always end the shoot with cocktails or wine!”
We queried Fitzpatrick as to whether or not there are plans for a feature version of Skypemare.
“Well, that’s tricky,” he responded. “The short answer is ‘yes.’ But I feel it’s important to say that Skypemare is a short film. It was designed as a short, and it has a full plot that logically concludes and wraps itself up in a nice little package. I think that is important to say. We didn’t shoot an opening hook for a feature we want to do and call it a short. I feel the task with shorts is tell a great story with impact fully and completely. That being said, of course we have outlined and imagined what would happen if you took the same ingredients and the plot conceits of Skypemare and set it at a hip, East Coast college campus. I wonder what that would be like…”
As for what other horror projects Fitzpatrick has up his sleeve, “We have a feature that’s been in the works for about six months,” he revealed. “It’s a suspenser in the vein of Spielberg’s Duel meets Deliverance, centering on a woman training at high altitude for an ultra marathon who encounters some very, let’s say, interesting locals and soon finds herself having to literally run for her life. I suppose there’s also a Last House on the Left sort of vibe in there as well. It’s really a throwback to the maverick cinema of the late 60’s and 70’s, where young filmmakers were churning out some really bold stuff that just got right in your face. It’s not a grindhouse picture, per se. I think the aesthetic here will be a little more palpable, natural and real.”
As for Vincent’s thoughts on the Screamfest premiere of Skypemare, she stated, “I am thrilled! I really love this festival, I love the enthusiasm from the horror community, and I feel honored that our little short made it in, so we’re really excited to celebrate together and be recognized by such a great genre festival. I haven’t been this excited about something in a while. Well, that’s not entirely true; I get excited about everything. But seriously, it feels really great to create art from love and friendships and pure joy and fun, and then have that recognized, and have the opportunity to celebrate it with other well respected filmmakers in the horror community.”
Skypemare premieres during “Shorts Program 3” on 10/14/2013 at 7:45 PM and will play alongside Desolate Road, The Body and The Horizon Project. Tickets can be purchased here , and for more on Skypemare, ‘like’ the film on Facebook here.
For more on Screamfest, which runs October 8th to the 17th at the Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601), visit Screamfest’s website, “like” Screamfest on Facebook, and follow Screamfest on Twitter.
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