With writer/director Adam Gierasch’s noir horror thriller Schism set for its world premiere Saturday, October 12, at 7:30pm at Screamfest LA, read on for our chat with the filmmaker and star Ashlynn Yennie as well as a look at some stills!
Produced by Gierasch, Jace Anderson, Kate Hoffman and Ray Markovich, Schism stars Yennie (The Human Centipede), Callum Blue (Columbiana), Vinnie Jones (The Midnight Meat Train) and Nicole LaLiberte (Girls Against Boys) and revolves around Dylan White (Blue), a New Orleans native who leads a normal, boring life until horrific visions begin to interrupt his waking moments and he’s forced to face the fact that he literally doesn’t know who he is.
Chatting with Schism director Gierasch, who along with his wife and long-time writing partner, Jace Anderson, penned the flick (the duo’s previous writing credits include the horror features The Mother of Tears, Autopsy and the Night of the Demons redux, the latter two he helmed), the filmmaker stated of this most recent foray into bad men, bad dames, bad sex and bad intentions, “Schism is my most personal film so far, and I’ve been wanting to make it forever. I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance.”
Of the film’s inception, “It all started in the Burbank airport,” he said. “Jace and I were going to somewhere in Texas to visit her family for Thanksgiving, and it was one of those awful trips involving layovers and plane changes; pure hell. I really didn’t want to go. Basically, I pressured her into not getting on the plane, and we stayed in LA for the weekend. On the way home all I could think was, ‘Am I damned for doing this?’ That’s where the idea came from. I started thinking about stories involving guilt and redemption. Can you change your fate, or are you damned forever once you fuck up? Can you ever truly make amends? I should mention that I’m a nice Jewish boy from upstate New York, so while the guilt part makes sense, the Christian overtones don’t.”
“As for the writing process,” Gierasch continued, “it was the same as it always is. I do structure and story, and Jace puts it on the page. I will say that in the earlier drafts some of the set pieces were even more graphic than they are now, and Jace refused to put the phrase ‘vaginal lips’ in the script. We argued about that one a lot.”
Pertaining to the shooting locale of New Orleans and how it informed the tone of Schism, “It’s just such a great location,” said Gierasch, who had returned to the city for another filmic go (he’d shot Night of the Demons there previously). “There’s so much texture and history,” he continued. “And there’s so much true scuzziness, which was perfect for Schism. The motel where we shot the Dylan and Marlena scenes was truly awful. During the [location] scout we walked into one of the rooms, and there was fresh blood on the bed.”
In regards to the casting of actress Ashlynn Yennie (known to horror fans for her turns in the first two The Human Centipede films) in Schism, “I loved her in The Human Centipede and called her in for an audition,” offered Gierasch, “and she just lit up the room, which was perfect for the role of Brandy. I can’t say enough good things about working with her. She’s up for anything and is a joy to have on set.”
“Working with Adam and Jace was amazing,” actress Yennie chimed in. “I was so honored to be a part of their film, dream and vision for Schism. I originally was asked to audition for the part of Marlena, but they later asked me to read for Brandy, and it was exactly the role I had been looking for. Having done shocking films (The Human Centipede 1 & 2), I wanted to do a part that was more like who I am as a person. Brandy is warm, inviting, caring, sarcastic and strong, and did I mention I got to play opposite the very talented Callum Blue? What girl wouldn’t love that?!”
In addition to the Screamfest premiere of Schism, the Richard Greenwood-directed short film The Wretched Prologue, in which Yennie stars, is also slated for its premiere at the fest.
“The Wretched Prologue is awesome,” commented the actress, “I mean, who doesn’t love a zombie apocalypse with Roman soldiers? I play Claudia, the wife of Marcus, the leader of the Roman Army. Everyone thinks a plague has spread but it’s actually zombies, and it’s pretty amazing!”
As for the premiere of Schism and his thoughts on the finished film, filmmaker Gierasch stated, “I’m thrilled for it to be in Screamfest and to be premiering here in LA, [but] I’m a neurotic director. One minute I love the film; the next I think it’s a disaster. Seriously, I made a weird noir horror art film. And it’s pretty terrifying when it’s about to come out because of course you want everyone to love it, but the intent was always for it to be this edgy, weird, cross-genre thing. So hopefully that’s what it is.”
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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