After winning Best Picture in the Horror Features category at this year’s Fantastic Fest and screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center during the Scary Movies 7 series, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse are experiencing great success with their kinetic first feature Afflicted.
Centered on two friends who embark on a trip around the world, video logs turn into a documentary when Derek begins to transform into something not entirely human after being bitten by a kinky French girl. Both playing themselves to add realism, Clif and Derek film each other in order to have evidence of the horrific evolution that Derek is experiencing. Both Derek and Clif sat down with Dread Central in New York City to talk about Afflicted (review) and why something like it has never really been seen before in the world of horror.
DC: Are you both getting tired of the movie being referred to as found footage? It’s not really, but is the association with that subgenre something that’s helping you? Fans either love them or hate them, usually.
DL: We don’t mind it because it’s a shorthand for people to understand the style in which the movie was shot. You’re right; it isn’t really found footage. We wanted to make sure this film, storywise, was put together. The fact that it’s edited is actually a story point and it’s edited by the characters for a very specific reason. By taking that documentary, found footage style and then using it to depict – let’s call it ‘the creature’ for our purposes right now that’s used in this movie – in a realistic way, which is actually quite different than the way you usually see that creature which is normally in a super-cinematic style. We thought that was going to be really exciting. If you actually shot this movie as a conventional movie, I don’t think it’s nearly as effective as it is as a documentary.
CP: The only time that I get a little miffed about people calling us found footage is when people dismiss the film out-of-hand because they think it’s found footage. I feel like that’s just too judgmental too quickly.
DC: Is the mythology you’ve started with Afflicted something you’d like to expand on in another film?
DL: The things that we draw upon are very traditional ideas and then we took a spin on it that felt a little bit more modern; a little bit more realistic and biological. When we’re talking about the creature involved, it’s a very sexy, sensually oriented thing and we wanted to move it away from that and tell it in the context of a buddy movie. In terms of the supernatural elements, there are definitely things we’d like to explore but, having said that, we’re not chomping at the bit to do a sequel just yet!
CP: One of the fun parts about placing it in the documentary style was that we could take the pieces of the mythology that we liked. If this happened in reality, what would it look like? We could take something like the need to feed on blood and then take out the stuff like reflections in mirrors and crosses.
DC: For the record, Derek, I think you were very sexy at least up until the vomiting scene.
DL: Thank you very much.
DC: Can you talk about the design process around the body camera rig? You were really able to shoot dynamic action set pieces without “shaky cam”.
DL: Full credit goes to a guy named Sean Arden who designed our chest rig, our “strap-on”. It was based on a traditional older-style stunt harness and then he bolted on a plastic chest plate that would then hook on to the camera. It was really a conceit that we wanted so that our filmmakers could keep on filming even when things go crazy and the action would demand you put down the camera. It allowed us the excuse to keep filming during the action. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek thing so you get to see what happens next.
CP: In terms of the design, one of the coolest things was that it was like being Bruce Wayne because we’d come in with these sketches and [Sean Arden] would come in and re-design it, so you definitely felt like Bruce Wayne at that point.
DC: The sequences in the film are really thrilling at times. How long did those scenes take to shoot? Were there a lot of multiple takes and technical problems?
DL: Actually, that’s a really good question. You know the scene at the end?
DL: It was really ambitious given how little resources and time and toys we had to play with but, amazingly, in spite of it basically needing to be a four-minute, feels-like-one-shot scene, we were delighted when it just kind of came together. Getting all the wipes, working with the special effects team, it actually all worked out really, really well. Where it got really complicated was when you’re trying to get an emotional honesty out of your actors when they’re both directors and both holding the camera. That can really throw you off as a director, but getting the action beats was just a ton of fun.
CBS Films will release Afflicted sometime during the new year, most likely.
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