Just when you think the found footage boat has officially set sail, another flick comes along that reminds you why this sub-genre can be awesome. Derek Lee and Clif Prowse’s truly killer vampire flick Afflicted (review) is just such a film, and we recently spoke with them about it!
The thing about a good found footage movie, first and foremost, is that it has to feel real. Once a false note is hit, the illusion is broken and the experience is ruined. We asked the duo how they approached this fact.
“For us it was about never breaking the illusion,” says Lee. “If we managed to sell over the top in the found footage genre and people bought it? That is super gratifying. We were so hard on our selves to not break it. That final fight scene of the film, we would have way preferred to shoot that scene traditionally! I mean, come on! Two vampires kicking the shit out of each other? But in order to keep things moving and stay true to the sub-genre, we just had to suck it up. I’ll tell you this though… our next movie will not be found footage as we are SO tired of living within the rules of it! *Laughs*”
“The part of a found footage movie that always drives me crazy is – Why is the camera still rolling? And why is it still pointing directly at what I want it to be looking at?” Lee continues. “That’s why we came up with the idea to have our characters wearing strap-on cameras while filming their documentary. It enabled our characters to just let the camera roll even while they were doing other things. That technique would allow to have a scene like when the vampire is fighting a SWAT team so you wouldn’t have to worry about why it was filming. It kept you in the thick of it!”
So was the plan for Afflicted to always be a found footage film?
“When we were initially coming up with the idea to make a movie… no,” says Lee. “We wanted to make a movie using the amount of money that we could raise ourselves to be its budget. We decided on a film about vampires, which are normally very romanticized, and then completely reinterpret it documentary style through our lenses. We wondered… what would this look like it if actually happened in reality? That’s what made Derek’s transformation into a vampire exciting to us.”
Vampires are a tricky set of creatures to work with as there are many different mythologies that they adhere to. We asked the guys how they approached their mythology and the reasoning behind the choices they made.
“We just cherry-picked what we wanted,” Lee explained. “We wanted to take something that is fantasy and shine a realistic light on it. We wondered what would this creature be like if it really existed? So we got rid of things like turning into mist and being able to control rats, etc. We replaced those traits with everything that would make it feel like an Alpha Hunter. There’s a true diseased feel to the plight of Derek that we approached sort of like a drug addiction model. The idea was if the vampire did not get enough blood, it would cause withdrawal. Those physical and psychological consequences would push the creature to hunt more.”
Found footage films work by their own set of rules. We were curious if it limited the filmmakers to not achieving everything they wanted to do.
“Shooting found footage style gave us the opportunity to do everything that we wanted to do,” Prowse says with a laugh. “Seriously, it was incredibly liberating. For instance, if we couldn’t afford to do something, we just won’t film it, but we can hear it and sense what’s going on. That was a cool thing that enabled us to play with the context of a scene. There are instances in the film that if we had shot them traditionally, it would have been 20 times more expensive… things that were only possible because we shot it found footage.”
“Totally,” Lee chimes in. “We could have Clif holding up his camera and film things that you’d normally see on a YouTube travelogue, and then all of a sudden somebody punches through a rock and it feels more real because we filmed it the way that we did. Seeing that same idea filmed from a crane shot or a crazy dolly wouldn’t have been as impactful.”
“I remember talking to Chris [Ferguson], our producer, who would NEVER tell us no, says Prowse. “One day I was like, ‘Hey, Chris, I really want Derek the vampire to run through a wall… can we do that?’ Chris was like, ‘Well… I guess so. Let me see what I can do.’ So we came up with a simple shot. We had a stuntman run into a piece of scored drywall that was rigged with explosives. Because it was found footage and you didn’t need to see the apparatus all around it, we had a guy literally run through a wall! That was such a fun day! We were all like, ‘Hey, we got to do exactly what we asked for! How weird is that?’ *Laughs*
So now we were wondering… is there a sequel in the works?
As Chris likes to say, if the fans ask for it… actually cared enough to want that… we’d do it. We do have some sequel ideas, but we don’t want to dive directly back into this world and found footage immediately. The sequel would have to be found footage or we’d be sabotaging our fan base,” Lee said.
What about any other future projects?
Lee revealed, “We’re working on a couple of scripts right now… one is like a dark Bourne Identity style action movie without any horror elements, and the other one is actually an action movie set in a horror movie universe. Both of them will be shot in a far more cinematic style. When you watch Afflicted and then see our next movies, hopefully you’ll be blown away by the fact that the same guys made them.”
Afflicted Release Details
The award-winning, critically acclaimed horror thriller AFFLICTED spreads terror on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital July 1st, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. AFFLICTED tells the chilling tale of two best friends whose documented journey around the world takes a horrifying turn after an encounter with a beautiful woman in Paris leaves one of them mysteriously afflicted. Written, directed, and co-starring breakthrough filmmaking duo Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, this excitingly original entry in the found-footage horror genre took home awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Horror Feature category) at the 2013 FantasticFest, in addition to awards of recognition at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Bonus features on both the Blu-ray and DVD include never-before-seen deleted scenes as well as two fascinating featurettes. “Afflicted: Behind the Scenes” takes fans on set for an inside look at the making of this new found footage horror favorite, and “Anatomy of a Scene: The Window Jump” features the filmmakers on how they utilized a creative mix of practical stunt work and visual effects to pull off one of the film’s more jaw-dropping action sequences.
AFFLICTED was produced by Chris Ferguson and Zach Lipovsky. Executive producers are Jason Dowdeswell, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Stuart Ford, and Zak Pashak.
The film has a run time of about 85 minutes and has been rated R for disturbing, bloody violence and language.
This terrifying horror thriller follows two best friends who set out on the trip of a lifetime around the world. Their journey, documented every step of the way, soon takes a dark and unexpected turn after an encounter with a beautiful woman in Paris leaves one of them mysteriously afflicted. AFFLICTED is one of the most suspenseful and original action horror debuts in a generation.
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