Exclusive Interview: Filmmaker Justin McConnell Talks The Collapsed and More
Co-writer/director Justin McConnell's The Collapsed hits DVD shelves everywhere on Tuesday, June 5th, and in anticipation of its release Dread Central recently caught up with him to discuss the film and lots more.
In The Collapsed, which is being released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, a family of four desperately tries to survive in the wake of the apocalypse; retreating to the woods, they soon find that the least of their worries involve the other survivors around them.
Read on for our exclusive interview with the independent filmmaker, and look for The Collapsed everywhere tomorrow!
Dread Central: Can you start off by discussing how The Collapsed came about and more about your approach as a storyteller?
Justin McConnell: Well, I had this other story that I had been trying to get financed called The Eternal back in 2008, but we were having a lot of financing problems so it kind of got put on hold. While we were figuring things out, we wrote 4 or 5 more scripts that all tie in together in this universe we created. Once we realized that The Eternal wasn't going to be happening soon, we focused on a new story, and that ended up being The Collapsed.
So I took one story element from this world I had created and built a post-apocalyptic thriller around that story element; with this seed I took, I figured out what I could actually do on the budget that I did have available to me, and then I built something around it. Originally I thought I would be going in more of a serial killer direction with the story, but then I ended up going with the end of the world and zombies because that really lent itself well to our overall storytelling universe.
With The Collapsed we did not have the budget to wow people with huge set pieces or devastated cities falling down around you; it just wasn't in the budget. But I think it is those limitations that helped us get to the root of what we were trying to do with the story a lot faster in some ways.
Dread Central: There is quite a bit of atmosphere at play in the flick; how important was it to you to get that established quickly and keep it going throughout?
Justin McConnell: You know, my biggest concern with The Collapsed first and foremost was the tone, which is part of that atmosphere; the tone was going to be key to the success of the film, and since we didn't have a big safety net of money to fall back on, we had to make it work with whatever we could. We knew this wasn't going to be about dodging bullets and those kind of scenes; we wanted there to be a bit more of a subtle, supernatural feel to the kills so they kind of sneak up on you while you're watching.
Dread Central: Did the budget also sort of dictate the subtle approach you had to go with then, too?
Justin McConnell: Oh sure. We didn't have the budget to be very 'in your face' with the kills and everything in this so we really had to focus on slowly building the suspense throughout. There had to be this feeling that anything could happen at any time, and because we take our time, it allowed for a lot of great character development moments in The Collapsed. Some fans got it and some fans didn't so it was risky, but I liked that we kept things unexpected regardless.
But the other thing we wanted to do was make this a very personal story, a very personal look at the post-apocalyptic world, and I don't think anyone has quite spun this subgenre this way. I think we've definitely made something that stands out from other horror films on the same subject, and I think that's what fans will enjoy most.
Dread Central: Do you plan on returning to those initial projects now that The Collapsed is coming out; what kind of projects are keeping you busy these days?
Justin McConnell: We do want to make all of these films still, and hopefully now we can do The Eternal next; we are now in a better position than we ever have been before with The Collapsed coming out so I think we'll definitely be making the next one soon. I'm not sure if it will be late this year or early 2013, but we do want to make more films from this universe we've created. There are also a few projects outside of this realm as well, but I think we're focusing on this next project and a potential web series that is brewing, too.
But I will say that The Eternal will be the antithesis of The Collapsed though; there will be heads splitting every five minutes, and we will be right in the audience's face with the gore. That has to have that kind of tone because the kind of story it is. It will be a lot of fun to change things up for the next one.
In the wake of the end of the world, a family of four desperately tries to survive against insurmountable odds. Their goal: escaping the city and traveling to the rural community they once called home, Dover's Bend. The constant threat of a violent death forcing them to stay as far away from civilization as possible, they take to the forest, soon to discover the danger posed by other survivors may be the least of their worries.
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