Sundance 2013: Q&A with Filmmakers Simon Barrett, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Adam Wingard, Jamie Nash, and Kyle Crosby
S-VHS, the sequel to found footage anthology V/H/S, has had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (look for a review soon), and we have a transcript of the Q&A that followed right here for you.
Be warned though... spoilers abound!
In attendance: Filmmakers Simon Barrett, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Adam Wingard, Jamie Nash, and Kyle Crosby
Q: If you make another one, what are you going to call it?
A: VHS-C Maybe.
Q: In the scene with the dog and the aliens, I was looking for a disclaimer at the end saying “no animals were harmed.” I didn’t see one so I thought there might be some people here concerned.
A: Yeah... no disclaimer at the end... yeah. Jason would have some funny stories about that because the kids were like feeding that dog hot dogs all the time. The date was almost comatose, so it didn’t have to die cuz all it wanted to do was lay on its side all the time. So off screen we started shaking it. If we stopped shaking it, the dog doesn’t move. It's Jason’s family dog, and it is alive and well.
Q: I wanted to congratulate you guys; that is some of the best use of first-person consistently through a movie that I have ever seen. Is that what you started with or is that something you put together with the stories that you created?
A: With this series, when everyone is pitching their ideas from the found footage angle, like a zombie movie idea, everyone wants to know “Whats the perspective of it?” What's cool about the whole VHS series is that we all went out of our way to try and find new ways that you haven’t seen done before. The whole thing with found footage is kinda cool cuz you can tell stories you’ve seen before about ghosts and zombies and satanic crazy shit, but you can do it in a new light. Showing it from that found footage perspective just makes everything more interesting.
Q: Do you have a distributor yet?
A: No, we don’t have a distributor yet, but we;re hoping someone will buy this film. It’s running in Park City later this week, but hopefully we’ll know soon.
Q: Was the zombie segment always supposed to be as funny as it ended up being?
A: We were definitely pushing it toward the comedic side but still trying to gross people out. I think we succeeded.
Q: I rarely see a horror film where the sequel surpasses the first one so I would like to congratulate you guys on that. This movie blew me away. I love that genre. So I was wondering are you guys all friends?
A: No, we're not (laughter). We have all gotten together at various festivals like this and SXSW. I would say we're all friends. We didn’t know Eduardo and Gregg before this, but Simon and I [Adam Wingard] met here in 2011. Then Jason, we're friends now cuz he stays on my couch for weeks at a time when he comes to visit LA (laughter).
Q: Is there a common mythology between the first one and this movie?
A: I wrote them both, and I don’t really have any idea (laughter). Nothing is intentional. Like the little kid’s ghost is a low budget way to accomplish a supernatural effect. The Skype thing was originally supposed to be part of the alien segment, but I didn’t know how to do that cuz I’m not scared of aliens so I had the idea of the Skype haunted house thing so Brad was like, 'Fuck it, I’ll get my alien segment eventually.' Jason finally gave it to him. The one with the retinal implant was just trying to be a more straightforward ghost story. So yeah, nothing was meant to be common.
Q: If you do make a trilogy, are you going to reveal a central plot to the conspiracy behind all three?
A: Yeah, definitely. The first one hints at a mythology so obliquely that there is no need to try and figure out what it's talking about. This film goes slightly further. For the 2 or 3 people in the world that would actually be interested, there are some things that would actually tie together. I think if we did make a third film, which is a significant IF at this juncture, we would try to make the wraparound actually answer these questions. It’s a lot more difficult to answer questions than just present them so I probably wouldn’t write that, I would hire someone else to do it (laughter).
Moderator: We have time for one more.
Q: I know that there was a lot of criticism in the first one over the date rape scene. I noticed there were a lot of frat boys in the first one and none in this one. Was that intentional?
A: That’s a fair question. I think these films always have the same unifying theme. If there was a unifying theme for the first VHS, it would be the idea of found footage based on the failed sex tape. Every segment had the failed sex tape aspect. Some people just responded more negatively to it than we thought they would. We weren’t necessarily regretful; it was more like we have nothing else to say on that subject so... here are some zombies (laughter). Thank you all for coming out.
S-VHS / USA, Canada (directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener; screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto & Gareth Huw Evans, John Davies) — Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
The cast for this go-round includes Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C Holt, Kelsy Abbott, and Hannah Hughes.
Sundance runs from January 17th-27th. Visit the official 2013 Sundance Film Festival website for more info.
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