Indie Horror Month Exclusive: Dread Central Talks Dark Feed and More with Shawn and Michael Rasmussen
Last week the directorial debut from Shawn and Michael Rasmussen - Dark Feed - arrived on DVD and VOD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, who nabbed distribution for the indie psychological thriller last fall.
Also co-written by the Rasmussen Brothers, Dark Feed follows a film crew shooting a low-budget horror film at an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past that seems to be coming back to life, feeding off its new inhabitants. As the shoot wears on, members of the crew exhibit increasingly strange behavior, leaving those unaffected realizing just how quickly the madness is spreading amongst them. The only problem is the hospital they're stuck inside doesn't want them to escape- at any cost.
Dread Central recently chatted with Shawn and Michael about Dark Feed for Indie Horror Month; check out the highlights from our exclusive interview below!
Dread Central: After seeing this movie and The Ward, which you wrote as well, it's clear that you guys definitely are not fans of mental hospitals at all (laughs). What do you think makes them so creepy and prime fodder for horror movies?
Michael Rasmussen: Well, it actually all goes back to even before The Ward with the first movie we wrote called Long Distance, which actually inspired this story a lot. They shot that movie in an abandoned hospital in downtown Boston from 6 pm to 6 am every day, and we hung out on set a lot during that shoot. It definitely planted the seeds for this film; we were so fascinated by this building with all this history. I think our fascination is more with abandoned structures than anything.
Shawn Rasmussen: Mental hospitals already have this creepy element to them inherently because so much brutal and disturbing events often happened in places like this; it makes for a wonderful backdrop when you're telling a really creepy story.
Dread Central: Because Dark Feed follows a writer throughout its story, is it safe to assume there's a bit of your own personal experiences in here?
Shawn Rasmussen: Oh definitely; there are a lot of references in this to our own experiences in the industry. Even though it's a horror movie, Dark Feed is also about the creative process in some ways and what that can do to you. Besides, this is a crazy business so what better setting for a horror movie where everyone loses their minds than a film set, right?
Michael Rasmussen: From the very beginning of our career, we had always intended to write and direct our projects. But then Long Distance was an exercise we did that was acquired by a producer so we were like, "Oh, okay- maybe the next one." But then the next project ended up being The Ward so the same thing happened. Fortunately for us, that script got to (John) Carpenter and it really became an entirely different project, which was wonderful; John really made that story and that score his own, and we both love how it turned out. So for Dark Feed we didn't even give it to our agent this time; we just did what we always wanted to do and just made this movie on our own terms.
Dread Central: Had you considered bringing this to a studio before setting out to make it yourselves? And when you went into production, did you guys end up trading off days or anything like that?
Michael Rasmussen: Not at all. We were a very small crew; there were only like four or five of us and the DP so you name it, we were all doing it. Everyone really pitched in to get this movie made, the cast and the crew included.
Shawn Rasmussen: And we just wanted to go and make Dark Feed ourselves so we never tried to go the studio route at all; we were inspired by Paranormal Activity that they could go and make a really great movie with virtually no budget. They showed it was possible, and that inspired us as filmmakers to tell a creepy story that will hopefully get under your skin.
Michael Rasmussen: Plus, The Ward was just getting finished so it was a perfect time to get this project going. We shot Dark Feed at the primary location for Shutter Island, which was just amazing, and we had a really talented production designer named Roger Danchik, who was the art director for Session 9, so even with a limited budget, a lot of things lined up in our favor that really made this movie seem a lot bigger than it was. We were very lucky.
Dread Central: What are you guys working on now?
Michael Rasmussen: We have another project in post right now called The Inhabitants; we hope to have that wrapped up in the next few months. And a lot of what we learned while making Dark Feed were lessons that we used while making The Inhabitants.
Dread Central: It sounds like you guys are planning on sticking around in the horror genre for a while then.
Shawn Rasmussen: We are- we love horror because it's the genre where you can do anything and set your own rules. You really can't find that kind of freedom anywhere else in cinema, and that freedom allows for so many different possibilities as storytellers. Besides, who doesn't love getting scared?
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