Johannes Roberts Exclusive Interview on 47 Meters Down and The Strangers 2 - Dread Central
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Johannes Roberts Exclusive Interview on 47 Meters Down and The Strangers 2

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47 Meters Down

While Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has certainly set the gold standard for shark attack movies, there have been a few good ones since. Deep Blue Sea is big, dumb fun. Open Water, an ultra low-budget yet realistic and well-made thriller, made a splash several years ago. And of course, there’s the cheesy TV-chum, Sharknado and its sequels. The Shallows, starring Blake Lively as a lone girl against a murderous Great White, came out last year to mixed reviews but big box office. Now we have 47 Meters Down, a sea-set thriller directed and cowritten by Johannes Roberts.

We caught up with Roberts while he was hard at work on his next feature – The Strangers 2 – and he gave us some insights behind the motivation and the making of 47 Meters Down.

Dread Central: Was it a fear of sharks that made you want to explore this concept?

Johannes Roberts: No, I wrote this because I’m a diver.

DC: Oh, were you there under the water with the actors while directing?

JR: I love going underwater, but most of the time I would be on top. The monitor stations would be above, and we’d have speakers underwater. I’d be communicating to the actors and to the crew through microphones.

DC: When you auditioned actresses for these leads – who are played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt – how do you know they’re going to be able to act underwater?

JR: ‘You don’t’ is the answer. Neither of them had any experience but we went in hard, saying ‘You know this is not going to be fun,’ and they committed to it. I met them when we went diving off the coast of California. They’d never done it, it’s a pretty tricky dive actually, [and]we did a couple of dives out there. There’s strong currents and cold water out there so we put them through their paces there, and then we put them into training. They just went for it full on which is great. And the great thing is with Mandy, her character is not a professional diver, in fact neither of them are, so it was great. Mandy was genuinely fucking terrified, and Claire too, but Mandy was especially terrified and that comes across. It’s great.

DC: Are there any real sharks in the movie, like they had in Open Water?

JR: Well, Open Water, it has some [real sharks] but they’re not Great Whites. With what we were doing, there was talk about whether we wanted animatronics, and different ways to go. Because of the way we shot it’s not like any other share movie where you’re on the surface and the shark comes from out of the deep and attacks you on the surface. This was: we were in its lair, we were down there, and this was a whole different way of doing it.

DC: Wasn’t this movie supposed to come out last summer? Was it pushed back because of The Shallows?

JR: We were in post-production when they started on The Shallows. But theirs was a studio movie that had a lot of money, and moved fast. Yeah, I think we just didn’t have the money to compete with them, but then the movie worked super well and we could have got caught up a little bit. The Weinsteins were not sure what to do with it, and then you know what? The Shallows ended up to be a great thing for us. It did super well, it proved people are really interested in the genre. And you know Byron Allen [producer] loves the movie, like, he’s so enthusiastic about the movie. So yeah, it was a funny time, but this happens all the time in film, you’re working on something and something else comes out and if they have more money and clout they can beat you to the cinemas. So it’s good and it’s bad, you just have to roll with it, you can’t get too angry or caught up in it.

DC: Since you love diving, and the ocean’s life, how do you feel about the inevitable comparisons to Jaws?

JR: I love sharks, I absolutely love sharks and so I was always a bit worried about doing a movie like this in that I don’t want to in any way present sharks as something that they’re not, and in any way harm their species, because I’m the biggest fucking shark nerd in the world. To me, when we were doing it, the thing I kept coming back to, and it’s exactly what you’re saying, is actually they are scary and we can love that and the thing is, they are scary because they’re the closest thing to dinosaurs or monsters that we have. They are from a different era and time, they live in the dark, black sea and they are just perfect carnivores, killing machines in a sense, and they’re just the most fantastic monster that you could possibly ever have as well as being the most beautiful creature that there is. I really tried hard to, in the movie, it’s about two girls stupidly getting themselves into their lair and it’s not like evil sharks coming to munch and kill. It’s just like, these people should not have gone to where they’ve gone, and they’ve gone to a place where they’re not the top of the food chain.

DC: What’s it like talking about a movie you made a long time ago, that’s just now coming out? Are you just more focused on what’s next?

JR: To be honest, because it moves so fast initially, suddenly it was OK if this Shallows thing is going to be something. Everything really, really amped up, we were just moving at a huge, crazy pace in post-production that, to be honest, the lengths between finishing and release isn’t really that much longer than, for instance, my last movie, Other Side of the Door. It just takes that long to find the slot in everything, but it’s been a while. I’m now on Strangers 2, [so] I’m a bit distanced from the movie which is great. I can look at it and I’m very proud, I couldn’t be happier because it was a fucking hard movie to make. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and I’d never want to go through that again. That [shoot] took a few years off me so I’m pleased that it’s getting that release. Every post I see and every ad I’m like, ‘Fuck, great.’ And whether it does anything or not, I really hope it does obviously, but I’m super proud, super happy. But yeah, a good distance from it.

DC: We are excited about The Strangers 2. What can you tell us?

JR: It’s going to be great, I hope. I’m in week two of filming. It’s Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, and they’re fucking great. It looks absolutely incredible. I love Bertino’s film, I think it’s an amazing movie and tonally this movie is going to fit very well into that universe. It has a real strong emotional heart, which the first one did, and it has a very cool retro feel to it, a lot of sort of references to… I mean, I always bring a lot of John Carpenter with me because that’s what I grew up on, but also maybe going back a bit earlier to the seventies movies, from Don’t Look Now to Duel, the Spielberg movie, even Christine a bit, the John Carpenter movie. All of these influences are finding their way into the movie, but I think it’s going to be a real fantastic movie. I’m super excited about it.

47 Meters Down is in theaters June 16, 2017.

Directed by Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door), the underwater thriller stars Mandy Moore (“This Is Us,” A Walk to Remember), Claire Holt (“The Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals”), Yani Gellman (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Young and The Restless”), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises).

Synopsis:
On the rebound after a devastating break-up, Lisa (Mandy Moore) is ready for adventure while on vacation in Mexico. Even still, she needs a little extra persuasion when her daring sister, Kate (Claire Holt), suggests they go shark diving with some locals. Once underwater in a protective cage, Lisa and Kate catch a once in a lifetime, face-to-face look at majestic Great Whites. But when their worst fears are realized and the cage breaks away from their boat, they find themselves plummeting to the bottom of the seabed, too deep to radio for help without making themselves vulnerable to the savage sharks, their oxygen supplies rapidly dwindling.

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Exclusive: Director Jeremy Wechter and Exec Producer P.J. Starks Talk The Viral Demon

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I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never had an issue with found footage flicks. I know there are a ton of horror fans out there that all but detest the subgenre, but I’m always down for a first-person fright flick.

Speaking of which, today we wanted to bring you not only the trailer for writer-director Jeremy Wechter’s upcoming The Viral Demon (review), but we also had the chance to speak with producer PJ Starks and writer-director Jeremy Wechter about the film and you can check out their exclusive quotes below.

After looking through all of that, make sure to hit us up and let us know what do you think of writer-director Jeremy Wechter’s The Viral Demon thus far below!

“Jeremy contacted me back in September with questions regarding distribution following the release of VOB: Horror Stories,” Starks told us. “We got to chatting and I found out more about his film The Viral Demon, which I was then fortunate enough to see. I liked his approach and the narrative he devised is pretty inventive. I hadn’t yet dabbled in this area of the supernatural, meaning demons and witchcraft. I’m also a huge fan of found footage films but never had the opportunity to actually be part of one. Jeremy asked me to come on board the project and I gladly accepted. I’m excited to see what happens with the film. I think horror fans of this type of sub-genres will really like what he’s done.”

Writer-director Jeremy Wechter then talked a bit about some of the challenges he faced in the making of this film, saying “Each location in every window of the video-chat was shot totally separately. Therefore, we had to shoot the movie from beginning to end in every location, then move on to the next location and start all over again. This made post-production quite tricky since there are multiple windows onscreen at any given time. It’s kind of like editing five movies simultaneously while needing to keep them all matched up.”

That sounds like a lot of work and a ton of plates to keep spinning at all times. But I have faith the guys can pull it off and I cannot wait to find out first-hand once the film hits… Whenever that may be. We’ll keep you up to date!

The film is written and directed by Jeremy Wechter and executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the Volumes of Blood franchise and executive producer of 10/31, Butcher the Bakers, and Close Calls.

For more info, you can follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Or visit the official site HERE.

Synopsis:

Four college friends participate in an annual video chat that goes horribly wrong when an ancient evil, imprisoned by witchcraft, is inadvertently released. Witness the hellish first night of demonic possession as it unfolds in real-time. As the possessions multiply and the body count rises, their night of fun becomes a race to stop the evil before it can spread across the world through electronic means. Knowing who to trust is the key to survival.

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Check Out this Bright New Trailer from Netflix

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A new trailer for Netflix’s Bright has arrived under our Xmas tree; and being that we’ve been good boys and girls, we figured we ought to share it!

Directed by David Ayer, who reunites with his Suicide Squad cast of Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, the film imagines our world but with mystical beasts living side-by-side with humans. As a result, when crimes are committed by other species, it takes some delicacy to work out a solution.

Look for Bright, written by Max Landis, on December 22nd. Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, Ike Barinholtz, Enrique Murciano, Jay Hernandez, Andrea Navedo, Veronica Ngo, Alex Meraz, Margaret Cho, Brad William Henke, Dawn Oliveri, and Kenneth Choi co-star with Smith and Edgerton.

Synopsis:
Set in an alternate present day where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have been co-existing since the beginning of time, Bright is a genre-bending action movie that follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) embark on a routine patrol night and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.

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Podcast/Book Series Welcome to Night Vale Being Adapted for TV

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Following in the footsteps of “Lore,” another popular podcast/book series is on its way to the small screen! That’s right, kids! Pretty soon we’ll be heading to a sleepy yet quite mad little place where your eyes and ears have been thoroughly spookified! “Welcome to Night Vale.”

Deadline is reporting that the podcast is being adapted by FX for the small screen in conjunction with Sony Pictures. Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, creators of the podcast and authors of the franchise books Welcome to Night Vale and It Devours!, will executive produce the series alongside Gennifer Hutchison (“Better Call Saul”).

The site goes on to report that in addition, Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, has signed up Fink and Cranor for new script books of Seasons 3 and 4 of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. The companion volumes feature guest introductions by the authors and cast members and original illustrations by series artist Jessica Hayworth.

We’ve never met anyone in the industry who understands our world and approach to storytelling better than Gennifer does,” said Fink and Cranor. “We are lucky to be working with her, as well as FX – a network with a long history of creating excellent television.

So many readers have passionately embraced the Welcome to Night Vale novels and script books,” says Amy Baker, Vice-President and Associate Publisher of Harper Perennial. “I can’t wait to see the same enthusiasm for what I’m sure will be an amazing television series from Gennifer and FX.

Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Fink and Cranor created the podcast in 2012, having met through the anarchic, award-winning theater group the New York Neo-Futurists.

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