With director Paul Solet’s Dark Summer releasing in limited theaters and on VOD outlets this Friday, January 9th, via IFC Midnight, we chatted with the filmmaker yesterday regarding the feature and got our hands on a slew of photos from the film. Read on!
Written by Mike Le (Patient Zero), Dark Summer stars Peter Stormare (Fargo), Maestro Harrell (“The Wire”), Keir Gilchrist (“United States of Tara”), Stella Maeve (The Runaways), and Grace Phipps (Fright Night).
Following the intimate “body horror” and thoughtful character examination that was Solet’s widely embraced 2009 feature Grace, we asked him what it was that attracted him to Le’s script for Dark Summer.
“I really liked that there were all of these things happening in the script that were so ripe for cinematic interpretation,” stated Solet, who recently wrapped principal photography on his segment of the horror anthology Tales of Halloween (look for more on that soon).
“There are all these factors contributing to this progressively diminishing perspective of Keir’s character [in Dark Summer]; his isolation, his ‘condition’, his paranoia — that just spoke so clearly to me about how this movie wanted to look and to feel. I usually do my own writing, but I was really excited to see if I could find a new approach to a sub-genre that has become a little familiar. I wanted to cast real actors who actually had the sophistication to understand how potent the thing was thematically and had the chops to present it. Being a teenager is this incredible time where the stakes for everything always feel so fucking huge, like every little decision, every relationship, every rejection is life or death, and Mike’s script felt like a chance to dive into that reality and explore a phenomenon that I could understand intimately, and that’s what makes a project exciting to me.”
Photo Credits: Adam Barnick and Sergio Pinheiro
“Because this one wasn’t my script and the team was excited about the overall structure already,” Solet continued, “my work was more about finding those themes and that tone and working with the actors and [cinematographer] Zoran [Popovic], and later [composer] Austin [Wintory] and [editor] Josh [Ethier], to infuse each individual scene with those ideas.”
Revolving around 17-year-old Daniel Austin (Gilchrist), Dark Summer finds the teen on house arrest for his obsessive online stalking of his classmate and crush, Mona. Without a cell phone or Internet and with his single mother away on a business trip, Daniel figures out a way to piggyback onto his neighbors’ wireless signal and, believing he’s surfing off the grid, uses his time to check in on his friends – and Mona. But what Daniel didn’t expect is for Mona to check up on him. And what she does next shakes him to his very core.
In conveying the lead character’s cyber and physical disconnect, we asked Solet of his cinematic approach to Dark Summer.
“When you have something like that, that is so visually and aurally rich, it really doesn’t kind of just speak to you,” offered Solet of his and Popovic’s handling of the material, “and I knew immediately upon discussing the piece that we wanted create these long, flowing sequence shots that sort of mesmerize you and seduce you into a trance along with the protagonist so you’re sharing his perspective. We brought in our good friend, Manolo Rojas, who is the most incredible steadicam operator I’ve ever seen, and built the blocking together with this notion in mind. Our guiding light was this idea of a sort of Siren song always calling to Daniel, drawing him, and us, forward toward some unknown destination… a living, real-time seduction.”