Excluvely for HorrorBid, I caught up with up-and-coming genre director Alex Boutellier who just released his chiller True Dark to the international film festival circuit and is in pre-production with his exciting horror thriller Murkwood which is starring Entity's Branko Tomovic.
What's your inspiration for True Dark?
True Dark was inspired by an ancient Swiss custom revolving around the figures of Saint Nicholas and his fearsome dekick, "Schmutzli". I always felt there was something nister about this December rite. Parents would use it to will their kids into obedience, i.e. if you weren't nice throughout the year, Schmutzli would carry you away into the woods and beat you with his switch (a sort of whip made out of sticks and brambles). In some parts of Switzerland, this custom also makes use of Catholic symbols like the bishop's staff carried by Saint Nick. I felt there was enough material there to tell a really dark winter story from the perspective of a troubled young boy. It also felt like a good story that could serve as a warm-up for Murkwood.
The stills look very creepy and eerie, can you tell us a bit about your style?
There always was a clear colour concept throughout the movie, revolving around the elements red (blood/St. Nick's robe/the van's brake lights), black (Schmutzli/soot/night), yellow (the boy's jacket/fire) and blue (coldness). This informed every frame of the film - not just visually but also emotionally. Almost everything was shot at night with very little extra lighting. This resulted in a uniformly dark, sometimes even grainy look that I feel serves the story well. The story is mainly told through the visuals rather than the dialogue to make it more cinematic.
What are your favourite horror films? Did any films in particular influence your work?
I am a great admirer of Roman Polanski. I think he is one of the best visual storytellers. The way he creates a sense of subtle dread and impending doom in his movies, even in the non-supernatural ones, is unrivalled in its finesse. As for individual movies, I do love the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' from 1974 and a lot of John Carpenter's movies, particularly 'Halloween', 'The Fog' and 'The Thing'.
What can you tell us about your upcoming feature Murkwood? Again, the stills look very creepy and eerie and your trailer does remind a lot of Lynch's Twin Peaks
Murkwood is a rustic blend of horror and crime-thriller. The story is inspired by literary genre sources like S. T. Coleridge's poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and clasc weird tales like Algernon Blackwood's 'The Willows'. At the heart of Murkwood are three kidnappers who commit a terrible crime that unleashes vengeful elemental forces. The story is set against a backdrop of monolithic mountain ranges and vast expanses of primordial forest.
It's an English-language project to be shot in Switzerland. The fundraing trailer really doesn't do my vion of the movie justice; it merely serves as a 'mood board' to attract investment and support. It does, however, bring across my ideas for the look of the movie, i.e. a rust-coloured/autumnal colour palette that does indeed bear some resemblance to the Twin Peaks series, which I absolutely love. Murkwood takes place in the fall, around the time of Halloween, so I want it to evoke strong visual memories of that special time of year.
Branko Tomovic has already been cast in one of the lead roles. He was an early supporter of the movie and has been incredibly helpful in getting the word out about Murkwood. I am very excited to work with him.
If I understand correctly, you are still in pre-production with Murkwood. What stage are you at exactly? Are you still looking for financing? Is there maybe something our readers could do to help?
We have been trying to get Murkwood made for some time now. We are still looking for financing, as only part of the budget has been secured. Funding for horror movies is pretty rare in Switzerland, as the people in power tend to frown upon our beloved genre. Hence, Murkwood is seeking investment from private individuals as well as sponsors. HorrorBid's readers are invited to spread the word about our movie and/or to join our team. We are currently looking for talented artists (mainly illustrators, composers and sound editors) from around the world to fill our ranks. Once we have a substantial chunk of the budget together, we will most likely start a crowd-funding campaign as well.
I am also looking for an experienced producing partner to come on board with a shared interest in the genre. Please feel free to contact me through the Murkwood webte or Facebook page.
Source: http://murkwoodfilm.com/index.en.php, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2393794, https://www.facebook.com/murkwoodfilm