I interviewed Damien on his new film The Cleansing Hour, a film centering around webcasting live excorcisms. His film is currently currently being crowdfunded through kickstarter.
PF: Hi Damien, this is Peter from PixelatedFear, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Damien: No problem,
PF: Let’s jump right to it, so is this your first time directing a horror film?
D: Yes this is my first horror film.
PF: So what made you want to direct, what I believe to be, such an ambitious horror short?
D: As long as I could remember, I would always pursue very ambitious projects. I always go big and I’ve always had success doing that, so I’ve never shied away from a challenge. I was specifically interested in doing this horror film because it is such a unique concept. I really felt like I could bring all of my strengths as a director and a lover of horror films to bring to life something we haven’t seen before.
PF: Yeah, I’ve watched the trailer and I really like the spin you are putting on the genre. A kind of modern exorcism for the digital age. Want to expand a bit on that concept?
D: Well, the writer Aaron Horwitz and I both spent a considerable amount of time working in reality television, so we are both keenly aware on how to manufacture things for T.V. We are also aware at how quick people are to believe everything they see on T.V. and they are even quicker to believe what they see on the internet. So Aaron came up with the idea of “What if there was a live stream of an exorcism?” We actually later found out that Destination America was planning on broadcasting a live exorcism from the house that inspired The Exorcist. So this idea is not even a stretch of the imagination, it’s real. The difference being that we are doing it online with these two guys who have become internet celebrities.
PF: So is there a message you are trying to tell behind the film?
D: The message of the film is very much connected to our lives digital consumers. We were making a commentary on people who watch something like this and believe it, and how the obsession of watching things like this have an impact on the people around you. So there is very much a commentary underlining the story that we are excited to share with you.
PF: I’m loving the concept, seems really original. Has there been any past horror films that have inspired you in forming the idea behind the film or even inspiring a particular shooting technique?
D: Well there has been so many exorcism films, and only a hand full them are actually good. That said, as style is concerned, I’m drawing from a lot of different films and directors. I really like Scott Derrickson’s ability to make a very visually unique experience, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a perfect example. I also loved how dark and gritty he made Deliver Us From Evil, and this film will definitely be dark, but it will have it’s own distinct style. And even though it’s not an exorcism film, i’m drawing from the concept of the all digital style of the recent film Unfriended.
PF: So you mentioned the style of Unfriended, which is shown completely through webcasting and screen capture. Will you be sticking strictly to telling the story of The Cleansing Hour through the webcast footage, or are you planing to implement a variety of different kinds of filming techniques?
D: So the story will be told completely through the webcast, this is to help immerse not only the people in the film watching the webcast, but also the audience members watching the people watching the webcast. This helps the social commentary. There’s a kind of synergy to an audience watching an audience watching a webcast and how that ties everyone together. So essentially, you will become part of the message.
PF: That’s really interesting. So have you worked with the writer, Aaron Horwitz before and are you guys planning on collaborating in the future?
D: I knew Aaron since we were both in college. We both shared the same love for film, particularly horror films. We got to a point where we were tired of seeing the same kind of things and making the same kind of complaints so we got together and wrote this. As far as the future, we are working on a few solo projects at the moment.
PF: That’s cool that you gave had that mentality going into production. There’s plenty of horror fans who are disappointed with the quality of most mainstream horror releases, but only a hand full of people actually attempt to make the movie they want to see.
D:Yeah that’s exactly what we are trying to achieve.
PF: What is the production stage that The Cleansing Hour is currently at? Have you guys started filming?
D: We are still in the preproduction phase. We are currently working on set and makeup design, but we really need to reach our funding goal to produce the quality film we are envisioning. This movie is no longer my movie, it’s our movie. The fans are what will make or break this film.
PF: Well I wish you the best of luck with reaching your goal, and I hope to see this film in the future. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
D: Sure no problem, thanks so much.
Our interview went smoothly and Damien seems very passionate to bring a unique film to the horror community. A film for horror fans, by horror fans. Without further ado, here is The Cleansing Hour.