Inheritance logo  
Press Header
sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav sample nav
 
INTERVIEW:
 
McDonald 1
 
McDonald 3
 
McDonald 4
 
McDonald 5
 
McDonald 2
 
Brian McDonald - Producer/Writer
 
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE MOVIE COME FROM?
It came from a few different places, Kris (Kristensen) has a haunted house in his family and the other stuff came from some stories a friend of mine told me about taking care of an older woman. We knew we wanted to tell a horror story and we knew we needed to find a human element for that story and this is what developed.
 
WHAT APPROACH DID YOU TAKE IN WRITING THE SCRIPT?
We wanted to make it seem like this was really happening to real person - not happening to a movie person. We made certain choices in terms of our actors, certain choices in terms of our locations and certain writing choices about who these people were in terms of their economic situation. And we wanted to not fall into any cliches like having a scary house with dark clouds with thunder and lighting and rain. We wanted things to happen in broad daylight and we wanted the ghosts to show up in board daylight and in public places, things that don't usually happen. Because people expect scary things to happen in scary places we decided to make scary things happen in regular places and that that would be scarier.
 
HOW WAS IT COLLABORATING ON THE SCRIPT WITH (DIRECTOR) KRISTENSEN?
Kris and I plotted out the script first so we knew what happened in the story. Then we'd discuss what would have to happen in a given scene and then one of us would take the scene and take a pass on it. If one of us figured out the angle on this scene, he would take it and the other one would read it and do a polish on it and then we'd move onto the next scene. It was a pretty argue free smooth operation.
 
WHY INDY FILM?
Kris and I both spent years trying to sell scripts and make movies down in LA and it just didn't work out. We decided to take the power out of their hands. If you want to be a painter you can paint. But movies take so much money it's hard to do it on your own, other people have to "approve" of you before you can even do it. So we just decided we are going to do this somehow and just making that decision put a lot of things in motion. It was actually good for Kris and I, things weren't going the way we wanted to in our careers but once we made this decision it changed. Nothing had changed in our lives except we took the power away from "them" but it totally changed our phycological outlook on the movie business. Even before we had a dime, even before we had a script. It made it seem possible somehow.
 
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND REWARDS OF PRODUCING THE MOVIE?
In some ways I wasn't prepared to produce because it wasn't what I set out to do. In some ways I wasn't as good at it as I would have liked to have been. But in other ways I was better at it than I would have suspected and most of that had to do with the dealing with people part of producing- putting out fires. Almost everyday on the set because we had such an inexperienced crew there was someone who felt they had bitten off more than they could chew. And I needed to talk them into doing the job because they felt like it was too big for them whatever that job was. But everybody stepped up to that challenge and did a good job. I'd been on a lot of crews as low man on the totem pole, this was my chance to be second highest on the totem pole. I think I got to be the kind of boss I always wanted to have and I felt good about that. We treated everyone well and they nicknamed me the "nice guy producer", that's pretty good.
 
HOW WAS IT TO SEE WORDS YOU HAD WRITTEN TRANSLATED TO FILM?
At first it doesn't quite match up but then when it's working the reality replaces your old expectations or the old image you had. That's one way to know it's working when the film starts to replace the old version you have in your head. I try not to go in with so many expectations of what it should be. If it's telling the story it's working and if it doesn't tell the story then it's not working. My expectations might be different than somebody else because for me it doesn't have to look or work a certain way as long as it does work if it's working then it's working. That's what making a movie is, it's telling a story and everything else should support that. Everything else should be in support of that idea of being in service of the story, a slave to the story. It's the most important thing.
 
HOW WAS POST PRODUCTION?
The editing, the sound, the music, all of them add another layer of depth to the movie and it's amazing. We would go talk to the composer and then come back a few days later and see it with the picture. It was amazing, a scene wouldn't be scary and then with music it would be. The same thing was true with the sound design you could really add layers to a scene by adding sound or taking sound away. You could add birds to this scene or by taking the birds away could make it seem dead and scary. It just gives you more tools to tell your story with. The color correction was a really nice thing because we could have a pallet for each act to assist in the story telling.
 
AS CO-WRITER HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH THE ACTORS?
It was interesting because we had theater actors, unlike in movies the theater actors thought well you're the screenwriter and they often asked my opinion about things. I'm sure that's something that only happens on an independent film where the actors think that one of the people who came up with the idea is worthwhile to talk to. So that was really nice and I worked with them a lot actually and enjoyed working with them. And it's amazing how hard actors work. It seems like an easy job until you see them working because it's not just memorizing lines. You don't really know how hard they work until you work with them. They are trying to figure out what the intention behind this line or that line is, they really are working hard.
 
HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH KRIS ON THE SET?
We talked about it ahead of time, he respected what I had to say and the contributions I wanted to make. But we also didn't want the power structure on the set to break down. We didn't want everyone to think it was a free for all because we've seen that on sets where everyone feels they can put in their two cents and it's just not true. If I had an issue where I thought we could do things differently I would pull Kris aside and talk to him privately about it. And he would either yah or nay my suggestion but I was always welcome to make them. There was never a line between writer and director and it always seemed that what I had to say was as valid as what he had to say and he would weigh everything I had to say. And sometimes Kris would come to me and say this doesn't seem to be working what do you think? It was a nice relationship that way. I think because of the way Kris and I work and because we think enough along the same lines that we can have such a free exchange of ideas.
 
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BEST AND MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF THE WHOLE PROCESS?
Production itself was challenging, the actual shooting of the movie, it's the part people associate with making a movie but in a way it's a small part of it. When you have a whole crew to deal with and coordinate and a location, trucks and a camera you have to coordinate all that. That was probably the hardest thing. But shooting it is also the best thing because there is a whole crew there to help you tell your story. There are actors standing there saying your lines and doing the things you had envisioned months or years earlier. It's a pretty amazing thing.
 
YOU CHANGED THE LEAD AFTER A WEEK AND A HALF, WHY?
We had the wrong actress for the part and we had a responsibility to ourselves and our investors to make the best movie we could.
 
This interview was conducted by Marcus Donner.