By Ziyad Saadi | Indiewire April 11, 2014 at 1:48PM
Though the mythical blood-sucking creature Chupacabra is the central antagonist in Alastair Orr's horror film "Indigenous," the main antagonist in the film's production seems to have been the exotic shooting locations that provided the director with as many obstacles as the characters in his movie.
Tell us about yourself. I'm a 29 year old director from Johannesburg, South Africa. I got my start editing documentaries and soon moved on to cutting music videos and commercials. After a couple of years I got tired of cutting other peoples' work and started working on my own short films. The opportunity came up for me to direct a $50k zombie feature film and I attacked it with everything I had. After a gruelling shoot, I sent the film out to anyone in LA who would give me the time of day, which was not too many people. I got some bites from various companies but nothing ever took off. It wasn't until the executives at Kilburn Media took a chance with me and we developed "Indigenous."
What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? We were working on a very tight budget in a foreign country, so already we were going to have to stretch the budget much further than normal. What made it extremely difficult was that the entire film was shot on location, and we have waterfalls, and jungle paths and rivers - so it was always a struggle just to get to these locations, let alone shooting in them. We had to to take canoes to the one part of the jungle, and cable cars to the next. It was incredibly taxing lugging all this equipment through that kind of terrain, luckily all the actors and everyone on the crew helped out and carried sand bags and boxes when necessary. On a guerrilla film like this there's no room for divas or bad attitudes, and I truly believe we would not have finished this movie if I had to deal with Hollywood egos. Everyone just pulled through and did the best they could.
What do you have in the works? I'm working on this great supernatural thriller called Forces. It's basically "X-Men" meets "The Purge." Imagine if a bunch of thieves broke into Magneto's house - what would he do them and how would they fight back. We shot a little proof of concept last year.
What camera did you shoot on? Because the film uses different media to tell the story - newscasts, viral internet footage, found footage - we utilised various different cameras. You'll never find the perfect camera, but you can find the camera perfect for the job, and that was they way I approached it. For surfing shots we used GoPro Cameras (some are still at the bottom of the Pacific), the News scenes were shot on Panasonic Broadcast cameras and the viral footage was shot on iPhones and iPads. Most of the film was shot on the Alexa (Which was shipped in through Colombia) with some additional photography done on the Epic.
Did you go to film school? If so, which one? I went to film school in South Africa. But I almost had to re-educate myself when I left. You don't want to be told what movies you should and shouldn't be making. I wanted to make horror films and apparently that was too close to home for my educators.
What films have inspired you? I love the early films of established filmmakers. The films that have that raw, gritty feel about them where the directors' talent just shines through. There's no grips, no budgets, just balls. Films like "El Mariachi," "Following," "Eraser Head," and even now, films like "Monsters" and "The Raid."
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.