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Of Trickery and Malfeasance: “The Revenant” Director Kerry Prior

By Indiewire | Indiewire June 12, 2009 at 4:08AM

Editor's Note: This is one of a series of interviews with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival.
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Editor's Note: This is one of a series of interviews with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival.

“The Revenant” (USA, 2009) World Premiere
Director: Kerry Prior
Cast: Chris Wylde, David Anders, Louise Griffiths, Jacy King
A satirical treatise on friendship, regret, and the nature of evil under the guise of a rootin’-tootin’ vampire buddy movie.

What initially attracted you to filmmaking and how has that evolved since starting out?

When I was 8 or 9 years old I ordered a rubber Gorilla mask from an ad in the back of "Boys Life." I was pretty stoked when it finally arrived. It had crappy woolen hair glued onto it and it was all crushed and malformed, but I put it right on and started off to impress my siblings. I came upon my sister first--she was maybe 4 or 5. She freaked. Total melt down. I pulled the mask off to show her it was just me in a mask--she didn't care--she was screaming like something was eating her and pointing at the wrinkled latex wad. I threw it under the bed and she flipped out, running from the room. I got in trouble. But I didn't care; I was changed. To have that kind of power over someone's emotions was intoxicating. From that moment on I devoted my life to trickery and malfeasance. When I was about 11 I discovered my parent's discarded super-8 camera.

How did the idea for your film come about and what excited you to undertake the project?

When I was only 7 my grandfather died. A few days later he came back from the grave and sat in my bedroom and talked to me. He smelled really bad--like that sweet smell coming off a stagnant pond. He told me to be good, to lead an honest life, and do all the things that he never had a chance to do. He said he missed me, but that he would always be there, listening, if I needed him. Then he asked my if I could get him human brains to eat--just a little--just enough to get by. I never told my parents about that. I just took that premise and made some shit up.

How did you approach making the film, and were there any pivotal moments of learning during the life of the project for you?

Yes. I learned that editing while standing up really is the best way to do it. I learned that you can drop your phone in the pool and it will get better, but you can't spill a margarita on your keyboard and expect it to get better. I learned that you should check references and give drug tests with abandon. I learned that squibs don't work on bare skin. I learned how to fire people. I learned an awful lot about DPX Log files.

What were some of the biggest challenges in making the film?

Trying to get actors to allow me to tape squibs to their naked bodies.

Are there any interesting anecdotes from the shoot?

Yes.

What other genres or stories would you like to explore?

I always wanted to do a dog movie, like "Hotel for Dogs" but with cute talking dogs, and a penguin who smokes cigars and swears a lot and is their leader, and they have to help their humans to pay off their mortgage or to find their way home from a long journey or just learn to love each other--which we all need to learn to do--and there are some helicopter chases and a big explosion, and a ghost who can't find his way back to heaven. I like lasers.

What other projects are you looking to do?

"Flying Carpet Wars" (a Trilogy). Naval Intelligence is able to reverse-engineer flying carpets (in Area 51) but the technology is stolen by vegetarians. There is this action chase set-piece with flying-carpets and Black Hawk helicopters; explosions; lasers. And there is a love story with a little girl who is trying to get her dad home for Christmas. I'm trying to get Michael Bay to play the President of the United States, which I like to think is prophetic. Editing by Walter Murch.

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