Between the two of them, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have twenty years of DIY filmmaking experience. Benson is the writer/director and Moorhead is the director/cinematographer, but they say “we both wear a lot of hats.” They each explain how they got involved in the biz below, as well as their film, “Resolution.”
Benson: “I saw ‘Before Sunrise’ and the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ in the same day, and it must have been what people feel like when they watch a really slick recruitment video. Making my own films, UCLA, and working on every set and film industry related office in Los Angeles that I could, followed shortly thereafter.”
Moorhead: “I started when some friends showed me how to make stop action ‘Star Wars’ films with me in Florida, and I saved my sixth grader pennies for a whole year and bought a VHS-C camcorder. The hobby turned into obsession, so I made movies all through high school and loved going to student film festivals. I got into the FSU Film School and received an education I feel I can be very proud of. After graduating, I headed west to LA and have been very fortunate to work primarily as a director and cinematographer since.”
What it’s about: In the most general sense it’s a creepy horror movie like no other. But it’s also a funny, heartfelt story about control and a jacked up friendship.
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Director Benson says: “We take a lot of pride in working in the diverse, smart, inventive realm of genre film. ‘Preacher’ is the best story we’ve ever read, and we’d like to think you see that genre-blending spirit in our work. We’re massively inspired by the low-budget DIY tradition of horror flicks like ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ but we’re respectfully something very, very different. Every decision on ‘Resolution’ went toward making something we’d never seen before.”
Director Moorhead says: “We talked a lot about how to approach our film, since it’s pretty strange and it wouldn’t be hard to alienate our audience, whatever that is. We decided that the best way is the simplest: make it openly and honestly, where we don’t try to shoehorn ourselves into one thing or another because we’re supposed to. Rather, we’d do what rings truest, and we’d have each other to keep in check on those decisions. So, we just tried to hit everything as hard as we could, so that we don’t fit a category. It’s truly sad when it’s down, truly frightening when we try to scare. Beyond that, I think Justin’s idea for the script is conceptually something that hasn’t been seen before.”
Benson, on the challenges: “Finding a place to house a cast and crew in the meth mecca boonies of East County San Diego. The only place that could take us was a childrens camp exactly like Camp Crystal Lake. We all lived in this place for three weeks and it was beyond rad. It had a communal kitchen, a fire pit, and we had a cabin big enough to set-up an editorial suite where we would typically edit scenes the day we shot them. Most evenings cast members would stop by so we could show them the first cut of their scene the day they performed it. Actually, one challenge was not going creepy weird with awe at Bill Oberst Jr’s audition for Byron.”
Moorhead, on the challenges: “Although it’s never easy to make a feature film, I think there’s a distinct difference between film production being easy and being smooth. Despite the long hours and exhaustion, it was a quiet set with short days, with an engaging cast and a crew that all loved each other, shooting a project in which everyone was emotionally invested. It was a pretty rare experience, to be honest, and I have to feel so fortunate when I hear horror stories from other indie sets of technocranes falling over and crushing the grip truck after the crew gets struck by leprosy or something. We had nothing like that, it was the way I always wanted an indie film to go.”
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 2012 festival.
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