Horror-on-Sea Interview with Against the Night writer-director Brian Cavallaro
Against the Night (2017)
Director: Brian Cavallaro
Writer: Brian Cavallaro
Stars: Josh Cahn, Leah Holleran, Hannah Kleeman, Erik Kochenberger, Yesenia Linares
A group of friends sneak into an abandoned prison with the intention of making a ghost hunting video, until they start to go missing one by one.
Date & Venue: 11 Jan 2019 12:30pm
Park Inn by Radisson Palace, Southend, Church Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2AL, UK
Against the Night is a new slasher film from writer-director Brian Cavallaro, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival. I got a chance to ask Brian Cavallaro a few questions about what we can expect from the film.
Q. Against the Night has been selected to play at Horror-on-sea, what can we expect from the film?
I love the whodunit genre of horror where you can go on a ride with the characters all the way to the end of the movie. I think you’ll see some really great up and coming actors and a nice cameo from Frank Whaley, not only a fine actor, but also a horror legend in my book.
Q. How did you come up with the original concept for the film?
I’m from Philadelphia, where we have two different spoke and wheel prisons. They’re both gothic in design and abandoned. It’s a natural setting for an “abandoned prison movie,” but the hook is that they look like a landing pattern from above. So, from a supernatural perspective, I always wanted to tell a story that revolved around the idea that you wouldn’t come here to make a crop circle when similar patterns already exist in some of our biggest cities.
Q. Some of the scenes were shot inside Holmesburg Prison. What was it like shooting inside the prison and did you make any changes to the story based on the location?
The major change was that I wrote it for Eastern State Penitentiary, which is the more famous of the two prisons, and now operates as a working museum. The problem was, when I scouted that prison, it was easy to see it really was going to be like shooting in a museum. Fortunately, Holmesburg Prison was much more open to our ideas and became the perfect home for us. There was no electricity in the parts of the prison we filmed in, so it was a real challenge to set up each shot. We used production lights to see what we were doing, then shut them down when it was time to roll. I think everyone really felt how spooky the prison was when they had to walk back to holding with just flashlights.
Q. What were your inspirations for the look and style of the film?
There are a lot of movies that take place at night but still seem lit. That’s something you can’t avoid if you’re making a studio film. But we were very independent I wanted the audience to see this movie the way the characters did, with just flashlights at times – and sometimes just through an infrared camera.
Q. What makes Against the Night stand out as something different in the horror genre?
I always intended to hit all the horror tropes in the beginning, and then start building off of that. I think the first half will seem pretty familiar and then build to an unexpected ending.
Q. What were some of your favourite moments during filming?
We were moving really fast, so it was always great when happy accidents would happen. But I’ll never forget the first time the whole cast was in Holmesburg Prison. Once I saw their natural reactions to the locations, I knew we were in the right spot.
Q. Did you come across any difficulties or issues during filming?
It’s always difficult filming at night without electricity, but for the most part, things couldn’t have gone better. It’s the perfect example of a bunch of people coming together to make something because they love to tell stories, and I think that comes across.
Q. Do you have any other projects which you are currently working on?
I’m in post-production right now on a movie that has some thriller elements but is certainly a departure from horror. It stars Nicole Souza from Against the Night and features Hannah Kleeman. I really enjoyed working with everyone in Against the Night so I’m sure they’ll keep showing up in movies I work on.
Q. If someone was looking direct their own horror film, what advice would you give them?
It’s tired advice but you have to just do it…. use what you have. If you have a phone – shoot the movie on your phone. Use the locations and equipment you have to your advantage. You should also show the script to as many people as possible and get as much feedback as possible. Good notes can come from anywhere.
You can find out more about the feature films playing at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and details of tickets on the website.