Original post by TD Rideout – The Mind Reels
From the review:
“There is something interesting going on in this film, and while at times it gets weighed down by its own desire to be more mysterious than it is, there are glimpses of something exceptional and troubling in the film.
“Eschewing jump scares for more of a ‘what the hell did I just see’ manner of filmmaking, the story plays at some dark humour, has some fairly decent effects, and embraces its oddity. In fact it seems to revel in it, even as you try to figure out what you just watched, the film seems content to just be.
“…it does hint that Justin Decloux may be someone to watch, and to see what he does next.”
Catch Impossible Horror at the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival on November 5, 2017 at 9:00 p.m. at the New People Cinema in San Francisco.
By Justin Decloux
We saved the best interview for last.
Hi! Director Justin Decloux here taking over the interviewing reigns from webmaster Emily Milling – who along with building this entire site was also the producer/scheduler/caterer/special effects artist/actress/sound designer/composer and a million other thing on IMPOSSIBLE HORROR. She would wake up, go to work for eight hours as a marketer, come home at six, and spend the rest of her night working on the film during shooting and then for the last eight months of post production!
I love Emily with all my heart and there is no way the project could have been completed without her hard work. She is one of the most multi-talented people I know and I thank the elder gods every day that I’m able to have her in my life.
Sheesh! Enough with the mushy stuff! Lets get to the her talking about how bloody difficult the project was to fight through! If you have your own questions about the film, get your tickets for the world premiere of Impossible Horror on Monday, October 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Cinema to see the film and meet the cast & crew at the Q & A after the screening!
J: Did you get enough sleep last night?
E: No. I could use significantly more sleep!
J: I’m looking at the credits and did you actually do ALL OF THAT on those roles on the film!?
E: Yes. Producer, composer, sound design/mixing/foley, transportation, craft services, makeup and effects… you know, the stuff that needs to get done to make a film! But as a producer I was happy to take on the other random things even if I had no idea what I was doing. I did however, elect to do the sound myself which I’m kicking myself for now – I had no idea how difficult that would be. But maybe that’s the beauty of naïvety, when you don’t know what the hell is going on and you don’t know how long it will take, it’s a lot easier to keep plugging away until you do!
J: That’s crazy. What was the most difficult part of shooting?
E: Trying to make special effects, I think. I’m a perfectionist and I really like things to look slick but I’m not trained in effects at all so I had to rely on a lot of internet tutorials, most times, the day of the shoot when they’d be happening. There was a throat slit scene that ended up being cut (HA! PUN!) because I made the actor’s neck look like a pile of bloody toilet paper. I’m sure she loved that. It was also difficult to shoot midnights, of course, but when you’re running on pure adrenaline to get shit done, it gets easier. I also love to have everything planned down to the minute and I learned very quickly to be flexible with that, but it was a tough thing to move through.
J: What was the part you enjoyed the most?
E: Working with YOU! I think I liked pre-production the most because it involves so much planning and organization which I love, and I can be idealistic about how things will turn out. Then in productions my organizational dreams crash to the depths of hell, and in post I can ride everything out and accept that all the planning was actually really worthwhile. I also really enjoyed working with the tight-knit team, honestly Haley
made the process so much easier just by being so professional and upbeat! April
continued to inspire me throughout the process with her “get it done!” attitude and gave me honest feedback when I needed it most, and Nate
were always supportive and hardworking throughout the process.
J: How did you approach the task of writing the music?
E: I spent a lot of time listening to a lot of music and tried to develop a sonic landscape to build from. I made a playlist
to inspire me! Lots of Tangerine Dream, the soundtrack for Stranger Things (obviously, because that’s what everyone’s going to be drawing inspiration from right now), Cliff Martinez, Mark Korven, John Carpenter – you know the drill. I’m always bummed when I look at that list and realize there are no women on it.
Back to process. When I get overwhelmed by giant tasks (like writing 18 cues that need to connect and bridge scenes and emotions together) I tend to look at a lot of different types of sounds and download way too many free plugins so that I can listen to all the presets and pretend I’m working really hard and being productive. In the end I forced myself to pick a few instruments I really liked, and I built out themes from there.
One thing I’m really happy with is this concept of sparse drumming that was inspired by Mark Korven’s The Witch OST
. He’s got this crazy cool instrument
he had custom built to make all the super neat organic sounds you can hear in those pieces, as well as a waterphone (someone please buy me one!) and all I had to use was my computer and a couple of pencils I whacked against my desk a lot. I love listening back to the unaffected pencils, or “sticks” as we affectionally call them in the Milling/Decloux household and just how terrible I am with rhythm, and how I was able to use the magic of technology to make them sound like this weird ethereal and suspenseful glue that tied everything together.
J: How do you make the cues feel like they’re all part of a whole?
E: I listened back to my music a lot in the car on the way to work every single day. Any time I’d write a new piece, I’d listen through to all of the tracks together as though I was trying to build an album. Hearing the nuances I’d placed in each track helped guide themes in other pieces. Little riffs here and there with a particular synth sound I liked would reappear later as the main driving theme in later tracks, and vice versa as I moved through the film. Keeping a set list of the instruments I wanted to use really helped as well – because man you can go down wormholes of free VSTs until the cows come home. WOO!
J: How do you find inspiration for sound design?
E: I was pretty lucky that the new Twin Peaks came out RIGHT as I was getting into it. I had finished all the foley and finding the majority of sound effects at that point, and couldn’t figure out why things felt so sparse and incomplete. Then episode 8 of Twin Peaks season 3 came out and I was like OH YEAH I GET IT NOW! I also re-watched Eraserhead here and there to understand David Lynch’s brain a bit better, and how he found those sounds.
I have this memory of being a really angsty teenager on a trip to Newfoundland with my grandparents in about grade 10, and we were on the ferry crossing over to the island. My brain was going a zillion miles an hour (hooray for undiagnosed ADHD!) and the sound the ferry was making was so overwhelming and all encompassing, it was this huge engine sound, a droning sound, and it reverberated all over the ship so I could feel it everywhere. That sound calmed me down a lot and I always thought “I wish I could just hear this and be calm all the time,” and that feeling drove a lot of the more intense scenes, like towards the end when Hannah and Lily are in the parking garage. I recorded the giant sound reverberating all over the parking garage in our building (where we shot the film) and added in a bit of a wavering bass sound using an LFO in Ableton to achieve that. I guess it’s a little weird that I went in the opposite direction, using calming sounds to create intense feelings, but I think it worked in my favour!
J: What was the toughest sound to get?
E: Creating the cacophony of sounds in the playground when Hannah and Lily find the saxophone and they’re confronted by the mysterious hoodie figures was ridiculously difficult. I literally hated it. And I still hate it. But I’m told it’s fine so I’m going to just leave it at that!
J: How does it feel that the project is almost over?
E: It is?!?!?! I feel so great. I’m so exhausted but I seriously feel so great. I’m so proud of the work that everyone put in, and I’m proud of the work that I put in too. I lived for a long time not making films, being intimidated by it even though it’s all I want to do, and being able to pour myself into this project drew it out of me. I feel way more confident about my capabilities as a filmmaker, being on set taught me a lot and pushed my boundaries a lot, taught me to not be so afraid. I talk to other women in film/media and I hear my own story echoed all the time, we’re always getting shut down & losing confidence. That’s really shitty. I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow in this art in a really productive, supportive environment with you and the team, I’d do it over again in a heartbeat! I hope that from this I can take my confidence and help champion the other amazing women in film in Toronto!
J: What would do differently next time?
E: So many things! But that’s just because I learned how to do almost all of this along the way. I would definitely work with a bigger budget next time to allow for a bigger team, we really did a lot with next to no budget which just meant that you and I (and everyone on set) filled a lot of different roles. I’d like to have the money to hire more people next time, so that we can stick to creative vision and process with a great team to help support execution.
J: I look forward to seeing your next project!
E: And I look forward to seeing yours!
By Emily Milling
You may know Nate Wilson – Writer Producer from such films as Fuck Buddies, or Bonfire, which premieres tonight at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Nate’s a filmmaker with a strong creative vision and the determination to get things done. On Impossible Horror, Nate wrote along with director Justin Decloux, and produced along with me, to help make the film as creative and original as it is. Check out Bonfire at 4:00 p.m. at the Scotiabank Theatre on Sunday, October 15 (playing before Rabbit) and follow it up with Impossible Horror on Monday at 9:30 p.m. on October 16!
E: Hey Nate!
E: GROOVY! So let’s talk about Impossible Horror, your first feature film as a writer/producer. What was it about this project that drew you in?
N: I guess I had just finished writing and directing two thingies one after the other and thought the momentum would be great carrying over to a feature. The dream of making a super uninhibited low-budget horror movie has been the most prominent one in my life, and that’s not me being facetious or anything. So one day shortly after you and Justin started the Indiegogo we started talking like we often do. Then, as the Indiegogo continued, Justin and I began to write the script in the Toronto Reference Library. The moment presented itself and we all took it.
E: You worked very closely with Justin Decloux (writer/director) to develop the characters Lily and Hannah. Do you think your working dynamic is reflected in theirs? How so? If not, why?
N: I don’t think we intended for the working dynamic to be similar to us, but there’s probably something there. I think Justin and I were reflecting our worst creative selves from past projects to write Lily, and even then it was really easy for us both to become that person again. Lily and Hannah embody two opposing approaches to productivity that are hard to balance with each other. Neither way is wrong really, I hope we didn’t finish the movie too much as one or the other.
E: Impossible Horror deals with a lot of paranormal entities, can you talk a bit about creating the mythology behind the hoodies, and what the numbers mean on the objects that Lily and Hannah find?
N: The numbers are the order in which the objects were found, from object #1 to whatever the last one is. The order Hannah has is probably all wonky though. Justin and I figured out the mythology going from scene #1 to whatever the last one is, and that order’s probably wonky too.
E: Creative blocks are a running theme throughout the film. Eventually, Lily starts to get over her creative block by hunting the scream and developing a story for a film. What methods do you use to get over your creative blocks? Do you see any similarities between you and Lily in your methods?
N: I like to read, and walk around, and watch movies. I find I’ll get hit with stuff when I start doing something else. I definitely don’t like to stressturbate as much as Lily does, but maybe when I was younger.
E: What was the most difficult part of writing Impossible Horror, and how did you work through it?
N: When we had to rewrite the movie in two days and then I ate a convenience store roti and got so sick I was shitting and puking all night with the computer in the bathtub next to me. I think I took some pepto.
E: What did you enjoy most about working with the tight-knit cast and crew over the two weeks of midnight shoots?
N: Uhhhhhhhh. I mean don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the whole thing, but I can’t really remember any details. Sometimes I would go to work in the day and we would start shooting at 7:00 p.m. every night and go till dawn. We all got super used to the smell of each other’s coffee farts and took our fair share of involuntary naps, and what can I say – a lot of us started getting pretty green by the end. But seriously, don’t get the wrong idea here, it was a total dream and everyone was a beautiful angel and I’ve never worked on a funner set with more professional people. I’d replicate the model in a heartbeat.
E: When the film started coming off the page, into life, what scene was the most exciting for you to watch as a writer?
N: I’m not sure what single scene. Watching the whole thing come together in the last couple months in editing has been a beautiful, beautiful experience. Every scene was out of context for so long that you forget these things were written to fit together. I don’t know when it was, but when you make a movie there is a moment when everything goes vertical, and it clicks in your brain, and it never really catches you by surprise cause you’ve been working on it for so long but it’s really nice. Sound design really does it usually, because your movie can be stick figures who barely move but when we hear a rich sound design it turns real. It’s such a magic trick.
E: Why should people come out to see Impossible Horror?
N: It’s heartfelt, and inventive, and relentless. It has great sound design. It’s the real deal!
E: Thanks Nate! Have a superb day!
N: Thanks Emily. We didn’t have to do this but we did, and we worked real hard and I think it was so worthwhile! I’m gonna go do my laundry.
By Emily Milling
It’s been a few years of movie making madness with myself and Justin Decloux. We started out with an experimental film called Ghost Scare and ramped up pretty quickly to finishing Teddy Bomb together, making lots of short films and finally culminating in our most recent project, Impossible Horror. We spend a lot of time talking about our passion for filmmaking and why we’re doing it, and how it hasn’t completely destroyed our brains or even our relationship so far. I personally consider myself quite lucky for that!
For me, Justin = Indie Film Inspiration. Also, a lot of fun.
And so, to get into the depths of our processes both together and apart, we’ve got TWO interviews with each other about Impossible Horror. Today, you get to read this interview with Justin Decloux where I ask the questions, and tomorrow you’ll get to read my interview where he will ask the questions.
If you have your own questions about the film, get your tickets for the world premiere of Impossible Horror on Monday, October 16 at 9:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Cinema to see the film and meet the cast & crew at the Q & A after the film!
E: You’re Just-In-Time!
J: Thanks! That jokes never gets old.
E: That’s why you love me. So tell me, Justin – why did you decide to make a film? Aren’t films, like, hard to make?
It all seems so easy when you start! You write a script, you plan out the shooting blocks (when it seems totally manageable to shoot all nights for three weeks!) and you sit back and go “We’ll have this all wrapped up in a few months!” I really should have paid more attention to the fact that I was telling the story of a creative people driven insane from the impossibility of finishing their art.
The film turned my hair white! (Editor’s Note: No, it didn’t. His hair has been white since he was 17)
But it did turn half my beard white! (Editor’s Note: Can’t argue with that)
E: What inspired to make a spooky movie with ghosts?
J: My last feature film TEDDY BOMB was an all out go-for broke action splatter comedy in the style of my favourite Hong Kong directors like Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-tung, but for IMPOSSIBLE HORROR I wanted to scale things back a little, and take inspiration from an unlikely place – Japanese horror films, especially the straight to video ones (A.K.A V-Cinema). The sub-genre has such specific rhythms and moods and it’s actually the antithesis to the style I usually gravitate toward – loud, big and in your face – so I thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to tell a story in a calmer mode – to a point (which you’ll understand when you see the film) I obviously riffed a lot on the work of Hideo Nakata and Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but the anything goes feel in the back half was directly powered by Takashi Miike and Sion Sono, two filmmakers that do everything simultaneously: Comedy, horror, drama, tragedy, and action often all appear within the same five minute span.
E: I heard you say you were also inspired by Lovecraft. Can we expect cool tentacle monsters!!!??
J: Well, I would temper your expectations of crazy monster action, but it’s true I was fascinated with Lovecraftian idea of a force so beyond human comprehension that it would drive a person to madness. I knew I couldn’t afford to build giant creatures, so I honed in on the horror of his creations. Plus, Lovecraftian insanity is all over J-Horror, so it was an easy fit. The toughest part was trying to balance the threat of an indescribable destructive presence and giving the characters goals and growth they can achieve. It helped once I figured out that the whole thing was going to hinge on struggling creatively.
E: Why a story about a filmmaker? Isn’t that a little narcissistic?
J: As a person who lives and breathes movies, I have a knee jerk reaction to wanting to tell stories about films and the art that surrounds them, which I realize is incredibly selfish, but it’s what I know! I didn’t want to make a ‘woe is me! How difficult it is to direct!’ story, but I did want to trace someone’s obsession with the art and how it shapes their life in an almost insidious way. The first few drafts were much obsessed with the concerns of making a movie, but with my co-writer Nate Wilson, we shaved some of that off to speak more universally about being creative. The filmmaking angle did allow to experiment with how I could tell the story as well.
E: Yea! About that! I saw there was some found footage style scenes in the film! What’s up with that?
J: I’ve always found that Found Footage was a stylistic form that had a lot of fun cinematic potential, so I really wanted to play in a sandbox that was fixed and technically simple, but it proved to be some of the most difficult things to shoot! You can write “They wander around in the dark of the woods,” very easily, but then you’re faced with the reality of finding woods in the middle of nowhere where the only light comes from a battery powered flashlight (that’s dying), your crew wonders who will be murdered first, and then it starts to rain.
The found footage element, which we shot on a T2I, also lead me to expand the film into a bit of a multi-media project with footage shot on phones, laptops and VHS. The only thing we didn’t use (which was in the script!) was Super 8 – cause $$$.
E: What was the hardest thing to do?
J: Props! Holy molee! What a pain in the butt! I would recommend writers rethink making a film that has 100+ props.
Truthfully, the shoot was extremely hard, mostly due to working nights and having a tiny crew, but we eventually got through it because we literally had no choice. Now, post-production was a whole other matter, as every technical problem we could possibly have (and some I didn’t even know existed) crushed my heart on a daily basis.
I have never felt more stressed in my life.
Thankfully, the two leads (Creedance and Haley) were extremely understanding and showed up whenever we needed them. The co-writer and producer Nate Wilson offered essential advice in shaping the film in post (while watching cut after cut), the cinematographer Aidan Tanner was always there to shoot more inserts, April Etmanski did all of the color on the film and Colin Cunningham saved my bacon with his invisible visual effects magic on two dozen shots that I assumed I was going to have to cut.
But most important of all, my partner Emily Milling carried the entire project on her back from start to finish. There is no way in hell I could have done it without her. She produced the film, she did the scheduling, she did catering, she did the makeup and special effects, she did all all the sound design, she recorded all the ADR, she mixed everything, she wrote all of the music and she checked everyone else’s work – ALL WHILE WORKING ANOTHER FULL TIME JOB.
E: You’re TOO sweet, Justin! You make my heart melt into a gooey mess of blood and tears of joy. Last question – what would be the one lesson you’d want to share with other filmmakers?
You can’t do this stuff alone. You really can’t.