Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Interview With “Here On Out” Directors & Writers, Liam Hall & Matias Breuer

By Will Mavity 

I had the pleasure of interviewing my friends Liam Hall & Matias Breuer, the writers and directors of “Here On Out,” a new indie horror film now available on VOD. The film, distributed by Gravitas Ventures, follows “A group of childhood friends celebrate their college graduation by going to a cabin in the woods. As hope for the future gives way to fear of the unknown, they start to suspect that something sinister may be stalking them.” It stars Nicole Brydon Bloom (“1BR”), Fergie L. Philippe (“Hamilton“), W. Scott Parker III (“Leatherheads”), Austin Larkin, Claire Lord, and Tess Tregellas. It was produced by Rebekah Richin. 

So, the first thing that stands out to me in this is you guys kind of forced this film into existence. You found a lot of very smart ways to make every dollar count on screen. So tell me a little bit about acquiring financing and making this film happen in the first place.

Yeah, so the financing part of it was crowdfunding. So mostly family and friends. From the very beginning, we knew that like, we were going to have a very little budget, you know, we didn’t have any kind of major investors or anything. So we had actually started writing a script when we were still in college the year before we moved to Greensboro to film the movie, and very quickly, we realized that it just was not going to be feasible to make. It was like, uh, there were like gangsters, there were action scenes on like car chases involved that like, I don’t really know what we were thinking when we wrote it. So we made a list of all the actors that we wanted to work with and that we thought would be interested in working on a movie with us. Then we made a list of like the different locations that we knew that we had access to and we were like, “okay, let’s kind of start from scratch and make a script around these things so that we know we actually can make a movie with the budget that we’re hoping to get instead of like, kind of dreaming big and then having to scramble to make something that probably won’t look as good.” And I mean, so we ended up getting about 17 K from our crowdfunding, and then we did end up kind of putting a lot of our own money into it as well, like throughout the course of everything. But really, I mean, I think that you’ve said it best in terms of just like, we’ve forced this thing into existence. It’s 2020 now and we started writing this version of the script in 2016, so, wow. It’s been an insane journey for sure that way. And we definitely called in a lot of favors, like, our third collaborator, Chris Carter, a really great friend of both of ours, like his mother and his grandmother cooked all of our meals on set. So it was definitely a very homegrown ordeal for sure.

So what was it like literally living on set? Because you guys were, in fact, inhabiting the set right shooting as well?

It was like a, it kind of felt like it was a movie within a movie almost where like, everyone was kinda slowly going insane cause we were in the small cabin with the cast and cast and crew. I think it was ten days and it was pretty remote. I mean, the actors, all the actors were all still students, and they had given up their spring break to shoot this movie with us. And yeah, I mean, it was, it was kind of like a weird cabin fever situation where we’re all we’re sleeping on the set, in the set and, and eating and everything that’s taking place in this fairly small cabin for, you know, we had 15 people in there for the first half of the week. And then it kind of, yeah, yeah, it was pretty wild. I remember kind of near the, not actually not as close to the end as it probably should have been, but there’s a scene in the movie where the characters, they all like, start drinking. We decided that we were actually going to have the actors let loose a little bit. There was definitely some alcohol involved. It kind of got out of hand pretty quickly. Like, I feel like there was a lot of pent up need for release. And also, this was the actors’ spring break. So I think they were looking for a fun night and things turned out pretty well. We ended up kind of giving up on filming fairly early on in that night cause we had fun and then went back and filmed a few more pickups for that. It was like; it’s that montage sequence.

Okay. So drinking the maple syrup cocktail thing, is that like a real Liam and Matias drink?

Absolutely not. Actually. I feel really bad that we never tried it because it sounds disgusting. We did put maple syrup in there, so the actors were taking real shots in that scene as well. I think that was the day after, actually. And, we gave them the option to either take actual shots or, you know, a fake concoction that was like Coke and there was maple syrup in it. I think the people that chose the shot probably had a better time than the Coke.

So what was it like reaching out to your Alma mater, Elon University, for assistance on this project?

That was a huge thing that saved us a ton of money as well. Most of our equipment was from Elon through the ETV rental service. So I mean, shout out to Julie Prouty and Bryan Baker and Yousoff Osman all really kinda helped us get the equipment we needed to shoot. And yeah, we used the Red camera that they had there—a lot of their lights and stands and stuff. We definitely could not have done it any, anything without, without that connection. And of course all but one of our actors, you know, W. Scott Parker, was from the school.

Tell me a little bit more about casting him?

We cast him, I think two days before we started shooting. He was the first guy we met, actually. We met him at a coffee shop and he didn’t really audition. He had read the pages we had sent him and he kind of just slipped into character while talking to us. And it was, you know, he was pretty creepy and then like, he kind of nailed it just in that interaction. It’s definitely interesting, you know, he, he, he was obviously, like you said, kind of, you know, the only actor that wasn’t a student. So it was funny bringing him on this. Obviously, the students, they were all friends in real life as which I think does translate onto the screen. And I think it helps even just to have someone that they, you know, was very separate from them in that role, because he obviously is kind of the odd man out there. There are definitely some more physical scenes that he has to play with. And he was definitely on board with all that stuff. He held his own really, really well with that stuff.

So talk to me about the process of directing as a team?

So Matias and I actually wrote and directed our first big, short film together in Prague. That’s how we met. So we knew we could do it. And, and when we had this idea to make a feature, we were like, “We work well together.” So we kind of just decided to take it on and I mean, really for this size of project, like I cannot imagine having done it alone, especially with what we talked about earlier, like kind of really forcing it into existence. I mean, we were not only writing, directing together. We were, you know, at certain points, switching off being the boom operator and you know, that we did every single job imaginable pretty much other than the cinematography, which is what our friend Chris handled. So I think just having another person to lean on at every single process. When one of us would fade off, the other one would kind of pick up and really carry the project for a little bit and then, you know, back and forth that way.

I feel like because of, we definitely kind of dove into this project not really having like a clear path, like to the finish line, like we just kind of like jumped in and were like, okay, we’ll figure it out as we go along, which is kind of how we’ve kind of approached our short film making to a certain extent, but obviously this is a much bigger project than that. So having another person definitely was very comforting, like being able to bounce ideas off of, especially in the writing process. It was nice to have two, like people who could be kind of focused on a different thing. Liam, having gone to Elon, had a lot more rapport with the actors. And like Liam said, we were kind of carrying different or putting on different hats throughout the whole process. So having two people to kind of like work that out with was very helpful. Yeah. And I’m not without its challenges as well. I mean, obviously, anytime you’re making a creative project and we have different visions for things, so there definitely were things to work through, but yeah, we couldn’t have done it without each other.

The sound and the score really go a long way in making this film function so well. Tell me a little about the post process here.

Yeah, that was honestly a pretty wild part of the whole process because I was in DC for the whole post after the editing, like for the sound and the score aspect of it, I was in DC. Liam was in Colorado. Chris was in North Carolina and then David Newman, who did our sound mixing and Sam Plotkin, who made our music, were both in LA. So it was disparate and remote, which nowadays, I guess seems less crazy. But, back then, it was definitely its own kind of challenge, like coordinating between Liam and me to give our thoughts and feedback on notes from to David or to Sam and getting a new version in and then hearing it again and discussing between ourselves. Honestly, I actually had a lot of fun in that process. I think it was really fun once we had the actual finished and edited, and we were just focusing on the audio and the sound; that was definitely creatively a fun and rewarding part, especially cause Sam and David just did such a good job. But it was just another part of the process where it was just such a roller coaster ride all the way, like making, making it up as we go kind of thing. I think one thing that was really helpful in that regard was we did fly out to LA about a year and a half ago for the final sound mix. So we sat in there for three or four days going through the whole movie, ironing out all the details with Sam and David and kind of putting those final touches on it, which again, I think was really helpful just to all be in the same room after throwing things back and forth across the country all year leading up to that.

A small thing that kind of interests me the film was, was “Lil Babs. Tell me the background on Lil Babs.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day, because, um, the name Lil Babs, and it originally came from Chris who this hot water bottle that he would like just, you know, have to like comfort himself or something. I don’t really remember what his purpose that it was, but for some reason, we just started calling it Lil Babsand, and then, we kind of just incorporated that into the script and the search for a Lil Babs was tough. I mean, we weren’t really sure what we wanted it to look like or how we wanted it to appear on screen. So we went to all kinds of thrift stores and antique shops. And we were just trying to find something creepy. And when we finally bought that statue that appears in the movie, it was a fertility thing and it had like…a very large erect penis, which we were like, “okay, we probably don’t want this to appear in the movie, like this a little bit much.” So a couple of days before filming, Chris sawed off its penis. We were joking the whole time, like, “Oh, we’re actually going to for real get curse now,” and literally about 20 minutes later, Nicole, the lead actress, calls us and she’s like, “I am really sick. I think she was in the hospital even. And she had to miss the first three days of filming. So we had to reconfigure our entire schedule to like shoot every scene that she was not in for two days. And the timing of it was hilarious cause it was like immediately after the penis came off.

You mentioned Nicole. How does it feel given that two of your actors have gone on to fairly big things? Nicole Brydon Bloom was in “1BR,” which was a pretty big hit on Netflix recently. And then, Fergie L. Philippe went on to be cast in “Hamilton,” and he’s playing James Madison, or he was until COVID hit.

Throughout the film, we always these people are all going to be stars like the entire cast is just so, so talented. And I mean, Nicole was already getting auditions. She had to leave set to audition for “Mamma Mia 2” when we were filming, which was a whole other schedule scheduling nightmare for us again. And Fergie was doing Broadway additions as well. He was kind of going back and forth to New York. He missed his audition for, what was it? Book of Mormon 

I think it was “Cats.”

So we had been up late filming the night before, and he had a flight in the morning and he missed his audition and it was very, very intense. And he had a really great attitude about it. He was like, “it’s meant to be.” And yeah, it ended up obviously working out now that he’s in “Hamilton,” instead of a smaller part in “Cats.” It was just so fun working with them cause they were all so talented and like I said, I think we knew from the start, these people are, are going places and we’re so lucky to get them right now. They didn’t treat this project as just something these recent college grads are doing. They really took it seriously. They just blew us away, like pretty much every day. 

You can follow Will and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @mavericksmovies

Will Mavity
Will Mavity
Loves Awards Season, analyzing stats & conducting interviews. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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