Doug Roos talks about his movie The Sky Has Fallen
An interview today with Doug Roos, director of the movie The Sky Has Fallen. It won Best Feature at the 2009 Freak Show Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at the 2009 Indie Gathering Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best FX at the 2012 Maverick Movie Awards.
Q: "Lance: What if I can end this? What if I can stop all of this pain and suffering? Isn't that work the risk? Rachel: Do you really think you can make a difference?” Tell us more about that.
For me, this film is really about facing incredible odds and not giving up. Rachel is skeptical like a lot of people these days, but Lance believes in his goal no matter what and he's willing to lay down his life for it. He knows it might be a fool's errand, but if there's even the slightest chance he can succeed, it's worth the risk. This dialogue is probably a little too on the nose, but I wanted these stakes to be clear and the heart of the movie to shrine through.
Q: The movie… THE SKY HAS FALLEN: what’s the title about? Want to tell us a little more about the movie? I mean about the story…
The title is a metaphor for the end of the world. I didn't like calling it something obvious like THE END OF EVERYTHING or LAST DAYS or anything like that. Probably a distributor would prefer a very obvious name for marketing reasons so people see the title and know it's a zombie movie like ____ OF THE DEAD, which I understand, but I think that is dumbing it down a bit. It's not really a zombie film anyway although it is, but it's very atypical. I always call it a post-apocalyptic love story. Unlike a lot of post-apocalyptic movies where survivors are just going from place to place trying to stay alive with a very bleak look to the film, these characters have an explicit objective: kill the leader of these demonic figures that are butchering people and turning them into creatures (aka zombies but only the figures eat the dead).
Q: I’ve browsed around the web to catch some comments about the movie and I realized that people are impressed a lot with the special fx. How did you do that? Was it the most expensive part of the production process?
The special FX were a real challenge from the very beginning. FX artists worked on it for a little bit and then quit all of a sudden. It was an ordeal. One day we were going to shoot but we couldn't because one guy bailed so then I tried to do it myself except at that point early on in the filming, I couldn't put the appliance on right and blend the edges. There was this one gentleman who was great actually but he could only come to the set one day so then I made sure to watch everything he did very carefully and recorded it. This way the next day when he was gone, I could do it all myself. So it was a pain, and the process started with me knowing nothing about that yet by the end (or a quarter of the way), I was doing it all. Doing detailed makeup on so many extras can take a lot of time and then of course, throughout the day during shooting, you have to keep doing touchups. The FX were a constant issue, and I was very stressed about them, but I'm so glad they turned out well. I did have some fantastic help but people being unreliable was a real hassle. In the end though, it all worked out for the best. We were very lucky to have Mike Strain Jr. do some real squibs on the movie. I was so happy to be able to do those on my first feature, and I have him to thank for that. Plus, Nathan Shelton made some amazing gelatin masks. I love FX (Stan Winston! Rob Bottin!), and I wanted to be able to do some myself although I didn't plan on doing so much. The special FX actually weren't that expensive. I spent the largest part of the budget on the score and the sound, which are two very important aspects I think a lot of indie filmmakers overlook.
Q: I saw the movie and I think the actors did a really good job. How did you choose your actors? Tell us about them.
Thanks! I did auditions around Missouri at different colleges. Both of the leads ended up coming from Springfield. I filmed auditions with them at Missouri State University. It turns out both Carey and Laurel knew each other before so they were a natural fit. They also had the same acting coach: Scott-Arthur Allen at the Creative Actors Workshop (unfortunately he recently passed away but we all owe him a lot and his actors are superb). I learned about Laurel from Bryon Blakey, another local writer/director who worked with her on one of his features. He recommended her to me. Carey was great. No disrespect to anyone else who auditioned, but he was the only one who looked and sounded like Lance to me. Now, he's actually in season 2 of THE BLACKLIST on NBC (episode 21 "Karakurt"), which is very cool, and I saw Laurel on BIG BANG THEORY.
Q: This was not your first horror movie… how did you decide to make horror movies?
Yes, I did a bunch of shorts before this. I just love horror movies. I grew up on ALIENS, PREDATOR, John Carpenter's THE THING, Stephen King's IT, etc. I've always loved this genre, and I think there's no limit to what you can do with it. I love the imagination of it, and how horror can be a metaphor for something else like the fear of AIDS in THE THING.
Q: The sword could be considered somehow the main character of the movie… how did you decide to use that kind of weapon? People say it recalls THE WALKING DEAD a lot. Did you get inspiration from that series?
I originally shot this back in 2006 (the bulk of principal photography) so THE WALKING DEAD wasn't a big thing then. I didn't even know about it. I was very inspired by this Japanese film called VERSUS. I'm a huge fan of Japanese cinema. I love YOJIMBO, SANJURO, SEVEN SAMURAI, etc. It doesn't get better than Akira Kurosawa and Toshirô Mifune. In college, I also studied Japanese history particularly the samurai. The city in the opening credits is actually Tokyo.
Q: The movie itself is somehow splatter but we can also find a lot of romance inside it. Do you agree with that?
Absolutely. I guess I'm not a huge proponent of the word "splatter" to describe it, but if the shoe fits. I don't think I'm really into splatter films myself. I just love horror, and often it is bloody but not always. I love THE RING and RINGU, but they're not bloody yet I do kind of prefer R-rated films. The rating doesn't guarantee quality but so many of the classics I love are rated R like ROBOCOP, ALIENS, TERMINATOR, etc. The horror movies I love are because of the characters and the stories.
Q: Tell us about your horror tastes… what’s your favorite horror movie and, if possible, your favorite director?
My favorite director is James Cameron, and my favorite movie is ALIENS, but I love THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING (Kubrick obviously though I love the book), John Carpenter's THE THING, David Cronenberg's THE FLY, etc. I love practical FX, and I'm only going to make films with practical FX. Plus, I love monsters, and I miss practical-FX monster movies so I'm going to make a ton of those.
Q: Want to tell to our audience a little bit about your personal life story? This site has a section about real horror stories… did you ever experience something really creepy in your life?
I was born in Missouri. Grew up there. Told my 3rd grade teacher I wanted to be a film director and she said she would look for my name in the credits one day (what wonderful encouragement). Made my first short film when I was 12 (thanks dad!). I loved the TV show MOVIE MAGIC as a kid. I saw ALIENS when I was 6 years old (thanks mom!). I never really experienced anything very creepy in real life. I was terrified of clowns as a kid because of Stephen King's IT on TV and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE but I was never scared of ALIENS. I just loved them.
Q: Tell us about the production of the movie, was it difficult to find the money for? What would you suggest to people who’s dreaming to build up a Indie Horror movie?
Raising the money was difficult. I worked overnights in retail stocking shelves for a few years to save up enough. Now, it's much easier since we have Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, which have been a huge help to me lately and I love supporting other filmmakers' projects on there as well. If you want to make an indie horror movie, go for it. Don't let anything stop you. Work hard and save money. You can do crowdfunding but I like doing it after the film is finished so it's less stressful.
Q: Share a dream with us. About your work or anything else.
My dream was always to make movies. I also want to make frightening monsters. But I really, really want to make the best movies possible. Personal films that people love with great stories and characters. I love practical FX, and I want to do as much as I can to keep that incredible art form alive.
in case of interest:
The Sky Has Fallen official site