The world may know Lauren Ashley Carter from Lucky McKee’s The Woman...or from Jugface . She has haunting eyes and a big screen presence with some serious acting chops. What you maybe don’t know from her resume is that she’s funny as well...Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of the Brown Menace story before the end of this interview.
Mickey Keating is a screenwriter and director whose credits include Ritual (which I have seen and enjoyed) and the upcoming Pod. He has a wicked style that is part throw-back, part modern and all gut-wrenching. I’m looking forward to seeing the next thing that squirts out of his head.
HOW THE HELL ARE YOU BOTH?
MK: Good! We're getting to the final stages of post, so I'm starting to feel the impending sense of empty nest syndrome that'll take over once we send this film out into the world.
LC: Doing pretty well, thank you for having us!
Mickey, you are in post production on a film called Pod which you wrote and directed and in which Lauren stars. In the IMDB description I see things like intervention..horrifically awry...snowy...isolated. These are ingredients for mayhem. Can you fork over some details about this movie?
MK: Pod's a paranoid drama about a family intervention that just keeps spiraling more and more out of control until the whole thing crumbles into a full on nightmare. It's definitely a very violent and scary love letter to the original Twilight Zone, particularly to the more paranoid episodes like The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street and Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?, but it's also got the finger prints of things like The Manchurian Candidate and Silent Hill all over it.
|The killer one sheet teaser!|
It was mentioned that Pod was filmed in Maine in the middle of winter. How did that go?
MK: It was a winter wonderland every day and we made snow men in between set ups. Just kidding. It was very, VERY cold and both our crew van and the equipment truck got stuck in the ice quite a few times. I made Lauren run back and forth, take after take, in negative degree weather for hours one night. She was a total trooper about it. Fortunately, our gear never broke, but we had a couple close calls pulling off long steadicam shots when the ground was literally an iceskating rink. At the end of the day though, there's nothing that can compare to the way that snow covered lake house looks in the movie, so I wouldn't have done it any other way.
LC: I'm from Ohio, so I'm used to the cold and snow, and I love it. That having been said, the house we were in was a summer house, so for the first time in my life, I slept with socks on. But I agree with Mickey, the exterior shots of that lake house take your breath away.
How did you get started in films...
LC: I always wanted to be in films. I started doing theater as most actors do, and then worked with Moderncine (The Woman, Jug Face) on a film called Rising Stars. The company had already made horror films (Headspace, The Girl Next Door, Offspring), so when the producer Andrew Van Den Houten and I discussed our love of horror films, it was decided that I would meet Lucky McKee since they were getting ready to begin casting for The Woman. I love the genre, but more than anything, I love the experience of making movies. There is no greater joy.
Mickey-- not to drop names, but Assistant to Mr. Blum?
MK: Yes! Well, first I worked for Larry Fessenden and his company Glass Eye Pix during the summers when I was in college. One day I found their phone number and called them up and was like "I love your guys' movies so much and will do anything to help out." so I got to be their intern that way. That place is built on the importance of the artist-driven filmmaking and the individual vision, which is a great thing to learn early on. In my last semester of college I moved out to LA, and got internship at Blumhouse where I was later hired as a full on assistant. That entire company is just amazing and very important to horror and indie filmmaking in general so I'm very proud that my first job out here was with them.
|Behind the scenes on Pod. She sees something up his nose.|
Lauren...you like odd and controversial subject matter. Should your neighbors worry?
LC: Probably. I've always found the odd and controversial more truthful, to put it simply. My life, and the lives of most people I have met, are more complicated than a lot of the stories to come out of the industry. I like a good romantic comedy every now and then, too. And I also loved to be scared by film when I was growing up. I liked fantasy and the way that directors like Cronenberg, Kubrick, and Lynch were able to put these dark thoughts and characters into such beautiful and sickening imagery. I wanted to be a part of that eccentric magic. I still do. I love extremism because it pushes me as an artist, and as an audience member. It forces me to think more deeply about my own opinions.
Have you always leaned toward the dark side?
MK: More or less. All my favorite films tend to be very dark in one way or another, so I don't know what that says about me. Making horror films can be a form of therapy when you're neurotic like I am.
LC: Definitely. I find that a lot of actors do. To be able to be as truthful as possible requires a great amount of concentration and knowledge about how far a person can be pushed. When we watch people as they are pushed to their limits morally, emotionally, physically, so much is revealed about our own selves.
|Behind the scenes on Pod. This is what happens when you don't follow the script.|
If you couldn’t make films...what then?
MK: I'd probably spend most of my time lamenting about not making films and wondering where my life went wrong.
LC: I agree with Mickey on this one. It's just the most devastating thought. I would definitely own a lot of rescue dogs, and probably sit around watching Death Becomes Her on a loop while eating cold chinese food. Every day.
I got a sneak peek at the short film Bereavement, in which Lauren acts and also produces. I’ll just say it’s about a mass funeral of sorts...darkly funny. How did that come about?
LC: I am very good friends with the writer, Arthur Shapiro and his fabulous wife Marlene. Arthur had written Bereavement as a short theater piece. He wanted my opinion of the play, and I told him that I saw it as a short film. He said he knew nothing about making film, and I offered to get a cast and crew together. So, I kind of happily jumped into producing it as well. Natasha Kermani is the director, and she really held my hand through the entire process. She is as talented as she is beautiful, and I think we made a great short. (Demonauthor’s note: it is a pretty great short!)
Tell me a bit about Warwick St. Productions.
LC: Warwick St. Productions consists of Arthur, Natasha and myself. I'm writing a piece now, a horror-comedy short, and we're also developing a web series. We plan on making a name for ourselves with dark comedy and odd/eccentric pieces that concentrate on the human condition. And above all, we want to form a solid crew, and a nurturing environment.
Since you’ve both worked with him before, describe working with Larry Fessenden--dude’s been in everything.
MK: Larry Fessenden is a hero of indie filmmaking. I was totally starstruck when I first met him a few years back. It was still pretty surreal when he showed up to act in Pod, even though we'd known each other for a while by then. Somewhere in the middle of the first shot it hit me that I was directing dude who made Habit.
LC: La!!!! I'm sincere when I say that I wish he was on every set that I was. He is such a great presence. He is calm, and so fucking funny. He's a pro.
|Behind the scenes on Pod.|
We all know a film production ALWAYS goes according to plan. Can you each give me an example of an on set disaster that you survived/laughed at/learned from?
MK: Nothing went HORRIBLY wrong, I don't think. I had a bigger budget to play with compared to my first film, so it was nice to have more time to build from my experiences on that and make something that's a step up. Indie film sets are always one wrong move away from a disaster, but we were fairly fortunate, especially since we were shooting in the absolute middle of nowhere and would've been really fucked if something essential broke. I kinda had blinders on to most things that didn't involve directing though, so maybe Lauren has some better dirt she can spill.
LC: Mickey's crew was incredible. Everyone was on the ball and wanted the same thing. I think it all came down to everyone trusting each other. The only disaster was the drive up to Maine. The day before there had been a huge snow storm, and the van was not prepared for the icy roads. At one point, we slid off the road into a ditch. No one screamed or panicked, we all just accepted the van plummeting into the snow pile.
We all got out and everyone started shoveling and pushing and working together. I used my DVD case to shovel (no, I didn't save the day. It was really a pathetic effort). Out of nowhere, 9 pm on the dark road in Maine after this storm, a truck of twenty- somethings stopped and had a chain to pull us out of the ditch.
They said that they had decided all of a sudden to go out and get ice cream, and if they hadn't, who knows how long we would have been out there.
Now, if that's not a reason to legalize marijuana, I don't know what is!
Is there a dream project?
MK: I hope I never make a movie that isn't a dream project!
LC: Mickey has a million fabulous ideas and scripts, and I love them all! My biggest dream is to be a villain one of these days!
|Behind the scenes on Pod.|
Did you ever catch the Brown Menace? (no it’s not an STD)
LC: I set the traps! I'm waiting to go back and check.
(Demonauthor note: More news as there is news.)
You two plan on working on more projects in the future. Anything in particular you can talk about?
MK: Yes! There's nothing cooler to me than when directors and actors work together over the course of several films and I'll write roles for this lovely lady as long as she puts up with me. There are two films that could go next, it's just a matter of which one gets its financing first.
LC: I had an incredible experience on the set of Pod. Mickey is articulate, and I really trust him as a director. We love a lot of the same styles and performances. It's as close as it gets to feeling a child-like freedom: there are no boundaries, everything is possible, and someday we're going to rule the world and eat ice cream for breakfast.
Thanks to Lauren and Mickey for their time and input. All photos are property of Mr. Mickey Keating.
So... I didn’t get the scoop on the Brown Menace...yet, but there is some great info here and good news for horror fans.
Watch for Pod and Bereavement and anything else from this pair. The future looks gruesome.
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