INTERVIEW: JEREMY LUTTER
It’s no coincidence that a film like THE HOLLOW CHILD is being released on iTunes to the masses on Devil’s Night (October 3oth), possibly the most macabre and mischievous of days. In anticipation of its digital release, Fear Forever had the chance to chat with the films director/writer Jeremy Lutter. We sat down with Jeremy to talk about his introduction to horror, what audiences can expect from THE HOLLOW CHILD, and we reveal something about Jeremy that was to remain secret (sorry Jeremy!).
Fear Forever (FF): Have you always been a fan of horror films?
Jeremy Lutter (JL): I was far too young the first time I saw Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING. I am a fan of a good story. I always wanted to believe in more that life had to offer. I always wanted to believe in vampires and ghosts and aliens. I wanted life to be larger, scarier and more adventurous. All of that lead me to like horror films.
FF: Outside of the films themselves…what other horror (books, art, television shows etc.) has influenced you and your work?
JL: I was a fan of THE X-FILES as a teenager and a huge fan of the paranormal. While I was at university, I took a lot of art history classes. The works of Francis Bacon and Edvard Munch were appealing to me. Even Picasso had a strange way of seeing the world, and I loved it. There was something about the horrific that gave me an emotional raise. I have always been a fan of art that gives that emotional impact. I want to feel something from art.
I took a class in university about Vampire literature. We read a lot of great vampire books. I secretly like Anne Rice – but shhh… don’t tell anyone (Editors note: Secret’s out, sorry!) . There was also this book called PERFUME I read in that class. At the end of that class there was a vampire party where the class dress up as vampires. I met my college sweetheart at that party. She was the love of my life during college. A relationship that started with a mutual attraction towards vampires. Ha. She’s married now. Oh wait. What are we talking about? Influences for my work. Also DRACULA and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Vampires were clearly a big one for me.
FF: How did you get involved in THE HOLLOW CHILD?
JL: I started making films in junior high school. There was this course called “Multi-media” where I learned to use a video camera and how to edit. A teacher named Vic Derman (R.I.P) ran that program and there’s where it all started even though I have loved the movies since early childhood. Fantasy films – anything to escape reality. I made all of my high school assignments into videos and there’s where I met Ben Rollo.
FF: What was it about Ben Rollo’s script that struck such a cord with you?
JL: Ben Rollo and I wrote the script together. There was no big dramatic “Ah-ha!” moment. Ben and I had made several short films and we decided to make a feature together. All of Ben’s writing is about the characters and that always strikes a chord with me. We both have a thing for broken people that are trying to put their lives back together. Not sure what that says about us as people.
FF: This film story-line is kind of like a woodland version of sirens luring sailors to their demise. Is THE HOLLOW CHILD a modern take on Greek Mythology?
JL: The film is a modern fairy tale. Ben Rollo loves to geek out on folklore. I think it’s based more on the CHANGELING stories. People really believe in fairies. They have been used to explain lots of things in history. My take is that people suffered from mental illness and there was no other way to describe it so they said that the fairies had come and taken that person away. People even got away with murder on the reasoning of changelings. In fact, fairies have stopped big building developments recently in the UK. But you are right about the mythology element of the story. Ben loves making all of that stuff up. I think our first conversation in high school was about Ben’s characters.
FF: The filming locations are beautiful! Where was this shot?
JL: We live in British Columbia and there’s no shortage of spooky woods. So it seemed fitting that we would make a film with the woods as a character. We shot the film around Vancouver. It was hard to find a house that was in the woods due to all the development in the area recently but we managed to figure it out. We had to look at a lot of different forested areas in the lower mainland of Canada and we found some great spots. I grew up on Vancouver Island and though we didn’t film there – it was inspired by the old growth forest there on the island. That was the sort of forest I had in mind.
FF: Casting a child for the lead requires a very skilled performer to carry the role. What was it about Hannah Cheramy that clicked so well?
JL: It was a very hard part to cast. 11 year olds are not the scariest group of people in the world. I have made several films with young actors and there’s some great young talent in Vancouver. I have worked with Jacob Tremblay and Dalila Bela. We held several auditions and Hannah – I knew right away. Why? She was scary in the audition. She was mature for her age and she knew how to play two characters. She has a bright future for sure.
FF: Filming a horror can weigh heavy on the psyche. What did you do for levity while shooting?
JL: You need to keep things light on the set of serious movies. One of the actor’s John Emmet Tracy was playing practical jokes on set. He was anonymously sending our lead actress Jessica (who I believe he had taught before) funny photos from set. Ben Rollo also loves to sing – we broke out in song a few times. As a joke our first assistant director called our first Monday, which due to our shooting schedule was our last day of the working week (our Friday) – he said tomorrow is “Casual Monday” over the radio – in a joking way. So the next day, Monday, I wore a bright and tacky Hawaiian shirt. It was a very strange thing to see on a horror set and by the end of the shoot I got other crew members to wear Hawaiian shirts on Mondays as well. That was some visual levity.
FF: Is there any moment from filming that stands out the most for you (good or bad)?
JL: The day that we shot in the cave set was the coolest part of the production. I was happy that it turned out so well. I had been worried about it. It was a set that was built for the film. That was the highlight for me for sure. Moe Curtin, our production designer, made a small miracle that day and turned some wood, carpet and mud into a scary location. It was a dirty day. Ha! Mud got everywhere! But it was worth it.
FF: What can horror fans expect from the film?
JL: It’s not a gore film. It’s a dark fairy tale – with an amazing lead performance by Jessica McLeod. She won best female lead performance at the Leo Awards in B.C. Canada which is like our Academy Awards. It was quite something for a horror film to win that award. She also won best lead performance at our European premiere in Portugal at Fantasporto Film Festival. It’s a good story. It’s also a slow burn so please stick it out to the end!
FF: Is there anything else about yourself, the film or your upcoming work you want readers to know about?
JL: I am currently making a new project called WE CAME FROM THE SEA. It’s a supernatural thriller about addiction and we looking for producing partners right now. Look out for it. And please rent THE HOLLOW CHILD on iTunes!