Freddy-Interviewing director Alastair Orr for the explosive new horror film titled TRIGGERED.
I reviewed the film here.
Alastair Orr: How you doing Fred?
Freddy Beans: I’m doing great man, How are you?
AO: (Writing his initials makes me think of Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Snicker) I’m super.
FB: I really liked the mid 90’s vibe in TRIGERRED. It felt like you took the first ten minutes of THE RUNNING MAN, mixed it with the tone of SCREAM, a bit of SAW and BATTLE ROYALE and blended it all together to make your own thing. I was wondering what movies inspired you or if I was way off? (Laughs)
AO: I think you nailed it on the head there. You can’t make this film without BATTLE ROYALE. We have a lot of references in the film to it. The lighting came from the late 80’s, early 90’s films. Not specifically like THE RUNNING MAN, more like FRIDAY THE 13th. We wanted to put our little twist on SAW and instead of strangers waking up in a room, forced to kill one another we had friends doing it.
FB: That makes me want to know, who created the vests? The lights and timers build a sense of dread on its own.
AO: We looked at the design for STARSHIP TROOPERS, specifically that scene where he’s playing laser tag with his buddies and his head gets blown off. Our first design wasn’t very durable so we galvanized that. When we had the vests the way we wanted them, they didn’t look too professional. So me and my buddies just got some wiring and plumbing parts from the hardware store and we rigged it to be a little more durable.
FB: How resourceful.
I loved the reliance on standard F/X. There’s little CGI if any in this film, maybe an explosion here or there. I think CGI tends to rip an audience out of a film and think a lot of directors have an overreliance with it.
AO: Exactly. It was so difficult to get those vests on the set though. They were breaking down every night. Batteries were dying. The wires were electrocuting the actors. It was crazy man. I’m glad you appreciate that because I almost killed myself because of them.
FB: (Laughs) What were your reasons for going that direction?
AO: We thought it would be so unique to make. We totally underestimated the set work. I thought it would be a little bit bigger than my usual standards. Just nine people talking together for most of the film. This is going to be a cinch. We realized about a third of the way in that we needed more but we had to bite the bullet.
FB: I’m glad you survived all that.
I don’t really know how to express this but the movie has the feel of walking into an old 80’s/90’s arcade. You mentioned that time period earlier and I was wondering how intentional that was?
AO: That is something we deliberately tried to do. We got the whole idea of stealing time from Street Fighter. When you’re playing against your friend and defeat them, you steal their time. We wanted the digital feel but more like where analog meets digital. A lot of it was also from the sound. Our composer used an old synthesizer to create a processed digital feel. Also, the characters rip right out of that era of movies-Jock, nerd, quiet girl, etc. Even just the camping. I feel like that all adds up to that feeling you’re talking about.
Like I mentioned, I’m an uber fan of practical effects. Especially the violence in this movie. It’s not splashy bloody but the wounds are brutal, deep and jagged. I felt like you were one step away from going nuts and making your own little gorefest comedy like a DEAD ALIVE. I was wondering if that’s something you’ve ever contemplated?
AO: I’d love to do something like that. With this we really didn’t intend to be so bloody with the gore. We got really lucky and came across a mother and son makeup artist team. They’d been dying to do a horror film. They’d only done wedding photography stuff and bridal makeup. They were really hungry to do something like this. We showed up on set without testing the makeup. We were expecting to easily use these contraptions but they had built these very intense rigs. We were quite taken aback by it. It ended up being one of the good things that happened on set. You nailed it, they really pulled it off. We had become fans of theirs on Instagram. We took a chance on them but they blew us out of the water. They didn’t do it extensively like it sounds like with proper molding. They took shortcuts and did it more guerilla style with everyday kitchen appliances. It’s all stuff that anyone could do at home, if you put in enough time.
FB: It is badass and stands out.
I see a definite progression in your work from INIDGENOUS, to HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET to this one. I was wondering if you were going to stick in the horror realm or do you see yourself eventually escaping its restraints?
AO: I’m always attracted to anything genre based. I’m drawn to that, whether it’s sci-fi, horror or action. I want to do an action film with a little supernatural aspect in it. I’m busy on trying to put that together now. I like that aesthetic. I don’t want to do a drama or comedy. I don’t think that’s something I want to commit two years of my life to.
FB: You’re smart to stick with what feeds you. There’s a plenty large audience out there to enjoy what you do, so I say keep at it.
Can you name a couple of your favorite horror films?
AO: I love REVENGE (2017) and find myself referencing it a lot. I think my classic all-time favorite horror film is SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I don’t see it as a horror film really but know it is. It’s such an exceptional film that I keep coming back to over and over again.
FB: It’s such a high level horror film, you don’t really realize you’re watching a horror film while you’re in it. You really only become aware of that at the end.
A little more personal. You’re from South Africa. I believe you grew up during Apartheid.
FB: Awesome. Well, maybe not awesome. (Laughs)
AO: (Laughs) I was a white guy, so I’ll get some flak for this but it wasn’t that bad for me.
FB: I was just wondering if you could share how that affected you and your family?
AO: I guess I have a different perspective. I feel the English were repressed as well during this period. It was difficult for us to get content. A lot of stuff would have scenes completely cut up or out. For me, it was always a very special resource so I collected magazines and searched for behind the scenes featurettes. Those were few and far between. I think its affected me in that, that has stayed with me my whole life. I haven’t been able to escape that addiction. I earned it at a very young age and I have it today.
FB: Thank you for sharing that. I love hearing about where your appreciation for film came from. Makes mine feel a bit inferior. (Laughs)
You were pretty recently married and a newish father. I’m wondering if you feel that’s changed you and how?
AO: I don’t think it’s changed me too much. You have a wife who tells you what to do, so life is a lot easier. You don’t have to think anymore. (Laughs)
With the kids, you don’t have any free time anymore. Even in South Africa, we have been in some form of lockdown since my son was born. I haven’t felt a lot change because we’re stuck in this new way of doing things. It’s cool, I don’t think it’s changed me too much.
FB: I get it. I mean, obviously it changes you but I think growth is probably a better word. It grows you a little bit.
AO: Yeah. Little things that bugged me a lot, don’t bug me much anymore. I feel a little more grounded now. I know when to focus on my art. I’m not a person that has a lot of hobbies or interests outside of film. My job is my interests. That’s not the best thing. It’s nice to have a distraction that’s completely different from filmmaking.
FB: I like that.
Name one actor that you would love to work with and why.
AO: I think it would be the South African Sharlto Copley. Oh man. For me, his performance in DISTRICT 9 was the best action/horror performance in the last twenty years.
FB: He is great in that. Great film.
Without getting political, I thought it would be interesting to see who you hoped was elected (Interview was Monday the 1st) in run for President here in the USA or if you had no horse in this race?
AO: I have a lot of friends in the states and I am rooting for Biden.
FB: No need to stoke that flame any further than that. Appreciate you answered it.
What project(s) are you working on next?
AO: We have a revenge thriller that has a supernatural element in it. It’s from the same writer of TRIGGERED.
And an action film. I don’t want to say too much We are still figuring it out and things are changing but on the surface it’s going to look like a regular action film but be a little bit different. We will shoot it in South Africa and it will have a bigger cost. It’s also with the same folks that made this film, so we’re keeping it in the family.
FB: Actually, I have another question now. You mentioned a supernatural movie with the writer from TRIGGERED. I was curious if it will be mixed with humor as he seemingly enjoys mixing the comedy with the horror?
AO: It’s disgustingly funny. It’s hilarious but you will feel guilty laughing about it.
FB: Speak for yourself. I’ll be fine. (Laughs)
Thanks for your time today Alastair. I really had a good time talking today.
AO: Thank you Fred!
TRIGGERED is out on Digital and On Demand now!
Until the next one,