Well over a year ago I caught my eye on an upcoming indie horror flick entitled GUT. From the moment I read the synopsis I knew we was going to be in for a treat, and it turns out I was right. Well, actually it all comes down to taste. GUT is a slow-burn psychological horror flick which some may not find to their liking, but if you’re wiling to give it a shot, it certainly gets you thinking.
So, recently I had the absolute pleasure to ask Elias (writer & director of GUT) some questions regarding his career and of course the future, and well, the answers are awesome. Again, if you have the chance, give GUT a watch, and stay tuned for future projects from Elias.
Horror-Movies: Let’s begin, what first got you into horror films?
Elias: I’m not sure exactly. My best friend and earliest collaborator was a really big horror buff back then and that spilled over on me no doubt. The first real horror script I wrote was about a man who’s attacked by a werewolf-like creature one night and suffers the side effect of being able to hear everybody’s thoughts, which ultimately drives him insane.
I adapted it from a short story I wrote in my first year of college. I don’t remember what inspired the story exactly, but I was a big fan of Oliver Stone back then so I named the central character “Oliver”. We didn’t really have a budget so we couldn’t show the werewolf and it became more of a psychological thriller in the end, which is of course being kind as it was a very amateurish attempt. We didn’t even have our own video camera. I had to borrow a friend’s Video8 to shoot it.
H-M: When did you first get into the film business? What drew you in?
Elias: Writing and acting were the most appealing aspects at first. My mother always nurtured the creative in me and that played a big part, especially where writing was concerned. She and my dad also surrounded me with books, many out of print and used, and I spent a ton of time reading. I also went to the movies a lot when I was a teenager, mostly on my own.
I’d go to the mall and watch two or three in a row, I theater-hopped sometimes. I saw “Born on the 4th of July” one of those afternoons and it made a big impression on me back then so I started working with an acting coach. I ended up doing a fair amount of community theater, then got accepted into AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts) in New York and moved out there when I was 19.
H-M: As well as directing films, you have also starred in a few titles, is acting as much a passion as directing?
Elias: I really love acting. It’s the most vulnerable job on a film and that much more freeing because of it. I’m always excited about the opportunity to act in a film and rarely turn it down, but ultimately it’s secondary to directing for me, at least in recent years.
H-M: Looking back in your career, you also directed a horror comedy short, Dead Sucks. Have you ever thought of returning to this and advancing on the ideas such as a feature film?
Elias: Definitely. I love horror comedy and “Dead Sucks” is very close to my heart. There’s already a feature script, which I’m actually doing another pass on right now. It’s a pretty ambitious project, and one I’d love to do when the time is right and we have the proper budget in place to do it justice.
H-M: Most recently you directed the very intriguing and thought provoking film Gut, which is set to hit DVD, what challenges did you face if any when attempting this project?
Elias: Thanks for the kind words. I think a first feature is always a challenge, and there were many challenges on “Gut” such as finding good/affordable locations, avoiding 14 hour or worse shooting-days, creating the special effects, shooting 17 pages in 2 1/2 days (the diner location), and many more. We were very lucky, though. We had a great team and that made everything a hell of a lot easier and more fun. I think the key to any success we had was that everyone was excited to be there and believed in what we were doing. Without that we never could have done what we did.
H-M: Looking at the film Gut, what inspired you to write and direct this one?
Elias: I wanted desperately to direct a feature film so my wife Anna and I came up with a story we thought could be doable on an ultra low budget if necessary, but without a big sacrifice in quality. It’s very hard to write with a low budget in mind, especially ultra low, but once we established the initial storyline and characters, I was able to make it more personal and then the script began to take on a life of its own and I really wanted to see it become a film.
H-M: I thought the two leads in Gut, Jason Vail and Nicholas Wilder, did an awesome job in portraying their characters. How did they find the process?
Elias: Thanks, I’m sure they really appreciate that. The three of us had a really good rapport, and they were both really committed to their roles and to making their on-screen friendship as believable as possible. I hope they found the process as rewarding as I did.
H-M: With Gut now firmly under your belt, do you have any other horror projects on the horizon?
Elias: Working on a few scripts, the “Dead Sucks” feature as I already mentioned, and another darker, more personal one that’s kind of my take on the ghost story. Also, a film I co-produced by the name of ALONE will be completed this year, and DARK, a feature thriller I wrote, should be heading into production in 2014.
H-M: With Gut now being released in the U.S. are there any plans to distribute the film Internationally?
Elias: Yes, working on that now, and should have some more news in the coming months.
I have a question I like to ask everyone, what are your top five horror films at the moment?
Tough to say, but here’s what springs to mind: “The Woman in Black” (’89), The Fly (’86), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (’74), The Thing (’82), and “Dead Alive” (’92).
H-M: If there was one film you could remake, what would it be and how would you do it differently?
Elias: I’d love to remake “Demon Seed” (’77). I’d update it of course for modern times and also emphasize the organic, body-horror aspect of it more. I think I’d also like to remake “Mr. Mom” and inject my own personal experience of being a parent into that. It would absolutely remain a comedy!
H-M: Is there anything you would like to add?
Elias: Thanks for the opportunity, and thanks to your readers for helping keep independent horror in the conversation. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Now I don’t know about you guys, but I’d love to see Elias tackle Demon Seed. For one I absolutely love body-horror, and he just has a great eye for capturing the moment. Anyway, it was a blast chatting to Elias, and I wish him all the best for the future. Keep your eyes on this guy!
For more information, make your way over to GUT’s official Facebook page.