Darkness Reigns, now out on VOD, is the first in what director Andrew P.Jones would like to call a âcontinuous footageâ movie, as he explains in this exclusive interview.
How did the film come about?
With “Darkness Reigns” I wanted to create a new genre that I named âcontinuous footage.âÂ Â I occasionally find people referring to it as “found footage” and thatâs 100% incorrect â there is noÂ found footage.Â Â Itâs all seen through the unblinking eye of a documentarianâs camera.Â Â So, the challenge, or gimmick, is that these horrific things happen before our eyes and without edits. Â Also, if you notice there is no music during the “documentary” sections, which was a really scary decision to make. Â I wanted it remain authentic and if we are watching a documentarian’s continuous footage, there wouldn’t be “score” so I made that bold decision early on. Â The film is bookended, however, with traditional narrative style scenes. Â But, I thought it was a film I could make with very little money because the long takes would allow us to shoot faster than normal, or, in fewer days.
Tell us about the script â how much of it ended up on the screen?
When you make low budget indies, there isn’t any time toÂ waste, so the script has to be pretty tight. Â That said, there were some scenes we dropped in editing because I felt they were not giving us any new information and felt like filler. Â And, actually, I had to write two additional scenes and go back to shoot them because Â my movie was short. Â I think it was a byproduct of the long, continuous takes that threw the “page per minute” rule of thumb off. Â One new scene took place in the old hotel, and by the time we went back the power had been cut, so, I had to re-work that scene to be in the dark, in “night vision.” Â And it actually made it better. Â
Did you know Casper Van Dien? When did the idea to use him come up?
And how close is the filmâs version of Casper to the real guy?
Casper plays a slightly surrealistic version of himself, or as we joke – an âassholeâ version, which he had a lot of fun with.Â Â Heâs been acting a very long time and has the ability to slip in and out of character with no problem whatsoever.Â Â In reality, he is a lot of fun on set and helps to keep the environment light and stress-free.
Did anyone struggle playing themselves? I imagine itâs quite peculiar at timesâ¦
Casper is the only one playing himself. Â Â We had a combination of professional actors, and some non-professionals who bring a little authenticity to it. Â All the hard stuff was done by professional, experienced actors. Â In fact, I favored actors with stage experience because of the long takes, it was like doing a play.Â Â If anyone missed a mark or flubbed a line we couldn’t just “pick it up.” We had to start the take over. Â And some of these takes were 7, 8, 9 minutes long.
When did you have your first showing? Did it play in festivals?
As soon as the film was ready I reached out to distributors and we had a number of offers immediately, so, I decided not to devote the time and money to festivals. Â Even though festivals are a great way to build a fan base.
And finally, your favourite horror movie?
I still like the classics like “The Exorcist,” and “The Shining.” I like “The Conjuring” movies.Â Â But, I was blown away by âGet Out,” which really redefined what horror can be.