Inner Ghosts director Paulo Leite believes a good mix of both CGI and Practical effects is best for today’s horror movie.
Congratulations on your success, Paulo – is it exciting to see Inner Ghosts get a US release?
Yes. I admire American films. They have contributed to the maturity of the horror genre in many fundamental ways. This means I feel deeply honoured for getting a US release.
How do you think the movie will translate with American audiences?
I think American audiences are, when it comes to horror, very sophisticated and willing to try new things. With that in mind, I think the film will find its fans. The horror genre is very diverse and I think it has conquered its own space as filmic art. This is partly due to the fact that a significant portion of the American horror audience is open to fresh concepts and experiences.
When did you shoot the film?
We shot the film in 2016. The post production was extremely complex and took way longer than we expected. We only finished the film in 2019.
And all in your backyard, essentially, right?
Yes. Although I have other horror projects in development, I felt I should have a first film that I could make with minimal financing. So, at some point, I sat down and looked at what I could realistically get: locations, actors, crew – and do the best with the little we had. I was blessed because I could try things and take risks. I could really experiment and learn.
It’s a very universal story – – just a good, old fashioned-supernatural horror film. When and where did the idea originate?
I read a lot about ghosts and have always felt deeply disappointed with the answers given by those who claim to speak to them. What’s the nature of memory on a ghost? How can a ghost think without a brain? How can a ghost cross a wall that’s insulated? How do they look at our technology? When you have these questions, all mediums start to look like frauds. So, I started looking into real research and try to pick interesting things that felt fresh. That’s why I explore the idea of one side playing with the other. That’s why I felt it would be fun to play with 3D printers. I like horror stories that introduce new concepts – stories that challenge and can leave you thinking “what if this is really happening to me right now?” To me, that’s when stories become scary.
CGI or practical effects? Which do you prefer?
Both. CGI and practical don’t achieve the same results – and they don’t have to. There are moments when practical is perfect, as well as there are moments when you need CGI. The problem to me starts when filmmakers don’t know which one to use (and go for the cheapest or the fastest). Ideally, both should be transparent. This means you should look at the scene and not be able to say what it is, nor be distracted by the effect itself. That’s the real challenge. On INNER GHOSTS we used both CGI and practical. I am particularly proud of the climatic scene where we mix them. I think the audience will enjoy it. As a filmmaker, I believe we must keep our minds open and not allow ourselves to be carried away by politics and prejudices. I’ve heard filmmakers say “we’ll do it practical” as if this was a purity test. Then they push the practical effects beyond their budget and possibilities and it all ends up looking underwhelming or fake. A similar thing happens with CGI. A producer may fear practical effects are not spectacular enough and push the CGI far beyond the transparent. It quickly loses physicality and becomes obvious and distractive.
Is there a message in the movie -between all the scares?
Yes, several messages. The fundamental one is that we should not look at ghosts as things that exist outside our laws. Another message, this one more spiritual, is that perhaps ghosts are as fascinated by us (and our technology) as we are by them (and their intangible nature). Another message is that there may be more interactions between both sides than we think (some good, some very bad). Another message is that a mother’s love can do the impossible. This last message is very dear to me because, as a man, I feel in awe before the beauty of motherhood – a blessing men can’t experience or even try to consider.
Inner Ghosts is now on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.