Interview with Director Brett Sullivan on Hush
Posted on October 25, 2005 by Chris Nelson
This is Brett Sullivan’s very first interview on his upcoming project, Hush. Kris and I got to sit down with the director of Ginger Snaps: Unleashed, and ask a few questions. Brett is an extremely busy man, so we only had time for a few questions, but we did get some quality short-essay answers.
On to the interview:
Chris & Kris: What is the storyline of your new project, Hush? Does it share any sort of themes with your previous projects? In what genre would you classify the film?
BRETT: The storyline Hush (we’re looking for better title as a movie with this title just came out starring Tori Spelling and we don’t want any confusion) came out of necessity for the most part. I wanted to make a movie that was, that had all the creepy tone and atmosphere of the recent Asian horrors, Dark Water, The Eye, The Ring, Ju-On etc. However, I thought that for the most part, these films were not satisfying North American audiences in the story and character development. So my task, when choosing a story, was to have the style and mood of the Asian horror but with a western story and character sensibility. My writing partner, Michael Capellupo, came across a creepy E.A. Poe short story that we molded to fit into this other story idea I had.
The Poe story was about a Great Mesmeriser that puts a man in ‘Articulo Mortis’. Basically, freezing the man in suspended animation at the point of death. Now, I live in a 130 year old house. There is a part of the 2nd floor that is unaccounted for. There should be floor space where there is currently a wall. The walls don’t line up and sometimes my cats hiss at the walls, which I have no idea of the contents behind the walls.
So, a woman moves into an old Victorian house. After a series of disturbing events, she discovers the events that took place in the house; a man accused of child murder, is mesmerised into the state of articulo mortis to suffer the pains of death for an eternity. His soul may still be wandering the household.
Hence, it’s a light hearted romantic comedy… No of course its not. Hush is a dark suspenseful mix of thriller and horror.
C & K: Where is the production currently set to film, and who is set to star?
BRETT: It is currently set to start shooting in 10 days… In MY HOUSE. I’m a little worried about that, but it’s for the ‘art’ right? The lead actresses are relative newcomers from the theatre but are kick-ass talents that are very pleasing to the eye. Alanna Chisolm will be playing the student that moves into the house and Lauren Roy plays her protective sister.
C & K:You tend to choose sisters for the protagonists of your films. Any idea why?
BRETT: Sisters…. Well I like female protagonists in general as I believe there is still much more to explore that is ‘new’ to the female lead but been done before with a male protagonist. I like taking females and empowering them both mentally, sexually & physically. I hate the N. American attitude towards sex particularly with women and feel that our western society needs to ‘relax’ its puritan attitudes. I feel the lately, the clock is turning back in social settings. It’s frightening. I can help if I push that envelope just a little.
As for the sisters part… I like it as it is an instant bond that doesn’t a bunch of explanation. Saying the leads are sisters, means that at least we know they’ve known each other their whole lives and that they love each other and would probably risk their own safety to protect the other…. So it’s even more interesting when that bond is twisted and pulled. I have a strong/trusting relationship with my 2 older twin brothers. I am always interested in our extreme, character differences and the nature vs. nurture argument. With sisters, I can explore that a little more than if they were both friends.
C & K: We caught the one theatrical US screening of Ginger Snaps 2 at the SF Horror fest, and we thought the film deserved a genuine theatrical run. Are you pushing for a US theatrical run for Hush, or will it be released in a similar fashion to GS2?
BRETT: There are no pre-sales or distribution deals on board. It’s wide open. Upon completion, we will take it to various festivals and markets and see what happens. It is ENTIRELY a self financed project with NO distributor or broadcaster on board. We have specifically not approached anyone for that as we wanted a free hand to make the movie we wanted to make. The WHOLE project, script/story and production, is only 3 months old. We (Producer Doug Patterson and Writer Michael Capellupo) started this idea in JULY. We have now founded a company called “PANIC PICTURES INC” and this is our first project together.
C & K: Some filmmakers just choose props for the aesthetic value. But we noticed in Ginger Snaps 2 you took special care in providing hints through the details. What do you look for when incorporating an object into part of the scene?
BRETT: Well I guess I’ll take that as a compliment. My thoughts are that props, or at least ‘hero’ props, the one that have an impact on the story, need to be established. Personally, I hate when objects/solutions are found from ‘new’ information. To me, it is important that the audience have all the clues and info for the solution/action, it’s just that I hope I get there on the screen before they do. I want the audience to know all the ingredients, before I mix them up. Nothing worse that when the lead character solves the problem with a newly discovered prop and/or info just for that scene. It feels like cheating. I feel the same about magic and technology. I need to know the plimits of the sci-fi and the magic before I believe it. Convenient spells and clever technology that saves the day irks me.
C & K: Lastly, what films are you a fan of, and what films have affected you?
BRETT: I have to say Exorcist… It was not only a great Horror film but just a fantastic movie in general. Slow build, strong characters. That’s what I like. There are so many films that affected me…..AIRPLANE – A comedy that started a genre.
CITIZEN KANE – From a director that challenged himself and the film community to push it’s technical limits.
IT’S a WONDERFUL LIFE – A beautiful, heart-warming comedy/drama with a message that is the ONLY move I watch repeatedly. It’s fast paced and advanced/risque for its era. I still love it.
RAIDERS of the LOST ARK – My first full on ‘popcorn movie’. It was with Raiders that filmmaking became apparent. All about the entertainment.
There you have it
Brett is currently filming Hush right now. Check out the official site for HUSH here.
The official press release for the film follows below:
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY BEGINS ON HUSH
Toronto, October 20, 2005 – Panic Pictures Inc. announced the beginning of principal photography on the supernatural thriller, HUSH, begins today. The film is directed by Brett Sullivan (GINGER SNAPS: UNLEASHED) and is shooting at Sullivan’s 120 yearold Victorian home. The film marks the screen debut of Alanna Chisholm and Lauren Roy in the starring roles. Adam Seybold, Nick Abraham, Paul Soren and Nickolas Tortolano round out the cast.
Danielle, a beautiful psychology student, is not only haunted by a troubled past, but by an evil presence in the here and now. To prove to her sister, Anna, that she is sane, Danielle sets out to document the haunting in her home, but instead she becomes possessed by the sinister soul of a child killer. Anna struggles to save her sister before Danielle commits the unthinkable – the torturous and suffocating murder of innocence. Can Anna rescue Danielle, or will she need help from the most unlikely of places… the past? Only time will tell and it isn’t on Anna’s side.
HUSH is the second feature film for director Brett Sullivan, after the award-winning GINGER SNAPS: UNLEASHED which has collected many honours and is a film festival favourite.
Producer and agent Doug Patterson, who has produced films for award-winning directors Jeff Beesley, SPARKLE and Jessica Bradford, WINTER SUN, joins Sullivan and HUSH.
Michael Capellupo, screenwriter/producer, has penned the short, A PROMISE, starring Gordon Pinsent, and the thriller, HUSTLE.
Shooting on the DVX-100, Sullivan, Patterson and Capellupo, Panic Pictures’ founders, have set out to meld iconic images, akin to those in recent Japanese horror films, with western storytelling. HUSH, the debut film of Panic Pictures, is truly an independent film, financed by a group of Canadian Businessman calling themselves the Thursday Night Poker Club and the generous help of the Toronto film community.