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Q&A: “DISCOPATH” and “SILENT RETREAT” Directors Face-Off

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Black Fawn Distribution is fast becoming the contemporary AIP of the frigid North. To celebrate the recent releases of both Renaud Gauthier’s DISCOPATH and Tricia Lee’s SILENT RETREAT on DVD, the BF braintrusts put the films two directors together to essentially interview one another while FANGORIA eavesdropped. Here are the results…

TRICIA LEE: Based on DISCOPATH, I figure you either love or hate disco music. Which one is it and why did you choose to make disco music the trigger to make the main character kill?

RENAUD GAUTHIER: Who doesn’t enjoy spinning around with a sweaty girl in a steaming flashing cess pool? I don’t really care for the fashion but when the music is loud, you’ll always see me on the dance floor. I had this vision/dream years ago, where a man, entranced by loud music, could gracefully strangle a victim without anybody noticing in a dark discotheque. Throw in some Dr. Jekyll, Bruce Banner and hypnotic thumping beats and voilà! Disco slasher movie! So Tricia, how do you feel humor fits into horror films?

LEE: I always love a fun horror movie and I think humor and horror are a natural fit. I find that laughter is sometimes a nervous, yet natural, audience reaction when they’re scared during a horror flick. Combining comedy and horror gives the audience a natural high by bringing those two emotions together. My writing partner, Corey Brown and I are thinking of doing a fun genre film in the near future, since what we’ve been working on recently is so serious. While I like to try to get my audience to cry, I also love making them laugh.

Renaud, you captured the look and feel of the disco era movies amazingly! Did you make your cast and crew watch 70’s movies before shooting so they got to know the culture, tone and ambience of the 70’s era? How did you prepare them?

GAUTHIER: I did not prepare them. I just wrote the proper, easy, “aw shucks,” retro dialogue I think. And then had John Londono (Director of Photography on DISCOPATH), watch SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, HALLOWEEN and TAXI DRIVER. Once everybody had a proper costume on, the rest just fell into place! So Tricia, what do you think the main difference is between guys and gals directing genre films?

LEE: I think you’ll have to thank my parents for making me into a girl and raising me in Toronto. For me, the difference between guys and gals directing is almost the same as the difference between any two directors, regardless of their gender. Everyone has a point of view, a history, a story they want to tell and emotions they want to evoke from their audience. Whether you are male or female, you will always have your own directing style.

The qualities that I think come across in my own films are that I like to focus on emotion and connection between characters. I want to make my audience feel something. SILENT RETREAT is a metaphor for some issues that females deal with. Some people might say it’s a feminist film or that “this could only be made by a female director,” but I think it’s not so much about a divide between male and female, but more so about what one director wants to make vs. what another director would have wanted. For your death and gore scenes, what’s your process in storyboarding and choosing how much you’re going to show?

DISCOPATHREV

GAUTHIER: Amazingly, the finished version of DISCOPATH is pretty darn close to the screenplay and storyboard (even down to the awkward ending!) All the messy, sticky gore we shot is in the movie. I would have taken a bit more, but John Londono would stop the camera when he was too grossed out! What a flake!

LEE: Even though he’s a killer, the DISCOPATH character is still fairly sympathetic. What was your casting process and how did you find him?

GAUTHIER: Did you know we tried to get Macauley Culkin to play Duane Lewis [the titular DISCOPATH]? It would have been a very different movie! It didn’t work out but, I originally wanted a scrawny, desperate looking actor and auditioned about 15 guys before going 180 degrees and deciding on Jeremy Earp. He had a haunting quality, good looks AND he’s a karate expert! Tricia, are you single?

LEE: No, I’m married. Actually, funny story: Mark, who was my boyfriend at the time I shot SILENT RETREAT, ended up playing the creature in the film because the original actress dropped out. We scrambled to find someone to fill her role and ended up having 5 different people play the creature in the final film. Mark, who is not an actor and is actually very shy, had never been on a set before but, in order to help me out, he sat through 4 hours of makeup, and then squeezed himself into a costume that was made to fit an actress about half his size. He ran around in his underwear/creature costume in front of 40 strangers to help get this movie made.

Later, we decided there wasn’t enough gore in the film, so we had a gore reshoot day. Instead of bringing in the actresses, I just played the dead body and Mark dressed up as the creature again and he got to disembowel me in my parent’s basement. A month later, we were married. If pulling out my intestines with his teeth doesn’t mean true love, I don’t know what does!

GAUTHIER: What’s your ultimate horror flick?

LEE: My two favorite recent horror films are THE DESCENT and LET ME IN. I watched both of them over and over again in preparation for SILENT RETREAT. The directing in both films was inspiring and I aspire to that level of filmmaking with my own projects. What’s your favourite snack to eat while watching horror movies?

GAUTHIER: Huh? I don’t know. Large breasts? I hate popcorn.

Both SILENT RETREAT and DISCOPATH are available now via blackfawndistribution.com.

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