I recently reviewed the movie “The Control Group,” from director Peter Hurd. Peter is someone to watch..intelligent, he knows what he wants. He’s certainly really knows how to put in the hard work. He took time to answer a few questions for the Hub. Please enjoy….
“The Control Group.” It took awhile, but you’ve finally released this gem. Congratulations. My review for the movie is up, but let me tell you, I enjoyed it.
PH: Thanks very much! It has been a long road, but having such a great reaction from people who liked the film has made it all worth it.
You scored a coup by getting the wonderful Brad Dourif. I’m a big fan of his and to interview him is on my bucket list. How did you manage that piece of casting?
PH: Getting Brad was surprisingly straightforward. I sent his agent the script and an offer. Brad liked the script, his agent liked the offer, and we had everything arranged in a few weeks. I think it was a combination of good timing and approaching him in the right way.
The young actors, Ross Destiche, Jenna Enemy, Emily Soto….how did you get such natural performances from them? Their performances speak to your talent as a director. In my review, I likened you to a young Harrison Smith. Do you follow any of his work?
PH: Wow, thank you! I have not seen any of Smith’s work, but I will definitely check him out. As for the actors, I was lucky to get such a great cast. Most of my job as a director was simply giving them the space and the freedom to create the characters as they saw them.
What movie/director inspired you to get into films?
PH: Anything I found on the horror shelf at Blockbuster as a kid: Romero, Argento, Fulci, Bava, Raimi. A few of my favorite films are “Suspiria,” “2001,” and Romero’s dead trilogy.
You had a tight budget, hence using your stuntman, Taso Stavrakis in so many roles. Can we look forward to seeing the two of you team up again?
PH: Taso was another great find for this production. He was the stunt coordinator on Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead.” He also played several roles in each film. We did much the same. In addition to coordinating stunts for us, he played Agent Torrez (named after his role in “Day of the Dead”) and several of the government agents. It was easy to cover him up since the villains wear full-body costumes with masks! Taso had no problem with playing so many roles and he couldn’t have been better to work with, so I do hope I get the chance to work with him again.
What are your plans for your next film? Will you be writing more?
PH: I am focusing more on writing now. I have a few feature scripts that I am trying to get funding for and I’m writing my first novel. I’ve also written a few short stories, one of which will appear on Trigger Warning Short Fiction in late May.
I like that you use practical effects. Sometimes most critics will call them cheesy, but you have to work with what’s available. Will you stay with practical, or move up to CGI as the budget increases?
PH: Thanks! I’m a huge fan of practical effects. I always feel that your mind is more willing to accept something as real if it physically exists on the screen, even though it may not be as polished or detailed as a digital effect. That said, there are a lot of advantages to digital effects and on “The Control Group” we often blended the two, taking a practical effect filmed on set and improving it with a bit of digital polish. Often the effect is so seamless that you can’t tell any CGI was used at all. On future films, I would like to continue that way of working and find out what else can be done by mixing practical and digital effects.
You are the perfect example of indie film makers. Do you have any advice for writers/directors looking to make an indie film?
PH: Lots, but my main advice is just to get filming any way you can. If you can raise a budget, that’s great, but if not, get your friends together and start shooting. It’s never been easier to make a movie, so take advantage of that. At the very least, it’s a great learning experience and can provide inspiration for your next project.
Thank you for taking the time with me. For my readers, go see “The Control Group.” It’s an honest, good film.