For the Blu-ray/DVD release of their supernatural thriller, WE GO ON, Shannon had the chance to speak with directors Andy Mitton & Jesse Holland about their latest film, life after death, and what we can look forward to from them in the future.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi guys, thanks so much for speaking with me today! I’ve been a fan of your film since seeing it at Fantasia but for those who may not be familiar with it, could you tell us a little bit about WE GO ON?
Andy Mitton: Well it’s a story about a man who puts $30,000 dollars out for proof of the afterlife, and it’s a “be careful what you wish for” type of story because he ends up haunted by a ghost.
NC: What inspired the story? Have you always wanted to tackle the subject of life after death?
AM: We’ve been after a ghost story for awhile but we found that to be a particular challenge. I think that ghost stories are hard. In the third act, even some of the best ghost stories fall apart because ultimately you are doing battle with something that is on a different plane of existence and you have to invent all these rules to get around it. I think as tellers of scary stories it’s a cool challenge to take on and to have a take on it. We thought this simple question at the center of the movie was very universal, very relatable and the key would be to write this character who had these fears but to have him not be completely overwhelmed by them or too over the top that he feels a-part from us. We wanted it to be something we could relate too with a question that we were all asking.
NC: Where do you both fall on the topic of life after death?
AM: Well, I am a believer, and Jesse is a skeptic.
Jesse Holland: I’m agnostic.
AM: We thought it was kind of a cool thing that we were reflective in this journey of Milo’s and his mother, coming at the question from two different angles.
NC: For me, I had a very personal reaction to the film, having lost my father and ultimately questioning if there really was life after death. Have you had similar reactions such as that since the movie came out?
JH: One of the reactions that I found really interesting is people that find the movie to be both scary and uplifting, which I really like. Honestly, that’s maybe one of those things that wasn’t really on our minds, we didn’t set out to create that but that was what was created, and I’m very happy that people are finding solace in the film.
AM: I think what we do, which is kind of a mindset that Jesse and I have coming from theater, is we like to feel moved and we don’t always know when we are going to achieve that. You never know when people are going to be moved but we kind of discovered that people were lifted in a way that they felt wasn’t manipulative which is a big compliment.
NC: When it came to casting, did you have specific people in mind? What was the process like?
JH: We like to work with people we have worked with before that we have a common language with, so Clark Freeman is someone we have been working with since college, so we wrote the script with him in mind. Everything was sort of a family affair – Laura (Heisler) is Andy’s wife and Laura connected us with Annette O’Toole who also knew Cassidy Freeman, Clark’s sister, who was on “Smallville” with Annette O’Toole. It was a lot of personal relationships involved in the creation of this. Then there were people who were just out of the blue, like Giovanna Zacarias, who came to us as a referral and we had like what she had done – she had blown our socks off.
NC: You both have directed two films together, YELLOWBRICKROAD and WE GO ON, which are definitely horror based, so what is it about this genre that you love so much?
AM: I think it goes deep for both of us to our childhood – we have always been horror fans and it’s one of the first things Jesse and I connected on when we went to college. We’ve been geeking out over horror films for twenty years now and we both call our favorite film THE EXORCIST.
JH: We like films that are visceral, that go in and grab you by the gut, and horror is a genre that does that. I’m reminded of P.T. Anderson thinking that THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a horror movie which goes to show that horror can be found in us and a lot of great movies. Like Andy said, we want to be moved and to scare people is to move people very viscerally.
AM: Speaking practically, when you are coming out of nowhere like we were for YELLOWBRICKROAD, I think we said to each other very early that horror is a great genre to try and enter into. We loved it to begin with, but it was also the fans of horror and genre films. They are warm, loyal, organized and passionate. There is an overwhelming sense of family, community, and support and it’s a great genre to make films in.
NC: What would you both like for people to take away from WE GO ON?
AM: We always talk about something that you can take with you beyond the experience of the theater, and we should say we are as quick to sit down and watch THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE as anything else as there is huge value in that. I think for us, with this film, our goal was to plant a seed with the film in an audience member who really followed us where we wanted to go that they would take with them something that made them reflect on themselves.
JH: Yeah, we wanted to make something like with YELLOWBRICKROAD, that you don’t shake off when you leave the theater and it sticks with you. It was also very important to us that we do something very different from YELLOWBRICKROAD. Wherein YELLOWBRICKROAD was sort of like ALIEN in which it drops you into a group of people, this time around we really wanted to connect to one specific person in this film and have your emotions be his emotions and be really in-tuned with them. To go on this journey means to follow Milo (Clark Freeman) and I hope people follow him on his journey and fall into it.
NC: Last, but certainly not least, what can fans expect from you both next?
AM: We both have some things that we’ve done since and are in-development, but a lot of changes have happened in our lives since the film has come out. We now live on different coasts but we will hope to continue to work together. For the moment, Jesse recently made an awesome film that premiered on SyFy and has just recently come out on DVD called THE CROOKED MAN. I have a film in the can right now in post called THE VERMONT HOUSE, which is a small indie haunted house movie that we shot up in Vermont. So we will continue to support each other as we branch off a little bit, but those are the two immediate things that people should be seeking out.
WE GO ON is now available to own on Blu-ray & DVD from Lightyear Entertainment