STILL/BORN is the first feature length film from director Brandon Christensen, also known for the short films Flip (2009) and Modern Art (2010). STILL/BORN was written by Brandon Christensen and Colin Minihan (Grave Encounters, It Stains the Sands Red). Jack (Jesse Moss) gets a promotion at work and now he and Mary (Christie Burke) can afford a more extravagant house for their growing family. Mary gives birth to twins, but tragically only one survives. She begins hearing strange noises on the baby monitor and even catches a glimpse of someone trying to take her baby. After doing some research on the internet, Mary meets a woman who convinces her that a demon stole her baby and Mary believes the demon wants her baby as well. As Mary sinks deeper into an abyss of depression, grief and fear, Jack wonders if an unseen entity is really trying to take their baby or if Mary has been consumed by postpartum psychosis. The story is incredibly original and this movie will leave you horrified and questioning what is real and what is not. You can check out STILL/BORN in select theaters and on demand on February 9th. Right before the release of the film, Michelle was fortunate to be able to talk with Brandon Christensen about STILL/BORN.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Brandon, Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today about STILL/BORN!
Brandon Christensen: No problem! Thanks for the interest in having me.
Nightmarish Conjurings: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker and how did you get started?
BC: I think it happened at an early age. I’ve got 3 siblings and we always had a video camera so we were always making stupid movies and skits and things like that. It was just kind of ingrained into me from a very, very young age, because when you have a big basement, a camcorder and 3 willing participants you’re able to use your imagination a lot. I think my siblings kind of went off and did their own thing and a lot of that creativity stuck with them as well. Just being behind the camera and being the storyteller stuck with me until I was old enough to make the decision that this is what I wanted to do with my life.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Why did you want to make a horror movie?
BC: I’ve been a fan of horror ever since I was a kid. There’s something kind of visceral that you get watching horror that I don’t think you can really match with other genres. Every Halloween we would always watch a horror movie, I think I was in the sixth grade, and my mom was sitting beside me and anytime there was a scare, she would grab me and cover my eyes. It’s those moments where you’re not seeing what’s on the screen and your mind starts working and creating these images that are probably far worse than what’s actually on the screen. I think that definitely helps develop the imagination for horror a little bit. It’s just a very universal genre. I think people from all over the world can understand it. Horror is the biggest genre in Hollywood right now. You can watch something scary in any language and it can still hit you.
Nightmarish Conjurings: STILL/BORN deals with possible psychosis as well as supernatural horror. How did you and co-writer Colin Minihan come up with the concept for the story?
BC: The concept was the result of a few different things happening. I’m a parent myself, I’ve got 2 kids, not twins, but it’s definitely something that is very dominant in my life. When we were coming up with ideas for what we could potentially write about, most of my ideas would gravitate towards that. I had this one idea that was a woman giving birth to 2 kids. The first one is healthy and there seems to be some complications with the second one. Through a look between a nurse and the mother character you kind of get the information without words. It would cut to a nursery where a woman is holding a baby with 2 cribs and that was kind of the catalyst for the entire thing. Colin and I were kind of developing the story based on that and wondered what are some of the things that a mother in mourning might deal with. We started looking deep into postpartum depression and later into postpartum psychosis and the experiences some of these mothers have had after either experiencing loss, or not sometimes. Sometimes the baby is fine and it still happens. It’s just an unexplainable phenomenon that selectively chooses certain people and it’s really horrifying, so we thought there was some good material in that that I haven’t really seen before. There are a lot of mother horror movies, Rosemary’s Baby is the classic, but I hadn’t really seen one with a baby onscreen and that was something that we were really interested in exploring.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Christie Burke and Jesse Moss play the married couple in STILL/BORN, Mary and Jack. Both actors have some difficult and terrifying scenes. What made you choose these actors for the roles of Mary and Jack?
BC: We did a casting call out of Vancouver with Tiffany Mak, who is a casting agent out there, and Christie was on her short list of picks. We got all these tapes that we went through and Christie definitely stood out. She has this very youthful and innocent look, but on the second half of her tape when there was a lot more anger and she was just breaking down, she was just really captivating to watch, so it wasn’t a terribly difficult decision. With Jesse, Colin had worked with him on his film Extraterrestrial a few years prior and they had remained friends. As we were writing the script, both Colin and Stuart Ortiz, his Vicious Brother, they both independently said we should cast Jesse for this. I really only knew him from their film Tucker and Dale vs Evil where he plays a total douche bag (laughs) and I thought, really? The role of Jack as this straight man, father type is just a classic caricature of what a father should be. Colin set up a Skype call with Jesse and myself and we had this long talk about parenthood because he’s got kids and it was pretty obvious that he totally got it. He’s a total professional and he’s been working on set since he was a kid on things like “Are You Afraid of the Dark”. It was a great opportunity for us to get someone like him because I don’t think he does a lot of indie low budget stuff like this and he was so much fun to work with.
Nightmarish Conjurings: STILL/BORN will be in theaters and on demand on February 9th. Are you working on any new projects you can tell me about?
BC: Yes, my wife and I are writing a script right now and tonally it’s very similar to STILL/BORN. We’ve never worked together before. Even when writing STILL/BORN she would inject ideas, either from experience or from her own demented mind, so we’re really fun (laughs). After STILL/BORN we were talking about ideas and we both had this idea that we kind of bounced back and forth until we landed on something that I’ve never really seen before and it’s a pretty exciting idea for me. We’ve been writing it for the last six or seven months and we’re almost done with the first draft. I’m hoping I can shoot that within the next year or so. A wrinkle in that plan is that she got pregnant with our third child. I don’t know if you know this, but the baby in STILL/BORN is my niece, so having another baby to work with makes us think that we might need to do another STILL/BORN, so we’ll see about that.
STILL/BORN arrives in select theaters and On Demand February 9th