For the DVD, VOD and Digital release of the horror/thriller SLEEP NO MORE, I had the chance to speak with director Phillip Guzman about his latest movie, his series of horror films centered around sleeping, and what fans can expect from the director in the future.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Phillip, thank you so much for speaking with us today. Congratulations on the DVD release of SLEEP NO MORE. For those who may not be familiar with your latest film can you tell us a little bit about it?
Phillip Guzman: SLEEP NO MORE is a horror/thriller period piece set in the ‘80’s about a group of grad students that are undertaking an experiment at their university that the university is unaware of. They take a drug called Cognifan and it’s to prevent them from having to sleep again. Why they would want to do that and not ever sleep again I don’t know because I like my sleep, but that’s what they wanted to do (laughs).
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was it about this project that attracted you to Jason Murphy’s script?
PG: I loved the way it was written. I liked the moments of comedy, I liked the moments with scares. It was entertaining and I really wanted to make something that was entertaining and fun.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Was the film always set in the ‘80s?
PG: No, that’s what I added to it. When I first read it, it was present day and people have stayed up for longer than 8 days, and some of them got really messed up from doing it, but we had originally set the film in a pre-Google era. People in the ‘80s did some dumb shit (laugh) so it definitely had to take place in a time where people allowed to be idiots (laughs). That’s why it takes place in the ‘80s because these guys have to be allowed to make mistakes that Google or your cell phone can fix and that’s why it exists where it exists.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Interestingly enough, you’ve done a few horror films that have centered around sleeping such as DEAD AWAKE and now SLEEP NO MORE. What draws you to these type of films?
PG: Man, yeah that’s definitely interesting (laughs). There’s a lot of parallels that came to me but I didn’t write these scripts, people sent them to me and I loved them. It was almost coincidental that I got this one after DEAD AWAKE. It’s funny because if you’ve seen DEAD AWAKE you know there’s a creature that strangles people in their sleep and I did an underwater thriller before that called A KISS AND A PROMISE about a serial killer who strangles people (laughs). People kept asking me if I liked to choke people and I just kept telling them I didn’t know what was going on with these parallels, they just keep happening one after another (laughs). I literally just produced a movie in California called HOUSE OF GLASS, it’s a noir thriller about a woman who is convinced her husband is out doing nefarious things because he talks in his sleep. It’s all just coincidental but I do love it and I am working on a DEAD AWAKE sequel right now. I’m going to do three movies in the sleep world, one more, and then call it quits for awhile.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What I noticed about SLEEP NO MORE was how well the cast worked together. How did you go about casting for the film and were there specific people you wanted to work with?
PG: Our executive producer Shari Moss, she’s amazing because she gave me the freedom to not have to rely on casting name actors to sell the movie. That’s kind of the pitfall we all fall into as filmmakers where it’s like, screw who’s best for the job, give us the person who has the biggest name because they provide the most value, you know? We got a great casting director named Lisa Fields and on our first call I told her I didn’t want any name actors, that I wanted every single person to actually want to make a movie. I wanted to find the most talented people and give the talented people the jobs, the people who deserve to be here as opposed to someone that was in a Michael Bay movie and is somewhat famous. I didn’t want that, I wanted a family experience where we all became friends and made a movie together. I want to enjoy making movies. I still obviously want to make money doing it and make my investors money doing it, that’s the business part of it, but I still want to have fun with the people I work with. I want to enjoy going to work.
This was Christine Dwyer’s first movie and she’s from Broadway. Look at Lukas Gage, he’s now blowing up, he’s in ASSASSINATION NATION and when we shot this he had just done a few things. We’ just got a whole bunch of great up and coming actors that are cool and eclectic. Obviously, Brea Grant is a staple within the horror community, and she was actually the one that gave me the script – she was a big part of getting this movie made.
Nightmarish Conjurings: You kind of touched on this above, but what other projects are you working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the future?
PG: The movie I produced HOUSE OF GLASS, should be hitting festivals next year and then the writer of this, Jason Murphy, and I are in pre-production on RED DEATH. I’ll be directing and producing it and it’s more of a giallo-style/slasher with a pretty high body count.