For the release of Nicholas Bushman's latest horror/thriller, UNION FURNACE, Shannon spoke with Bushman about working alongside co-writer/actor Mike Dwyer, hiring Keith David, and what we can expect from the director in the future.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Nicholas, thank you so much for speaking with us today. To start things off, could you tell us a little bit about your film UNION FURNACE?
Nicholas Bushman: UNION FURNACE is about a car thief, played by Mike Dwyer, in a small South Southern Ohio town called Union Furnace. Basically, he meets a gentleman who invites him to participate in a series of underground games, with him not really knowing what they are, leading to a lot of exciting horror stuff.
NC: Along with directing the film, you also co-wrote the script with Dwyer. How did you guys come up with the story?
NB: The story basically came out of something we could do right away. We loved the idea of a series of games, from a structural standpoint. I thought it would be a really cool way to do a movie, especially the way it works with the Roman numerals (Game I, Game II, Game III). Each game could kind of feel like a different movie each time but with the stakes always getting higher. So there was that and then also because it would automatically be these characters trapped at a single location which made it very practical. All of that lent itself to something we could do right away that was exciting and still very visual.
NC: With the exception of Mike Dwyer, who you've worked with before, how did you go about casting? Did you have specific actors in mind for certain roles? What was it like working with actor Keith David?
NB: Basically every role was written for actors we knew and most of them, with the exception of Keith David, we worked with before; a lot of them are in my first movie SANDBAR, like Katie Keene and Kevin Crowley. In regards to Keith David, the role was written for him, though I didn't know him except through his movies. It was really a dream come true when we got the script to him and were like, "it has to be you!"
NC: What were some of the challenges you faced during UNION FURNACE and how were you able to work through them?
NB: For this film, we actually had a proper crew, such as a cinematographer, a PA, stuff like that (laughs). When it came time to shoot the movie, we had very little time, only 22 days, which was really intense. On top of that, we were shooting in Ohio in January and it was so cold; it would be zero degrees outside and we would be excited because at least it wasn't 15 below. So that slows you down because you are freezing and so is the equipment, like the cameras, and even the boom wires would literally freeze and you wouldn't be able to film.
NC: UNION FURNACE has a bit of an edge to it that isn't always seen in horror films. Was it important to differentiate yourself from your contemporaries that were making similar films?
NB: Yeah, definitely. We liked the concept of the film a lot, the idea of this series of games, but we wouldn't have pursued it unless we thought we could do something really different with it. We were most inspired by films like THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?, which is basically a horror movie about a dance competition, as opposed to films like SAW.
NC: Last but certainly not least, are there any projects you are working on that we should keep our eye out for?
NB: Absolutely! Our next movie is called STRANGER IN THE DUNES. It's actually done and it's going to be playing festivals this fall and we are really excited about it. It's another thriller but it's much more supernatural/sci-fi. It stars Delphine Chaneac, Mike Dwyer and a great actor named Andrew Hovelson and it centers around these three characters at an isolated beach house that end up going crazy.
UNION FURNACE is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Metropol Pictures.