For the release of the horror film THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT, Shannon had the chance to speak with director Mathieu Ratthe about his latest film, where his love for the horror genre came from, and what it was like to not only direct and write the film but also to star in it.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Mathieu, thank you so much for speaking with us today! To start things off, can you tell those who many not be familiar with your film, THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT, a little about it.
Mathieu Ratthe: Definitely! The beginning of the story is a little bit cliche where you have these three couples going to a cabin for a weekend. Things then get switched around when a meteorite falls from the sky and they all decide to go investigate what it is. I would say what makes our film different is that before the weekend trip, our main character integrated a camera inside of his prosthetic eye, which he had lost a couple months prior to that weekend. That being said, the audience is going to see through his subjective point of view of what is going to happen to him and his friends.
NC: Not only did you direct this film, but you also wrote the script. What inspired you to come up with the story for THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT?
MR: Well, the film is an actual event that happened to me. I saw a meteor fall from the sky back up North where I'm from. I was with some friends at 4 in the morning and we did what the characters in the film are doing. We went to see what it was but we never found it and we always questioned ourselves on what it was that actually fell. So, based off of our experience I thought it was a good hook of suspense of what's out there. I am also in the film, so I wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie.
NC: When it came to casting, other than yourself of course, did you have anyone specific in mind for any of the roles?
MR: I went through the typical casting process but I had a great casting director here in Montreal. It was funny how I everyone got cast in the film. I was late to the casting auditions and my casting director pulled me to the side and told me that there were three girls waiting for the audition that were really having fun and it was something that I rarely saw. I was looking for natural actors with chemistry between me and them because there is no way I could have done this if the chemistry wasn't there. I was casting more the person than the actor. So when I saw the three girls interacting together, I ended up casting them at the same time. The guy that portrays Trey in the movie, Alex Nachi, came in to do his audition and he didn't really nail it; he was uncomfortable and really nervous, but when he got out of the audition he just became natural and started goofing around. I knew that was what I needed so he got cast on his way out and not during the audition. (laughs)
NC: THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT is your feature film debut - what was it like going from directing short films to your first feature?
MR: The preparation to get to the point of making my first feature film was just a natural thing. I've been working with the same DP and I have an unbelievable team. We had 13 days to shoot the film and I have to be honest, I had more days shooting a short film than I did a feature film which is really crazy. That's why I did a found footage film, I didn't have time to have a dolly or crane for my camera so I had to switch my mind completely from everything I've done for the last 21 years from when I started shooting.
NC: I've noticed that all your films center around horror, so what is it about this genre that you love so much?
MR: I think Alfred Hitchcock was a huge influence on me at a really young age. I'm not from a family that was into movie making at all so I started studying him a lot and his use of suspense kind of attracted me. All my stuff was more action/thriller orientated, but when I discovered Hitchcock and the suspense, really the psychology of the audience he was trying to reach, that really got to me. It stopped being me just shooting stuff to put on the screen but more about making the audience work when the suspense was created. Suspense, and the genre itself, is really a good way to have the audience working in the direction you want them to go in.
NC: Last, but certainly not least, are there any projects you are working on that we should keep our eye out for?
MR: Yes! There's one right now that'll be out next year that's a pure drama but it's going to be really appealing to women. I'm attracted to good stories - the most imporant thing for me is when I feel a story and just jump fully into it. I'm definitely not done with the suspense genre - I have an action/thriller that I'm working on and another one that's pure suspense as well. When you have that type of passion and you aren't working an 8-5 job, you are just nonstop thinking. I think THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT was the first step into hopefully bigger projects and I hope the audience will react well to it and give me the chance to entertain them again.
THE GRACEFIELD INCIDENT is now available On Demand and Digital HD from Momentum Pictures