For the release of the supernatural thriller BETWEEN WORLDS, I had the opportunity to speak with director Maria Pulera about her new film. BETWEEN WORLDS centers on a down-on-his luck trucker, played by Nicolas Cage, whose dead wife comes back to possess a young woman in hopes of settling unfinished business between the two. During our chat we discussed everything from working with Nicolas Cage to finding the inspiration for the film’s premise.
Nightmarish Conjurings: To start things off, what was it like working with Nicolas Cage?
Maria Pulera: He is awesome to work with, very creative, and has a lot of very interesting takes on things. He added a lot of his lines to enhance the character and bring it to a new dimension. I am sure the other actors found that a bit challenging because he could be somewhat unpredictable but I love that unpredictability. There is a certain sort of energy you get when things are unpredictable. It’s this organic thing that can take on a whole new life which is what we were getting with this movie.
Nightmarish Conjurings: I think it’s important to see more female directors behind the camera, especially in a genre that is so typically male dominated. Ultimately it comes down to finding the right person for the story and in the case of BETWEEN WORLDS that was you!
MP: The voices that are behind the camera, especially with technology and with things changing socially, are evolving into giving more equality in terms of the voices out there. I like when viewers find out I directed the film after watching it because it allows them to go in without anything preconceived. It didn’t make a difference about gender, it was more about the story and to me, that is fascinating. It means that the female voice isn’t marked as something different per se, it’s something normal and that’s definitely great to hear.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was the idea/motivation for BETWEEN WORLDS?
MP: I love the supernatural and I love the idea of going over and being able to bring someone back from the dead, it’s such a fascinating concept. But then bringing back the wrong person, and building up that suspense for this thriller, that was really fun. We were brainstorming in pre-production on figuring out how to get the character to cross over and we thought about drowning/choking. We didn’t want to go into something like a drug overdose or anything like that. We wanted to keep the character clean. She is a hardworking mother of one, so we wanted to keep her more maternal. The story got built up during pre-production and we ended up adding 8 different sex scenes to build up the suspense. However, they’re not traditional, they really are used to create the tension of the story. It was an evolution compared to how we had it on paper and I loved that organic process.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Where was the location of the shoot, how many days did you film, and what did you shoot on?
MP: We shot in Mobile, Alabama in 23 days. We had minimal locations and Mobile was amazing to shoot it but damn was it hot. There were also a lot of hurricanes, we went through three which included Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico but luckily we didn’t get hit. The people in Mobile and the crew that we had were great and very welcoming for filmmaking. It was my first time spending a large amount of time in the South. I learned that they had large fried pickles that you can dip in ranch which I loved!
In terms of filming, I shot on the Alexa. We had a Swedish DP who was great and we shot everything dirty. The angles are slightly off and we didn’t use traditional framing. Then our editor, Tim Solano, who has done several films with Nicolas Cage, did some non traditional things with the editing which was fun.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Are there any horror films that inspire you?
MP: I grew up with horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street. The films I couldn’t watch because I was too young are the films I hold on to now. I grew up with all the 80s horror films and I love them. I also grew up in the middle of nowhere and it’s so scary out there at night. I would find myself thinking that scary people might come out of the corn and get me. Luckily, now it’s too cold and I think the scary people will get to cold and won’t want to wait around for their victim, so that makes me feel a bit better. I love Scream as well, it’s more ‘90’s but I still love it! I definitely think the combination of horror and thriller is the ultimate roller coaster ride.
Nightmarish Conjurings: One last question, what is in store for you next?
MP: We have a movie we are doing about an assassin called EL MATADOR. It’s an assassin and two hot females and it’s an introspective, neo-noir, action movie.
BETWEEN WORLDS is now in select theaters and On Demand.