Fantastic Fest Interview: Actor Justin Long and Director Gille Klabin for THE WAVE

One of the many reasons why I love the horror genre so much is that we are given a plethora of different themes and sub-genres to choose from. Whether it’s found-footage, art house, or the latest slasher flick, horror has the ability to tap into an array of different fears ranging from the supernatural to the terrifying realities of the world. In Gille Klabin‘s latest film, THE WAVE, viewers get a taste of both sides of the coin when Frank (Justin Long) takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug that exposes both the industry he works for as well as the life he has been living.

While attending Fantastic Fest back in September, I had the opportunity to speak with both Gille Klabin and Justin Long about THE WAVE. During our chat, we discussed everything from the true story that inspired the film, to the striking visuals and practical effects.

THE WAVE is such a wild ride of a film. How did the concept come about? 

Gille Klabin: It was written by Carl W. Lucas and in real life, his cousin is the firefighter who died of a heart attack. He was on that same heart medication and had his pension withheld from his family who was then left destitute. I think Carl was loosely trying to process the karmic balance of what happened as well as also humanizing this motherfucker who essentially robbed his cousin’s widow and daughters. He wanted to write a film for me based on the strong visuals of my music video stuff, so he tried meshing that together [with the story]. We also talked philosophically about the nature of consequence and consciousness and I think he just wanted to marry all those concepts. We called it a psychedelic parable.

(L-R) Justin Long and Sheila Vand in THE WAVE

For you Justin, what was it about this film that attracted you to the role? 

Justin Long: I was looking to do a psychedelic parable. I told my agent to be on the lookout for psychedelic parables and there was just a ton to choose from (laughs). I was really drawn to this story, this guy’s journey, this guy’s moral arc, and how he comes to find his own humanity, really.

Speaking of the visuals – the film is filled with unique artistic choices including moments of slow-motion action, precise editing transitions, neon colors, and more. Most notably is the boardroom scene which is just pure insanity. What was it like to film that? 

Gille Klabin: [Justin] was very sick when we did the boardroom scene. We literally did everything we could to keep him out because the room was hazed up with flashing lights – it was monstrously intense.

Justin Long: I hate being sick normally, but this was a job that required health. It required every element of my being to be present and healthy because it was a lot of energy. It was the fucking absolute worst to be sick. I had a fever, I was genuinely sick, it wasn’t like a little cold, it was like sick, sick.

Gille Klabin: We kept him out of the room as much as possible. What I requested from him was to use his imagination something fierce. I told him I was going to describe a demonic scene and that I needed him to cry like it was the end of times. It’s not normal stuff (laughs).

Justin Long: It required a lot of trust. The line between a good performance, a real performance, and a shlocky, embarrassing performance is pretty fine, especially when you are doing a movie like this. We called it “swinging for the fences” because you’re really committing. People may think it’s over-the-top or whatever, but Gille is a very passionate guy so it’s easy to ride that wave of passion.

Tommy Flanagan in THE WAVE

Can you talk a bit about the set design and how you practically achieved some of the amazing transition scenes?

Gille Klabin: It was a bunch of camera tricks and rigorous planning. That whole corridor scene, which features [Justin] running through the house in his underwear while fighting with his girlfriend, which then transitions into the boardroom…

Justin Long: …that was guys passing the camera off to one another. It looked so old fashioned, you know? What I love about that shot is you don’t think about how intricate that must have been because it’s sort of seamless. But yeah, people were passing the camera and moving. Our DP, Aaron Grasso, is a real wonderkin…

Gille Klabin: …He fights to do the coolest shit he possibly can.

What was it like working so closely with the rest of the cast and crew on the film? 

Justin Long: Everyone on the crew, you could tell they really appreciated being there. It was one of those movies that were made by people who were so appreciative to be able to be making a movie. We all got along so well, I think we fed off their energy. I hate using this saying because it’s so overused but this was a real passion project and that rubs off, it’s sort of infectious.

Shannon McGrew
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