With a packed theatre in the midst of an intelligent, understanding and wild crowd at the Fantasia International Film Festival, director Mike Flanagan introduced a special screening of BEFORE I WAKE. After the film had finished to rousing applause and the audience Q&A was over, Mike Flanagan met the fans and spent a few minutes talking with Jay Kay discussing the screening of the film, return of cast, being a parent and what makes the Fantasia audience unique as we welcomed Mike Flanagan into The Night Market…
TERROR TIME: How was the screening at Fantasia and also hanging around for the screening?
Mike Flanagan: It was nuts because I have not seen this movie literally in years! I had never seen the finished movie with an audience. Usually, I sneak out of screenings and I am one of those guys who heads to the bar and returns for the Q&A; I do that all the time. Tonight I could not do it because this movie has been kind of hidden away for so long. This is the closest that I ever had to watch the movie like the audience does too. There was stuff that was surprising to me, not in character or story, but I forgot how this moment felt or I forgot how much I wanted this to land. It was really neat for me to have the opportunity to see this movie with a lot of distance between me and the movie. Usually, by the time we lock in a movie, I am racing to get it out to the distributor to deliver so it can be released and not much time goes by at all. It makes it special tonight.
JK: What makes the Fantasia film fest audience different?
MF: Being here, there is something about the Fantasia audience that I noticed with ABSENTIA also, as well as with every other film that has screened here at the festival. The audience is different. They are not cynical, they’re not jaded and they are legitimately excited to be sitting where they are sitting and seeing the movie! They are wide open to the movie and they want every movie to be good! They just want to enjoy the experience. The audience here is so generous and so genuine that I was not going to miss out on that.
JK: With BEFORE I WAKE being some three years old, could you have done this film the justice now as a director/storyteller along with the personal experiences you have been through?
MF: Wow, that is a great question… I don’t know. I always wonder that. It’s funny because there are moments I would do differently now but this is such a unique movie, they all are. They are their own little universes and they kind of come along when they come along and they consume everything when they do. Especially looking at my son in the movie and looking at how I see Cody when I was writing him. I don’t know if I could have done it any better. It would be a completely different version of the film. It’s a really interesting question.
JK: In that opening scene of BEFORE I WAKE, there is a terrifying drowning. Being a parent, this must have shaken you along with the cast and crew who were parents. Talk about being a parent during the production of this film and what effect, what impact it?
MF: There were a lot of moments on this one that just kind of hit us hard, if we were parents as well as those people who weren’t parents. The bathtub, everything with Sean drowning, it represents the kind of imagery that you do not let yourself dwell on as a parent; you don’t let it in. You can’t sit there and picture your child go through something like that. It would drive you crazy. There is a lot of force to keep your eyes open while you are working on it. That tough.
The good news is, specifically for the drowning stuff, we were aware what that meant in a way the little boy who played Sean did not. We shot it really tight. We shot it with a really high shutter speed so you could see every droplet of water that he splashed. For him, he got to kick around in and splash in the tub. He was having a great time but we had spotters, we had stunts, we had everything there for safety and knowing the context of what those images were being used for we were all looking at it very different. He was six years old and he looked it at very different. He came out of there and said, “That was great. I got to splash!” (Mike talking in a kids voice). It’s was just us as the monitors who were kind of suffering. This movie always kind of pushed everyone out of their comfort zone, especially if they had kids. It hit everyone hard.
JK: I want to thank you for taking a few minutes out. Can you talk about bringing back cast from your previous films to work on BEFORE I WAKE and other projects?
MF: I really like to work with the same people, especially with an ensemble, because you get so close working on a movie. In the best of circumstances, you form a little family and you want to try bring that feeling back whenever you work. Having people around you know, trust and have a short hand with. That stuff is always really fun! I tend to call the same people and it’s growing too. I have a sentimental attachment to all my stuff so the people that represent that, I want them back!
JK: Congrats again! Thank you so much for time after this special screening of BEFORE I WAKE. Best of luck going forward on the next project, OUIJA 2, release of this film and your personal endeavors.
MF: Thank you so much for everything Jay! I appreciate you!
See the trailer right now for BEFORE I
WAKE below and come out to the theaters when it is released on September 9th.
Follow Jay Kay @HorrorHappensFF
(Images from Jay Kay and Google)