Despite the fact that Arrow Video FrightFest had to go virtual this year didn’t stop the organizers from putting together a great line-up. One of those thrilling films is “Blinders”, the newest film from director Tyler Savage and starring Christine Ko, Vincent Van Horn, and Michael Lee Joplin. We virtually sat down with director/co-writer Tyler Savage and actor Vincent Van Horn to talk about their dark, thrilling, and modern “Blinders”.
Liselotte Vanophem: Hi guys, congratulations on the film. Justin, you co-wrote the story with Dash Hawkins. How did you come up with the story?
Tyler Savage (director/co-writer): Well, it’s based on a weird experience I had with a rideshare driver. He was asking a lot of personal questions and I felt kind off creep out. I came home from a party and he dropped me off at like 1 am. It was really scary. Dash and I started to talk about making a movie about that. How technology makes people and their information vulnerable. We’ve always liked those kinds of horror movies. So that was the story we wanted to tell. Someone coming to Los Angeles where he’s getting caught up in a web of lies. We wrote the story with Vincent and Michael in mind from the beginning. It went all very quickly. We’re now a little bit over a year since we’ve shot the movie. The whole film came together in about eight to ten months.
LV: You’ve mentioned that you’ve written the story with Vincent and Michael in mind. How did the cast come together then?
TS: Well, we’ve known each other for a while now and so we knew that we wanted them for the movie before anything was written. We had a great casting director named Kelly Knox who cast a lot of the other roles, including Christine’s who we were super excited to work with. It was interesting because a lot of the cast members are very close friends so a lot of us have known each other for a long time.
LV: You guys shot the movie in LA. What was the hardest part of shooting the movie there because it’s like a very vibrant city and a lot of people?
TS: I’m from Los Angeles and I’ve always wanted to shoot something there. The hardest part of shooting was driving everywhere. It’s a very big city and we were all over the place. We’re kind of lucky to have been able to film in those very public and iconic places such as Echo Park and Griffith Park. We were pretty fortunate. We hear a lot of stories from people have to spend a lot of money to be able to shoot in LA and I was very happy that we were able to pull it off with the budget we had. No one had to come from far because sometimes we shot two blocks from someone’s apartment.
LV: In this movie, Christine’s character is looking for the perfect music venue which could be the massive warehouse she finds. How did you guys come across that building?
TS: Well, one of the producers knows a guy who develops urban spaces. He does a lot of projects with architects and city developers to develop new urban spaces out of buildings that have fallen into disrepair. The venue that we used was just insane and he let us shoot there for free. Strictly we didn’t have the permit to shoot there and we were almost shut down by the LAPD. They said that we had to move and they would be coming back but lucky for us, they never came back.
Vincent Van Horn (actor): I was doing my heavy scene in the warehouse around that time and so knowing that the LAPD was there and wanting to shut us down added something to that scene.
LV: Vincent, your character is a drummer in this movie. Did you already have experience in drumming or did you have to learn it for this movie?
VVH: Yeah, I could do it before this movie. I got a drumkit for Christmas from my parents when I was fifteen. It makes a lot of noise and so we’ve put it in the garage. That’s where I learned how to drum. My older brother is very good at making music and so I followed his lead. I played along, did a lot of music, and just enjoyed playing the drums. I wasn’t really in any kind of band. Everyone in Austin here plays a lot of music. Whether you’re in a band or not, everyone is a musician.
Even now, I have an electronic drumkit in my apartment. We wrote a new song or part if you like to call it during the pre-production of this movie and that was a lot of fun. Working with Devin Johnson, the composer, and Dash and the team. We’re now very close friends actually because of the music and movie.
LV: Tyler, did you give it a shot as well or not?
TS: No, I didn’t. I have seen Vincent playing drums before this movie and so we kind of integrated that into the film. I think it’s always fun when actors have skillsets, a talent, or passion that you have not. Vincent’s character comes from Austin where everyone is a musician and someone with a love for music and so it felt like a good idea to include that element into this movie.
VVH: Well, at first Dash wanted to include some basketball in that scene but in the end, we went to go for drumming instead. It probably works better than a basketball scene.
So the movie will have its premiere at the Frighfest online on the 31st?
VVH: Yeah, we’re excited to hear what people have to say about it. With all this current climate, it’s hard trying to get a movie out there. So we’re very excited to release it and we’re thrilled to have Frightfest showing it for the first time.
Will there be other film festivals this movie will be screened at?
TS: They’ve just announced the Austin Film Festival so that will be our North American Premiere. We’re excited about that one. It will be at the end of October. That’s great because Austin’s Film Festival has a great reputation. It has a great writer’s community and so Dash and I are excited to be part of that and also for Vincent, Michael and Antony as they’re all from Texas. Austin Film Festival is a prestigious festival and it’s fun for us to be part of that.
Vincent, so Tyler wrote this story with you in mind. If you would write a character for him, what would he be?
VVH: It would a form of a journalist or psychologist or something. I think he’s good at noticing people’s behaviour and manners. He’s fascinated by people. Why we think in certain ways and how we react.
Do you have more films coming up?
TS: Yeah, Dash and I are working on a few scripts and hopefully we will go in production next year. We’re going to try to do our best to use every momentum we get from Blinders
VVH: I’m always writing some music and I’m hoping to release a series of music videos in the (near) future.
Read our review of “Blinders” here.