Saturday, February 4, 2017


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Resolution, Dating a Zombie, Spring, All Hallows' Eve 2, all these films has something in common and is Aaron Moorhead either be as a director or cinematographer or even both things at the same time, Aaron has added his art to these and other film he has been in. Todday I'll bring you this talk I had with Aaron Moorhead co-director alongside Justin Benson of Resolution and Spring, two films which had great reception by the audience and festivals.

EFF: Hi Aaron and first of all thank you for take your time and give me these words. First, I want to ask you about when did you realize out you wanted shoot movies and be a director?

AM: I think it was one of those rare cases where I fell into it extremely suddenly. I was in 6th grade and I had a friend named Aaron Higgins who would make Star Wars stop action fan films with his brother, and I was immediately obsessed. I didn't spend a dollar and saved every little bit of my money for a year to buy a VHS camcorder in 6th grade. When I was able to integrate computer graphics I think I was completely hooked, a couple years later. I started mostly in visual effects, which I don't think is exactly the right way to start because I was very rarely character first, much more visuals first. That said, visual effects become such a large part of what we do that I can't possibly regret how I started in the visual side of filmmaking, but there's still a part of me that wishes that I fell in love with characters before I fell in love with lightsabers.
Co-Director and Cinematographer - Resolution (2013)

EFF: Do you think it is necessary first study filmmaking in order to make your first feature film?

AM: ABSOLUTELY. I made my first feature film when I was 18 after having been making shorts for six years, and I still wasn’t ready. I don't regret it, except that it was kind of expensive for the people that put their money down to help me make it, and it wasn't very good. I don’t feel good about that. I think it was pretty amazing that anyone trusted an 18 year old kid to return their investment in a film, but the fact is that it wasn’t as good as it should have been still weighs on me. Even though I practiced and went to film school band made dozens of shorts, I still wasn't prepared for my first feature. The only way to become good at something is to do it, there are no people that are born good filmmakers.
Resolution (2013)

EFF: What do you prefer to do, work as a director or as a cinematographer? And why?

AM:  Without a doubt, I prefer my work as a director. Cinematography feels very safe, in that I could completely fail at my job and ultimately nobody would point the finger at me. A lot of people think of cinematography as wizardry whereas directing seems like something most people could do if they were given proper tools and support. That is completely wrong, but it is the perception. Directing is risky, terrifying, and exhilarating. If a movie goes bad, they blame the director. They don't blame the actors, or the producers, or ever the cinematographer. They blame the director. And if it goes well, the directors get the credit despite it being the culmination of tons of quality peoples’ quality work. The excitement of everything on your shoulders is what makes me prefer directing to cinematography.

EFF: Do you see horror genre as your line for make your upcoming films as a director?

AM: Yes and no. I don't see myself as a horror director, but definitely working within the realm of the Fantastic. Science fiction, or, anything that defies the laws of the natural world, me and Justin will probably continue working in that space. That said, I'm more interested in characters than I am in concepts, so I wouldn't take anything off the table.
EFF: A film what really liked me was your co-work resolution alongside Justin Benson, how the project it came to you?

AM: Justin actually came up with the script and the idea for Resolution. In fact, he kind of handed it to me on a silver platter. I was working as a low-budget cinematographer, trying to work my way into directing, and he came to me and said “I have a really good script, the location, the actors, and the financing. Would you like to co-direct with me?” Of course I would do that. Thankfully, it was a fantastic project and our permanent relationship was born from it.
Co-Director and Cinematographer - Spring (2015)

EFF: How the segment "Bonestornm" V/S/H viral fell into your hands and why you decided to light it on?

AM: We pitched the producers of VHS many many times, and “Bonestorm” was the one that they finally agreed to do with us. It's hard to say exactly why we did it, besides that I absolutely love the idea of Tony Hawk meets Mortal Kombat meets Larry Clark’s Kids.  It was a pretty immature project, but that was part of why I loved it so much.
Co-Director "Bonestorm"

EFF: Could you tell us any anecdote from your films?

AM:   I remember there was a moment when we were scoring Spring with our composer, Jimmy. He played us his version of the track from when Evan sees Louise for the first time, that slow motion sequence in the plaza in the beginning of the film. That was one of the first times I've ever been completely overwhelmed by a score, and I remember when we walked away from that session, I turn to Justin and I said “I would be jealous of us if I weren’t us right now, because we get to use that piece of music in our movie and Jimmy is our composer”. Because Justin and I wear so many hats on our films, there's very little magic left in the filmmaking process, but we don't in any way have a musical bone in our bodies, and that felt like magic.
Aaron (Yellow) on the right side of the picture
EFF: What kind of horror you like, supernatural, human, sci-fi?

AM: All of it. As long as we aren't just talking about body limbs flying everywhere, I really like anything that tickles my brain.
 Spring (2015)
 Spring (2015)

EFF: As a cinematographer what are your influences?

AM: Oh, this is going to be such an obvious answer. Roger Deakins, Rob Richardson, Emmanuel Lubezki. What's weird about cinematographers vs. directors is that there are very few talented cinematographers that are considered idiots, or that their work is debatably good or bad. Even the best directors in the world have millions of detractors, like Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg. But a good cinematographer is indisputable. And those three are masters.

EFF: Now as a cinematographer, what movie you consider is your best work?

AM: I think I would have to say that Spring is my favorite work of cinematography. I'm not sure if that was just because shooting in Italy made it extremely easy to make a beautiful image because wherever you point the camera was gorgeous. When shooting it I wasn’t particularly enamored with the project because I just thought “well yeah, of course it looks like that, I’m standing right here and that’s what it looks like.” But now, given some distance from it, I do understand why that movie is special and very beautiful. 

EFF: If any producer gives you the chance to make a horror remake, what could it be and why, as a director?

AM: Sorry for a bit of a cop-out answer here, but there is no horror movie that I'd like to remake.

EFF: Why that binomial team justin benson and you?

AM: Justin is a lot smarter than me. Whenever I bring a dumb idea to the table he is able to suss out why I brought it there, and revise it into something that actually seems like a good idea. We balance each other very well.
 Moorhead and Benson
   Moorhead and Benson

EFF: What techniques as director you use in your films?

 AM: There's very little technique. Pretty much everything has to do with being as open and honest as possible with your actor, trusting their instincts, and making sure that the camera is in focus when you execute the plan that you have made. The technical side of it (camera, production design, editing, Etc) are more of an instinctual thing, informed by what we have decided we want to say with the film.

EFF: What advices would you give to new filmmakers who wants to make their opera prima?

AM: Make a film that is within your means and a film that is unlike anything anyone has ever made before. You will be rewarded. 

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