Monday, June 21, 2021


In 2018 "Still/Born" stroke in different platforms including SHUDDER and got amazing reviews, many of them named it "Sharp and shocking". That was the first kick of today's interviewee: BRANDON CHRISTENSEN, born and raised in Canada, since child found that films would be his passion and since then has done all possible to get it and has got it so far. "Still/Born" was his debut and went on with "Z" an striking horror movie about a boy and his "imaginary" friend, I cant's say more about, you must go and watch it. believe me, you won't regret it at all. This film was out in 2020 with big top reviews also.

As I said before, I had the honor to chat with BRANDON and I asked him about his last released film "Z", the creating process, the story inspirations and those obstacles that every director have to overcome during the making of a film to get it finish or as he says "Get it good enough", but, every director has their own anecdotes that serves as examples for those newbies filmmakers out there and that's what this blog is about. We also talk about his upcoming horror film "SUPERHOST", you people have faith in me when I say that we will hear a lot from BRANDON in a no far future...

No to extend more... read the interview, you rookie filmmaker or expert one too, there is a lot of worthy information about how to shoot successful movies, horror movie. Come on in!

EFF: To start things off, I would like to thank you for letting me talk to you, really. Brandon, tell us where are you from and when you did get in love for filmmaking?

BC: I’m from Canada originally, and grew up with 3 siblings with a video camera so there was never a shortage of opportunities to film stuff. We would constantly have the camera out and shooting dumb short films for our own entertainment. I guess somewhere along the way, it started to feel like something I was truly interested in pursuing because I just never wanted to put the camera down.

EFF: This question could sound silly, but envelopes different meanings for everyone…Why horror?

BC: I grew up on horror. My entire childhood has landmarks in it that involved horror films. Whether it was seeing the IT Miniseries when I was 6, staying up late with friends to watch Night Of The Living Dead, or the yearly Halloween tradition of watching horror films like The Shining, it was always something that was around me. Horror is also a genre that is so vast and varied that it’s a great launch pad for a career. You can really experiment in horror, and I think it’s really a directors medium. It’s such a freeing genre where you can experiment because it really comes down to the concept of the film. Whether it’s a short or a feature, the concept is everything - and how you execute that concept is an art form in itself.

EFF: I would like to ask you about your whole career, but let's talk about your last film "Z", a film co-written and directed by you. How the story came up?

BC: After Still/Born, I was trying to figure out what to do next. My oldest son was just starting kindergarten and it was the first time my wife and I were letting him go for a day. Monday to Friday he was gone and would return home with new ideas and thoughts that we didn’t teach him. So, we started to discuss the idea of what if he brought home something that deteriorated him and our family. My wife threw out the idea of an imaginary friend, and we just went from there.

EFF: Wow, from an ordinary thing many stories comes up. After have minded the idea and starting writing down the story, what obstacles you faced off during the crafting? How did you solve them out?

BC: Scriptwriting is endless obstacles. So many ideas sound good until you get them down and you see how they affect the rest of the story. The biggest problem on Z for example, was that we were dealing with the imagination, which is truly limitless. So, you have to remember that even though you’re dealing with something that has no limits, you’re still telling a story about a family and how this affects them. So, every obstacle had to be viewed from that angle. At the end of the day, the story comes first and trying to remain grounded in that story is the most important thing you can focus on.

EFF: Could you tell us the timeline of the project itself? I mean, how the movie grounded off and became a reality, pitching, funding process, etc. That is an important thing to newbie filmmakers to know.

BC: My wife and I wrote the first draft over about 4-5 months. We had 2 kids at the time and so our time was limited but we would break the script down and try and figure it out. She’d never been involved in writing scripts before, so it was a learning process. Once we had a rough first draft, I sent it off to Colin Minihan who viewed the potential and jumped on to help hone the script more. So we spent about 4-5 more months getting it in a good place where we decided that we could do it. Once that happened, we knew we could move forward and reached out to investors we had worked with on older movies and built the budget. There wasn’t any pitching or anything, we had built up some trust from our last films, so we were fortunate we could show them something that we felt strong would be a safe investment.

We finished the ‘good enough’ draft in early June and we were on set in August. Locked the edit and finished it in the following May.
Z (2021)
IMDb |  Shudder |  Vudu | iTunes | Fandango | Amazon | 

EFF: That shows that how time passes from the story itself to on screen product. What setbacks you found on the pre production stage, maybe locations, actors? Anything. How did you solve them out?

BC: Casting is always a challenge when you are on a low budget. You are basically reaching out to everyone you know for recommendations, you want to fill your cast with recognizable names and faces to help legitimize your film in the publics eye. So you’re reaching out and sending it to everyone hoping that they will find a spark of interest and join, even if they’re not making a great salary. We were really fortunate to find that.

Finding a great location is also important when you’re making a single location film like Z - and we were lucky that the owners reached out to us when we put feelers out that we were looking for a home to shoot in. But finding something isolated, and nice and open is a great thing to have as a filmmaker.

EFF: Now, speaking of the film. What references you took for the film style, I mean, all directors lean on great movies to kick off their style, could you tell us what did you try to stamp in?

BC: I’m a big David Fincher fan. He has such command over the technical aspects of filmmaking where every shot, every lens choice, every camera movement is perfect. It does exactly what the film needs it to do. He has the ability to really spend time getting it perfect, where as we are on a much tighter schedule so we can only get it ‘good enough’ - but just trying to make things feel right is a big focus. I try not to shoot handheld unless the moment calls for it, so it adds to the feeling of a character, and try to maintain a strong visual style throughout.

I’m a big fan of Mike Flanagan as well, he does a great job of blending emotional family themes in horror - and I think that’s something I strongly relate to.

EFF: Tell me if I am wrong. But I noticed that there was scenes where you tried to establish the camera as the P.O.V of Z and I bring up this because. Iwould like to ask you how do you set up a scene, what considerations you take on for the set up, if you rehearse with actors, anything.

BC: The scene at the dinner table was indeed one of the few times we established his viewpoint. The reason for it is that at that point in the film, Z is a fixture of the household, and both the dad and Josh are totally comfortable with him being there - but at the far end of the table is Beth, and she is completely uncomfortable with it. Whether it’s her memories coming back - or just the thought of this thing being around, something isn’t right with her. So it was to show how disconnected Beth was becoming.

That was originally supposed to be a oner - and we did it in about 17 takes because the timing of everything had to be right…but we ended up shooting coverage so we had the opportunity to cut it down if needed and we did - so it’s always good to have that safety coverage.

EFF: What lesson did you learn from the film experience you can convey us? From pre to post.

BC: Focus on the story. Focus on the characters. Focus on the performances. It’s really easy to get caught up in minute details - the ‘oh this would be cool to put a reference to this here’ or whatever, but you really need to focus on making sure the characters are where they’re supposed to be emotionally to keep the story as truthful as possible. Allow them to play with the material as well because they may find something you didn’t think of because their viewpoint is incredibly valuable. They bring experiences that they draw on to the performance and it can help elevate their performance. As long as you steer it in the direction you want the scene or the story to go.

EFF: How long it took you shoot the film? And when it was shot?

BC: We shot it in the late summer of 2018 in and around Calgary, AB, Canada. We shot for 20 days.
"Z" Making of

EFF: What camera did you use and why?

BC: We shot Z on the RED SCARLET-W. I’m a big RED fan, and owned that camera. With our budget level, we didn’t have any rental money - so we used my camera and lenses (Sigma Cine set). It would have been fun to shoot anamorphic, but at the end of the day, it is about cost - and since I could bring a professional camera and lens package for free, that’s what we opted for.

EFF: You are filming a new horror film, right? Can you tell us about that upcoming work "Superhost", you’re the only writer. Briefly tell us the plot of the story.

BC:: Superhost is a film about two Travel Vloggers staying in a vacation rental with a host who will do anything for a good review. It’s a look into how willingly we are to stay in someone’s house, and how we really take for granted how absurd it is on the surface. You never know if the person you’re staying at is whom they say they are.
IMDb |

EFF: What stage is the film now in?

BC: As I’m writing these responses I’m rendering out a screener of the film to send to some festivals. The edit is locked, and we have about an hour of sound mix in there and some music as well. It’ll be done in about a month, but it’s getting close! Really excited about it.

EFF: Oh I thought you were still filming it, but I see it’s in an advance stage, I really looking forward to watching it soon. I don't want to be the repeater question person, but tell us, how you came up with superhost idea?

BC: I was in Toronto for a film festival with Z, and was staying in an airbnb and the toilet wasn't working. I had to ask to the host to come fix it because there wasn’t anything in the condo to fix it with, so he to stop by and fix the toilet. It was just this weird awkward thing where I’m in someone elses space, and relying on them for basic needs like a functioning toilet. That was a seed of an idea, but it was when I saw Creep where you have a lovable bad guy that the story really started to flesh out.

EFF: What can we expect from this film? Visually speaking.

BC: It’s an interesting project. It has a lot more levity than Z or Still/Born, and since it’s about Vloggers, it uses mixed media to tell the story. So some scenes are completely ‘found footage’ while the majority are shot narratively. Since there is no depressed mom’s in this film, it has a different feeling as well. But it stays true to the way I like to shoot things. I think it has a similar visual language to my other films.

EFF: What kind of director are you? Do you make storyboards? How is your day to day shooting process?

BC: I’’ll shotlist the vast majority of the film to get my head thinking about how I want to tell the story. If there’s a complex scene that requires special camera movement or anything, I’ll storyboard it too. But I also end up rethinking a lot of stuff when I have the actors in and we’ve blocked it. Certain scenes seem like they’re one thing when you conceptualize it, but they take on a life of their own. So there’s a lot of times where I show up on set and re-shot list the day based on new knowledge. It’s always a fluid process, and you’re dealing with a limited budget, limited crew, so you’re working to make the best version of the story you can responsibly.

You definitely want to be the one with the vision on set to make snap decisions, but allowing creativity to strike because so many things come up on the day and can inspire an entirely new way to film a scene. As long as you’re open to it and can see the idea without bias, it’s incredibly powerful to let creativity flow.
Brandon Christensen on set
Brandon Christensen

EFF: What are your inspirations; directors or films?

BC: I’m a big TV fan. I loved serialized shows like LOST, Breaking Bad, The Shield and following characters over a longer time to really give them time to breathe in their arcs. While I’m limited to 90 minutes in features, one day I’d love to tell a longer story and really take my time establishing things and allow things to unveil themselves. I love the feature format, but it would be a ton of fun to explore a longer medium.

As I said above I’m a huge fan of Fincher. The Social Network is my favorite film, it’s such a simple story elevated by great material and performances and an absolutely perfect execution directorially.

EFF: What is the hardest thing about being a horror director?

BC: For me it’s nailing the scares. Getting a reaction is so important and the amount of pinpoint accuracy for things to work right is unbelievable. You have to dial it in just right or else it can fall on its face. At the same time, you want to create characters that an audience can empathize with and that’s always a challenge.

EFF: What advice would you give to those newby filmmakers from your experience, i mean, BC: during pre, production or post, any advice is gold.

BC: The biggest advice is to not let the idea of perfection stop you from making something. Ideas can live in your head and exist in this perfect vacuum that isn’t achievable right away. Give it a shot, shoot something, get your idea out there - even if only for yourself. It’s so easy to get stuck worried that you will make something bad. Believe me, you will make a lot of bad stuff. But you will learn more from making something bad than you will thinking about making something great.

So go out and make something. Then do it again, but get better. Rinse and repeat.

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally…

BC: I’ve been fortunate to have work during this time. Z came out at the beginning of it, and then my focus shifted to Superhost and gave me that project to work on for a long time. I’m happy to say that when it’s over and things return to normal, I can look back and see that I made a feature film.

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why?

BC: I’d love to take a crack at IT. I know it just came out, but I was so disappointed in it. The pieces were all there, the cast was great, the locations were on point - but it was never scary and as someone traumatized by the miniseries, it was such a let down that it pulled every punch and felt more like a Marvel horror film than a truly terrifying movie.

EFF : Something you would like to say?

BC: Go out and shoot. Practice. Don’t let time slip you by, there’s so much you can be learning and you have everything you need on your phone.

**BRANDON CHRISTENSEN'S | IMDb Twitter Instagram | **

Z (2021)
IMDb |  Shudder |  Vudu | iTunes | Fandango | Amazon | 



Post a Comment