Wednesday, January 5, 2022


A salute to everyone reading this interview. First things first, I hope everyone had a fantastic new year day celebration and this 2022 brings you materialize the projects you aspire to. I had taken days off but this year the blog comes with a lot of new interesting interviews from a lots of indie filmmakers layers all level of budgets, all of them with problems to solve, doubts to beat and 
 a bunch of advice that newbie filmmakers out there could hold onto and set them out in practice for their upcoming project.

I had the chance to talk with JESS NORVISGAARD, from Asheville, NC. This indie filmmaker had his feature film debut in 2020 with the vampire creature - horror "THE GOOD THINGS DEVILS DO" as director and writer. The movies plot could be summed up as: "Richard and his daughter Mouse have one last clandestine job before he can retire which he desperately wants to do so that he can work on being the father he never was.  But they hit the wrong house, and it all goes upside down as the house is besieged by an ancient vampire hellbent on revenge" by the own director words. The movie condense an 80's style along with Argento composition with vivid colors that let the movie shine for itself.

JESS told us how the movie got green lit to be shooted, how the idea came out off ground and got jumped on the screen, the path he walked so his vision could be watched for millions of people, basically the dream of every wannabe-director. If you are one of those, please, scroll down and read this great interview with massive advice for you.
EFF: Jess, I hope you are doing well. Let me express my gratitude for letting me chat with you, really. Let's start with, where are you from and how your passion about filmmaking stemmed from?

JN: Asheville, NC.  When I was young, I watched Night of the Living Dead late one night on the TV.  I was blown away.  In later years, Scarface had the same effect on me.  As Tony Montana executed an enemy who'd just used a chainsaw on his friend in the middle of the streets of Miami, my eyes glistened, and I was hooked.

EFF: Could you tell us a little bit about your background? Things you have done so far.

JN: I wrote and directed a few short films such as The Resurrection of Kryst, Big Dreams, Once Upon A Wish, and The Infinite Heart.  I worked as camera operator for several films and studio television shows, including commercials and the like. 

EFF: Jess, let's get straight to the matter of this interview, your horror movie "The Good Things Devils Do". Permit me deconstruct it in phases, let's begin with the idea concept, when did it come up to you? Maybe took something out from other movies or stories? 

JN: It began as a short film, and when I was looking to do a feature film we had financial partners at the time who were really pushing for this to become a feature.  We decided we wanted to do a unique vampire feature that paid homage to the campy but loving horror movies of the late 80's/early 90's. 
The Good Things Devils Do (2020)
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EFF: Focusing on the writing process, how long took you get the definitive script? How many drafts you wrote to get to that and if you had, what was the creative blocking you had while you were crafting the script and how did you defeat it?

JN: It took my 4 weeks.  Three to write the initial draft, but an extra week of revisions.  Some of the roadblocks were the changes that had to be made as the budget was materializing and we were accumulating talent.  Percy's opening scene was written shortly before principal photography.  The biggest creative rift was the fact that I had to scale to a micro budget.  And scale some more - and more and more and more.  We had 12-14 days to shoot, so I had to scale the action sequences and gore, too.  That was the biggest challenge for me.  My first draft was the vampire version of GONE WITH THE WIND.  I had to reign that in a bit. 

EFF: What bit of advice about that item (Writing) would you give us in order to be assertive when putting down the words on the paper and what did you learn from it?

JN: Write.  Just write, even when you're fatigued and not in the mood to.  You'll create the path, even when you're unsure.  Know that you may write 10 pages of shit, and then you'll find your footing.  Just create.  Keep going.  When you're operating in front of a deadline, you simply have got to do it, and set outside distractions aside.  Even if that means locking your precious family in a closet. 

EFF: Ha ha ha, It’s all for the movie ha ha. The superficial story is about ones criminals doing their supposed last job and other ones doing his usual job, but everything get upside down due a demonic force. Would you tell us the plot of the movie and what is the inner story according you?

JN: It's just as you said.  Richard and his daughter Mouse have one last clandestine job before he can retire which he desperately wants to do so that he can work on being the father he never was.  But they hit the wrong house, and it all goes upside down as the house is besieged by an ancient vampire hellbent on revenge.  

As far as the inner story?  Sometimes we realize what's truly important when it might be too late.  Two families come under attack because of the bad decisions of two men who have selfish interests at heart, who begin at odds, but end as unlikely allies, trying to reverse the massive damage they've caused in pursuit of glory or money.
The Good Things Devils Do
EFF: Now, move forward to the project per se, how was it set up? from having the idea to have a thumb up to start roll? Did you have to pitch out the concept or did you talk with friends or acquaintances to get fundings for the movie, please share that with us.

JN: Devils, for better or worse, was chosen out of a small grouping of pitches.  At the time, I personally wanted to do another film, but this was the project with most votes, so we moved along, and I wrote it, and with my producer, grinded out pre-production, cast the film, and went to work! 

EFF: What can you tell us about the funding process, any advice learned thing?

JN: The only advice I have is to make sure when you have a group of investors, is that you create a clean and transparent operating agreement to instill trust.  When you give your word, your word is bond, and you must follow through with every single promise.  When others entrust you with their money, you must create the product you set out to create to the best of your ability, and hire cast and crew you can trust.  The set is a no-excuse zone. 
Jess Norvisgaard

EFF "The set is a no-excuse zone", true. Ok, Shooting stage, how long took you shoot the movie? What was the date?

JN: If I can recall correctly, 12 days.  Might've gone 13, but I'm pretty sure it didn't.  This was a tremendous feat, and I thank the cast and crew, and a very prepared mindset.  When we ran into trouble with time, we really couldn't afford to go into the next day with a group of pick up shots.  So instead of going into deficit, we decided to combine shots, and use the steadicam to speak a different grammar, and compensate that way.  Other examples included having the vampire get sprayed with blood in the beginning so we had to worry little about her continuity, because she took a while to get ready.  We had to get smart and savvy to keep this on schedule. 

EFF: Only 12 days, impressive and interesting the tricks to minimize risks. I personally liked the colors and visual style of the movie, why did you decide on that specific kind of palette of colors and style, maybe you took out references from other movies, if so, what were they?

JN: I went into the meeting with my cinematographer and explained that I wanted softer neon and 80's style colors, akin to Creepshow and Return of the Living Dead.  He returned with his own desires to rival Dario Argento's styles and I was thrilled with that.  So we just incorporated things like that, while having fun and giving 'Devils it's own unique style. 

EFF: What were those setbacks you had during the shooting process and how did you overcome it out?

JN: Time.  With such a small budget, we just didn't have as much time as I wanted.  It was important to me that Bill, Linnea and Kane were not day-players, and we didn't use that cheap ass dynamic.  We had such limited time with them, so we had to be incredibly diligent and smart with the time we had, and ultimately we lost some shots we'd love to have had.  But this is a reality most indie filmmakers face.  We just had to be smart about it and overcome it. 

EFF: What was the hardest scene to shoot and why?

JN: Two are tied for the most difficult. 

1. The first raid.  A lot of the actors weren't there on the same day or available, so we had to shoot that sequence on different days throughout and match it up, cutting it to make it look as seamless as we could.  

2. The end.  We shot a great deal of the end during finish time, while the crew were putting the equipment away.  We were running and settling the camera up on the floor for Mouse, yelling EXTREME CLOSE INTO MEDIUM CLOSE, OVERCRANK CAM, MOUSE DON'T MOVE AFTER FIRST CUT! while blood was being washed up on the floor and things were being loaded out.  Things like that.  It's so important not to abuse time with your actors, and just becasue we're in indie film, we didn't want to work stupid hours and take advantage of our professionals on set.  We ran a tight ship, and adhered to tough rules as any union set would. 
Linnea Quigley - Jess Norvisgaard - Bill Oberst Jr

EFF: You had many hand-held camera scenes and even single takes scenes, did those have a context reason or it was for other reasons?

JN: As explained earlier, some of it was grammar.  Some of it was to combine scenes and not lose important narrative context.  I huddled with the cinematographer and 1st AD every day discussing the shoot day, and how we could make it fluid and flexible.  It was critical not to accumulate many pick up shots.  There was not an easy day once.  This was not a talking piece, or a slow crawl of a movie.  We knew going into this we had an ambitious project, but we had a great team ready for the challenge. 

EFF: Despite being a low budget movie I had the impression the money was well invested: actors, crew, location, etc. Having on hand of being a low budget movie what advice would you tell us about how to manage the budget, what things to be focus more and other not so much. 

JN:: Find a producer you can trust, would be the all important #1.  

Be well prepared and be flexible, and be ready to divorce yourself from preconceived notions or ideas.  Be firm in your vision, but ready to listen to solution based commentary, but not "fun ideas", as the set is not a democracy.  Find inexpensive ways to achieve certain goals.  

EFF: Any anecdotes you would like to tell us?

JN: The initial script had the entire group of trick or treaters trying to get inside the home, and ultimately slit their own throats while under the moon, to lure Melvin outside. 

Veronika, who played Masquerade, and Mary Katherine, who played Mouse, performed the "vampire evisceration scene", or "Die until you can't die anymore" scene in the TEETH CHATTERING brutal freezing cold, while being soaked with wet blood and wearing a very thin Halloween costume, or being buried under freezing earth. There are so many wonderful ones to share. 

EFF: The post production, maybe the longest path to ride for indie movies... How long it took and what setbacks you had during it? But let me tell you it was pretty fit the effects, very effective and the make up too.

JN: Covid-19.  This was right when it was first out, and no one was working, and the earth seemed like it was barron.  Everyone was hunkered in, and it just took things a long time to process and for our post team to get back once they delivered.  

EFF: A key aspect, the casting you had a great group of actors, how was the casting process handled by you?

JN: I was blessed with the crop of actors.  I was very meticulous about filling each role, so I set up a table with myself, the producer and the UPM.  We discussed every audition, and ultimately I went with my gut on each one.  There was not a wrong decision in the bunch. With Bill, Linnea and Kane we sought them out, and hit on each one.  
Jess Norvisgaard BTS - TGTDV

EFF: What camera did you use in the movie and why?

JN: Black Magic packages, because we owned several. 

EFF: When was the movie released, where people can watch it and how people has responded so far?

JN: Last year.  We're Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Vudu, Tubi, Playstation, Xbox, Target, some Walmarts and Best Buys, you can find us almost everywhere except Netflix, Hulu and Redbox. 

So far, the reviews have been mostly positive!  We have a collectors card series, The Dead Cards, that have our own exclusive artist series for the film.  We have a collectible figures line coming out, Evil Entities Custom Retro Style Figures, and potentially a comic book series, so it's been really fun! 

EFF. What kind of director consider yourself? Do you storyboard all the scenes? What prep you usually do when shooting a scene?

JN: One of the new Kings of Horror.  I'm here to stay, and bring the fans the kinds of films we've been fucking wanting to see for a long time, while wading through these pretentious boring excuses for films.  I want meat on the narrative bone and plenty of blood. I storyboard some of them.  I see the field very well, and storyboard only for the necessary sequences. 

EFF: In general terms what advice would you give to newbie filmmakers out there trying to make their first horror movie based on what you learned from this movie?

JN: Stay home if you're not 100% committed.  Filmmaking is a tremendous sacrifice. 
Jess Norvisgaard BTS - TGTDV

EFF: What are your inspiration; directors or films?

JN: John Carpenter, early George Romero, Park Chan-wook, Stuart Gordon, Michael Haneke, Gaspar Noe, ect. 

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

JN: One day at a time! :D

EFF:  What new projects are you working on now, something you can anticipate us now? 

JN: A few.  I'm working on a studio pilot (screenwriting only), and my next feature film, "Nocturnus". 

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

JN: They Live.  It's so incredibly relevant today. 

EFF : Would you like to say anything else?

JN: Thanks for the interview!

**JESS NORVISGAARD'S | IMDb Twitter | **

The Good Things Devils Do (2020)
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