by Shane A. Bassett
Australian director SK Dale has made a terrifically tense, Alfred Hitchcock style, old school thriller with enigmatic Megan Fox as his quintessential lead.
Somewhat stepping back from acting returning to limelight in recent action hit, Rogue, also brilliant as one would expect here.
SK tells me the script came along after shooting a short film, choosing to do it because of how it kept advancing his visual storytelling ideals. What transpired is one of the best films around.
Fun-Fact; Tom Burgess, Sam Burgess, Glenn McGrath in end credit thank you list, not the three popular sportsmen according to SK.
Megan Fox, Eoin Macken, Callan Mulvey
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As a filmmaker do place high expectations on each project?
SKD – definitely especially now looking for my next project after Till Death. In order for me to have a long career, my first few films need to resonate. The marketing for this film uses the term ‘revenge film’, to me it’s a survival film, trauma of a situation to fight back, never wanted it to be exploitive.
Did you stay under budget?
SKD – yes, but only a week out of shooting we had the outbreak happen, It didn’t feel real until being summoned into a meeting advising the studio was shutting down. Just happened to be my 30th birthday. When we flew back to shoot extra costs incurred for on-set Covid safety to sanitise set and the like, we still stayed under budget. It was also summer and we needed snow so that was a challenge to use cinematic trickery without going over budget.
What was location, how was it presented to you?
SKD – a lot of scouting involved, was shown many houses surrounded by forests. I didn’t want a cabin in the woods feel, really needed a horizon line so characters had nowhere to go.
In, Last Blood (2019) I’d asked about that house and was told that was built for the movie on farmland. We used it after redesigning.
The back of house with frozen lake was built on a soundstage.
Well done you used Rambo’s house, that’s cinema history?
SKD – (laughs) I know right, the pickup truck was also Rambo’s.
Great casting choices, I’ll begin with Australian Callan Mulvey.
SKD – had known his work for an age so as soon as his name popped up, I thought this is the villain. There were certain things in the script such as being blind in one eye which Callan has (from a car accident), he brought realness to the character traits, his ability as the bad guy were a combination of elements Callan drew from.
Such a professional, some takes I said; we got it, but he wanted; one more. I’m proud of his performance as I was with everyone.
You lucked out being part of the Megan renaissance. It’s a strong female lead devoured by unmissable talent.
SKD – Jeffrey Greenstein (producer) first brought up her name but I really didn’t think she’d take it being a small movie, contained thriller. I was concerned we’d wait a month for a no. A week later she was on the phone interested. So excited that she took the juicy emotional role but also because it’s so physical she brought solid elements to the part. Everything I envisioned; Megan hit the mark.
I’ve always been an admirer, particularly her work in, Passion Play.
SKD – pleasure to work with, having enjoyed Jennifer’s Body, for so long, when I got to direct her, was brilliant.
What do you think happens to her character following, Till Death?
SKD – we see at the start of the film how she’s dealing with a traumatic past, we can only imagine what these events. During production we’d always discuss what scenes might come after but I think the story here was enough. I didn’t need complete glee.
Was there much on the cutting room floor?
SKD – not an extreme amount, mostly in middle stages of dragging the body around. We compressed scenes but didn’t take out much.
One thing we did debate was losing Superbowl tickets as a tip in restaurant as it kind of telegraphs what is to come in a loose way.
Was it a dead weight dummy, model or the actor Megan dragged?
SKD – we did have a dummy built although wasn’t realistic so we relied on a stuntman. He was incredible to watch, sickening at times falling down stairs and being dragged across our wax snow.
Our whole stunt crew were outstanding, blood, sweat, tears given.
In the lake house were all those lit candles real?
SKD – all real, fireplace was real. In fact, we only needed to do some minor highlighting so what you see is actually glow of the flame. Those candles were mostly on the ground, you feel atmosphere in the film. Nobody knocked any over when lit, all were safeguarded.
Bravo to whoever was in control of continuous blood on the shirt.
SKD – we had to make sure the way Megan slips on the shirt from the dead body was inside out in terms of making understandable of putting on with hand cuff. We had to make reverse blood splatter.
We wardrobe tested and Megan can make anything look stylish, even a messed up oversized suit covered in blood. I had to ask the department to ‘try’ to make it in a sense, less stylish.
Some really cool sketches in the closing credits, your storyboards.
SKD – did storyboard the film but diagrams only for international release we did that purely because Germany have a 90min minimal limit. I threw that idea out, they’re are screen-shots from the film sent off to an animation apartment. I used it to shine a light on crew members that wouldn’t necessarily see their names up.
Why should people choose to watch, Till Death?
SKD – it’s a fun ride although it mightn’t feel like it (laughs) suspense action horror , a clean fast paced story from the get-go snowballing (pun intended). We were one of the first productions rolling after Covid hit, the crew, cast were excited to be creative.