Next week I will be premiering my first film in years as a director (I have been cinematographer for many -- among them 3:10 to Yuma, Pursuit of Happyness, Walk the Line and Sideways) and I've been asked what it was about From Within that drew me to take this step. When choosing a project to which you will dedicate the next few years of your life, is a little bit like falling in love. I wanted to find something that made me feel that way. These decisions impact everything - your family, friends, your future. They become the memories that constitute your life. Now why make that sacrifice if not for love?
What drew me to From Within? On the surface, it's a good old-fashioned scary movie - a bunch of young people are killed by an enigmatic evil. But while it's a movie with teens in it, it is not a "teen movie". There is great diversity to these characters. It was important to me that each one seemed real ...someone you might identify with. Also the story deals with a lot of subjects you wouldn't necessarily expect in a horror-flick: Intolerance, hypocrisy, temptation, hope, family, religion... In the end, they all clash and it just goes awfully wrong!
I don't want to manipulate the audience - I don't like style to triumph over story. That's easy to do. I have a too much respect for the viewer. So although I'm making a genre film, I try not to fall back on the bag of tricks used in conventional horror films - I think the illusion of realism is the scariest form of horror - and because of that I think the ending will surprise a lot of people.
All filmmakers are storytellers, whether you're a cinematographer, editor, writer or director - The story drives the decisions you make, regardless of your specific craft - We're just categorized by the industry. Professional labels don't mean much to me, maybe because I got my start by being a still-photographer in New York in my early twenties, and had to rely on relatively small group of people to accomplish a shoot. It wasn't easy and as a kid from Europe, who hadn't spent much time in such a large city. It gave me a quick introduction to hypocrisy - so many people saying one thing and doing another. This brush with large-scale hypocrisy is what resonated with me about From Within. The movie is set in a town where everyone has a degree of hypocrisy and everything is a shade of the truth.
The other really satisfying thing about directing is that I got to work with very talented actors and I feel fortunate having found them - Thomas Dekker (from The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Adam Goldberg, Laura Allen, Rumer Willis, and a rare talent in Elizabeth Rice, our lead. It was a terrific gift watching this material come to life in the hands of these actors. And it was during our first rehearsal that it dawned on me, what the core story of our film was, what story I wanted to tell: I was telling a love story - A Romeo and Juliet, if you may.