Writer/Director Richard Powell and Executive Producer Zach Green are making the rounds with their dark and twisted short film Worm. They were gracious enough to discuss the project and their future endeavors with their production company Fatal Pictures.
How are the creative responsibilities divided within Fatal Pictures?
Richard: So far I’ve acted as Writer and Director, but I plan to become handy in as many aspects of film making as possible, I know the same can be said for my partner Zach Green. Each of us has a passion for film making and storytelling and while we may perform specific jobs and tasks on each film we produce we are operating as a team, a single film making entity, Fatal Pictures. My true passion begins with the creation of characters and stories, this is the first step in our process. Once I have an idea I discuss it with Zach and it either lives or dies based on our conversations. Sometimes an idea sparks, it creates excitement immediately, other times ideas die justifiably as our talks expose their faults, weak points and so on. CONSUMPTION and WORM were both ideas that sparked.
Zach: Well Richard and myself both are very creative in all areas. Some more so than others. We will discuss the stories and throw around ideas etc, and if something gets one of us excited we will continue to talk about that topic and expand off. and Richard will soon later rite the screenplay. I plan to collaborate with Richard on a film or two when it comes to writing the script, and I would usually handle other creative responsibilities, for example I would find a few actors I feel meet the criteria for the part. We pretty much edit our films together as well which is a HUGE part of the creative process.
How long did it take to shoot Worm? What was your total budget?
Richard: Worm was shot over two weekends in May of 2009 for a total of four days. The films budget is somewhere between twenty and twenty five thousand dollars. The use of 16 mm film was expensive but ultimately worth every cent.
What were some of the influences behind this story? What do you want your audience to take away from this film?
Richard: Most of my inspiration comes from real life, the headlines, true crime novels and so forth. Although I have a basic faith in humanity I recognize the fact that the world is filled with horrible people. WORM is my attempt to paint a portrait of that selfish, petty and ultimately dangerous side of human nature that festers and sometimes explodes upon us from time to time. I’m also fascinated with villians and believe that they can make great leads in films. The antagonist as protagonist is what I’m interested in. It was my goal to scare and creep out an audience with words and the threat of violence which is just as powerful and potentially more terrifying than the actual act. What’s more scary; the five seconds before a car crash or the crash itself?
What can you share about your location and the challenges of filming?
Richard: Filming in a High School was difficult for several reasons. We had to secure all of the proper permits and an insurance policy that covered the production up to a half of a million dollars. Early on Zach and myself where concerned the negative elements of the film might prevent us from finding a school willing to allow us to film on their property so I quickly made some changes to the script and submitted that. I still have doubts as to whether we would have gained access to a school if I hadnt chnaged the script. Although the film isn’t a negative portrayal of the teaching profession it does feature a despicable character who happens to be a teacher and while I recognize there is a difference I wasn’t willing to take the chance that others would as well.
Zach: The film takes place in a school. So from there I knew I would need a school setting. So I had to deal with the school board and get a permit, etc. Luckily there wasn’t much challenge in the area of finding a location. Just MONEY.
Almost all of the dialogue in the film is internalized. What challenges did that present in moving from page to screen?
Zach: Wonderful question. A lot of rehearsing and practicing the timing. We did a lot of prep before recording in the ADR booth and had a monitor to watch as Robert read his lines which made things easier.
Richard: The most difficult aspect was ensuring Robert Nolan was able to emote and perform in such a way that was in tune with the audio monologue that would eventually accompany his performance. We had manyy rehearsals and even had the monologues read aloud during his performance. There was so much for him to memorize and the range and complexity of the characters emotions and thoughts would have been nearly impossible to sync had we not read the lines aloud and worked through each section carefully and with much discussion. Robert Nolan was a great partner in bringing Geoffrey Dodd to life and his true understanding of the character is what ensured the translation was successful as it was.
How did you obtain your cast? What stories can you share about working with them?
Richard: Almost all of our cast was found by way of referral, including the lead Robert Nolan. Friends, family and a few volunteers filled out the rest of the cast and I have to say everyone was amazing and dedicated. Robert was great to work with as he is a great improvisational actor and can bring so much to the table that myself as a non-actor would never have considered. On the first day of shooting we left Robert alone in a class full of extras who played as his students. While we set up lights, cameras and dolly track in the next room Robert lead an hour long exercise acting as a real teacher speaking to his classroom. Its that kind of creativity and care that makes the difference on set and in the final product. It’s funny to consider Robert was inspiring and encouraging in between takes only to have to turn into a character that loathes teaching and hopes for the failure of all of those around him and under his care.
Zach: I was able to obtain Robert Nolan my lead actor of the film through an actress I worked with in 2006.
Are there plans to extend Worm into a feature film?
Richard: I’m currently in the middle of writing the script and am extremely excited with where the material and the character of Geoffrey Dodd is headed. WORM the short depicted a day in the mind and life of Geoffrey Dodd, this film will explore what could be the last day in the mind and life of Geoffrey Dodd and of course countless others. Hopefully WORM will be the feature film debut from Fatal Pictures in the not too distant future.