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Chris St. Croix Interview

Conducted by ZigZag

With their new anthology film In The Dark, directors Chris St. Croix and David Buchert are bringing a series of short horror stories together in hopes of thrilling genre fans with short attention spans. There is an Indiegogo campaign underway as the producers continue fund raising to shoot the next installments. I was recently able to sit down with director Chris St. Croix (Shattered) to discuss the project in general and his film The Keeper specifically.

Horror DNA: What made you want to make a genre piece?

Chris St. Croix: After finishing my feature Shattered which was a drama disguised as a thriller, and dealing with all the emotional scenes and bullshit that I went through to make that movie, I really wanted have more fun on the next one. That’s when I knew I wanted to do a genre film. Having a friend like David [Buchert] who is a horror aficionado and has turned me into a fan, made the decision even easier. Deciding what I wanted to do for my first horror film took a little longer.

HDNA: Looking back on your first film Shattered what was the greatest lesson you take into this production?

CS: Everything. Every film makes you better at everything. If I didn’t think I was progressing each time I’d be very concerned. But if I had to pick a couple it would be, getting even better at time management and knowing when to move to the next setup. Knowing when you’ve got it, or as close as you’re going to get. There is no glory in staying on a shot until it’s perfect, knowing you’ve now sacrificed all the other shots that day.

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HDNA: What do you see as the greatest limitation in contemporary low-budget productions?

CS: The equipment is there and cheap enough that every film should look decent. There is really no excuse for crappy looking/sounding stuff anymore. What I think is missing is the least expensive thing needed to make a film: Imagination. It seems like people don’t realize that you need to start with a fully realized and hopefully somewhat original story that has a beginning, middle and end. If that isn’t there, it’s not a movie, it’s just an idea or a scene. And that’s great because that is where we get our training. But that’s not a movie yet. It’s no different than when indie people complain about Hollywood taking a great idea and not executing it well. It's about storytelling and people aren't putting in the time to master that first.

HDNA: Aside from funding what has been the greatest challenge in creating this feature?

CS: Lack of money IS a big hurdle, and I don’t mean like when I hear people say they had a low budget and you find out they had 250 thousand for a 15 minute short film. I mean the money that you have left over after you pay your bills from busting your ass on whatever your day job is. That makes you have to pare down the scope of the film which means everything else has to be that much better. Nothing is forgiven anymore. But what is the toughest is getting the world to know it’s out there. The internet is rampant with hundreds of “films” and getting yours out in front is getting harder and harder, especially if its original and not based on a video game to drive people to find it.

HDNA: What makes this anthology different from others?

CS: I really don’t know any anthologies that worked in our budget range to compare, but we put the story first and make sure no matter what the corners we have to cut in the physical production of telling that story on film, we always make sure the story is delivered on screen in the most entertaining and visually exciting way possible. So, strong storytelling. And our stuff looks pretty slick too.

HDNA: What elements of low-budget cinema do you find most rewarding?


CS: When the camera is rolling. The unreal, absurd situations we are creating are a blast to watch develop. The dialogue. The effects. You get to watch it come to life. All the stuff that goes into pulling it off before the camera rolls, when you have no money or time, is a bitch and a half no matter what the genre. But that all goes away when I say “Action”.

HDNA: Do you incorporate personal fears into the material?

CS: I just write what I want to see and what excites me enough to get me through the long journey it will take to bring it to the screen. That being said, I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts or the devil, but exorcism stuff scares the shit out of me for some reason. So maybe it’s time to make one of those.

HDNA: When you watch The Keeper are you generally pleased with the finished film?

CS: I told the story I wanted to tell. A story about evil and redemption. But not your typical redemption. The overall look is what I’m most proud of. I was finally able, with the help of David’s lighting, To start to solidify what I want my films to look like. To begin to show my particular visual style. I wasn’t able to do that on my first film at all, so to be able to design the film to look the way I envisioned is what satisfies me most when I watch it. I do wish I had been able to shoot one additional scene I had written for the Marco character as, right now, he disappears from the story longer than he should.

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HDNA: What has been the biggest learning curve in making this film?

CS: It’s still very difficult to do, but we’ve got the process of making films with only four crew, including us, down to a science. As long as we are in this no-budget range, and we won’t be for much longer, we will continue to do things the way we have. People are very surprised when they hear how few people it took to make these films as they look like much larger productions. That feels nice to hear, but it’s hell to pull it off that way and we can only look forward to having greater resources in the future to allow us to concentrate on one or two jobs instead of ten.

HDNA: What were some sources of inspiration for you when approaching a horror anthology?

CS: I love Cat’s Eye. Creepshow is always fun and Creepshow 2 has parts I love. Tales From the Crypt was the template I used to keep me focused as it was always different and covered every subgenre possible. The only thing I think that held it back for me a little was that they were seemingly stuck using the stories from the comics and they tended to come off a little old fashioned. If I had the reigns of a Crypt reboot, I’d definitely open it up and modernize the stories and get into some crazy, sexier shit.

HDNA: Where would you like to see the series ultimately lead?

CS: To more. More of everything. I’m a writer and a director. This is what I do. I just want to do it more often and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do with a larger playing field and more resources.

HDNA: Well, best of luck and thanks again for taking the time to visit us at Horror DNA!

Links: Official Site


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About The Author
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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