Filmmaker  Q&A Nick Basile

by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

Comment

 

DCP:

First I just want say how much I loved Dark! It's a film I'd been waiting to see for some time now and I recently finally did, which was a huge treat! Writer/Director Elias Ganster came up with the story and he ultimately wrote it - Where did the idea and story stem from?

 

Nick Basile

Thank you! I originally came up with the concept for DARK during a really cold winter in 2011. I was snowed in and feeling very claustrophobic. I also was going through a rather difficult time in my life emotionally and career wise. I had two projects which I had been developing fall through and I felt I needed to come up with a concept for an indie picture that could be done on a lower budget with minimal characters and locations while also exploring the themes and mood I was feeling at the time. So, I came up with this idea of basically a single character psychological thriller set during the real life 2003 blackout. I thought the blackout in NY was an interesting backdrop to tell a story about a woman whose mind is unraveling. I was also interested in telling a story that took place in one 24 hour period from the perspective of a single character; a character whose perception of what is happening around her may not be entirely reliable. I ended up calling Elias and pitching him the concept over the phone and he was immediately hooked in. I asked if he would write the screenplay and I would direct. Elias and I have been close friends for almost twenty years and the collaboration was very fun and productive. We would have long phone conversations, usually in the middle of the night, which is appropriate for the state of mind for this movie since it’s pretty much a movie, and we would discuss the story and characters. Then he would go off and write and the collaboration went on like that for a number of months as we did a number of drafts.

 

DCP:

I absolutely loved the cast! Can you tell us a about the casting process, what that was like, and how each actor/actress was chosen?

 

NB:

We knew this movie would completely depend on the casting of the lead character Kate and the actress who played her could make or break the film. Luckily, one night I decided to watch the Gareth Edwards film Monsters starring Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able and as I was watching it I realized Whitney would be the perfect actress to play Kate. Whitney has this ability to communicate such a range of emotions in her face and eyes with great subtlety and genuineness, she became my first and only choice for the role. Fortunately, she was very intrigued by the project and we had a great initial meeting over Skype. Once Whitney was officially on board, she recommended Alexandra Breckenridge. I ended up having a meeting with Whitney and Alex in LA and we discussed the project and the characters and the vision for the film. Brendan Sexton III and I had known each other prior and I knew he would be perfect as the John character, Kate’s weird neighbor. Finally, to round out the cast, we brought on Michael Eklund, who I believe our producer Kathy Belli first suggested. Michael is a fantastic actor and brought a dark carnality to his performance seething underneath the surface. I’m very proud of the cast. This movie is very much a performance driven film and they all built upon their characters. By far though, this was Whitney’s high wire act. She is on screen most of the time alone and her character’s emotional and psychological descent is intense and painful to watch because she brought so much pathos and authenticity to her performance.

 

DCP:

What was the most memorable and/or challenging part about the making of Dark?

 

NB:

The most challenging aspect of making DARK was the fact that we had a very limited budget which meant we had limited time. We shot the picture in just 18 days which is not a lot for a feature film. Time is always the biggest issue when making a movie of any size but especially an indie. You’re always combating time. I remember we did something like 42 set-ups in one 12 hour work day. That is everybody on the crew working at breakneck speed and actors who can really deliver. I think Stanley Kubrick once said making a movie was like trying to write War and Peace while riding in a bumper car. Now he could afford to take two years to shoot a movie and do hundreds of takes, so I would add, for an indie filmmaker, it’s like trying to write War and Peace while riding in a bumper car with your pants on fire. Also, for us, we shot in all real locations in NY and had to recreate a blackout that was set in 2003, so that added more challenges to an already very tight schedule. But, in the end, when you are able to pull it off it’s a great sense of accomplishment and that’s a testament to the crew. We were fortunate to have a great, dedicated crew. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.

 

DCP:

What's one lesson you took from making the film that you think encapsulates your experience?

 

NB:

That’s an interesting question I keep asking myself. I think my main take away is that as cathartic as making a film of this kind can be, it doesn’t completely rid you of your demons but rather puts them into a context that makes them more manageable. It also gives you the opportunity to work things out while having a shared experience with those around you.

 

DCP:

What is one fear you wish you didn't have?

NB:

The fear of not having work. The fear of not knowing when or how long it will take to get the next movie made and at what capacity.

 

DCP:

What are some films you've seen growing up, or some filmmakers that have influenced you the most as a filmmaker yourself?

 

NB:

There are many films and directors that have influenced me growing up in different ways. For DARK, I was inspired by the idea of what if Cassavetes made a Hitchcock movie. What would that be like? That was an approach and stylistic reference for me. Two opposing styles colliding. I was also inspired a lot by Polanski and Antonioni for this. For each project the inspirations are different. But I’m always ultimately trying to find my own voice after it’s been filtered through outside inspiration. I’m working on finding my own style which is subconscious and comes from the gut.

 

DCP:

Who or what inspires you as a person, as well as an artist?

 

NB:

Usually friends or collaborators who are doing great work around me. That inspires me and gives me a kick in the ass to keep pushing forward and challenging myself in new ways. Other people who are passionate and share their passion. It’s inspiring always to feel that you are part of a community.

 

DCP:          

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you may be working on for the near future?

 

NB:

I could but then I’d have to kill you… No, I have two other scripts that are being developed right now and I’m focusing on that this year to see which one we’ll be able to get off the ground first. Both are passion projects I’ve been working on for a long time and hopefully with DARK now released it will help me get closer to actualizing them.

 

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