Ghosts. They’ve been a tried and true plot device/element used in horror films since the beginning. However, in RESTORATION, a new horror film set to release on Friday, the typical conventions which we come to expect in such films are turned on its head. Co-written & directed by Zack Ward, the film follows a couple who find a long lost diary in the walls of their home. In opening the book, they unwittingly release the ghost of a child that haunts their dreams and waking life, driving them to find the cause of her death and release her soul.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to actor/director, Zack Ward, about the newest film produced by Grit House Film (a production company that Zack co-owns with co-screenwriter, James Cullen Bressack). In the interview, Zack not only sheds light about how the film came about, but also the creativity needed on his part (and on the part of his crew) to produce the film with limited resources. Check it out below….
BT: To start, in co-writing this film with James Cullen Bressack, could you talk about how this film came together?
ZW: Well, James and I wrote two films together…BETHANY, which is in post [production] right now, as well as this film, RESTORATION, which arrives May 3rd on VOD & iTunes.
(Continuing) We wrote both scripts over the Christmas holiday of 2014; however, I continued to polish the script for this film, while James focused on BETHANY.
BT: I see, I see…Now, on the surface, many would classify this film as a basic ghost story. However, after seeing the film, one discovers that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface. So with that said, could you talk about playing with those tropes that we, as the audience, come to expect from this type of film and playing around with them?
ZW: Sure. For me, I wanted to make a film that audiences would be excited to see. More specifically, I wanted to make a film which the audience would be familiar enough with that they felt safe in the story, yet strange enough that it could still shock and surprise them.
BT: Right, right.
ZW: (Continuing) So, my thought was-depending on your religious background-there is some math that one can do…Typically, [in movies] ghosts haunt people because something bad has happened to them, right?
ZW: So [as the story normally goes] the ghost is pissed off at the protagonist for whatever reason and then causes bad things to happen to them. Not long afterwards, it goes on to kill other people, which incentivizes our protagonist/hero to solve the mystery behind the ghost existence. Now, keeping that in mind, I have surmised that ghosts either fall into two categories: a) they’re upset about something bad that has happened to them or b) they’re an evil dick.
ZW: Freddy Krueger, for example, we would classify as an evil ghost, right?
ZW: (Continuing) Now, let’s say that this evil ghost kills [insert character: Brian] and then goes on to haunt [insert character: Zack]. Well, why doesn’t Brian come back as a pissed off ghost and kick the evil’s ghost ass?
BT: (Laughing) Sure, sure.
ZW: I mean, wouldn’t Brian be pissed off about being killed by a dicky thing and be upset about it? So…
ZW: …as you can see there are some flaws in the “ghost” logic.
ZW: (Continuing) It’s always kind of made me laugh, because I think of Freddy [Krueger] and say to myself, why aren’t there just hordes of dead kids and parents just hunting him down since they’re all ghosts and mad because he’s an evil dick?
BT: (Laughing) Right, right…
ZW: (Laughing) So, I knew that I didn’t want to take that approach [to ghosts], because I felt that it took one down a non-sensical rabbit hole. Therefore I decided instead to use logic directly out of the bible to guide my approach [to the soul]. For example, in the bible, the soul is regularly described as something which is endless…So, without giving any spoilers away, folks will see how I used that concept [in the film] and moved it forward.
BT: Okay, alright…Now, the production values in this film are quite good, which I’m sure doesn’t speak to the limited amount of resources that you had to make the film. Therefore could you talk about what you did to ensure that the film looked good?
ZW: Thank you very much man, I appreciate that! I definitely feel that there are moments in the film that are quite beautiful!
(Continuing) I’d definitely say that having limited resources forced me to fall back on my incredible team [working on the film] who had a great aesthetic value [in helping to bring the film to life]. For example, my DP (Director of Photography) came up with some fantastic lighting setups and my production designers were incredibly helpful in providing the look for the film. Another example of a helpful team member’s work can be found in the opening sequence where the audience is provided a reveal of one of the protagonist. That [wall] was only 4 foot x 4 foot and my dad built it! He completely bailed me out! (Smiling)
BT: Wow! I would not have suspected!
ZW: Yeah! So there were a lot of moments like that!
BT: So, switching gears, I recall you mentioning your other project, BETHANY… Can you comment on what folks can expect from that film or is it too early?
ZW: Sure! BETHANY, is a film directed by James Cullen Bressack and co-written by me. It’s a psychological thriller that will have a unique style all its own thanks largely to James’ 70-style noir.
BT: Awesome, so lastly, you’ve had the opportunity to be apart of some big franchises; however, one that immediately comes to mind for me is the RESIDENT EVIL franchise.
BT: Now, in the franchise so far , supporting characters who were long thought dead have returned to the cast to either wreak havok on the heroes or stand behind them as allies. Is that a possibility that has been discussed for your character Nicholai from 2004’s RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE?
ZW: No hope in hell!
ZW: He is DEAD! Deader that sh*#! (Smiling)
ZW: He was eaten, turned into a zombie, and then his ass got nuked! He’s DONE! (Smiling)
BT: Well, hold on…To be fair Carlos was blown up in RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION and he was brought back.
ZW: Hmm..I just don’t think they (the folks behind that franchise) like me. (Smiling) They can bring everyone else back from the dead, yet they’re like “F#*K THE RED-HAIRED GUY!”
ZW: They’re just racists! They’re racist against red heads! No one appreciates ginger nation!
ZW: As an OG, “Original Ginger,” those are my feelings! (Laughing)
BT: (Laughing) Well Zack, thanks again for your time and I look to checking out what you have next!
ZW: Thanks man!
Interview by Brandon Troy
RESTORATION releases on VOD & iTunes on Friday, May 3rd.
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