SCARS: When did you two first work together?
NICK: This movie, Chronicles of an Exorcism, was
actually shot as a mini featurette two years ago and we decided
to come back and shoot it as a feature. And that's where we first
met. I was brought up to act on the film only, and Matt was also
brought up to act on the film.
MATT: Yeah, David Ross said, "I'm going to put you you
in touch with Nick Miller the other priest and I said, "Oh,
good wed better talk then." We got on the phone with each other
and we started discussing our personal histories, our back stories
for the characters, and that's the first time we met.
SCARS: For the feature you two co-wrote it with another person?
NICK: For the feature, that's correct. I wrote the script
for the screenplay and I collaborated with Matthew as well as David
SCARS: Now what's it like writing as a trio?
NICK: You know, it's really good to be able to use other
people as a springboard you know with ideas and thoughts. When I
write I go into a mode and I think a lot of writers do, maybe a
weird mode, where I'll go to New Your City. Actually, for this I
think I went to South America. I went to Columbia. But what I can
do is I can get on the phone with these guys or I email them. I
run things by them and we talk about scenes and whatnot. So, for
me it's good.
SCARS: Do you two have an interest in exorcism subject matter
or was that just because of the narrative of the story?
MATTHEW: I think all three of us had an interest in exorcism
subject matter. This story was intriguing to all three of us and
we all came up with our own backgrounds, and not just all different
religious faiths, but we've all kinda had this interest in what
this is about. The whole idea is this is a real exorcism, and getting
to come to it as a Catholic priest is going to be something different
to me than it is to Nick, than it is to David. We were sharing research
on exorcisms and demonology and we did a lot of research and
got a lot of back-up material which is helpful because Nick could
find things I couldn't find. David had things, old material,
that he had in North Carolina. It was exciting.
NICK: For me I was raised on Rod Sterling, The Twighlight
Zone, the Alfred Hitchcock type of stuff and I have always
loved horror films. And psycho thrillers, I've always been drawn
to them. So when they first sent me the scripts two years ago to
come up and only act on the mini-feature I was drawn into it then.
When they asked me to come back and direct it and rewrite the screenplay
we decided to take a year and do research on the film to do it right.
My eyes were even opened up. We hired a research analyst on the
demonology side, we also hired someone that was involved in Catholicism
and we wanted to make sure that every single thing happened exactly
as it happens in a true exorcism. So we had people that studied
the rights [sic] of the exorcism and the Bible passages... and it
took a long time to put it all that together. Then we sat down and
said what are we going to use, if we use it do we keep it true to
both sides, and we decided that yes, we do. There was definitely
an interest, but more so after we started the research, my eyes
opened up to how often this happens around the world, whether or
not there is someone who is possessed or if the people that are
performing the exorcism just think that that person is possessed.
It happens a lot more often than people think.
SCARS: The film takes place over the course of three days?
MATT: If you watch the course of the film you get a feeling
like you're there for three days, but it's pretty much non-stop.
They rest briefly, but they go on, an exorcism can go on for weeks
and months, this one we just compressed into three days.
SCARS: Matthew, what is the difference between acting in
a soap opera and on film? Is it easier to work in film?
MATT: Well, when it's my film it's a lot easier. My character,
Jack Devereux [sic], on Days I got to create and have
a lot of fun with, but most of the time you have someone looking
over your shoulder and saying you've got to do it this way, or you've
got to do it that way. Working with Nick and being co-creators in
this thing, we were allowed to created characters that we found
interesting. After working in television for a long time, it's exciting
to suddenly be working in a film where there is no limit. It's whatever
I want to do. Fortunately, I had Nick there to reign [sic] me in,
or say "Easy cowboy don't do that," and that's important
too because you have to have a second pair of eyes, you need to
have someone watching you. It's so much fun, I love it. I love working
in film, you know when you do one character for a long time it gets
SCARS: Now, this is shot in a documentary style do you think
movies like this are bringing horror back to a scarier place than
the fantastical over the top stuff?
MATT: Nick and I have talk about this. Of course we both
love the Twilight Zone, just because they had great
writers, and what kind of special effects did they really have?
And yet, we keep talking about them 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years
later in some cases. One of my favorite films is The
Haunting, the original.
SCARS: Yeah, that was a scary one.
MATT Yeah, and literally there are long shots of just nothing,
but you're looking at the face of a building. Ut;s dark and you're
looking up at those dark windows looking down at you, with angles
and the music. And it gets back to you: you don't need all that
stuff, and that's what's interesting to us, because the documentary
form can help us do that. We thought, let's get very simple with
this and find what's really freaky to us.
NICK: Yeah, one thing that we decided to do collectively
early on was ask ourselves, "Do we shoot a full feature film,
or do we make it look like a documentary? We decided of course to
make it documentary style. But my main goal was to make sure that
it was real meaning no special effects whatsoever. I think the two
words that I kept kind of pontificating about with the group were
"disturbing" and "scary." When someone leaves
the theater or watches it on DVD, and are done watching it and it
goes dark, my whole goal was for them to look at whoever they're
with and say, "You know what, that was a disturbing movie,
or, "That was scary." Because I used to feel that a lot,
years and years ago, when I would watch the old movies that didn't
have the special effects stuff. There's a place for those movies,
and we love all the big 100 million dollar movies and horror films
and what not. But also when you go back to your original roots and
you make the story itself important, and it's scary, then I think
that makes a great film.
SCARS: That's refreshing because I think The Haunting
is one of the scariest films I've seen just because of the atmosphere.
MATT: Yeah, and they brought you in there. And the great
thing about doing this as a documentary, I thought from the beginning,
is that you know how we watch a scary movie and the foolish young
man or the foolish young woman go into the room, and you know they
shouldn't go in, and yet you watch them do it and you say, "Don't
go in there! Don't go in there!
Well, with this documentary, this foolish you man or foolish you
woman has a camera on their shoulder and they;re bringing you, the
audience member, into the room in front of them.
NICK: And the other thing is the way the story is written,
they;re going in there for a reason. In other words any time we
see a horror film, like Matt says, and someone's going into the
room, we say "Run! Why would you go in there?" In our
film they;re going in there because one's doing it for the money
and the other amateur filmmaker, his partner, ultimately is staying
for the girl because an attachment begins there. It's obvious; there's
a reason they're going in there. There's a reason the two
priests, Matthew's character and mine are there. Ray Keziah, who
plays Pastor Bill, who does a great job playing Pastor Bill, there's
a reason he stays. So I think it's one of those things that no one
can say, "Why is that going on?" It's obvious and they
all know that we're there for a reason.
SCARS: What are the plans for the release of the film?
NICK: The film will be released in April. It's being released
through Echelon Studios. I can't even tell you where it's coming
out first, but the big major release will be in April.
SCARS: What about The Unlikely's? Is that
getting a release this summer?
NICK: Yeah, The Unlikely's has a theatrical
release. It will first be released in limited theatrical release
nation wide in six cities, and depending on how it goes in those
six cities it will then have a national and international release
theatrically, and it will go to DVD. That is also going to be released
in April or May for The Unlikely's.
SCARS: That one looks like a lot of fun too.
NICK: It is. We had a good time doing both films. But you
know with the subject matter of Chronicles mentally
the actors are in character and a lot of actors stay in character,
but with a comedy, however, it's just a blast all the way through.
It's non stop fun and we had a great time on that. The next
film that we have slated is called The Reunion, which
is another horror film, more of a psycho-thriller horror. We have
fun doing everything; we have have a good group of people. Our producing
group is John Mulis, Ray Keziah, David Michael Ross, Howie Kelly,
Matthew Ashford and myself and we all really work well together
and we made this decision when we started the company that we were
only going to do things we wanted to do. We were basically going
to be in control of our destiny and finance our own films and we're
doing it and loving it.
SCARS: Is there anything else you can tell us about
NICK: The Big Chill meets The Twighlight
Zone meets Nightmare on Elm Street.
NICK: Exactly. it is a very, very, disturbing film. It's
one of those that makes you uncomfortable watching, but you can't
leave the theatre. And when you leave you're just -- I don't know
about you, but when I watch a good movie I either walk out doing
the moves that the superhero did, or I'm saying the famous line
as I leave the theater. This is the kind of film, for the script
that we've written, that will hopefully end up this way, leaving
you sitting there thinking, "What in the world? That was just
an amazing scar piece!"
MATT: Or, "If I was there with these people, what could
I have done to stop it from happening?
If I get myself that into a story I try to think how could I stop
that horrible thing from happening. What would I have done? But
you couldn't, you couldn't stop this thing from happening?
NICK:The Reunion opens up 15 years prior and there's
a college prank going on and there's a girl that's murdered. There's
a group of friends and one of the young girls is murdered [sic].
We don't see who the murderer is and the friends disband, they don't
see each other for 15 years. One of the girls decides hat she would
like to heal the old wounds. She does an invitation to everyone
and as she does you see where they are in their live, and a reunion
happens, much like the Big Chill where everyone gets
together. And I take you out of the horror because it opens with
an intense murder scene. And then you kind of forget as you're learning
who these characters are today that you're in a horror film. Shortly
thereafter some very bad things happen.
MATT: I told my dad we were making this horror film
called The Reunion and he kinda laughed and
said, "Well, you know there are a lot of kinds of reunions
that could turn into horror films." And that's one of the neat
things about people coming back together after many years everyone
can relate to this, people come back together and there's so much
expectation: What am I like? What is he like? What is she like?
How much have we changed? There is so much wonderful stuff there,
even above and beyond the usual horror genre, which is what we wanted
to do. We want you to care about these people very much so it's
not just a body count, which is what I think a lot of horror movies
turned into in the last 20 years.
NICK: And with The Reunion just to end on
that subject, there is a very big twist at the end. Which I have
always really loved. Many of the 30 minute Twilight Zones,
a lot of the Hitchcock films you know, a lot of the Stephen King
or Dean Koontz books or what not have the twist at the end where
you say, "Woah!"
SCARS: Have you started shooting The Reunion
MATT: No we're actually casting as we speak. We're in the
middle of casting now and we hope to begin production in March.
SCARS would like to thank Nick and Matt for taking the time
to speak with us. To see a synopsis of the movies we talked about
check out http://www.nickmiller.com/movies.html.