Canadian horror flick Kingdom Come comes to the US this December. We spoke to Greg A.Sager, the captain of the haunted tugboat, to find out how it all came together.
For those who haven’t yet been blessed with a viewing, what does the title refer to?
The title was actually the working title that stuck. It suits it but it always brought me to the dilemma of trying to explain the story without giving too much away. The film does have a religious theme to it which to me has always makes for great movie fodder not being religious myself. The film examines through the characters that one last chance for redemption for the things they have done in their lives, some things more heinous than others. We always wanted to have the audience think while being entertained and ask the question ‘what would you do?’ if left with one of these decisions.
Was it the first and only title for the film, or did you play with some other possibilities?
We did play around with some other possibilities but like I said above ‘Kingdom Come’ just seem to fit. Because of all the other movies with the same name or very close to it we honestly thought after being picked up by the distributors they would end up changing it, that’s exactly what happened with ‘Devil Seed’, which was originally titled “The Darkness”.
How much say does a distributor have in those sorts of things. I see that the artwork has been changed from the initial poster – was that a communal decision?
The distributor usually will change things like titles and artwork based on their experiences in marketing films, what they think will work to get as many people to see it as possible. As in the case with our previous film ‘Devil Seed’ that was originally called ‘The darkness’ but because our release was going to be shortly after the financial success of the film ‘Devil Inside’ they changed the title in hopes it would target that same audience. Being a little production company we don’t tend to get much say once we sign on the dotted line but you have to put some faith in your distributors that they are doing what they are good at doing and always have the best interest of the film in mind. Its what they do, we just make them.
The ‘villain’ – so to speak – at the centre of the film. How many variations of it did you come up with before settling on the current version?
The “Villain” character was easy. I always knew how I wanted it played. We tried another variation and actually shot a scene both ways with the actor and stayed up late night to go through both versions in the dailies and by morning made up out mind which is the way it is in the film. And feel we absolutely made the right choice. The “villain” was always the character looking like he may have been just bored and saw an opportunity to have a little fun with this group of people.
How important is sound to a film like yours?
Sound is very important, especially in the independent world because it seems that is the first to go for budget reasons. Sound design and composing music is critical. I actually can’t even edit without ‘temp’ tracks and effects because it really controls the pacing and build ups, especially in the horror genre. When all sound elements come together it’s a whole different beast. Joe Finlan and his team did a remarkable sound design on the film and Aaron Gilhuis composed a wonderful soundtrack. I actually have the soundtrack on my iPhone and sometime listen to it while I write.
You’re having a screening for the film a few days before the film hits DVD and VOD. Do you think the film plays better on the big screen? Was it always the intention to get it in theatres – if even for a limited run?
It always plays better in theatres, unfortunately there is such a financial commitment to have a theatrical run for any film and even though we all strive for that the reality is it can’t always happen, which I’m fine with. We had a cast and crew screening at a local theatre with a DCP print and it’s nothing short of ‘wow’. It what every filmmaker aspires to. Films are much better when experienced with a bunch of people, you can feel the energy and hear and see reactions. I’m excited that we are closing the Blood in the Snow film festival in Toronto just before the release, which will let a small handful of people to see it on the big screen, in a theatre…the way movies should be seen, with an audience.
VOD seems to be leading the charge these days. What do you think are the pluses and minuses of the medium?
VOD is huge and becoming more and more the first window for films outside the studio systems. There will always be films that just have to be seen on a big screen, as that is part of the whole experience. There are still movies that when come out I say to myself ’I have to see that one while its still in theatres’. But there are others that I want to see but I can wait for it on VOD, it just really depends on the film. For ‘Devil Seed’ it accounted for about 70 percent of its revenue. There still plenty of work to do on the delivery platform and the amounts and ways revenues make it back to filmmakers but whether anyone likes it or not it is the future of the business. We are in markets because of VOD that without we would never be able to get a foot hold in. A film like this probably wouldn’t be in a theatre in say Des Moines, Iowa but because we’ll be on Comcast and other providers we’ll have an audience there for anyone that wants to see it. VOD absolutely has its place in the chain of things even as it is with ‘Kingdom Come’ being the first link.
What’s your favorite scary movie?
I really just can’t pick one…Probably when I was younger films that inspired me we’re Alien, The Exorcist, Dog Soldiers and Near Dark but more recently The Conjuring and Wolf Creek come to mind. If I did have to pick one it probably would be Alien…It still holds up after all this time.
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