Crisis Hotline: Director Mark Schwab Interview

Crisis Hotline: Director Mark Schwab Interview

Director Mark Schwab isn’t out to shame dating apps with his new thriller Crisis Hotline, but he does want to make users aware of their dangers.

I could assume, what with how dangerous ‘dating’ is these days (can’t believe we’ve just admitted that), but why this particular movie?

“Crisis Hotline” isn’t really meant to shame dating or dating apps. I just thought that world could make a solid playing ground for a film, especially since I hadn’t seen it used before, much less in the horror/ thriller genre.



And did it start with a character or a concept?

Definitely the concept of a crisis hotline operator being put in a race-against-time, dangerous situation with limited resources to solve the problem. I think it’s critical to have obstacles your characters need to try and overcome and we have a lot of them thrown at our main characters!

Did you have to get to know the world of dating apps before writing this?

Dating apps have been around for awhile now, so most of us have used them at least once or twice. What I spent some time looking into is exactly how much they influence the way we meet potential romantic partners. That was what surprised me – it’s by far the main way we all “date” now even though most of us seem to complain about the shallowness of them. I also researched the motivations and expectations of the people who use dating apps consistently. Most of the research led me to the conclusion that a lot of us are very lonely and desperate for some kind of intimacy even if they wouldn’t admit it to themselves. That’s where Danny finds himself in “Crisis Hotline”.

What about crisis hotline centers? Is that something you needed to familiarise yourself with?

That was another surprise in developing the movie. I personally knew an LGBT crisis hotline counselor back in 2000 and remember him telling me about the aspects of that experience so I thought I had an idea about how it worked. However, when I began to put “Crisis Hotline” together, I did some more research and I was shocked to learn how much had changed for those counselors since then. One aspect being that there are much fewer “genuine” crisis calls that come in now. Since it is so much different now than back in 2000, I was really glad I updated my research.

What makes this villain of yours tick? Why does he do what he does!?

There are multiple layers of villains in “Crisis Hotline” but the main motivation for all of them is abuse of power and financial gain. Having power over another person – emotional, financial, sexual – can be very intoxicating to a morally warped person and when you add a profit motive directly connected to that, the dopamine hit is off the charts.

Have you known people like this?

I’ve known people that could have been capable of the monstrous events in the movie. I know they’ve fantasized about it. Fortunately, their cooler heads prevailed on them from following all the way through with it.

Is this a cautionary tale?

That is definitely an aspect of the movie. If a certain type of person (or group of people) wanted to exploit the emotional vulnerability that comes with online dating apps, it would be frighteningly easy to do so. The potential for abuse is certainly there.

Crisis Hotline
Crisis Hotline

I can’t imagine one would ever get over such an experience like this. There’s undoubtedly a sequel idea in there…?

“Crisis Hotline” is a lot to process just on its own merits! If I sit down and think about it there could be more to the story but – boy, it would be complex and a challenge for sure! But, I honestly never considered the idea of a sequel to “Crisis Hotline”. Thank you for suggesting it though!

Tell readers why they need to seek out your film! What will they get from it?

I think the biggest reason to see “Crisis Hotline” is that it is different from the typical fare out there. The story original and intelligent with tons of atmosphere and dread instead of the usual jump cuts and screeching sound stingers. The way we tell this story is very different from today’s ADHD-type cinema. It’s the type of movie where you can get absorbed into its world and find yourself intensely curious to see how the high stakes will all play out. “Crisis Hotline” works great at night with all the lights off, played from beginning to end without pausing it.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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