We create ghosts for the sake of campfire stories and films all the time, but ever wonder if you could conjure up a real ghost? Oddly enough, paranormal experts purport that most ghostly happenings – strange noises, moving objects, etc. – are merely manifestations of the human mind and, in the early 1970s, the Toronto Society for Psychical Research put that concept to the test, assigning a group of people to contact a fictional ghostly entity via séances.
Fast forward to the present, a time when we’re absolutely overrun with paranormal movies. Just as any and all novelty has seemingly dissipated, Kevin J. Foxe steps in to shake up the horror genre – yet again. Back in 1999, Foxe showed off the power of the found footage style by executive producing The Blair Witch Project and now he’s out to prove that ghosts have much more to offer.
Foxe is switching things up a bit, not only producing his next feature, The Ghost Experiment 3D, but writing and directing it, too. The film finds its roots in the 1970s experience and explores what happens when a group of students attempt to emulate it in modern day New Orleans. As Foxe is just about to wrap production on his first 3D venture, he’s ready to spill a bit of the details of the story, the shooting process and what we have to look forward to in the coming months. Check it all out in the interview below.
You’ve produced a number of films; what sparked the desire to direct?
Kevin J. Foxe: After producing for a number of first time directors, I think I finally just said, “I have been doing a lot of what they were doing from the sidelines, so put me in coach! I am ready to play!”
Why The Ghost Experiment? Why make that your feature debut?
It did something in a horror film that I had never heard of before – can you create a ghost? I found that very simple and intriguing.
How’d you come across this story?
I heard about a true experiment done years ago to disprove ghosts from Valerio Zanoli, the producer, and I took off from there with an idea and story.
Did you speak with any of the people in the Owen group?
Sadly, no. I looked them up and found what I think may be his daughter, but did not contact her.
Is this an adaptation or more of an original story?
A very original story.
And how about genre? Is this a horror film?
Yes, but I might say more of a ghost story, or an art house horror film!
Are there parallels to Blair Witch?
The parallels for me are mainly in my approach to filmmaking. I like to tell stories in a unique way and to find different approaches to genres and timeless stories. Horror especially is in need of a few new ideas and approaches. I think between the 3D and the unique way in which we approached 3D, and trying to make the film feel real and authentic while being stylistic, was a challenge. I think Blair Witch accomplished that, as well.
How about shooting style? You have the 3D, but is it a found footage film, too? We’ve actually never seen that before and, technically, I don’t even know if it’d be possible.
No, it is not found footage. I feel that storyline may be dead for a while. I don’t think with all the information out there you can make a found footage film that would suspend the belief you would need to succeed. But, you do now have me thinking about how to do something like that with 3D. Maybe you will see that film next!
Was it intimidating at all, making your first feature a 3D one?
I have a theater background, so I approached 3D with that storytelling experience. Immersive storytelling with film is a dream come true, so it was not intimidating at all. In fact it freed me up to do some cool stuff, and I had a great 3D crew to support most of my ideas.
What’s it like for you being on set as a director? Anything particularly jarring about switching hats?
The only thing that made it hard to direct, having been a producer for years for other directors, was learning how to not produce my own material, otherwise I would have said “no” to every idea I had for one reason or another. It’s either too expensive, too difficult or impossible to accomplish! Seriously, switching hats was and is part of the evolution for me. In fact, producing for so many years made it a joy to direct.
And how about the shoot in general? Hit any bumps in the road?
Have you ever been on a shoot? There is a bump in the road at every step. We were very fortunate and had a great location and town. New Orleans made telling a ghost story easy. I often joked that there should be plaques on buildings that are not haunted down there. The shoot was a blast. We had so much fun shooting there. We lived in the same hotel we shot in so that made it like summer camp. We would wrap and sit around the pool drinking local beer and singing songs to guitars and banjos till the wee hours in the morning.
Are there any tools you like to bring to set? Maybe script notes?
How far are you into your shooting schedule?
We shot all of the location stuff and now have a few small separate things to finish up.
And what’s the schedule from there?
We should finish up soon, in the next few weeks. Post should be done around March or so, if all goes as planned.
Do you imagine post will take a while with the extra dimension?
The ‘extra’ dimension, the one that we all live with everyday by the way, does add some more things to the laundry list of post, but I was a post supervisor for years so I just see it as one more tech thing to check off the list. I quite like editing and seeing stuff in 3D.
What can people expect from this? Any films you can liken it to?
There is the dream that it will leave a message like other films do. There is no reason a horror film can’t move you like other films. There is a ghost in all of us and it is the past that can haunt us. We watched many movies to prepare and help me create a way to use 3D, and oddly enough there were no 3D movies to use as a reference. So instead, I watched many Orson Welles movies, especially Citizen Kane where he used the rooms and spaces to tell the story. It was like watching a 3D movie without 3D!
Are you aiming for any particular release date?
I would love to see this in theaters next Halloween!
How about a trailer? Any estimation on when we’ll get to see one?
I hope to have a trailer soon. We are waiting for the 3D footage to be converted down to a file size I can start editing with.