This week sees the VOD and limited theatrical release of Delivery: The Beast Within and we caught up with director Brian Netto and producer Adam Schindler for the latest installment of our Q&A series. Continue reading to learn about the horror movies that inspired them, their experience making Delivery, and what's next for the two filmmakers:
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell our readers about what convinced you two to team up for Delivery: The Beast Within?
AS: It was a pretty easy decision, actually. Brian and I have been good friends for 25 years. We had been writing scripts and working alongside our manager, Marc Manus in trying to sell them… that elusive spec sale. But we really wanted to be filmmakers. When the idea for DELIVERY came about, it just felt like the perfect storm. It allowed us to make the film we wanted to make, the way we wanted to, with complete creative control, under a manageable budget (one that we could fund ourselves). Based on the enthusiastic responses of people when we pitched them the concept for DELIVERY, we knew we were on to something. We took the fact that people wanted to be involved immediately as a good sign. We knew it was the right move and that it was time to call in all of our favors.
You both worked together on the script. Can you tell us about your development process? Were your initial ideas very different from what ended up making it into the final script?
BN: The script for DELIVERY came together quicker than any other project we’ve worked on together. The idea of utilizing the pilot episode to serve as the first act and then documenting the shows disintegration during the final two acts was married to the film’s idea from day one – it was just that rare screenwriting experience where from inception to finished product it was exactly how it was originally envisioned. It was also the first time we wrote together in the same room. The finished product was what we referred to as a scriptment – 65 pages long, formatted just like a script but featuring far less dialogue than normal. We knew we would be leaning heavily on improvisation and had decided early on that the actors would never be given the script prior to filming, so the script was really for us more than anything.
AS: Much of what is in the final film was in the first draft of the script, although we did go through several drafts. For the most part, the various drafts were our attempts at finding a nice balance between the supernatural elements of the story and those that think Rachel is having a mental breakdown. Our goal was to create the type of ambiguousness that would leave the audience with questions. Hopefully we succeeded.
What were some of your influences when putting together this movie and what are some of your favorite horror movies?
AS: I’m a huge genre fan. From THE THING and DEAD ALIVE to ALIEN(S) and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS… I love it all. I’m also a huge fan of the slow burn. Classics of the genre like The Shining, The Exorcist, The Omen, etc. Films that make you think as much as feel. People have compared us to Rosemary’s Baby and that’s really flattering, but we like to think, with DELIVERY, we’ve created something that can stand on its own. Our own spin on the pregnancy horror and found footage subgenres.
BN: Sam Raimi had a huge influence on me when I was younger. He was so inventive and fearless with the camera – he made popcorn horror films, equal parts frightening and fun, often at the same time. I don’t know that you’ll see much of our influences present in this film, mainly because this film wasn’t meant to look or feel like anything other a documentary. I’m an unapologetic lover of all things genre – noir, sci-fi, horror. And I particularly love when filmmakers that are not necessarily known for making genre dip their toes into horror, for instance. THE SHINING and THE EXORCIST are often cited as the most influential horror films of all time, yet neither were made by “horror filmmakers”. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, as I think visitors to the genre can often bring a fresh perspective to familiar horror tropes.
Was the plan always for this to be a found footage-style movie? With all of the found footage movies being made every year, can you tell our readers what you've done to raise the bar?
AS: From the outset DELIVERY was going to be formatted as a found footage film or mockumentary. I don’t think we would have been interested in doing it as a straight narrative film. The whole conceit is a reality show gone horribly wrong.
BN: Keep in mind that we started scripting DELIVERY before the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY hit theaters: CLOVERFIELD had come out earlier that year but it had been a decade since BLAIR WITCH was released. The found footage subgenre was nowhere near as crowded a field then as it is now, so we never approached this from the mindset of having to one up our contemporaries because at the time, there really weren’t any. The thing we’re most proud of though, and the one thing that I believe really sets us apart from others in the subgenre, is our dedication to story and performance. This was meant to be the type of horror film you bring home with you after viewing it – so we took a great deal of care in crafting something that kept the audience engaged and invested, and also something that held up to scrutiny in hindsight. It’s the sort of film that demands the audience’s attention and patience, but it most certainly rewards that patience in the end.
AS: Most found footage films are a ride. You’re with a small group of people over the course of a few hours or days, with loud noises and things jumping out at you from shadowed corners. There’s little to no time to develop characters or story arcs. DELIVERY is formatted the way it is (as a mockumentary) in order to allow us the time needed for that character and story development. Hopefully we succeeded in creating something original.
What was the biggest challenge in getting this movie to the big screen?
BN: Funding is the first and often most important hurdle. We had interest from outside investors but money never changes hands quickly in Hollywood, particularly when you’re a first time director, and we became worried that another film might beat ours to the punch, so we decided to fund the film ourselves. Incidentally, two years after we finished principal photography another film DID come out with a very similar storyline and much, much deeper pockets. The other issue small films have is exposure – our film was independently financed and had no known quantities behind or in front of the camera, so the film would have to succeed or fail on quality alone.
Especially with found footage-style movies, there tends to be many alternate takes or scenes that end up on the cutting room floor. How close was the script to what was on the screen? Were there any major changes that took place during the filming of the movie?
BN: The script was incredibly close to the finished project. Though it was light on dialogue, it was incredibly detailed, so even though the actors were being fed the scenarios before each scene, we knew precisely what needed to be accomplished to help push along the story.
AS: The only thing that changed from script to screen was the inclusion of Rachel’s video diaries. Those came in at a later date, after we had shot principle photography and put together our first cut. I wasn’t until we watched the assembly that we realized we spent a great deal of time away from Rachel’s character in the later half of the film. People would come in a talk about Rachel and how she was acting, but we were missing her perspective. We needed to find a way to bring her character back into the fold. We concocted the video diaries and went out and shot those at the same time we reshot a few key sequences. Found footage films are a lot of trial and error. Both at the script stage, but also when you’re actually shooting the film, then again when you are assembling. The video diaries fixed the issue we had with Rachel ‘disappearing’ from the second half of the film and also allowed us to do some interesting things with the paranormal, playing with what she’s seeing, feeling, etc.
You have a number of talented actors, including Laurel Vail, who really gave a great performance. Can you tell us about working with Laurel Vail on set and how she brought your script to life?
BN: In Laurel, we could not have asked for a better collaborator. And she’ll be the first to tell you she couldn’t have done it without Danny Barclay (who plays Kyle) working opposite her. Aside from being an incredibly talented actress, she is also completely and utterly fearless – an absolute must for a film that relies this heavily on improvisation. They both dove right in each day, never knowing what we had in store for them when they arrived. We actually created call sheets specifically for the cast that told them nothing besides their call time and the address and that’s it. That’s how in the dark they were.
AS: Laurel was literally the third or fourth actor we saw during casting and we immediately pegged her as the front-runner. Of course, we had to do our due diligence, but we always came back to her. She WAS Rachel. Danny came in at a later date. He was a friend of Laurel’s outside of the film and she recommended him. Since this film is very much Rachel’s story, it was imperative that we found someone who could match her energy stride for stride. Danny is phenomenal in the film. He has his own moments where he has to shine, since a decent part of the later stages of the film is watching him react to how irrational (or not) Rachel is acting. There is a wonderful give and take between them. A genuine likeability to both - you just want them to succeed. And we consider ourselves very lucky to have found them.
With Delivery: The Beast Within coming to theaters and VOD, have you set your sights on your next project? Can you tell us anything about it? Will it be another horror movie?
AS: Brian and I consider ourselves and our production entity - Type AB Films - a collective of filmmakers, even though there are only two of us. Brian directed DELIVERY and I produced. We both wrote it. Right now we’re gearing up to shoot a short, and in between writing our own projects, we were sent a script we really love and are hoping to make. The film is a horror/thriller with a really strong female lead. It’ll be my feature directorial debut.