After recently celebrating the world premiere of her thought-provoking thriller Never Here at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival, Daily Dead had the opportunity to catch up with writer/director Camille Thoman to discuss her approach to the project and the inspiration behind her debut narrative feature, working with her talented ensemble, which includes Mireille Enos (World War Z, The Killing), Sam Shepard (Blackhawk Down, The Right Stuff), Vincent Piazza (Rescue Me, Boardwalk Empire), and Goran Visnjic (ER, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and much more.

Never Here is currently making its way on the film festival circuit, and for those you who are into David Lynch-esque descents into madness, I’d highly recommend checking this one out when you can.

You did a really amazing job with the story, so congrats to you. I wanted to go back a little bit before working on this film, because I noticed you kind of came up doing a lot of editing before transitioning into directing. And I'm curious: how much did that background help prepare you for when you were ready to start making feature films on your own?

Camille Thoman: Well, before I was editing, I was directing theater, and I was also a performance artist myself, too. So, I would say all of those things helped prepare me. But also, I have been making films pretty much my whole life. My first short film I made when I was 18, so I would say all of that together fed into making this film.

But the editing was helpful, because I knew that I didn’t need a lot of coverage. I had a very strong idea of the frames and how I wanted them to look, and we shot a lot of takes, because that's how I like to do it. But we didn't shoot a lot of coverage. We didn't shoot the mid-shot and the wide shot and the close-ups for all the scenes, because I think as an editor, I could already see how things were going to fit together.

I'm really fascinated by this idea that you were into performance art, because I can see where that influence spills over into the character of Miranda. Can you talk about how you approach this story? Because it is very unconventional, and I think that's what really drew me in with this beautiful blurring of what's maybe happening, what's really happening, and what's in Miranda’s head.

Camille Thoman: Well, I read the Paul Auster novel New York Trilogy when I was like 21 or something, and what he does with that book is that he creates basically a detective story, but he references the presence of the reader in a way that—at the time, when I was reading it—I found very moving, and very shocking. It was shocking to my system to be reading a detective story, and then, suddenly, oh my God, he just reached out from the page to let me know that he knows I'm reading it. And I was like, "Oh my God, I want to do that in film."

And, actually, it's what I've also been doing in theater over the years. I'm really interested in allowing the spectator's journey to be one of story on one level, so there's twists and turns and your mind is engaged in the story. I like the idea that the audience's body can be talked to by the images, and the things that are explored within the story—that identity—are turned into the spectator as well in a more personal way, because of the way things are framed and mirrored.

Let’s talk about Mireille, because I just think she's so fascinating to watch in this film. There's so much that she does just with the looks that she gives people and you can always see the wheels turning in her head. I'd love to hear from your perspective what it was that you saw in her where you felt like she was this perfect embodiment of Miranda.

Camille Thoman: I wrote the part for her, and I was very thrilled that I got the chance to work with her on it. She is a transcendent actress, a truly exceptional actress. And I knew that Miranda had to be someone who, like you said, draws you in, and because she does questionable things, I wanted her essence to be charming and likable, so that she is a character who is both likable and unlikable. I also really wanted a visceral quality to the performance, so that you really felt how this person is disintegrating in front of your very eyes. And there aren't too many actresses who could do that, and she was one of them.

Because of what the actions that the protagonist does in the film, I think it could have been a disaster in another actress' hands. The audience would turn against her early in the film, and I really wanted the whole person to be seen, which meant you had to be invested the entire time.

I'd also be remiss if we didn’t talk about Sam [Shepard], Goran [Visnjic], and Vincent [Piazza] in this, too, because they’re all really interesting male characters who are in the middle of Miranda’s story, and I thought they were all great.

Camille Thoman: That's so great to hear. I very much cast this film by gut, like, is this person going to work in this world or not? And all three of those guys, they just had the right frequency. And obviously, they're all three very, very talented actors, so we were hugely lucky to get all three of them.

Sam and Vincent are so naturalistic, and they're such a great foil for Miranda. And then, Goran, if his performance had been different, the film would have suffered immensely. It was kind of a make or break thing, what Goran does. And as soon as he hit it, he really hits it out of the ballpark. That weird clown stuff he's got to do is something else, but there's a huge spectrum that he can do as a performer.

Also, your cinematography in Never Here is absolutely fantastic. I was wondering if you could discuss working with [cinematographer] Sebastian [Winterø] to get some of those color palettes, because the way that some of the colors would just soak into the scenes was really stunning.

Camille Thoman: Thank you so much. He would love hearing that. We worked very well as a team. He has a very painterly approach to lighting, and he also is very in-the-moment with a lot of his cinematography. And he created an environment where we could be very flexible and fast with the camera, and the lighting—that painterly quality—never suffered. So he was really the perfect guy to shoot this. I was very lucky.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.