Out on Blu-ray and DVD beginning August 15th is Union Furnace, a new horror thriller from Metropol Pictures that follows a group of strangers playing a deadly game that could lead to either a massive payday or a grisly death. For our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with co-star and co-writer Mike Dwyer as well as co-writer/director Nicholas Bushman to discuss working with Keith David (Platoon, The Thing, They Live), potential sequels, and much more for their new movie.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Nicholas and Mike. When did you two first come up with the idea for Union Furnace?
Mike Dwyer: A few cold winters ago back when we were finishing up Sandbar, our first movie. Nick already had the character that I play, Cody Roy, for some time, but was looking for a road for him to walk down. We knocked around some paths for the character and thought the best path was Union Furnace.
What was the shooting schedule like for Union Furnace, and where did filming take place?
Nicholas Bushman: It was short. And it was cold. We filmed all over Ohio in the middle of the coldest winter any of us had ever experienced, and on a makeshift soundstage we constructed in a warehouse for the game sets, which was also freezing cold. And we only had 22 days to do it. It was intense, but a whole lot of fun!
Mike, in addition to co-writing Union Furnace, you also play Cody Roy McCloud. What about that character appealed to you and made you excited to bring him to life?
Mike Dwyer: Taking a chance, simple as that. Whether in life, or on screen, saying, “I’ve never done that before,” is scary and thrilling. You never know what will come out and that’s what makes it interesting.
Your cast includes the great Keith David, a beloved fixture in the horror and sci-fi genres. How did you get David involved and what was it like working with him?
Nicholas Bushman: It became clear during the writing that there was nobody else but him. And he just so happened to agree. It was such a thrill to work with him because he just brings so much to the role on every level. We had to shoot all of Keith’s scenes in a week, which was a little nerve-wracking, but damn if he didn’t nail every take!
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Mike Dwyer: I’ll go with memorable; Keith has a wonderful singing voice. He would often break out into song in between setups. He sings Nat King Cole beautifully. We would all be freezing our asses off, and there would be Keith, singing and snapping. It really warmed us all up and made the darkness of the material much brighter.
What was the most challenging or rewarding scene to film?
Mike Dwyer: The ending. Absolutely. I was going through a dark place in my personal life at the time and had to go even darker for the finale. I was prepared for the scene, but I had to dive into a part of myself I would prefer to never revisit. Was it worth it? I think so.
Do you have any favorite horror movies that influenced or inspired you while making Union Furnace?
Nicholas Bushman: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? which I think totally qualifies as a horror movie. That was a big one for us. Salo by Pasolini, too. And all of the great Argento giallos. My hope was that we could invent our own genre with this movie, a “white trash giallo.”
Do you have any plans to make a sequel to Union Furnace?
Nicholas Bushman: Sequels. This has got franchise written all over it, baby!
With Union Furnace coming out on Blu-ray and DVD beginning August 15th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Mike Dwyer: We have a new film called Stranger in the Dunes. It’s a three-character piece set at a beach house on the Atlantic. It’s a thriller. It’s supernatural. It’s really wild. It will be playing at film festivals in the fall and we couldn’t be more excited about it! You can find out all about what we’re up to at www.metropolpics.com.