A rookie cop faces the creepy supernatural remnants of a malevolent cult in Anthony DiBlasi's Last Shift. With DiBlasi's latest film hitting Blu-ray and DVD on October 6th from Magnolia Home Entertainment, we caught up with the director in our latest Q&A feature.
Thanks for taking the time to converse with us today, Anthony. How did you and co-writer Scott Poiley come up with the story for Last Shift?
Anthony DiBlasi: I went to Scott with an idea to tell a really contained story set around a police station dispatcher in a small town—all alone and trapped in the station. I really wanted to push the boundaries of what we could convey with sound design and I felt like the dispatcher angle was an excellent way into that kind of storytelling. From there we continued to develop the story, bounce ideas back and forth, and it eventually became what it is today.
Where did filming take place for Last Shift and what did that environment add aesthetically and atmospherically to the movie?
Anthony DiBlasi: We shot in Florida, and what we did is once we had the initial idea for the film, we went out and managed to find an actual abandoned police station in the zone we wanted to shoot it, which was an excellent find. And the place was huge too—nice super long hallways, which for horror is perfect. At that point we were able to sit down and actually write the entire script based around that location.
What was the most challenging scene to shoot?
Anthony DiBlasi: There’s a sequence where Jessica is watching a video screen with John Michael Paymon talking to her and suddenly she’s bombarded with all these office chairs, rolling around her, at her, passing by her, getting faster and faster. Because of all the elements involved and how I wanted to show the chairs coming at her in fast succession, it was something that kept getting longer and longer and the angles were getting more complicated and challenging. So it was a sequence we had to break up over several different days. But that’s the kind of luxury you have when you’re shooting an entire film in one location. It’s much easier to pick things up because you’re never leaving.
Do you have any favorite police-based or cult-centric films that influenced your approach to Last Shift?
Anthony DiBlasi: Certainly John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 influenced me, but not in a direct way, it wasn’t something I referred to before shooting. As well as, tonally, Wes Craven’s first A Nightmare on Elm Street. But the only film I really used as a bible was the 1973 documentary Manson—I showed it to the whole cast and crew. There was a feeling it gave off that I wanted everyone to get into the spirit of. It’s an extremely rare film and I had to get a DVD directly from the filmmakers involved.
At the time of its release, "Squeaky" Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, and the film was banned by the United States district court judge in order to protect her and make sure she received a fair trial without the influence of people seeing the film. And even though it wasn’t released to the public at that time, it was nominated for an Academy Award that year.
The Walking Dead fans are familiar with Last Shift lead actress Juliana Harkavy from her performance as Alisha on the living dead series. What made Juliana the right fit for the role of rookie cop Jessica Loren in your latest film?
Anthony DiBlasi: Juliana was an actress I had met a couple years before, and at the time she auditioned for a role that she was just too young for, but she stood out in my mind. She was excellent and she just has these striking, unique eyes. So when we were about to start casting Last Shift, her name came up and we offered her the part. I knew she’d be a great choice for it and we also got along really well. We always had fun on set even though it was an extremely challenging part for her. She had no downtime, which I think is hard for an actor and it’s something we didn’t think about too much before we started. She's literally in every moment of the movie.
With Last Shift coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on October 6th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers, and where can they find you on social media?
Anthony DiBlasi: After Last Shift, I have a slasher film I made with MarVista Entertainment coming out called Most Likely To Die. It stars Heather Morris from Glee and Perez Hilton. In the meantime I am going to be releasing a lot of behind-the-scenes pics from Last Shift on my Twitter account during the lead-up to the film's release: https://twitter.com/AnthonyDiBlasi