Out today in select theaters and on VOD is the new found footage horror film VooDoo, and for our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with the movie's writer and direct, Tom Costabile, to discuss the guerilla-style approach to VooDoo, shooting the "Hell" scenes, and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Tom. How and when did you first come up with the idea for VooDoo?
Tom Costabile: Thank you for the interview, I’m honored! The real estate crash happened and was lingering for a long time. I owned a mortgage company at the time and I couldn’t get it back off the ground. So I finally had time to invest in why I came to LA in the first place for the first time in ten years and just started writing. Within a year or so we were on set. I always had this cinematic vision but hadn’t put it into a story till then. I just knew I always wanted to tell an extreme cinema type of story and Hell was a perfect setting for that.
Where did filming take place and what did those environments add aesthetically and atmospherically to your movie?
Tom Costabile: We shot guerilla all over LA. Hollywood and Highland, Venice Beach, Rodeo Drive, Mulholland Drive, etc. Then for Hell, we rented a warehouse in Van Nuys. That was a controlled environment. Aesthetically and atmospherically the guerilla shots just worked. It was a “found footage” film, so to capture what these places really look and feel like was key to show the audiences who have never been to these places what it’s like from a tourist standpoint and from a resident standpoint. Hollywood is one of the biggest vacation spots in the world, but there still are many people who have just seen it on TV in some controlled fashion. We wanted to show the seedy side to that town, but in a positive way.
What was the shooting schedule like for VooDoo?
Tom Costabile: Insane. We shot the first three days in Stacy’s house and we had to be out in those three days, so we went all day and night. I think we pulled a 20-hour day on the last day. The next three days was all the guerilla stuff mentioned above. There were five days of shooting in Hell, and three days of pick-up shots. In total we shot the picture in 14 days.
What elements of the found footage style made it the right fit for telling this story?
Tom Costabile: To be able to show the city in a raw form was what we were going for. Not the bright lights and glamour you see on TV. I felt that the found footage style worked very well to do that, even in the saturated market it’s become.
Do you have any favorite movies—horror or otherwise—that influenced you while making VooDoo?
Tom Costabile: The horror films of the ’70s and ’80s are the classics to me personally. I love Hitchcock pictures and the Universal Monsters pictures, of course. But the films in the ’70s and ’80s were just something different that somehow captured me personally more than those films did. The Exorcist petrified me, Halloween is one of the films I pop in all the time, An American Werewolf in London terrified me, and the other classics like The Omen and The Amityville Horror and so forth were just fun to watch. I definitely structure my stories based on those films more so than the older classics.
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Tom Costabile: It was all memorable, for sure. One incident that comes to mind that scared me was a time when Sam [Stewart] got hit on accident really hard from one of the demon actors. We had to stop filming and wrap up the scene with her mom in one or two more takes. She wouldn’t go on. She was so exhausted at that point, physically and mentally, that I felt I took it too far. But she persisted the next filming day and finished what she started. I give Sam so much credit as a lead actress, and this was just one example of many that showed how dedicated she was to her character. She’s so talented and I think she shines in this picture.
Is this a world you would consider returning to in a potential sequel?
Tom Costabile: Definitely!
With VooDoo coming out in theaters and on VOD beginning February 24th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Tom Costabile: If you go to hypercubefilms.com you can see our slate. I’m currently working on a fast-paced action film called Sere, which focuses on the government's dealings with outer space aliens, a couple horror pictures called Little Ditty and The Uninvited, and a gay mafia spoof called Cabone. Please look for them soon!