Pod, the latest film from writer/director Mickey Keating (Ritual) is premiering later today at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival and Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with him about the film in advance to get a sense of what fans can expect from his intimate portrait of paranoia amongst a family whose come together to stage an intervention that goes horribly wrong, his influences and why it’s important to keep taking risks with your career.
Thanks for taking the time to chat today, Mickey. The film looks really intriguing and I love that, other than the synopsis, this seems to be a film that’s very hard to pinpoint until you’ve actually seen it.
Mickey Keating: (laughs) Oh yeah. I know that everyone sort of reads the titles and immediately thinks of movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it’s something completely different. And that was intentional on my part. Pod does deal with ideas like how paranoia can become so infectious but it’s also about the devastating results of an intervention too, so we’ve got a few things going on here.
It sounds like your approach to this story was to kind of dig in deep emotionally and also keep things a bit more realistic in regards to how you present everything in the film.
Mickey Keating: Exactly. When you’re in any kind of stressful situation with family, sometimes there’s nothing more terrifying than watching them go off or seeing their actions spiraling out of control and that’s what I wanted to focus on. There’s this Manchurian Candidate aspect to what we’ve done with this film where you don’t exactly know who is conspiring against who but you just know that an intervention isn’t the way to go in this scenario.
And that’s the thing too- interventions in reality are rarely helpful and most often, can be counter-productive in helping people face their problems head on. It’s a recipe for disaster and that’s what we’ve explored in Pod- how truly bad an intervention can go. So I always knew that this was something that needed to have that sense of realism to it in order for it to work effectively and that’s what I strived for the most here just because those are the types of horror films that excite me. Robert Altman is one of my favorite directors and I tried to create this story in a way that I believe he would have tried to approach it too.
Were there other things that influenced you for Pod?
Mickey Keating: Yeah, I’ve always been hugely inspired by The Twilight Zone and with Pod, the episode The Monsters are Due on Maple Street was something I looked at when creating this story. That’s the kind of feeling I wanted to create in Pod, examining the horrors of mistrust and the violence we can do to each other when we don’t trust each other. Another inspiration was The Mist just because I think the best kind of straight-forward horror you can create are those stories that just have this overwhelming sense of dread to them and aren’t afraid to deal with the reality of the situation. That’s terrifying.
How rewarding does it feel to be going to SXSW for your second feature?
Mickey Keating: It’s so rewarding and really exciting for me too. Ritual was my first feature and it was offbeat and a totally different approach but it was the film I wanted to make so I did. But I knew I had to keep trying different things so my experience with Pod was like, ”Okay, I’ve made my first movie so now it’s time to hone my approach and really explore my sensibilities as a filmmaker for this second one.”
What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken away from this whole experience?
Mickey Keating: I would say that the biggest thing I’ve taken away from all of this, and the thing I’m the most happiest about, is that we made a movie that isn’t ‘trendy.’ So many films today, especially in the studio system, just seem to be serving whatever trends happen to be connecting with audiences and that’s just playing it safe, to me. You have to take risks as a director, you have to be okay with failing sometimes and if you just make a movie because a similar movie did well in theaters, there’s no reward in that. Filmmaking must always be about taking risks and embracing the unconventional.