Avishai Weinberger is an award-winning screenwriter and director from New York with an affinity for horror and science fiction. He studied film and television production at Maale Film School in Jerusalem and NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, he lives in Brooklyn with his family, where he enjoys leading Saturday prayer services in his synagogue.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Maybe it’s because I rewatched it recently, but the best answer that springs to mind is Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the original HALLOWEEN. Her ideal afternoon is studying, watching old sci-fi movies on TV, and behaving. How many introverts among us can’t relate to that?
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
This is hard to answer, because while I can’t say there aren’t any bad ideas (ohhh there are), so many ideas that we think are bad are just good ideas waiting to happen. For instance, my first idea for THIRD DATE centered more on Andrew than Jordana. It was my way in: Here’s a man who can’t get too close to someone, lest they die, but he can’t help it. That’s interesting to a degree, but it led me to consider what kind of woman he might fall in love with, and why she would fall for him, and that was how I found the emotional hook of the story. So maybe it’s not about getting past bad ideas to arrive at the good ones, but rather, starting with a concept that isn’t the most interesting version of itself, and asking questions about it that lead to more questions.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Oh yeah. Ever since I began submitting my projects to horror film festivals, I’ve met so many cool horror folks. We have a facebook group.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
I look to the characters, where they came from, what their needs and wants are. With THIRD DATE, in figuring out the locations of the story, I asked myself: What kind of home might Andrew keep? How would he deal with the fact that he regularly has bloody messes to clean? Where might he take a girl on a date if he wanted to foster a sense of intimacy without raising a high profile? Also, Brooklyn Heights (my home) has a deceptive atmosphere of safety. Its night are quiet, and clean, but those LED streetlights sure do cast dark shadows. Jordana wants to feel safe, but she has nagging doubts and fears she can’t ignore, and I wanted the world around her to reflect those feelings. Of course, it all kinda has to bend to what locations are available to me as a student filmmaker with a limited budget. We got the pizza place and various brownstones for free.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Oh, lord. If Andrew were smitten with me, I’d run. But I’d also feel flattered.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Pinhead, with the Alien and Pumpkinhead on leashes held in one hand, and the Babadook book cradled in the other. Cthulhu’s on reserve duty; He’ll wake up from his nap only if things go south.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
-Freddy. He’s crafty and creative, and I could never get into the Friday the 13th films. (Sorry!) -Stephen King. He’s a story machine. I appreciate Lovecraft’s work, but he’d hate me if he ever met me. (Ironically, I once got a t-shirt with his face on it for Channukah.) -Practical and CGI don’t have to be at odds. They can and should compliment each other. -Pre Apocalypse. Just so you can dangle the Post-Apocalypse as a threat.
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
The knives were rented from prop stores. The real fun was when our makeup artist Nichole (who also made our terrific monster) created Jordana’s fake hand. She made a mold of Analisa’s hand, held in a contorted pose. The prop got a little moldy by the time we had to shoot, so we shot it in closeup, slicing its wrist with a real blade and dousing it with fake blood. The trick was intercutting those shots with Analisa “cutting” her real wrist with a rubber knife. After the shoot, I gave her the fake hand for her birthday.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Easy. THE THING.