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Q&A with Michael Muchnij, Producer of “Shutter”

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A: Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
MICHAEL MUCHNIJ: Scarlett Johansson’s The Female from Under the Skin, for I too am still very much trying to figure out how to be and feel human. Plus, I can’t eat cake.
My horror spirit animal has to be The Thing (1982). Another creature who just wants to be human and just can’t seem to get it right. And it’s not like being hunted by a bunch of stir crazy Americans with a flamethrower makes it any easier.

A: 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?
MM: Only my favorite ideas, the ones that I can’t seem to shake, get developed; so any bad ideas, of which I’m sure there were many, have been long forgotten. Or they haven’t been nurtured enough for me to know they were bad.

A: Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
MM: I wouldn’t say I’ve found a tight knit community that I really connect with yet. Although, anytime I meet a fellow horror fan, I immediately feel a kinship. Horror has a way of simultaneously bringing people together in the theater, and apart on screen.

A: When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
MM: Inspiration can come in the form of a dream, a book, a piece of art, a movie, an interaction on the street, a lecture, a conversation, anywhere really. I look at world around me, within me, without me… Death is a good inspiration for most things.

A: What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
MM: Die… Yeah. I’d definitely die.

A: Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
MM: What’s the job? Heist? Mayhem? If it’s simply to strike fear in the hearts of men, I’d go with The Thing, Brundlefly, The Cenobites, Pazuzu, Rage Virus (28 Days Later), and then I’d invite anyone left standing to a dinner party with The Sawyers at the Overlook Hotel.

A: Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
MM: Leatherface. Lovecraft. Practical.
How about Post Apocalypse to the point of Pre Apocalypse? A little teaser for an upcoming feature I’m writing…

A: How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
MM: For SHUTTER [Shudder] we were very blessed to have a fantastic Prop Master, MUA, Director and a very patient friend who offered to be in makeup for hours. They simply knocked the monster out of the park. The folding camera was real, the light bulbs we used for the flash bulbs were authentic and were only good for one flash each, of which we only had 3.
Working in this way is exciting and fun because it didn’t leave much to the imagination. It looked real even in full lighting. It was so well done we might have to make another film staring the Monster.
For Sweet Tooth, it was all about getting the candy gore to look as close to real gore as possible, while of course, still being vibrant and delightful. For example, Candy Corn as teeth, twisters as veins, we had lots of ideas, if only we could have used them all! Another fun fact about the Sweet Tooth gore is that 90% of it had to edible so we just made it out of real candy, even the “real” gore in the end. It was a tasty set for sure.

A: And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
MM: I’m not really into scary movie monogamy, there are so many fantastic films I love for different reasons, but I’ll say that The Shining, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Thing come to mind first. Those three have definitely left substantial marks on my psyche and the way I think about Horror film.