Q&A with Ryan Oksenberg, Director of “Damage Control”
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Amazing question. When I’m in the writing vortex definitely Jack Torrance from The Shining but on a spiritual level, Harry Earles who plays Hans in Freaks (1932). He may look different than others, he may act different than others and roll with the weirdos, but he’s good-natured and wants best to unify people, no matter how dissimilar they are. He is naïve to a fault and his loyalty and kindness is easy to be taken advantage of, often right from under his nose. However, when he learns that he or his loved ones have been wronged, there will be hell to pay.
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?
As it relates to Damage Control, I originally wanted to cast the woman in the shed that Drew wronged as a female bodybuilder. Someone who after they were sexually assaulted, built a protective armor around themselves to heal the wounded person within. I wouldn’t say it was a terrible idea, it might’ve just been too confusing for the audience to assume this mysterious character went through a transformation after the very experience we are addressing onscreen. The choice that we ended up making is that the woman looked exactly as she did the night Drew assaulted her in the shed.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
In 1995, when I was ten, I was allured by the box art in the horror section at Videoflicks, my local video store in Toronto. I started collecting Horror tapes and it was perhaps from that point onwards, I became a patron of the community sharing my twisted discoveries with friends or horrifying my sisters with them.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Horror and genre cinema have become more critical than ever with the world digging deeper into this dark, destructive tunnel into what feels like the abyss. Ironically, that is my inspiration. I’d like to say me and my imagination, my craft, spelunk into this cavern, without light, without a safety net, as a mean to address uncomfortable societal truths
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Damage Control is about a man’s comeuppance for not addressing his past wrongs. If I were Drew I’d be totally freaked out and want to confront my demons and finally tell the truth so others can heal. If I were on the other end of it and was the Specter confronting Drew, I would totally cut his balls off after he tells his fiancé and everyone in his life the truth.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
In the David Lynch universe, I think the Bum from Mulholland Drive, Mystery Man from Lost Highway, Frank Booth from Blue Velvet and the Lady in the Radiator from Eraserhead would be pretty terrifying.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
Working from inside out. All the choices must come from the character and support the story you are going for. It’s a great way to convey information or a feeling, purely with visuals. Filmmaking is a composite of so many different art forms and as a director, you want to communicate those attributes to all the different artists so your bigger picture clearly indicates what it is you want the audience to take away from the experience.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
My apologies for the cliché answer but The Exorcist. Not only did it destroy me when I was ten but over the years and multiple viewings later, it is a brilliantly made film. A perfect film.