Q&A with Jean-Philippe Ferré, Director of “3:36”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
I’d say… Isaac Clarke from the Dead Space video games. For love, this guy went to the edge of the cosmos and reality, loneliness and madness… Pure f****** emotional horror.

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?
The more you fail, the more you learn and so, the more you can avoid simple bad ideas…? But as you say in the question, we also need them, you can’t really avoid them… As an example, I’m currently working on my next project, an animated short film taking place in 1945, with a lot of aerial battles. This project has been in my head for like 10 years, and at the time, the only way of explaining to others how I intend to direct it was through storyboards and by watching scenes from movies and video games cinematics. But to me, it’s hard to imagine on paper how’s the best way to move my camera inside such complex action sequences, especially if I want to create something new, without just reproducing stuff that I’ve seen before. At that time, I felt quite desperate. So, through these past 10 years, I slowly learned 3D softwares and today, I can work with 3D Previsualization tools. Now, I can create any camera movement, choose any focal length I need, etc. I can try this or try that, again and again and again… It’s so much better than a storyboard (in this case)… Because it moves! I’m failing so many times, being unsatisfied at not finding what direction I’m looking for… But since I’m in a 3D environment, I’m able to start over and over again, until I find the right shot, the right way of telling a character’s action and eventually, in a way that I’ve not often seen before. I hope this example makes sense…

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Well, I love to talk about the H.P. Lovecraft universe with any other ‘fan’ I can meet. His legacy is so huge and his influence has taken on so many mediums now, that it has become something very interesting to study and to talk about!

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
It really depends on the subject of my story but I’d say it comes mostly from sound and music. Anything I hear can give me ideas, sometimes more than pictures… The softness of the wind spreading across some green lands or the chaotic hammering from a robotics engineering factory… Sounds are a very powerful tool to me, and it drives and helps me to find the right way for telling a story and depicting specific emotions.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film(s)?
I’d probably go insane and kill myself right away, because my stories are where I expel all my depest fears!!! As a writer-director, a film is like a cure… But it needs the sacrifice of his character(s) in order to be appeased, THEY make the journey and WE safely watch from above.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Definitely: CTHULHU, a XENOMORPH and its QUEEN, a PREDATOR, JOKER, HAL 9000 (from 2001 by S. Kubrick, 1965) and THE MYSTERY MAN (from Lost Highway by D. Lynch, 1996).

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post-Apocalypse or Pre-Apocalypse?
I guess Freddy is more insidious and I like when things are subtle. H.P. Lovecraft is the true master of perpetual horror because he created the ultimate invicible God, Cthulhu, and the madness only comes from the accounts of its characters, that’s so powerful! To me, the best VFX is the right combination between Practical and CGI, one of the best example beeing Jurassic Park (1993). This movie does not grow old! Finally, I can’t really choose between Pre- or Post-Apocalypse, because I think the exact moment where everything falls apart would be the most scariest thing to live… So this climax is where I’d like to tell most of my stories.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
As I said above, any story from a writer is a way for him to expel his fears and doubts, a way of having a reflexion about the world surounding him. So lately, to me, I’d say I fear true loneliness when I can’t communicate with others, find support in others, when nobody tries to listen and/or understand something. I really think the hypocrisy and the lack of mutual-help can soon lead to paranoia, madness and the exctinction of the world, as we know it… That terrifies me, and it’s the subject of my first feature film, currently in development.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
I’d say… as one entity, the John Carpenter’s apocalypse trilogy, with The Thing (1982), Prince Of Darkness (1987) and In The Mouth Of Madness (1994). BUT… if I can give an advice to the readers of this interview, go check an Indonesian movie called Satan’s Slaves (2017), this was one of the scariest sh** I’ve ever seen!!!