Q&A with Eric Bodge, Director of HERMAN
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
There’s this weird apocalyptic B-movie from 1984 called NIGHT OF THE COMET that haunted my dreams as a child. I always clung to how the sort of ‘valley girl’ main character Regina, played by Catherine Mary Stewart, adapted so quickly to the terror, and never really got too emotional about the global crisis afoot.
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?
I made a film centered on a lobster figurine, so I’m probably not fully equipped to answer. I don’t think there are bad ideas in logline/concept form, only ones that aren’t right for you as a filmmaker in this moment. It’s all about execution, anyway.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Now I do!
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
I think it’s impossible to forget all the great films we’ve seen, but I enjoy pulling from the real world and my own experiences as much as I can, so it’s all sort of grounded in my version of reality. I also like to ask myself what would really happen in any given situation, and sometimes uncovering the answer requires research of a sort.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Whatever Herman permits me.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Norman Bates, Jack Torrance, The Thing, The Mist, Matthew Lillard
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
-Freddy: Dream-borne violence is next level.
-I’ll back the OG and roll with HPL.
-Practical with a little CGI to help tell story and fix potential blunders.
-All about that pre-apocalypse: the calm before the storm is usually more eerie, I think
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
We worked with special effects artist / mad scientist Eric Fox and his team to custom create the Herman “prop”. I wrote Fox a biography on our titlular character which he used as a basis for making the object, in addition to some reference images we provided.
He sketched, sculpted from clay and then molded and painted three copies of the object. He gave each one this super weathered look but wanted it remain clear it was a lobster. When I showed the in-progress images to friends and crew, the reads I got were that the ‘toy’ made them uncomfortable – which was about as reassuring a reaction as any I could fathom. We also were careful to not reveal the Herman prop to the child actors playing Lacey and Evan (Aria Spinello & Yates Warren, respectively) until set – mainly so they wouldn’t already be familiar with it. Once introduced on the day, they were totally fascinated by the foreign prop and wanted to interact with it, which was definitely encouraging.
I generally try to use real locations and practical effects as much as possible, so the ‘worlds’ can be more immersive for the actors and audience alike.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
Real things, usually. Ambiguity, mysteries. I like stories that get under your skin and stay there a while. It’s not officially a horror film but I remember ZODIAC (2007) having an impact on me when I first saw it… just totally creeped me out and sent me on a personal investigation late at night in my basement, trying to figure out the truth for myself. I really became immersed in it, especially the unsolved quality of it. In that way, the suspense of the film sort of maintained beyond curtains. I think true crime thrillers often touch on urban legend and horror, and are quite good at this kind of thing, actually.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
THE SHINING. Definitely gives you a feeling, and makes you think, every time you watch it. There’s always another wrinkle in that picture.