Q&A with Danny Kaminsky, Director of THE DEAL
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
R.J. MacReady from John Carptenter’s The Thing. He rose to the challenge of an insane situation and managed to take back control. I only realized this recently but MacReady is exactly the kind of person you want with you when shit goes south.
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?
Every idea has merit, the tricky thing about developing a script is that you’re forced to take this thing you love and try to discover what’s wrong with it. The hope is that you can slowly develop something into its best version, but there’s always going to be setbacks and compromises so the best anyone can do is aim for perfection and appreciate where it actually falls.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Technically speaking – The Deal is more of a supernatural thriller than true horror. Don’t get me wrong – I love horror films and I’d be honored if a horror fan liked my movie, but I lack the true vocabulary to speak scary. I think horror buffs really revel in finding and referencing those classic horror tropes and I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was doing there, I just road the wave of suspense and tried to make something that felt exciting to me.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
My divining rod is always pathos. I’m always trying to evoke that child in myself, trying to remember what it was about watching movies that would make me jump out of my seat with excitement – as long as I think that kid in me is being surprised and entertained, that’s all I need.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
I probably wouldn’t know I’d woken up in the film. The scary thing about the type of manipulation my villain uses is that it’s pretty typical in the real world. The only difference is my hero had the confidence to confront his abuser – if it were me I don’t think I’d have that confidence, I’d probably watch my life get taken away piece by piece, unable to stop it.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
I love that cinema is in a post-modern place, where we can take characters and things outside of their own films and see them in a different light – Alien vs. Predator. But for me I just want the villain to stay king of their castle – to be scary in the way they were intended. It’s too easy to take the piss outta things, it’s much harder to just respect the original intent.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
The fact that I can’t bring myself to rewatch Nightmare on Elm Street as an adult probably says a lot about the staying power of Freddy.
I respect Lovecraft for being so bizarre and ahead of his time, but I grew up with Stephen King stories around every corner – those are the kinds of horror that I call home. The Deal is very much in the vain of Needful Things.
I’ve come up in the industry at a time when CGI is as commonplace as coffee on set, but I’m also incredible aware that the CGI – no matter how good – has a shelf life. It may seem cutting edge today but in 5 years time it’ll take you out of the film which is why practical is always better. If you rely more on the practical the occasional use of CGI sells more.
As for the Apocalypse – since we’re no doubt living in a version of one right now, I definitely long for the days before this, when we seemed to know what tomorrow would bring – may you live in interesting times, indeed.
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
The Deal is a very grounded film, so there’s no unusual objects or settings – and that’s the way I prefer it to be. I want my film to seem no different from your world, to believe that what you’re seeing might actually be happening somewhere.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
As a child I think I had a fairly boisterous sense of imagination. While I certainly want this for my own children – it definitely opened the door to feeling such wild fears about the real world and make believe. As an adult I now see those fears as a right of passage, necessary concerns to experience before making your way in the world. Films, specifically horror/thriller can sometimes help people move past their very real fears and I want to continue to be part of that process.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Alien. I’m a sucker for a movie where the hero sees the danger, and is changed by it and becomes a thing to be feared herself. The power of that transformation is what keeps bringing me back for more.