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Q&A with Josh Nadler, Director of “Mirror Gaze”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

The dueling moms from Us. I can totally understand doing anything you can to escape a place like that, while also wanting to get back at yourself for getting trapped down there.

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?

For me an idea doesn’t work if I’m trying to force it into a format for that doesn’t fit the idea. I had a possession concept initially for the short film, but it was too big of an idea for the short form. But in working that concept out as a feature, I stumbled upon the idea for Mirror Gaze. Which seemed to work well as a short film.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Working in the film business for over a decade, I consider myself part of the film community who loves to obsess about horror movies with fellow horror geeks, when I’m lucky enough to run into one.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

The generic answer is everywhere. News, nonfiction books, novels, music, film and tv. Horror is a great prism to see political and social issues through as well as a way of redefining other genres like coming of age, sci fi and comedy.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

Get everyone out of the house and into an Airbnb immediately. Unless that Airbnb is also haunted, then I guess we’re screwed.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

A couple of vampires with a great sense of humor, who also are great at cooking for us regular old humans. One of the vampires would have been a brilliant detective in their former life, to help us solve mysteries. And of course, the Predator when we find ourselves in a fight.   

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Freddy (personality counts for a lot), King, Practical, and Pre Apocalypse.

(If applicable) How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

Everything in Mirror Gaze was in camera/practical. Partly to keep the budget low and partly because I love that kind of challenge. I think the scariest beats and objects come from being constrained with clear rules in the world. So I try to work with my fellow filmmakers to come at everything from a grounded perspective.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

Not seeing something for what it is, and not addressing an issue early on enough, so it gets out of control. These things scare me and definitely inspire my storytelling. 

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’

I’ll cheat with a few answers. I haven’t felt such anxiety as I felt watching Uncut Gems (I hated and loved this film for doing that to me, but I don’t think I can watch it again), I don’t remember being more scared than the final 15 minutes of Hereditary, and Aliens’ final act, where Ripley goes back to save the kid from the queen, is one of my earliest memories of being blown away by a main character’s decision to do the hard thing few people would do. Aliens is the film I’ve probably watched the most.