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Q&A with Thed Oliveira, Director of “The Silent Dog”

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

I don’t think I have. But I aways feel for the guy that appears at wrong place at the wrong time just to be killed. Come on! He was just passing through!

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 first draft was a collection of cliches instead of a good story. After being pointed out by some close friends (it’s always good to have a sincere friend who points out where you can improve), I started from scratch, thinking about a family drama, instead of “my horror film”. You must understand what your story is about, and who are the characters. If you understand them at the deepest level, it is easy to figure it out what can happen to them in your story.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Actually, I’ve never imagined to make a horror film, not being an assiduous horror film consumer myself. But for the last few years, I have grown more and more interest for the genre, and I started to question myself if I could do something like that

When I was a little kid, I had a lot of nightmares. Every damn night. And I remember the feeling of illogical and mystical hopelessness that only your own mind can produce. When you wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night), you can only thank it’s over, that you have you normal life back.

The big challenge is: can a filmmaker replicate that feeling? Just a little bit of that? I wanted to know which tools I could use to induce fear and heaviness on the audience, and then, the relief of the ending. I think The Silent Dog is an exercise of trying these tools. What does work, what doesn’t. And I learned a lot making it.

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

Music is an essential part of my process. Before I start writing, I like to make a new playlist, adding song by song of what I think would be the mood of the film. When you have the right emotion of it, it’s easier to find the right path to the story.

Beside that, I see movies with the same thematics or tone I want to achieve. Maybe films with similar characters or ambience. Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. You can’t push too hard to find the right ideas, just guide them to the direction you think it’s right.

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

Oh man, I would probably leave that house at the same moment and never look back.

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

Freddy. Nightmares are the worse.

Hard, but I would personally say Stephen King, since I had more access to his books and adaptations.

Practical for sure. No CGI can beat a good practical (not yet).

Post apocalypse is more fun, pre apocalypse is more scary, because it’s already too close.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

I like things that are weird enough to be real, but close enough to be unreal, like a shattered mind that knows something can’t be real, but still… there they are! Right before his eyes. To lose control of your own mind is a terrifying thing.

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

It took me almost two decades to confront my fear and watch The Exorcist for the first time. I had watched some few scenes as a teenager, and promised myself never watch that horrible film. Some years ago I realized I had to see it. “Can’t run anymore, Thed. It’s time.” And I understood why it holds the title of best horror film for so long. It’s strong, personal, psychologically challenging, heavy… the best!