Q&A with Travis Laidlaw, Director of “The Silent Lay Steady”

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Questions for Alter Filmmakers…

This is our attempt to ask standardised “Interview Magazine” questions of all our filmmakers.  But, we understand that your films are far from standard.  If a question doesn’t apply, take a page from Robert McNamara and answer the question you wish you were asked.

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

The Blob.  Absorbing everything I come across but making very slow progress toward my goals.

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 have so many ideas, all the time, spilling out of every orifice.  And I always believe that each one is THE ONE.  Literally every time.  I find that if I just take some time away from the idea in the early stages, let it marinate in the background for a couple weeks before coming back to it,  I can usually see it much more objectively.  Suddenly all the holes and weaknesses become painfully apparent. 

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

I consider myself part of ‘the’ horror community in general, but as far as specific smaller groups I haven’t really dug in.  One of my biggest weaknesses as a filmmaker is getting away from my desk, out of the dark room and out of my head.  I love to ideate and develop, but that’s a very isolating endeavor for me.  So my daily resolution is to get out of the dark and socialize with like minders more. 

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

I am always listening to film scores.  Like, always.  I get most of my inspiration there.  I’m the friend that no one wants to have control over playlists because inevitably we’ll all suddenly find ourselves at a party listening to the Back to the Future theme.

When I start to get on a certain idea I begin creating a playlist with music that seems to fit with the developing tone of my idea.  Then I listen non stop as shots, scenes and worlds manifest themselves in front of me (not literally of course…although there’s another idea…hmm).

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

First I’d wonder how the hell I travelled back in time to the 1860’s.  Then I’d freak out about the possibility that time travel may actually be possible. Then I’d avoid looking in any mirrors.  Mirrors are bad.  There are ghosts in mirrors.  If I don’t look they don’t exist right?

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Evil Ash leads the team.  Pennywise and The Blair Witch conduct psychological warfare.  The Thing and the Xenomorph swoop in for the physical attacks.

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

Freddy. He’s more complex and dare I say…dreamy.   H.P. Lovecraft.  Big ancient stuff is scary.  Practical whenever possible.  CGI when needed.  Pre Apocalypse.  I want to see stuff fall apart, not arrive after the fact.   

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

I use pillows, black garbage bags and mop heads duct taped to a big actor.  Put him in shadows and boom, he’s a weird brooding monster.  Hopefully you can’t tell on screen that’s what I did…

Because of my post production background, specifically with compositing, I really enjoy the process of layering.  I think that process applies well with props and wardrobe specifically.  I often will walk the aisles at Home Depot and start visually building things in my head with items I see on the shelf. A switch that will work for this, a conduit casing that will work for that.  I toss it all in my cart, get it home and just start putting things together and slowly building the thing.  Often it works but sometimes it doesn’t. 

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

The unknown.  Death.  Losing a child.  It absolutely inspires my storytelling.  Almost everything I’ve done so far involves losing a child.  What a nightmare that would be. 

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

That’s a hard question.  The most formative scary movie for me was Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963).  I watched that at a young enough age that it left a serious mark. To this day I consider it the scariest movie in my opinion.  Who’s hand was she holding!?

My ‘favourite’ old school scary movie is probably Army of Darkness.  Not overly scary per say but it is a ton of fun.  I saw it before Evil Dead (I or II) so it was my introduction to Ash and his one liners. 

Oh and Poltergeist.  Can’t forget the Spielberg…err…Hooper classic.

Modern horror favourite is Hereditary.  What a visceral primal fear that film creates.  So damn good.