To The Moon Director Scott Friend Explains How To Make A Horror Movie In The Woods [Interview]
You have a small site but big themes. You tell a story of addiction, career, marital issues, family issues.
It was a total amalgamation of everything that was going on in my life at the time that I had just broken up. And then, yeah, that’s exactly it.
How did you decide to make this personal story a horror film?
I didn’t want to do a really dark family drama just because genre movies are so much more fun exploring dark themes. I like to watch genre films that deal with dark subjects. I feel like there’s a different way to approach them than just drama. And also because it’s all based on my personal experiences and relationships, it feels like I’m living it. I lived that. So I don’t want to look at the exact thing. I want to spice it up a bit.
I imagine dealing with those horror experiences as well was maybe a bit more satisfying or helpful.
Yeah, totally. I think it could have been Mick Garris [who] said, “The therapy is expensive and the horror is free”, or something like that. I totally agree with the sentiment of what he is saying. I mean, there’s a reason you see so many horror movies and genre movies, especially now and through time, tackling really dark human subjects.
Once you’ve finished writing and told the financiers, “It’s a horror movie set in the woods,” how easy is it to get that financing?
It was a great little production. So a lot of the funding came in various ways from some financiers and a lot of it from my own personal savings and help from friends and family. We shot it at my great-aunt and uncle’s country house, so it was free. So it’s a great little production, but I think horror movies and genre movies are definitely more appealing to a beginning filmmaker than a financial one.
Was the dog also yours? It only makes you worry.
Yeah. It is my dog. He’s on the couch right next to me right now. I think in so many recent horror movies, when you see a dog or a cat at the opening of the movie or the beginning of the movie, you’re like, “Oh, that animal is dead.” And I was like, “I don’t do that in my movie.” I hate that. I love animals.
What advice would you give to a filmmaker who wants to get out into the woods and make a horror movie?
It’s hard. I would say, have as much fun as possible and be really open to whatever might happen. So many times we were shooting this movie, things were happening that weren’t planned that ended up being exactly what we needed for certain scenes. Just be open to all possibilities.
First, it was freezing. I think it added a lot to the performance. It was very real in that sense. Everyone was pretty uncomfortable, which I think was a good thing because it’s an uncomfortable movie. And there’s an underlying theme of this kind of discomfort and chaos happening.
When we were shooting in the woods, a lot of things were happening, getting hit in the head with tree branches, that was in the movie. When you’re in a controlled environment, that’s how it is, it’s controlled. And when you’re out in the woods, anything can happen. So yeah, just lucky in many ways.
What did you feel great control over in this environment?
It’s funny you say that because the first two days we were shooting, it was just my Dennis and Mia scenes and we thought we had everything under control. We turned 11 pages in one day, which is crazy. We ended up having to do it all over again because it was totally out of control. I think we felt like we were so in control, but yeah, whatever we shoot indoors, we have the most control.
What was out of control?
I think we were so excited at first. I think it was just excitement. We shot the first two scenes and only did two takes per installation. I thought, “Okay, let’s keep going. Let’s see what we can do in one day.” And then we looked at the images at the end of the day and it was not good.