Director Ti West talks about his segment of the upcoming horror anthology V/H/S, currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Director Ti West is at the top of his game, with not one but two fantastic horror features in the same year. He kicked off 2012 by directed the phenomenal thriller The Innkeepers (which was sadly underseen), and now he directs a segment in the upcoming horror anthology V/H/S, which are now available on Blu-ray and DVD after a successful run in theaters and on VOD.
He is one of six different filmmakers (Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence) whose unique shorts are combined into one thrilling tale. Ti West's short, dubbed "Second Honeymoon," is one of my favorites, centering on a young couple (Joe Swanberg and Sophia Takal) whose trip takes some incredibly creepy turns. I recently had the chance to speak with this talented filmmaker over the phone, about his experiences in putting this piece together. Take a look at what he had to say.
I was curious if this idea for Second Honeymoon was something that you had for awhile, or did it come out of the process of making this anthology?
Ti West: It solely came up because I was trying to think of something that would make sense for this project. They asked me to be a part of it, and I said I don't think I have any ideas. I said I was about to go on a road trip, so maybe when I get back, I may have something. I went on the road trip and came back and basically pitched them the road trip I had just been on. A couple of weeks later, we were right back on the exact same road trip I had just been on. It was a weird, personally-influenced thing. It was strange.
Can you talk about where you actually shot these scenes?
Ti West: We basically flew the actors out to L.A., got in the car, and drove, essentially, to the Grand Canyon area, Flagstaff, Arizona. We shot along the way. It only took about four days to make it. We would just drive and go, 'Let's shoot something in this gas station. Pull over.' We'd just drive and then stop and shoot something. We got to the motel and shot the bulk of the stuff there, and around the area. There is a lot of stuff that didn't make it in the cut, like roadside attraction stuff that just didn't quite fit in. But yeah, I had a pretty decent outline of the trip I had just been on, and what I was trying to accomplish. I think it was more of a road trip than it was a movie shoot, as far as the amount of time we spent doing things. We spent more time just being on that vacation than we did actually shooting. I think that was part of the fun, the way that we did it. It was a blast. It was really fun.
It seemed that the other directors were all working on their shorts at different times. Did you give yourself a set amount of time to get this all done?
Ti West: They flew in Thursday morning to L.A. and I picked them up at the airport and we drove to Arizona. We were back in L.A. by Sunday. We didn't have a lot of time. We just literally went on a trip, and we were like, 'Well, by the time we get back, we can just finish this movie.' Yeah, it only took us a few days.
Did you always have (actors) Joe (Swanberg) and Sophia (Takal) and Kate (Lyn Sheil) in mind for this?
Ti West: I knew them and I had to invite them because they're sort of relationship-movie filmmakers themselves. I was making this relationship segment, so it made sense to me to cast two people who were not only in those movies, but who make those movies. If I ever had to give them a camera, I felt very comfortable with them taking the lead at times.
In the Radio Silence short, those characters weren't really guys who had experience with a camera. They had to make it look like they were just a bunch of kids running around with a camera. Is there anything that they had to unlearn, so to speak, to give it more of an amateur feel?
Ti West: No. There was no crew, just them and me and this camera that we had. I would just light the room, and say, 'Let's just do this scene over here by the light.' It was the only realistic way to do it. I didn't bring much stuff with me, as far as equipment, so it was what it was. I had been on this trip and I knew how I was going to shoot it.
You're also involved in another anthology, The ABCs of Death. Would you say, from a production standpoint, were they both similar experiences?
Do you think there might be a movement towards more of these kinds of movies, especially with such a huge talent pool of horror filmmakers? Do you see more anthologies coming down the line?
Ti West: Well, no. I just think it's two groups of people that I happen to know and like, who had similar ideas, and they just happened. I mean, who knows. Maybe. I don't think it's necessarily the anthology structure that makes the movie interesting, but the content itself. Who knows. Maybe we'll end up doing V/H/S 2, or DVD, or whatever they want to call it. The 123's of Death. Maybe they'll find ways, but I doubt it.
Can you talk about your experience at Sundance, seeing this put together for the first time?
Ti West: Yeah, it was actually kind of great, because I don't like watching my own stuff, so the fact that only like 20 minutes of it is mine. The majority of it was just watching the other stuff, so it was a really mellow premiere for me. It didn't have the normal pressure of, 'Oh God, I can't watch this. I've got to get out of here.' I could just sit back and watch it with the audience.
Is there anything you can say about The Side Effect? Are you going to start shooting soon?
Ti West: No, it's creeping along. Science-fiction just costs so much money, and the money comes in chunks and very slowly. I've made so many movies for very little, because the situation of waiting for money, and dealing with people who have a lot of money, can be very frustrating. I have always opted to keep making these little tiny movies, so The Side Effect is one of those things that has taken the better part of a year. We have most of the money, but it's a very different experience than I'm accustomed to. I might try and do something in the meantime, as we continue along, but it's close. It's one of those movies where I can't really cut corners, because it's on a spaceship. The whole movie takes place on a spaceship, and they cost a lot of money to build, so we can't really do it for less.
Are you still casting then, or are you waiting for everything to come through?
Ti West: We have Liv Tyler. The other roles, there are people that I want, but to officially cast them and not know whether we're starting tomorrow or not, it's one of those things where loose lips sink ships. I'm just keeping it quiet for now.
Have you been keeping busy writing in the meantime then?
Ti West: Yeah, I adapted a novel called Bedbugs for a company. That was something new to try, adapting someone else's novel. Then I have a bunch of other movies that are almost happening. It's one of those things when you get into the world of more money, you never quite know what is going to happen. When you make a movie like The Innkeepers or V/H/S, you're not asking for that much, so it's very easy for one person to go, 'I understand. I will put the money in the bank. Go make the movie.' When it's bigger, there are just, in my opinion, unnecessary conversations, but it's the nature of the beast. Where I can make a decision in 15 minutes, it takes several others weeks to do. It is what it is.
What do you hope horror fans will get out of V/H/S when it comes out on Blu-ray and DVD?
Ti West: There is something there for everybody. I think that's what they tried to accomplish, to make a horror movie that had all the different sub-genres. The one benefit of an anthology is if you don't like one part, you'll probably like another one. There's something there for everybody. It should be an appealing movie.
Great. That's all I have. Thanks so much, Ti. It was great talking to you again.
Ti West: All right, thanks. I appreciate it.