The director and the director of photography discuss making movies for today's audiences, special effects and how The Covenant is a different kind of horror movie
As actresses poised to break out in their new film, Laura Ramsey and Jessica Lucas couldn't have been more relaxed and forthcoming during our set visit to The Covenant. As the female leads in a movie dominated by boys dealing with a deadly family secret, these actresses stand out by not trying to stand out at all.
Based on the graphic novel by Aron Coleite and Tone Rodriguez, The Covenant is the power passed down from generation to generation, but when four boys accidentally unleash an evil force in the process of receiving the powers from their fathers, they must join together to stop it.
Could you tell us about your characters in The Covenant?
Laura Ramsey: My character is Sarah and I come from a public school. I transfer to this private school... so I'm the new girl at school and Kate (Jessica Lucas) takes me under her wing and helps me out. She knows everybody at the school. I end up liking Caleb (Steven Strait) and the new guy Chase (Sebastian Stan) comes and he puts a spell on me.
Jessica Lucas: I play Kate and she's Pogue's girlfriend. She's the wealthiest kid at the school. She knows everything about everybody and makes it her business to know everything about everybody. Sarah is her roommate and she shows her around. She also is really interested by Chase the new kid. She ends up getting into trouble with her boyfriend because she starts flirting with him a lot. She's kind of outgoing, kind of like lots of personality.
Are your characters involved with any of the witchcraft or other goings on?
Jessica Lucas: No. I don't even think she really pays much attention. I'm sure weird things have happened with the guys over the years that she might have noticed, I don't think that she gives it a second thought. She's just to her own self.
Laura Ramsey: Whereas my character will go the library and kind of study up on it.
Do you see a metaphor in this movie for drug abuse? Abusing power?
Jessica Lucas: That's very true. It is like that, yeah. If you abuse your power bad things will happen.
Laura Ramsey: Once you start using it it's addictive. Yeah, it does kind of have that connection.
What made you want to do this film?
Laura Ramsey: I liked the idea that Renny was directing it. I liked the ideas that he had, how they were going to shoot it. It's very dark. It's very exciting to watch.
Jessica Lucas: Renny being involved was big because he's so experienced. So you feel like you're in good hands coming into it. It's not just like a typical horror film. It was cool that the guys had the power and were the witches, because in a lot of movies you see the girls as the witches. I thought that was different.
Are you in any action sequences?
Laura Ramsey: No! I'm so jealous. I'm not kidding. I'm so disappointed. I love that stuff. I wish I was doing it but I'm not. I do have special effects make-up in the movie that's really cool.
Jessica Lucas: You get like a 100 million spider bites all over you.
Laura Ramsey: It was disgusting. They won't even talk to me when I have it on, they're like freaked out. They're going to do it CGI. There's like a scene when I'm covered in spiders. I haven't had to work with spiders thank God, because I'm terrified. I have a scene where I'm against a green screen. I have a dream and I wake up and open up the covers and there's a bazillion spiders all over me.
Is there something symbolic about it being spiders?
Laura Ramsey: Actually, back in Salem in the day, for real, if you had a spider bite on you they used to strip the women and they would kill you because they thought it had to do with witches. It's just over the years spiders... it relates to witchcraft.
What kind of things do you do under the influence of the spell?
Laura Ramsey: Well, I levitate. Which is actually really interesting how we're going to do that. I levitate and they're fighting below me, but I'm floating in the air. Right now, I'm being trained underwater. They're going to shoot it under water so it looks flowy and you don't come up for air. You hold your breath for 45 seconds and then when you need air you use a respirator. They're going to digitally take it and put it in the regular scene. They train you to be under water and keep yourself calm.
I'll be in a harness. There's two scenes where I levitate. One is where they want me to do be doing circles under water. Another scene, in the barn where they're having the big ending fight, I'm levitating in the air. They want me straight. So they molded my body and put a cast around my body. So I'll be wearing the cast with the dress over it, harnessed up, laying there. If you try to do it without the cast, your back bends. It's from my knees to my shoulders. Then they're going to saw it to where the dress fits.
Jessica Lucas: I'm not doing any of that stuff but actually, truthfully, I'd love to do it. It sounds like fun to me.
How long did it take to put the spider bites on you?
Laura Ramsey: Two hours with makeup.
Jessica Lucas: Tell the story about the baby.
Laura Ramsey: Oh yeah, Scott Strauss, one of the producers, had his son on set and I was just coming out, and I heard his son was on set and I was so excited to see him. I had all my makeup on and I had forgotten. So I went up to him like, "HI!" And he's like, "Eeeewwwwww...." And I was like "Oh my God" and they had to take him away.
What was your favorite scene that you've shot so far?
Laura Ramsey: Mine is the shower scene. I was really happy the way it turned out. I think it's going to be very creepy. You know in other movies like Psycho, the shower scene? You just know something is going to happen. So I'm in the shower and there's like the outline of the body, then they come in and I'm washing my hair and all of the sudden a light bulb crashes on the floor and things go black. Right when it does that, the light flashes, and I'm like "Hello? Is somebody there?"
So then I'm like slowly walking out of the shower. All you hear is me dripping. Then I see the light bulb on the floor and I bend down to look at the light bulb, and the audience sees a black object floating above me. Like watching me... but I don't know it, so it's really scary. Then when I turn around, I think I see something and this thing is behind me. I don't see it but the audience does. I turn around and it's just my reflection in the mirror.
Then after the bathroom I'm walking down the hall and I feel something behind me again. So I turn around and all of the sudden, we shot it really cool, when I turn back, Reid's (Toby Hemingway) right there. You've got to see how this is shot. It's dark and there's fog. The lighting is so green and blue.
Is there good and evil going on?
Jessica Lucas: There's definitely a good and evil storyline.
Laura Ramsey: Yes.
Jessica Lucas: But you have to wait and see because the evil one is the surprise in the end. You just have to see it. It's about the guys and they're witches and they're they've got these powers from their families, and it's hard for them to deal with.
Laura Ramsey: It's passed on generation after generation. Like a secret. Nobody knows about it except the families. For me to be involved in it... Caleb ends up telling me about it which is like, death to their family. No one is supposed to know this, they're using me against him. This evil person is using me against him because he loves me and he's threatening to kill me.
Jessica Lucas: The boys have this power and they're trying to deal with the fact that they're using and abusing it.
Laura Ramsey: It's hard to explain because it's one of those things where it's a surprise in the movie so you can't really say too much.
The Covenant comes to theaters nationwide on September 8 through Screen Gems.