Monday 20 August 2018

Interview with Emanuel L. Isler

Producer Emanuel L. Isler had a desire to creature a “highly quality horror film with a small budget”. The result, Dead Love, is released this month.

Why this film? Where did it all begin?
I was introduced to Colin Floom – who had made his mark doing music videos and working on shows for MTV – and we immediately clicked.  We had a mutual desire to create a high quality horror film with a small budget.   

And did your writers go through several drafts before ending on your final shooting script? Much change along the way?
I’m not only the co-producer of “Dead Love” but I’m also the co-writer.  Yeah, my writing collaborator, Chad Israel, and I went through numerous drafts of the script until we came up with something that was pretty decent.  Nathan Trumbull helped come up with a story line that was more punched up and we continued to tweak the material right up until filming began.

Was it an easy movie to get up? Can you talk about the process involved in getting this film ready?
I don’t think there’s any movie that’s easy to get up and “Dead Love” was no different.  From the onset we were plagued with endless challenges – budgeting costs, talent, crew and even weather.  Once we ended up with a script that we were happy with, we immediately went into budget mode.  We did everything we could to cut down costs, length of the shoot, etc.  We then brought together the best crew we could find. Next, we broke down the costs and went out looking for investors.  Surprisingly, the financing side was the least stressful. Our executive producers were enthusiastic about our project and I suppose their believing in me played a big part. 

The next step was location scouting.  We decided on Georgetown – an incredibly scenic town situated in the beautiful mountains about an hour west of Denver. 

Somehow, luck was on our side throughout the process.  Casting was an exciting experience and we were able to sign actors who were hungry to participate and were highly talented as well.  The last piece was signing Kate Linder to star.  We were incredibly humbled and appreciative that an actor of her stature would agree to star in our little film. 

The final step was finding a solution for the movie’s sound.  We were blessed to get the team of Malgorzata Wacht & Alexander Seminara to create the original score of “Dead Love”.  While they have built a long term fan base with their band The Siren Project, this is the first time they’ve worked on a movie.   Their score is both haunting and compelling.  Most important, their music furthers the eerie theme and European-type vibe that was our collective vision. 

Do you know what the inspiration for the script was?
Yeah, it all centered on our fascination with death…particularly the role mortuaries play in what they do.  It’s not necessarily what they do for the dead but, rather, what they do for the living.  This formed the basic bones of our story. 

They don’t make movies like these anymore do they?
In a nutshell, no.  Horror is a very difficult genre, especially now.  The audience has pretty much seen everything – from monsters and ghouls, boo scares, to gallons of blood and gore, and everything in between.  With “Dead Love” we wanted to do something new, fresh and compelling. With that said, we concentrated more on the elements of the classics, i.e. a character driven storyline with an eerie and even macabre atmosphere.  The movie has a slower build than what modern audiences are used to but the result is well worth it and people are really digging it.  The movie is beautiful yet strangely disturbing and that’s what we set out to do. 

How did you get the film invested?
We were able to garner the interest of four financiers who loved the concept and personally believed in me. 

Did you have much say in casting?
Yeah, every step.  Colin Floom did a great job in reaching out to talented actors and we shared each casting decision.  Every role is believable and their performances come off truly organic.  Kate Linder, Grayson Low, Nicole Elizabeth Olson, and Bob Buckley create an awesome ensemble cast.  We were so fortunate to have them involved. 

If one of the actors ends up a breakout star as a result of the movie, who do you predict it’ll be?
It won’t be a breakout because she’s already a star, but I predict Kate Linder will surprise a lot of people with her performance.  Her role is something we’ve never seen her do before and it’s amazing.  I have no doubt this will open new doors for her, and she clearly deserves it. 

I also predict that big things will happen to our team of music composers – Malgorzata Wacht & Alexander Seminara.  They are incredibly talented musicians.  Their band – The Siren Project – has been around for many years and “Dead Love” was the first opportunity they had to score a movie.  Their phenomenal work played a significant role in making this movie the best it could be. 

Lastly, I predict big things for our director of photography, Luke Askelson.  I believe he’ll become a hugely successful cinematographer. He’s a true artist genius. 

And what do you hope the film does for your producing career?
Who knows? I’m hoping it will lead to new opportunities to explore new projects and even new genres.  I’m particularly fascinated with the growing influence of high quality, super original digital episodic television. 

What’s the best piece of independent filmmaking advice you can offer others reading this article?
As an independent filmmaker you have to check your ego at the door.  See yourself as a collaborator and form the right team that will get you where you want to go.  Don’t be afraid to ask your crew for advice and input. Likewise, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and be first to apologize if needed.  Lastly, when it comes to working on location, be prepared for the proverbial Murphy’s Law; assume everything will go wrong, especially when it comes to budgeting.  Give yourself plenty of leeway because its scary how fast money is spent once filming starts.