Tuesday 28 April 2020

Interview with Kevin Barry - Director of Among Them

Kevin Barry’s Among Them is one of the thrilling treats currently for offer during lockdown on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

After a botched heist, two bank robbers and their unwanted hostage retreat into a seedy coastal motel in the dead of winter. When their boss doesn’t show up and their tickets to freedom go missing, the three of them must battle through their deteriorating mental state and find a way out before they turn on each other.

How did you become a writer, let alone a filmmaker?

It was kind of backwards because I initially started experimenting with making movies with my friends by getting a video camera and just shooting some improvised scenes or little special effects shots.  It helped that my friends were kind of crazy, willing to set themselves on fire or draw their own blood for some of my earliest films.  I would edit that stuff together and force myself to write new scenes that could connect the dots with what I shot and try to pull something coherent out of it.  But eventually I realized this wasn't a very effective way to make a movie so in my sophomore year of film school I decided to start writing my first real script.

And have you fused your interests growing up into the stories you write?

The films I've made so far are mostly about crime, which luckily wasn't a real interest of mine when growing up.  But I did have a big interest for punk and rock music and I think there's something intriguing about people who decide to (or can't make themselves) live within the expectations of society.  I like telling stories of struggle and exploring rebellious characters like that because they can be complex and challenging stories to tell.

If you could name two films that most resemble this film, what would they be?

Among Them was inspired by From Dusk till Dawn (1996) in that it follows a couple of criminals with their sights set on freedom only to be sidelined by a force even more dangerous than them.  Kill List (Directed by Ben Wheatley) has a similar vibe, a psychological horror movie following hitmen who have gotten in over their heads and heading towards a dangerous trap.  For the psychological elements we were heavily inspired by visuals and tone of Jacob's Ladder (1990).  All great films but I don't know if Among Them resembles any of them in the end, we were just trying to give this film its own place.

Being an independent film, I imagine you ended up wearing more hats than originally intended. Can you talk about all the things you did on the movie?

Yes indeed, we had to work with a skeleton crew because there really wasn't much money in the budget for anything besides the bare essentials.  This led to me and just about everyone else multi-tasking in order to get through the shoot.  Everyone was a real team player, lending a hand whenever they could so I'll always admire our cast and crew on this film for all the extra effort they put in.  Jonathan Thomson was a lead actor, associate producer and location scout; Evalena Marie was a lead actor, scriptwriter and producer.  Dan Liebman was a lead actor, helped us lug around all the equipment and always kept a pot of coffee brewing for us.  Tony Colapietro handled everything from B-cam, boom operator and gaffer.  A lot of my extra hats were in post-production, doing the edit, foley recording, ADR recording, adding sound effects, color correction, VFX and delivery to the distributor.  It was a long process but totally worth it.

Is this a genre you’ve always gravitated towards?

I've always liked films with a particular energy about them, where you don't really know what to expect and you can't predict how it will all turn out.  There's something about the way a good thriller builds such a palpable tone throughout the movie, that even if many years after watching it, you can remember what it felt like. There's also a pretty broad range of genres that I like so I'm hoping to make many different types of films as a director.

With such terrible things going on in the world right now, do you feel we need more ‘escapism’ films like this?

It's such a strange and stressful time right now for so many of us and I hope people can find some comfort in entertainment.  Especially in the case of pandemic where, unless you're working on the front lines of it, there's not much to do besides wait it out.  If a film or book or piece of music can help somebody step out of that for moment and enter a different world then that's a great thing because getting a chance to rest and relax is what gives you strength to keep going.

And for the next film, think you’ll stick to the same genre?

I've got a few new projects in development and all of them have something to do with criminals so it's looking like it!

Watch on Amazon Prime Here

Check out Kevin and the film on Social Media:
Among Them Instagram: @amongthemfilm
Among Them Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amongthemfilm/
Kevin James Barry Instagram: @kevindangerously