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If you’re looking for a modern vampire movie where the
bloodsucker doesn’t sparkle, yet is more human than rapacious beast, you’ll
want to give MIDNIGHT SON a look. This superior horror/drama is just out on DVD
from Image Entertainment, and Fango chatted with its writer/director Scott
MIDNIGHT SON stars Zak Kilberg as Jacob, who spends his
nights working as a security guard and his days shut up in his Los Angeles
basement apartment. A chance meeting with Mary (Maya Parish) promises to bring
him out of his shell—but also to draw out his latent compulsion to drink blood.
As they struggle to each overcome their addictions and forge a relationship,
MIDNIGHT SON balances its psychological study with sexy and splattery moments
(see full review here).
It’s an auspicious feature debut for Leberecht, who (rather ironically, given
the film’s spare, moody aesthetic) started out as a visual FX art director on
such genre spectaculars as SPAWN and SLEEPY HOLLOW.
FANGORIA: Was MIDNIGHT SON a reaction to the
TWILIGHT-ization of vampires?
SCOTT LEBERECHT: No, I wrote the first outline for MIDNIGHT
SON in 2003. I think vampires have always been depicted as powerful and sexy,
but my story required a character who is weak and vulnerable. It was later that
I realized I would be telling a classic vampire story in a very unusual way for
FANG: Were you inspired by the likes of George A. Romero’s
LEBERECHT: I didn’t know about MARTIN until after a
cinephile friend of mine read MIDNIGHT SON and told me to see it. I love that
movie. It explores many of the same themes and conflicts.
FANG: What new ideas about vampirism did you want to explore
in this film?
LEBERECHT: When I attended the American Film Institute, I
read a lot of Joseph Campbell, which led me to Carl Jung. I was really taken by
his “shadow” concept; Jung theorized that we all have a persona lurking inside
us that represents our repressed desires. The shadow is that naughty, bad
person we all know is deep within us, and he believed everyone must come to
terms with their shadow in order to find psychological peace. This isn’t
necessarily a new idea for the genre, but I believe MIDNIGHT SON presents the
protagonist’s inner conflict in a way that most vampire movies do not.
FANG: Did you also want to make a comment on Los Angeles
LEBERECHT: LA works well as a setting, but so would San
Francisco or New York. I think the weirdest thing about life in any big city is
that you have the choice to surround yourself with people anytime you want. It
is a lot easier to become lonely because you can get a connection fix pretty
easily, but it’s not real connection. Bars and pubs are the perfect place to
get a kind of pseudoconnection. Most interactions are rarely deep or
meaningful. When real intimacy is too scary for people, big cities offer a lot
of opportunities for something halfway there.
FANG: Was this a guerrilla shoot, or more structured?
LEBERECHT: It was guerrilla. We had no lights for exteriors.
We chose locations based on a street lamp or bright storefront. As far as
structure goes, John Mattingly, my 1st assistant director, was the only one who
could provide that. Without him we would have gone down in flames.
FANG: Any fun/scary stories from shooting on the LA streets
LEBERECHT: We wrapped at 5 a.m. one night in the LA river
basin. Everyone dispersed from the location. Only one person was left, standing
alone next to a fake body wrapped in plastic. Passing joggers called the
police. No arrests were made.
FANG: How did you discover your two leads?
LEBERECHT: Zak contacted me via e-mail because he saw a
website I had created about the movie. I liked his look, he auditioned and I
knew he was the one. He gave so much to the film; never once was he afraid. He
committed to this journey with total trust in me. It was thrilling to work with
an actor like him.
Maya and I met at a screening of AFI short films. I liked
the film she was in, and she liked mine. Her performance made me think of the
Mary character, so I told her about the screenplay I was writing. Three years
later, I called her and told her we were making the movie and I wanted her to
play the female lead. She agreed, then proceeded to raise a bunch of money
which enabled us to make the film on a much more realistic level.
FANG: Did they contribute a lot to their characters?
LEBERECHT: Yes, but Zak and Maya already had most of what
they needed to draw from in their own personalities. They naturally understood
the conflicts and inner world of their characters.
FANG: How did you get veteran actor Tracey Walter, who plays Jacob's co-worker, involved?
LEBERECHT: He actually showed up for an audition—I couldn’t
believe it! Michelle Short, our casting director, contacted his agent, and I
had no idea. When he walked into the room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Needless
to say, he killed the scene and I was walking on air the rest of the day.
Tracey is a truly amazing, brilliant man. A legend in his own time.
FANG: How did you approach handling the movie’s
LEBERECHT: We carefully planned them out and rolled camera.
It was the first time I ever shot any nudity, so it was weird. It was the first
time for all of us. We just did our best to be respectful and careful about the
actors’ bodies. The challenge of shooting violence and sex is that it has to be
well-planned and blocked, but not to the degree of destroying opportunities for
natural action or spontaneity. It’s impossible to get those things to look real
without taking some risks.
FANG: Has the festival/audience/critical response to
MIDNIGHT SON been satisfying?
LEBERECHT: More than satisfying. The reviews have been
pretty much all positive. I love reading them, especially the negative ones. I
feel like a fraud sometimes, so when someone articulates all the flaws, I get
excited. I want to call them and say, “You see what I see! Thank you for
proving that I’m not crazy!”
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