“In DEADSIGHT, Mara Madigan (Collins) is a pregnant police officer about to go on maternity leave. But on her last day on the job, she wakes up to a world ravaged by a nightmarish and bloody plague of the living dead. Amidst the chaos and violence, she finds Ben Neilson (Seybold), a man who is virtually blind, helpless, and has a mystery shrouding his past. Somehow these two must put their heads together and find a way to safety to escape this living hell.”
Hi Jesse, it is so great to talk to you today. I have to tell you that “The Hoard” is one of my favorite films so I am happy to be talking to you.
Jesse – (Laughter) Oh that is so good to hear. Thank you.
I love Ry Barrett and you have become one of my favorite directors with the style you work with so it is awesome.
Jesse- Thank you so much for that.
So tell us a little bit about DEADSIGHT. This film has a little bit of everything. Action, it is a thriller, scary moments. I may or may not have turned on a light! (Don’t tell anyone) It was a great movie. How did you get involved and why did you decide to direct DEADSIGHT?
Jesse- I always loved the zombie sub-genre within horror. It was the first sort of, scary film that I was introduced to as a kid. It was “Night of the Living Dead” definitely and I was always attached to renting VHS George Romero films in the late eighties and early nineties. So I always just loved the zombie films. I had produced a zombie film in 2011 called “Exit Humanity” and I had directed maybe five or six films but, I had never got the chance to direct a zombie film. So… the time came that our company had to make a film last year and it was my turn to direct it. So, I sat down with my wife who is in the film, Liv and our writer friend Kevin. I said, I just want to do a zombie film this time. We were giving each other different ideas of potential plot ideas and we sort of settled on this idea of what if we just followed this blind guy for a day in this zombie outbreak? I sort of liked that and the first draft was a comedy. It was very funny. It was written for a like a character like Michael Cera from “Superbad.” Sort of bubbling his way through like Mr. Bean. He had a GPS that was talking to him but then after Adam Seybold got involved (he portrays Ben) we sat down and said, “maybe we should take this in a more gritty and dark direction.” This could be really scary if done correctly. This happened fast and we didn’t start writing the script, we didn’t start writing the script until six weeks before filming. So, that is sort of how I got involved. We had to get a film made and I said I wanted to do a zombie film and it ended up becoming “Deadsight.”
Liv did an amazing job. Was it challenging for her to be writing and to be in the film as well?
Jesse- Yes absolutely. Kevin took a stab at that first draft and the Liv wrote the second draft and the two of them wrote the third draft together. Liv wasn’t going to be in it. The first draft we had a police officer because Liv was seven months pregnant at the time with our third kid. Then I said Liv have you thought about maybe playing this role because imagine how fucking scary this would be if we added a pregnant woman to the mix in addition to this blind guy. It would give it sort of like a “Fargo” sort of deal and she said, “Yeah I could try it.” By the time we filmed it, she was almost eight months pregnant. That was challenging because she was very limited in her movement. We ended up getting a huge blizzard and we had to stop shooting anything outside and then we went back in April. The initial shoot was in December of 2017. We went back in April of 2018 to get everything we had missed due to the snow and Liv had already had the baby by then so she was able to do some of the stunts like fight the zombies in the graveyard. But in the main shoot she was very pregnant.
She is a bad ass. I was going to ask you because I totally was thinking about Frances McDormand and I was wondering if it was sort an homage to “Fargo?” And Liv with her hat. It was amazing.
Jesse- Yeah, especially with the hat. We we’re totally aware. That was kind of a wink to “Fargo.” We wanted to film it with snow but there wasn’t any snow when we started filming it. Otherwise it would have been more “Fargo.”
I want to ask you about this because this is a different film than anything we have seen in a while. You see this man sort of stumbling around and he doesn’t have his sight. It is really scary in a way to think about that. Normally we see people fighting and I love the Zombie genre also but this is sort of crazy. What was it like shooting this with Adam?
Jesse- I think it was just lets a make film where the lead character is incredibly vulnerable to attack. It is going to make it scarier but still kind of make it plausible you know. Of course if he encountered twenty zombies on the road, he isn’t going to get out of there alive. But the initial script there was only one zombie in the whole movie then we changed that a little bit. It gives the genre a little bit something new with the vulnerability of the pregnancy and the blindness. There is no hero, no expert zombie killer to save the day. These are very limited characters that have to work together. I don’t know if you noticed how it in the way it was shot and edited. We are very tight on Ben, it is only close-ups. It is his feet, his hands. We try to avoid showing the wider world because it loses the tension. I thought that would make you more amerced in the world.
It does draw you in. It makes you on edge a little bit because you don’t know what is around him and you are constantly thinking, Oh My God, what it going to happen! You did an amazing job with that.
Jesse- (laughter) Thank you.
What are you working on next?
Jesse- I just finished editing my wife’s first film, Liv who played Mara in the film. She just directed her first movie. It is an indie road trip comedy called, “To Hell with Harvey.” If you look closely you will see Ry Barrett in there too. I am directing a new film in July.
What do you want to say to the fans watching “Deadsight?”
Jesse- I just want them to know that it came from a loving place of my love of Zombie films. It would be ten years too late to try and get on “The Walking Dead” train. It was sort of our swan song. I would let them know that it came from someone who genuinely loves Zombie films, grew up with them and loved the “Resident Evil” games. Enjoy the ride.
Thank you so much Jesse. You are awesome and it was great talking to you for Horrornews.net
Jesse- Thank you Janel. I appreciate that.
And tell Liv she is amazing!
Jesse- I will. Thank you.