Interview with Jeff Ross ( director of Resurrection – Rise of the Rabisu )
The new movie, Resurrection, is currently being filmed. Can you give our Horrornews.net fans some idea on what they can expect from this movie?
Not being a horror film affection-ado, Iʼm not sure what the brunt of horror fans look for in a film. If, for example, one is a “hard-core” fan, they may be disappointed with the film. Although there is plenty of blood and heart-ripping effects, for the most part, this film is probably considered to be soft core horror. Having said that, I do believe there is a very good scare factor in this film. The foreboding component stems from the subliminal to the outright horror that we live among demons and they have only one thing in mind – to destroy mankind in any way, shape or possible means, and it usually involves extreme pain. Since the material for the film derives from ancient scripture, including the Old Testament and Genesis, my hope is that the viewer will walk away looking over their shoulder and wondering about the reality of being caught in the middle of a timeless war between good and evil.
Our own Dai Green from Horrornews.net is part of Resurrection. Can you tell us what kind of energy that Dai brings to this movie?
Daiʼs energy is unequivocal. Since the moment she auditioned, I knew I wanted her in this film. It goes beyond her beauty and intellect. Her visceral knowledge of the horror genre lends an air of authenticity to the film that I donʼt think we would have captured without her. As such, we made her our poster child. LOL. Although, outside of the tattoo on her right shoulder, sheʼs pretty hard to distinguish.
What location(s) are being used for filming?
The entire film is being shot in and around Las Vegas. Originally the film was going to be more gothic and we were going to shoot in New Orleans. However, the decision was made to make it more contemporary and hip. There arenʼt too many towns more hip and happening than Las Vegas. Plus, there is a mob element in the film as a subplot, so Vegas fits.
As a filmmaker, what motivates you and sparks your creativity?
I thinks what motivates me and sparks my creativity exists on several levels. First and foremost is a compelling story. After all, we are in the business of storytelling. Regardless of the genre, a great story that entertains, and/or makes people think or feel, is paramount. In the past, for example, the horror genre was never respected because the claim was that most of the films lacked substance outside of blood and guts and brains flying everywhere.
However, if the purpose of a horror films is to SCARE, then that can still be accomplished with a great story-line, great acting, and with keeping the blood and gore. Unfortunately, most horror films are low-budget which limits you to what you can do, but that doesnʼt mean that they have to be devoid of story-line or acting quality. Donʼt misunderstand, I am not saying that all horror films are devoid of quality filmmaking. I am saying that the perception in the film community is that horror films are the stepchild, because they take the least amount of money and talent to produce, and that their value is not in the quality of the story or storytelling, but in the amount of showy effects. One could provide the same argument for action films.
This is probably why you donʼt too many action or horror films making the Oscar nomination category. I donʼt believe any of that is true. Regardless of the genre, a compelling story can be told and when it isnʼt, regardless of genre, the film is lacking. As a Director, now making a horror film, I am motivated by trying to make a very thought-provoking film within the thriller/suspense/horror film genre. The second thing that motivates me is the ability to take very little and make something bigger than life. I do not subscribe to the theory that the more money the better the film. In fact, the less money the harder it is. Although there are limits, and I donʼt always want to struggle with some of the challenges of making a very low budget film, but like a gourmet chef with very little to work with, I also embrace the challenge of making something much bigger and better than one would expect given the tools and monetary resources with which to work.
What aspect of the whole filmmaking process is an absolute pain in the ass?
The filmmaking process in general is a “pain in the ass.” You better love it and/or be a masochist because otherwise you wonʼt last. In short, the “pain in the ass” exist of several levels, of which I will only mention two. First, the raising of funds to do the movie. Most investors do not understand film investment and many think that films lose money. Films do not lose money, investors lose money. To prevent that, a filmmaker needs to control the revenue stream and that means distribution. Most young filmmakers do not understand this simple idea and think that all they have to do is make a good film. NOT. I could expound on this principal for days, but wonʼt bore you. The second “pain in the ass” is preproduction. However, it is also the most important aspect of filmmaking. Without great preproduction, you will not have a great film, assuming you finish it, or finish it on schedule and within budget. Preproduction is tedious, painstaking, unrewarding, and focused. It requires great management skills, negotiation skills, financial knowledge, and people skills. To say that GREAT preproduction is a necessary evil, would be a massive understatement. Once again, I could elaborate on the conventions of proper preproduction but will not for this question.
How far into filming Resurrection are you?
Almost halfway through. However, I would like to re-shoot some scenes
So far, during the filming of Resurrection, have there been any fun or interesting behind the scenes moments that you would be willing to share of our readers?
Iʼd hate to give too much away since we are doing a separate “behind the scenes/making of the film” dvd that will be available with the film. But, like a lot of films, there are plenty of humorous moments where actors forget there lines, or play practical jokes on each other. I think actually seeing them would have more of an impact than writing them here. I think one the most interesting things is the FX scenes, including those of Daiʼs.
As a writer, what kind of research needed to be done before writing Resurrection?
Whoa! Of all the scripts that I have wrote or co-wrote, I canʼt remember a more intense research undertaking than Resurrection. The original story idea that was given to me had Witches and Warlock and Zombies. In addition, it just wasnʼt compelling enough, nor did I think it was frightening. Both Victoria Claibourn and I wanted something that would be scary but also thought provoking. We decided to explore the idea of Demonic possession. Not being an expert in that area, the research was more like an educational process. However, in the course of conducting that research, I discovered other things about Demonology that floored me. For example, the existence of a Demonic hierarchy that mirrors the angelic hierarchy in heaven. More importantly, that this hierarchy exists within twelve houses, and that the sixth house of the Rabisu were the most ferocious demons and one most passionate to the annihilation of the human race. This then required further intense research into the Old Testament, New Testament, and even the Kabbalah. In short, aside from some embellishment and creative license, Resurrection is based on Biblical fact, which, in my opinion, lends more of a fear factor to the film since it is real, unless you donʼt believe in heaven or hell.
When itʼs all said and done, and the fans see the finished product, what would you like people to say about this movie?
Well, I would like to feel that this film is a little out-of-the-box and outside the mainstream of typical horror/thriller films. The fact that we mixed in a mob story, with a love story, and then with a horror story; shot in Las Vegas with all the glitter and gold; had a lot of production value for the budget; that the horror/scare factor stems from the bible; and that there are elements to the film that you wonʼt find in any other film or certainly most films, I think makes this film sort of unique. So, it would be great if one walks away from the film, feeling thoroughly entertained and thinking, “That was different.” For the film industry people, Iʼm hoping that they say, “If they can do that with a very low budget, what can they do with a higher budget?”
What does the future look like for Jeff Ross?
Iʼve always been a pretty positive person and so I will tell you that the future looks very bright. Iʼve been in the filmmaking business for many years. It has only been in the last thirteen that Iʼve wanted to focus on low budget independent films. I am blessed to now be in that position. I might add that the original name for our film was Resurrection – Wrath of Seduction. We recently changed the name to Resurrection – Rise of the Rabisu. Yep, you guessed it, a franchise is in the air. So, hopefully youʼll be seeing me on the next film as well.