We recently interviewed the director (Ritchie Filippi) and the scriptwriter (Evan Bass) for The Eve, a horror film about a group of friends reconnecting on a remote island on New Years Eve – until a mysterious presence ruins the celebrations.
Ritchie – I believe this is your first feature film. How difficult was it to make the leap to feature work?
RITCHIE: This is my first feature film as a director, but I’ve worked in various roles on a ton of features of all budget ranges. The hardest part of making the switch from production managing to directing was letting go of the logistics and coordinating for the shoot and focusing on just the creative. It is not easy to disconnect, but it really felt great once I was able to.
Evan – How difficult was it to create an original horror idea without retreading territory that other films have done already?
EVAN: An amazing, and very true, question. It is difficult. Even with the initial concept going in a different direction — I didn’t want to go cabin in the woods in the middle of summer and bikini-clad women as the main feature, we’ve all seen that a thousand times. I started with the idea of a remote island in the middle of winter and built around that.
That said, The Eve we filmed was the third full script I wrote around the concept. The first one had issues fully being realized as a script, it had a great initial concept but then sort of veered too much into the gore-porn genre style of having to be a complete bloodbath. I respect that as a genre, but I favor the psychological aspects to horror-thrillers — I can watch gore on Grey’s Anatomy and at super high production value.
The second script, even though I really liked it, one of the producers, Angel Acevedo, pointed me to a little known horror film from 10 years ago that had a very similar concept. I had never seen or even heard of it, but we wanted something not done before, so that idea was scrapped/re-worked and we finally landed on what we filmed. Even then, since The Eve is an indie film in the fullness of what that means for guerrilla-style filmmakers, we wanted the production value to be far above what was expected so we had to modify the script to make sure we could keep it at the level we were holding ourselves to. It was a really interesting journey, especially since we wanted to be different, and yet, include subtle nods and homages to classic horror films within the movie.
Evan – Is there always a fear that a director won’t envision your script as you wanted it?
EVAN: Oh, never. Next question. Hehehe, just kidding, there is ALWAYS that fear. That is why before we began working with Ritchie Filippi, we had a conference call — Angel, Ritchie, and myself — and chatted about the film and how Ritchie envisioned it, along with his film motivations. Filmmaking encapsulates the idea that “It takes a village” so well, because every step of the way involves an individual applying his or her specific skill to one piece of the film, that without them we could never end up with the final completed product.
Are both of you focused on the slasher genre or are you venturing onto other things for your next film?
EVAN: I’m ADD with my filmmaking. I produce comedy web series and sketches, and am currently in pre-production on a dramatic narrative short focusing on Alzheimer’s disease. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got 2-3 horror feature pitches ready to go, if that is needed, and a few completed feature scripts of different genres sitting on the shelf currently waiting for the right time.
RITCHIE: The Eve is more of a thriller than a slasher. We play with some of the slasher conventions, but I wouldn’t really classify it as a slasher. It is more of a slow burn thriller. Having said that, I love slasher movies and would be excited to direct a slasher feature. Horror and crime/noir have always been my favorite genres and I love blending them together. I’m throwing around ideas for my sophomore feature, but it is still a couple years away.
Ritchie – Previously you’ve worked on some high profile films like Iron Man, Die Hard 4.0 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. How much did those train you for working on your own film?
RITCHIE: Working on blockbuster movies reminds you why you got into the business. Every aspect of them- from the a-list talent to the grandiose sets- is larger than life. It is impossible to work on these films and not feel inspired to think larger and to have that drive to create.
Evan – Were there any particular challenges that you faced in writing a script for a full feature?
EVAN: The biggest challenges I ran into were modifying the script before, or even during, filming so that we maintained the high level of production value we set forth from the beginning while battling all that comes with filming on a budget (no matter the budget you always end up with some turns you never expected) and also the insanity of filming on a desolate island in the middle of winter.
We filmed on location in Martha’s Vineyard in the first weeks of January and when we arrived we had one previously scouted location that was completely under water, and also had to cut a number of filming days short because of the weather conditions.
Horror films are sometimes known for their “B” movie style small budgets. Was this an issue for both of you, or were you able to shoot the film fairly comfortably?
EVAN: Shoot the film fairly comfortably? I don’t think any film is every shot comfortably, not any indie film, at least. One thing we had set forth from the start Ritchie, Angel, the DP Brian C. Harnick, and I was that we wanted the film to look good. We didn’t want that “B” movie look to it.
There is definitely some “B” movie humor thrown into the film as a nod, but we wanted a cinematic look the whole way through. We wanted people to be pulled in to the beauty of the Vineyard in the winter and also use the island as a character. One of my favorite looks is a woods sequence that just looks so crisp and so- I don’t know how to describe it. I guess, watch the film and let us know!
RITCHIE: The low budget was a challenge. We all would have loved to have extra shooting days and more help on set, but you work with what is available to you. It helps you get more creative with how you approach a particular scene or sequence and can help inspire new ideas.
Who would you say is the biggest influence on the film? (apart from yourselves)
EVAN: This may vary between us, but I’d say Alfred Hitchcock. We referenced his style a lot, from Bernard Herrmann’s scores to the play of light and dark within Hitchcock’s films. We have nods to Jaws, and The Shining, as well as Psycho, and others within the film, and I feel like those movies, the directors of those, subtly influenced the approach at some level as well.
RITCHIE: Definitely Hitchcock. That’s how The Eve was originally pitched to me and is one of the things that was intriguing to me about the movie that Evan wanted to create. We don’t mimic or copy the master of suspense, but hopefully people can feel his influence on the screen.
Please note that Hex contributor Kristian Greet is a friend of Ritchie’s, however Kristian was not involved in this interview.