Recently SciFiPulse was afforded the opportunity to talk with director Drew Hall who has a new indie film doing the rounds called ‘Convergence’. You can check out what Drew had to say in the Q&A, which we have published below.
SFP: What was the spark that made you want to get into filmmaking and what would you say is the project that really kick started things for you?
Drew Hall: Growing up I was fortunate enough to have access to an old VHS bag camera and incredibly supportive parents. They’re cinephiles in their own right, and would show me tons of classic movies, especially Hitchcock. Despite what challenges we faced as a family, they always faded, even momentarily, when we went to the theater or video store. So after my Grandfather gave me an old super 8mm camera, I found myself completely fascinated with the filmmaking process. It wasn’t long until I put those skills to use…making WWF videos. I loved me some wrestling.
I’d gather the neighborhood kids and we would shoot our own pay per views. They’re both terrible and great. My end goal was to make movies like Star Wars, but I had no idea how I’d get there. As child of comics and sci fi, my imagination ran wild and the older I got, the more focused I became on film as a means to capture that emotion.
SFP: You have a new science fiction/horror film out called Convergence. How did you get involved with that production and why would you say it’s worth a look for those that are not in the know yet?
Drew Hall: Convergence is a script I started writing when I learned that a friend named Ben Walls had passed away of cancer. So the writing was a catharsis of sort. The original story was different than what you see on the screen but many of the foundations came from this process. I had directed three features by this point and the Executive Producer I worked with said I could finally make one of my own and he would help find the financing for it, but it had to be a thriller or horror. So I bluffed and told him the idea of Convergence and said I had a draft ready. I stalled a week or two and cranked out a first draft. He liked the skeleton – gave me notes – and asked for a revised edition. That’s when the sci fi element really took shape.
Convergence has some genre notes in it. Yes there is some horror, sci fi, and thriller components, but in reality Convergence, to me, is more of an experience. I took some pretty big risks in the story telling process, that no one ever sees coming – and that is fun.
SFP: From the little I have seen of the movie in the trailers and other materials. It looks like an interesting mix of science fiction and horror. What did the film look like in its early stages verses what you have finally managed to put out on the screen?
Drew Hall: Since I am both writer and director the film is almost 98% what was in the script. If anything we removed a few scenes from the final edit. They all worked, but in terms of time it made the film run a bit long. The biggest shifts from design to delivered product come from the incredible innovations from the cast and crew. The performances from Clayne and Ethan, and the entire cast, are just mind blowing. The design from the DP Kevin Duggin and Production Designer Mark Terry truly create another world feeling that’s still grounded.
The biggest change from very early on is that the final film takes place in a hospital and in an early story version it took place in an abandoned warehouse district.
SFP: A lot of film projects of late are discovering some additional life through comic books, video games and web series. Do you foresee anything like this happening for your movie?
Drew Hall: Yes and no. For Convergence, we actually shot a complimentary web series that is available at www.convergencemovie.com, though I strongly suggest watching the film before watching the series. That said, there’s not a ton of room to explore all of these characters again, but I’m an RPG guy, so we did build a very rich world.
My next project – and this is my dream – is very much prepped to be a combination of film, gaming, episodic, and comics. It’s a huge sci fi, steampunk inspired piece called Aether. You can see the trailer, comic, and proof of concept for it at www.AetherPrologue.com
SFP: How much of a challenge was it to cast the film. Did you have anyone in mind when reading the script?
Drew Hall: I am always open to casting; however, I wrote the role of Captain Saul Miller with Mykelti Williamson in mind. He is one of my all time favorite actors and is on my “wish list”. As for the other roles, I am a fan of Clayne’s so when the opportunity arose to reach out to him it was an easy ‘Let’s do it’. Producer Scott Robinson gets credit for casting Ethan Embry and boy did he find a gem. Ethan is so good and plays Daniel so well…it’s scary…as it should be.
SFP: The film seems to have much of the action taking place inside of a hospital building and from what I’ve seen it looks and feels pretty claustrophobic. How much of a challenge was it to film in that way?
Drew Hall: We were very fortunate and lucky (since finishing Convergence that hospital has been torn down). That hospital had been closed for about 6 months, but had been kept in nearly perfect working order. The floors were waxed and the air was always on, so we approached them and they agreed. Once we got in, that’s the crazy stuff. First off it’s a huge labyrinth, like all hospitals, but being empty there was always a creepy vibe. Second, things happened…as in paranormal things. People talked about getting touched, objects would move, and one crew member said she was pushed. The eeriness of filming in an abandoned yet functional environment…its really creepy. You keep waiting for a nurse or doctor to come around the corner, but they never do, at least in our reality.
SFP: The film has a hell of a lot of action in it. How difficult was it for you to do the action on such a limited budget. Did you have anyone with stunt experience working with you or were you forced to find a work around approach to the action?
Drew Hall: I’ve done action, lots of it in Sons of Liberty, so I’m comfortable approaching that kind of stuff, HOWEVER, we got really blessed with legendary stunt coordinator Charlie Croughwell said he we help us. If you’ve seen any of the BTTF films he was Michael J. Fox’s double, but more recently he’s done some of the biggest films in Hollywood – including Terminator Genisys, Planet of the Apes, Life of Pi.
Having Charlie there was like a creative shot of adrenaline. He’s just so knowledgeable and humble. Wonderful man who I am forever in debt to.
SFP: As a film producer and director who would you say are the directors and producers that have had the most influence on your creatively. And if you could work with at least one of those people at some point in the future who would it be?
Drew Hall: WOW…well. I grew up a Spielberg fan and I still am. He does things as a director that just have so much emotion behind them. As I mentioned, I’m a huge Hitchcock fan, but more contemporary directors like Antoine Fuqua, James Gunn, Jon Favreau, and Neill Blomkamp inspire me often. If I could work with anyone, who’s working right now, it would be JJ Abrams, and not just because SW:TFA. He produces and creates so much awesome out of Bad Robot it’s incredible and more importantly, he takes risks on creative endeavors. That’s huge! There’s also a growing studio headed up by Jeff Robinov called Studio 8. They are the dream!