April 25, 2016 Interview – Director Chad Archibald
Many kids in the ’80s grew up running right toward the Horror section of their local video store to gaze at the plethora of interesting VHS cover arts. While probably inappropriate for many, none are no worse off, and that includes Canadian filmmaker Chad Archibald. An avid Horror lover, Archibald took what was once a hobby and made it a career as he went on to a career in producing and directing modern Horror films such as 2014’s Ejecta and The Drownsman. Co-founder of Black Fawn Films, Archibald continues to make Horror films he would watch himself, and his latest offering Bite is causing quite a bit of buzz. Dubbed gross, disgusting, and everything in between, Bite will be sure to infect American audiences when it debuts on May 6th via Shout! Factory. Recently we caught up with Archibald for a closer look at his love for Horror, the idea behind Bite, making it as gross as possible, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in film professionally as a director and producer over a decade now. Tell us, what inspired you to get involved in film?
Chad Archibald – I am from a small place called Guelph, Ontario, and there really is not that much to do down there. I was going to a school for multimedia design at Humber College in Toronto. It had one film course, it was basically about plugging a camera into a computer. Back then, that was pretty advanced stuff. There was no YouTube or iPhones back then. It was much harder to come by. I ended up renting some cameras from there and started making little short films. It was just us kind of screwing around. Then, one day, a buddy and I was watching Jason X (2001), and we thought, if this can get made, we should totally make a movie.
We set out and decided we were going to make a movie. It was suppose to take a week or something like that, but it ended up taking three years. We made every mistake in the book. We had no training and we had no clue what we were doing. It took about three years to actually get made, and for us at the time, it was still just a hobby. We had some much fun doing it and putting it together. Once we got it done, we spoke to some people, and all of sudden we set up a deal and it was released worldwide. We got some money for it and felt, “Wow, we can actually get paid to do this? Lets do it again!” We just kind of caught the bug, and ever since, we have been making movies and music videos.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. Most things start out as a hobby like that and turn into a career. Many of your previous projects have been within the Horror genre, including Ejecta (2014) and The Drownsman (2014). Is it safe to say you enjoy the Horror film realm?
Chad Archibald – Absolutely. Back in the day, before we started making movies, I had a wall of Horror VHS movies. I would go to garage sales and try and find old Horror movies. I had the Freddy Krueger doll that was banned for children, the Chucky doll, and what not. I loved that stuff growing up, it kept me busy, even though my parents were frowned on for showing their child Horror movies. It kept me quiet and busy, so they just kept letting me watch them (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) A lot of kids grew up like that. Your latest film Bite hits theaters in North America May 6th.What inspired you to write this story and how did the project come about?
Chad Archibald – Basically I was at a family event and my sister-in-law had just gotten back from Guatemala where she was doing animal rescue in the jungle. While she was there, she told me about all these insects she had seen. She had no idea if some of them were poisonous, if some could not really harm her. She was blown away by how many bugs were there. She had to sleep outside every night in the jungle and there would be a big net canopy around her. She would wake up every morning and there would be tarantulas along with a bunch of other crazy bugs on it. She was amazed by how many times she was bitten by things in the first day she was there, and it would just keep getting worse.
By the time she came back, when I saw her, she was just riddled in bug bites. Some were big and gross, some were small, some were infected. Every bug bites you differently. A lot of them were still very fresh. The idea came from what if one of those bug bites kept getting worse? I thought the concept could actually work. From there, we started to do research on insects to create a story rather than a girl getting bit by a bug and turning into a bug. We did research on the insect kingdom and how they just have a natural instinct. How they lay eggs, they protect their children, and they have this natural instinct to protect their eggs from predators. They even have these characteristics they develop right after they lay eggs. They cannot do it normally, but after they lay eggs, they can all of sudden spit a poison cement around them to protect their family.
Going from that concept and developing the story of this woman who is ready to get married, these are concepts that only exists in humans. In the animal kingdom, it is not about marriage. This girl is having cold feet and she is not sure if she ready to have kids. Then she goes and gets bitten by this thing and starts developing all these sores that worsen. She starts laying eggs everywhere and she develops this motherly instincts to protect them. It is a twist on the idea that she is not ready to have kids, she gets bite, and then these motherly instincts start kicking in. She ends up having a million kids.
CrypticRock.com – It is quite an interesting story. What is really interesting about Bite is that it is extremely graphic but does not sacrifice terror in place of gore. Sometimes when a film is really graphic, it can take away from the terror aspects. Was it a challenge for you to balance the two to create this effect film?
Chad Archibald – Yes, we wanted to make sure it was not just about a girl deteriorating. We wanted to make sure there was a backstory so people cared about the characters. We wanted to make sure people were afraid if they were going to get killed, or happy, or excited. Then, aside from that, we wanted to do this body horror, but something different. We ended up doing this body horror, but with no blood in it. It is gross and grotesque, but it is not just about her body, it is stuff growing from her. It is not just about her body falling apart, it is these hives she is creating. It is not just about her. That was an exciting part about it to be able to create this thing that was a character as well. When people walked in, they were not just worried about Casey, they were about these eggs that are always growing, moving, and sliding. It felt like its own kind of monster.
CrypticRock.com – It worked very well. You mentioned the role of Casey, she is portrayed by Elma Begovic. She goes through quite a lot in this film. What was it like working with her for such a demanding role?
Chad Archibald – It was great. Elma kind of came out of nowhere. We had never worked with her before and this was the first film she had ever done. Finding her, sitting her down, and going through the casting process was super interesting. When we finally made the decision that we wanted to go with this new girl, we had to tell her this is not your average film, this is something that is going to be really gross and disgusting. We had to give her the warning and see if she was up to the challenge. She was pumped all the way through. We came in and did a makeup testing and we put her in full bug makeup to give her a taste of it and her reaction was, “Wow, this is really ugly.” Then we had the talk, if you are in this movie to be pretty, you are definitely in the wrong film. She embraced it at that point, by the end of it, she was eating insects on set, she was nuts. She always had a smile on her face, she loved making things gross and gory. She kind of got the idea which we were going for. It was the first time we had done a film where everyday we were doing these weird gross gags, and they were all practical effect. As soon as we were done, everyone would go behind the monitor and sa, “That is so gross, let’s make it even more gross.” She was really into it and I feel like that bleeds on the screen in the end.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly does. It is great to hear she was so dedicated to the role like that. It certainly shows on the screen. You mentioned it is not just about a transformation into a bug. The idea of transformation has obviously been done in films, some which come to mind are Cronenberg’s The Fly in 1986 and Landis’ An American Werewolf In London in 1981. Were these films an inspiration to your approach in Bite?
Chad Archibald – Yes, definitely. After I worked out my ideas, it became really obvious that there were films like The Fly that had similar concepts. Being a fan of these films anyways, it was exciting for me for sure. I definitely went back and watched them and did the check if nothing was too similar. Even watching those movies again, prepping for Bite, they are just so much fun and exciting. That is what we wanted for this movie. We wanted it to be something fun, exciting, gooey, gross, but something that people could sit, watch, and be engaged, but also say, “Ew, gross.” We had a concept. The idea, we knew would be gross, but we never set up to make this movie to be the grossest thing ever. There are some people that were sensitive to insects and eggs, and some people who aren’t. There are definitely some people that found it really gross and unnerving. There are then some people that really love it and enjoy it. It is a kind of mix of all of it.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, the film is also refreshing. It seems Horror has gone in a completely different direction in recent years with a lot of Found Footage, Exorcism, and Supernatural. With that said, it is refreshing to see a film in the genre take this type of approach.
Chad Archibald – For sure, we have worked closely with Breakthrough Entertainment on these films. We are slated to do eight Horror films with them right now. It is important for us, within this budget range, which is a micro-budget, to make films that we really want to make. As well as films that do stand out there. With Black Fawn films, Cody and I have made over thirty features. We are definitely over the idea of just making a film to make a film. We want to make some good stuff that is engaging that we would be excited to watch. That is always a goal with these movies.
Bite has Found Footage in it for sure, but they were incorporated into this film because they worked as a medium for it. Everything that they film in the movie, you believe they would actually film, opposed to people running from Zombies and filming it while they are running. It is a concept that the general audience has sort of come to terms with the idea, ok, this is Found Footage so I am going to just turn my brain off and say, yes, they are continuing to film this stuff that they would never be filming. There is a plethora of Found Footage movies out there. We definitely wanted to use it because it worked as a medium. It worked as a storytelling element that is believable. They went on vacation and you film on vacation. Whenever they got home, they did not continue filming all this other stuff. It was meant to be something practical and realistic.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, it does work well in the film in the style it is used. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Chad Archibald – I love Martyrs (2008). It is funny because I always answer this question differently. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, or what I watched recently. I grew up with all these Supernatural villains, that is why I did The Drownsman. I love the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th’s, I miss that era so much. It seems like it has been so long since McFarlane has put out an Action Figure line of Horror Villains. I love those films, I will always love those films. As far as Found Footage, I loved As Above, So Below (2014). It is always hard to give your loyalty to one Horror movie when there are so many amazing films out there.