Interviews: Gabriel Carrer - Director of In The House of Flies

In The House of Flies has been getting rave reviews. Here's a short interview with the director, Gabriel Carrer.

Gabriel Carrer has directed over 100 music videos across Canada and the U.S for such artists as Swollen Members, Kottonmouth Kings, Hed p.e and The Prodigy.  His first film, Desperate Souls, was helmed in 2003. Following the success of the film, he directed Troma’s Kill, ‘70s throwback If A Tree Falls, and In the House of Flies, out on DVD and VOD this month from Parade Deck Films.

TMS: Where did the idea for In the House of Flies come from, Gabriel?

GC: The idea is credited to writer Angus McLellan. Angus and I have worked together for years, and he had a script that was very heavily character based after I was searching around for something intimate to shoot. I was into on an idea that enabled me to explore working with just two actors and themes of desperation, fatigue and loneliness. Angus had written the script over a decade ago and it was originally called The Hole. He wrote the film while studying in Toronto back in the year 2000.

TMS: Did the script change much by the time it went before the cameras?

GC: A few things changed, but only to the physical environment. The environment that the actors were in originally had high ceilings and was a little larger of space to work in.  We decided to make the space small and confined for aesthetic reasons.  It also helped project the actors into a very isolated place in their heads. It was their personal hell, with no room to breathe. From a technical standpoint, it created obstacles for our camera department. We were always constantly thinking of how and where to place the camera to make it not monotonous with the same types of shots. So we shot each scene entirely different, and through some rules out the window.  We were able to do this, because the original script was massaged for years and years, and I know that’s why the actors were able to find the seeds to do what they had to do. Not to mention, how talented they are. |

TMS: How did you find the leads audition?

GC: I come from a theatre background, and upon reading the script it literally felt like a stage performance to some extent, or at least in my opinion. If we wanted to turn this film into a stage play, we could. I knew that was something special, because that means there is a definite audience interaction or engagement with the actors. I saw Ryan Kotack in a short film and saw some of his theatrical stuff and had him come do a read with Linsday Smith, who was also working in theatre at the time. I already had a good idea of who I wanted to cast regarding looks, and age, so finding them was true fate for the project. After the read in my office one late winter night, it was a done deal.

TMS: How did you pitch the film? Were there any other films you’d compare it to as part of the pitch?

GC: We never had to pitch the film to investors, because we already had something in place financially that supported this kind of film. We were lucky. There is a flipside to making a movie that takes place in one location, with two people in peril, and that’s being compared to movies like SAW. But we knew we had a different take on this situation, and because the script was written over a decade ago before the Saw films came out and other great films like Buried, we knew we had original elements in the story that would set it apart on its own.  Instead of focusing on gore and grime, we focused on empathy and emotional despair.

TMS: It looks like it was a physically demanding shoot for the actors, but what about the director? Tough, at times?

GC: The actors did it all. It was their choice to take it to the next level, and they did. I always let the actors feel their environment, let them do what they need to do. Much of the time was spent as me being an observer and informer, because it would be unfair of me to tell what to feel or how to feel it. As a director, film is about how you convey story so that the audience knows when to stay, pause, stop and leave with you.

TMS: How did you settle on Parade Deck Films for distribution?

GC: We searched for a distributor who was extremely passionate about the films core and the people involved. Christian Burgess a friend of mine is great producer and turned me onto his business partner Michael the founder of Parade Deck Films. Michael reviewed the film and fell in love with what we did. Parade Deck Films is a very supportive and represents the film how it wants to be represented, giving us freedom to work with his company in different capacities. We wanted this film to be flexible in the marketplace, and the avenues that the company has are perfect.

TMS: What’s next for you?

GC: I just finished directing a film called The Demolisher starring Ry Barrett, Tianna Nori and Jessica Vano. It was my first time using the Arri Alexa and seeing what we can pull off with this camera with a large amount of locations in the streets of Toronto and Hamilton was incredible. It’s quite the contrast and opposite of In the House of Flies with set design, but it definitely takes a darker and more extreme turn into similar paths with loneliness, despair and now physical violence.