Director Amariah Olson talks to The Movie Sleuth about working with his brother on movies, The Shadow Effect, and more.
TMS: What can you tell us about your history as a filmmaker?
AO: Me and my brother have been shooting for about 17 years. We started just as kids. Actually longer than 17 years. I started when I was 12 with a video camera, shooting documentaries, nature videos and stuff like that. When I was 15 we started producing television commercials. Me and my brother produced a couple hundred commercials. That's where we got our start. At the same time, we'd go out on weekends and shoot short films. We have a library of about 12 short films. In 2011-12, we decided our focus was going to be on producing original content. So we switched gears. We're on our fifth movie now.
TMS: Obviously you guys love working on projects and movies together. How was this one different?
AO: It was just a bigger movie. It had a lot more moving parts. It had a bigger crew. A shit ton of locations for a very short schedule. Transportation was a nightmare. It has bigger stars in it, so you're dealing with celebrities, which is a challenge in itself. It was just a combination of being a bigger movie. There was a lot bigger crew size than our previous movies we had done.
TMS: What genre would you say The Shadow Effect is? Is it a hybrid?
AO: It's basically a science fiction action thriller.
TMS: You were talking a bit about having a bigger cast. Obviously everyone at our site loves Michael Biehn. What's it like working with him?
AO: Michael Biehn is a great guy. He's very funny. He takes his career very seriously. He's very humble and very fun to to be work around. When you have a 'Michael Biehn moment' as I call it, he just really brings life to a character. The end of this movie has a 'Michael Biehn moment' and it's very classic. It feels like those movies in the '80s and '90s, those action movies where you had those action moments. I was proud to have one of those in this movie.
TMS: Same thing with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Is he as intuitive as Michael Biehn is?
AO: Jonathan is a very kind of classical, very intelligent actor that comes prepared. He shows up on set. He knows his lines to the nth degree. He has his performance down. He's very easy to work with him. He brings an intelligence and kind of class to any character he plays.
TMS: Tell us about working with Cam. It's good to see him doing something different.
AO: Cam worked well for this part because his character has inner turmoil, dark problems, and pain. He has some animal instinct moments in the film. I think that Cam is really able to tap into that and bring it to the screen. Hopefully that resonates with audiences.
TMS: It's cool seeing him doing something different like this. It seems like he was getting pigeonholed into the same types of characters.
AO: Yeah. It gives him a full range. The duality he gets to play is very challenging for an actor to do and I think that's what interested him in the project.
TMS: How long did it take to film this movie and was it strictly digital in the production?
AO: Yeah, so we definitely got the movie shot in under a month. We shoot all our films on digital so we can have full control in post production of our colors. I think it works well for the work that we desire.
TMS: How has modern tech made your careers possible?
AO: I wouldn't say that modern technology has made our careers possible. I would say that modern technology has made a very competitive market place and made everybody's careers harder. When you have the ability to go out for $2500 in some cases and buy an HD video camera, anybody on the street could make a movie if they wanted to. It's opened a much broader base for potential film makers in a market that's already totally over saturated. It's like buying a house after the crash. You could by a house for fifty cents. The film market is the same way. There are thousands and thousands of movies being made and only a couple of buyers. You have to really hone your skills and be competitive.
TMS: How do you think piracy effects your work at this point?
AO: It's extremely damaging. It's the same thing as the music industry. Piracy is pretty much on its way to destroying this industry and that's a problem. That's why it's hard for a film to make its budget back. It's way easier for someone to get online and pirate a movie than it is to buy it. It's a major problem. The Netflix model for distribution for filmmakers is not very good. Distribution really needs to change online. It needs to be a correct sharing model with filmmakers to continue making a sustainable industry. I think a lot of producers have stopped and will continue to no longer to produce films as long as the industry continues on a decline. There needs to be a legal thing to put a stop to piracy.
TMS: Seven major studios are coming up with a model to release all new cinematic releases to the home video market. But I think that will cause even more piracy.
AO: They're all beamed down to the theater. They're all digital masters, so I don't really think there's really a way to technologically combat piracy. Today's audience is very ADD. All the Facebooks and the Twitters and everything else to entertain ourselves with. We want what we want and we want it right now. If we don't get what we want we might get it a different way and that way is piracy. If the studios would take into account the behavior of the new generation and cater to it, that would help it a lot.
TMS: If you guys could team up on one remake, what would it be?
AO: Remake a movie? It would have to be something from the '80s or '90s like Die Hard or something, a classic story, something cool you know?
TMS: Where can people see The Shadow Effect?
AO: It's going to be released VOD, DVD, etcetera. As far as the outlets go, I'd have to look that up. This one is not going to have a theatrical release and video on demand outlets.
TMS: Is it hard making movies together or is this a natural process now?
AO: Creatively, we get in battles all the time so you have to pick and choose and learn to separate things to keep things running smoothly. So, I think that's where we're going. We used to be more involved creatively together but for the efficiency of this production, we delegated creative responsibilities.
TMS: What other movies do you guys have coming up after this?
AO: We just wrapped production on a new movie called Body of Sin. It's a female in jeopardy diamond heist movie that was pretty fun. We shot it on an island off the coast of Georgia. It's very sexy. Aerial shots. A kind of summer look. We have two sexy lead females who seduce men for money. It's a break from the darker films we do. It was very bright. Very warm. A great break from our other films.