By Larry Dwyer , Staff Journalist
Image Entertainment’s “Frankenstein Theory” was just released this week. Recently, Horror News Network’s Staff journalist Larry Dwyer had a chance to catch up with director Andrew Weiner.
Horror News Network: I loved the concept of this film. The idea of Mary Shelleyâ€™s Frankenstein as a sort of cover-up for real events is truly brilliant. How did it come about?
Andrew Weiner: Thank you! Vlady Pildysh came to me with the initial high concept. After doing extensive research, we worked together on creating an outline and from there crafted the screenplay.
Horror News Network: Kris Lemche was awesome as Jonathan. The â€œtunnel-visionedâ€ mania that he brought to the role was perfect. Did you have him in mind at all or did he just audition? How did he come to the role?
Andrew Weiner: Iâ€™m glad you liked Krisâ€™s performance. I thought he was brilliant. It was a difficult role to pull off and Kris did it with confidence, skill and conviction. I didnâ€™t initially have him in mind, but when he read for the part, I was totally blown away. Same goes for Heather Stephens, who played the female lead Vicky Stephens. Once she auditioned I knew weâ€™d be lucky to have her on board.
Horror News Network: My favorite character in the film was the guide played by Timothy Murphy. He reminded me of one of my all-time favorite characters of film; Quint from Jaws. I felt that Murphy really gave me that same sort of â€œdo as I say or youâ€™re fuckedâ€ vibe that Robert Shaw did as Quint. Was that intentional?
Andrew Weiner: Quint is one of my favorite characters too! There is a certain scene in the film that is homage to JAWS â€“ specifically Robert Shawâ€™s monologue about the S.S. Indianapolis. Itâ€™s up there with my favorite monologues in film history. As for the overall character that Timothy Murphy played (and he played it with such cool icy charisma), we never discussed Quint or any other character. I wasnâ€™t interested in Timothy mimicking someone else; I wanted him to do his own badass thing. What I knew I would get from Tim was a character that stood out in stark contrast to the other characters in the film; a guy who is tough, dangerous, but charming as hell – just like he is in real life!
Horror News Network: The original tale takes place in Geneva. Why the location move to the Arctic Circle?
Andrew Weiner: The novel ends with the Frankenstein creature wandering off into the Arctic where he presumably will allow the elements to take his life. Of course, in our movie, he doesnâ€™t in fact die. Before even starting the script Vlady and I created a timeline of the creatureâ€™s movements over the last 200 years so we could build a backstory and migratory history that we could refer to, to help inform the screenplay. As it turns out the creature was living in Northern Canada all these years and we had no idea.
Horror News Network: How harsh was it shooting in that sort of environment?
Andrew Weiner: Though it was quite cold, we were outfitted well enough to shoot outside all day long (hand warmers are a great invention). The biggest logistical challenges were traveling between locations and navigating our way through the snow – at times we had to travel by snow mobile – the Alaskan crew were the only ones that were good at driving those things, the rest of us were a little unpredictable behind the wheel.
Horror News Network: All â€œfound footageâ€ movies seem to get the inevitable comparison to â€œBlair Witch Projectâ€ and â€œParanormal Activityâ€. What sets â€œThe Frankenstein Theoryâ€ apart from those films?
Andrew Weiner: I canâ€™t say that I thought about those films once I committed to making THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY even though, as you pointed out, comparisons are bound to be made. I have a great deal of respect for the achievements of both of those movies, but I wasnâ€™t out to imitate them. At the end of the day I had a vision for this film based on the script that Vlady and I wrote â€“ which was also shaped in part by Caleb Kramer, who produced the movie (along with Gary Bryman). Once I start working on something, I become incredibly obsessive and my focus is really only on the film at hand. I trust in the material that Iâ€™m working on, trust in the people that Iâ€™m working with, but donâ€™t concern myself with what other people will think of the movie. Once the movie is finished and sold, I care about what people think, but while Iâ€™m making the movie, it truly doesnâ€™t enter my mind.
Horror News Network: This is your first turn in the directorâ€™s chair. How did you enjoy it? What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Andrew Weiner: Iâ€™ve produced a number of films now. Directing is quite a bit different. When Iâ€™m producing, I feel like Iâ€™m ultimately responsible for any problem that arises. Itâ€™s a fun, creative job, but can also be a Sisyphean exercise in crisis management; once one disaster is averted another one always pops up. I brought Gary Bryman on board to produce the film and oversea physical production. Garyâ€™s an experienced producer that I trust and enjoy working with. Having him on board, allowed me to maintain focus on the creative elements of the filmmaking and not have to worry about all of the behind the scenes madness that accompanies most film productions.
Horror News Network: Are you working on anything right now?
Andrew Weiner: Yes. I was hired to write and produce a horror film for a studio; itâ€™s still in development so it will be a while before I know whether weâ€™ll go into production. Iâ€™ve also been hired to write and direct a few short horror/thriller films. Iâ€™m very excited about them. I would love to show it to you when Iâ€™m done. Once those shorts are finished, Iâ€™ll turn back towards the feature world and start focusing on my next directing effort, which is a stripped-down thriller that is not set in freezing Arctic.
Horror News Network: Iâ€™ve seen you quoted as saying that you love making horror films. Why?
Andrew Weiner: Even though the subject matter can be dark, theyâ€™re so much fun to make! Itâ€™s a great playground to let your imagination run wild. I think itâ€™s enjoyable for the actors too, because they get to explore things that (hopefully) are very far removed from their everyday lives. Horror films frequently play out like little morality plays. While the writing process can take me to dark places, it really forces me to ponder some of the uglier aspects of our species, which I think in turn can bring interesting motifs to light.
Horror News Network: You obviously love the genre, what are a few of your favorites?
Andrew Weiner: THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING, EVIL DEAD PART II are films made by masters that I absolutely love. Another favorite of mine is Adrian Lyneâ€™s JACOBâ€™S LADDER. Okay, arguably itâ€™s not technically a horror film, but I donâ€™t care – itâ€™s an absolutely amazing movie. The narrative is so brilliantly conceived, the story slowly reveals itself in the most engrossing artful manner imaginable, and the ultimate reveal and takeaway of the film is transcendent.
Horror News Network: If you could meet anyone in the world (alive or dead), who would it be and what would you say to them?
Andrew Weiner: I would be very leery of meeting anyone who is dead, because the space-time continuum should not be messed with. Ever.
Horror News Network: Thanks again for your time. Do you have anything to say to our readers about â€œThe Frankenstein Theoryâ€ that we havenâ€™t covered here?
Andrew Weiner: Dear readers, I love you all very much, now stop reading and go watch THE FRANKENSTEIN THEORY. If you have any more questions, follow me on twitter @TheAndrewWeiner. Iâ€™m happy to answer any questions you may have (that are appropriate and in my wheelhouse).