The idea of journalism has evolved over the last decade. Voices can now be seen, heard, and experienced from anywhere in the world. Platforms like YouTube can launch careers from voices not allowed to tell their stories before. In the genre thriller Little Horror Movie, the idea of found footage investigation balanced with classic horror troupes against the backdrop of the mythical city of Casablanca creates a unique storytelling. Focusing on a team of three investigators Helen (Rebecca Ramon), Mark (Cody Heuer), and Einar (Einar Kuusk) who have decided to head out on this journey to escape their past. As tension mounts and pressure surrounds them, each member must face an ancient horror underneath the legendary city that will also confront the darkness within themselves. Visually stunning and reflecting an effective found footage style, Little Horror Movie is one of the more unique genre films this year. Directed by French storyteller Jerome Cohen-Olivar, Little Horror Movie is a journey that focus on the essence and darkness of humanity infused with the horror we have come to love. In promotion of the film, Cohen-Olivar took some time to speak with Jay Kay from the Horror New Network about chemistry on set, the use of found footage, and what horror offers as a filmmaker?
Horror News Network: Hello Jérôme! Thank you for taking the time out to talk with me about your latest genre feature Little Horror Movie. First, talk about the journey it took to get this made and what you had to end up doing in order to make this happen? What was it like to wear all three main hats?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: First of all, thank you for having me. The journey was a tedious one but at the same time, a very fulfilling one. I live in Morocco far away from the action, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I can really take my time with the material, a curse because finding money for an English-speaking horror film is practically impossible. So, to answer your question more directly, it was a struggle but at the end, I found amazing people that understood the process and decided to be part of it and it just all clicked together, and the movie was made.
Horror News Network: Your latest has a small ensemble but focuses around three main characters (Helen) Rebecca Ramon, Einar (Einar Kuusk), and Mark (Cody Heuer). What went into casting for this film? Being an international project, did you cast at all the U.S. or go aboard?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: Casting was tricky. I wanted English speaking actors and more conveniently from the U.S. because the characters were written as such. With Yasmina Hadimi; my associate; we went through almost 2000 actors, Einar Kuusk ended up being the only one from Europe-Estonia, the other constraint is that the company was not a SAG signatory so that narrowed the choice but ultimately, we found our cast. It took seven months, but we got it done.
Horror News Network: All three of these characters handle the growing conflict differently. Mark uses humor, Einar is very paranoid and on edge while Helen uses work and distance to cover her past. What did these performers bring to their roles that made the characters their own?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: This is great question in the sense that we did all the work in Morocco while they were away, so we only had a week with them before starting the shoot in Casablanca. It was a blind date for all three actors; it could have turned out to be a disaster. The blind date turned out to be a beautiful first date. What they brought is passion. Passion can be transformed in anything you wish. Passion is the stem cells of cinema. Their passion allowed me to fine-tune plot, characters, and structure.
Horror News Network: Can you talk about the influence of modern social media and technology on the way this story is told?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: I have a love/hate relationship with social media; it’s as simple as that. Hopefully that’s reflected in the film.
Horror News Network: You are French Moroccan if I am correct. How much did your heritage and life play in crafting this screenplay?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: It was everything! I feel I am all three characters, in fact I took something that my psychologist once told me, he said I had a foot in the past and a foot in the future and I pee on the present. I thought this was perfect for Mark, so I put it in.
Horror News Network: What does horror offer to you as a filmmaker?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: I suffered from phobias since I was a kid. I dealt with deep phobias, panic attacks that kept me from going out of the house for so long. Horror is definitely an outlet. This is not a cut and dry antagonist as we see. There is a reason why these events are happening.
Horror News Network: Can you talk about the idea of having multiple antagonists and why you decided to make the motivations to be an antagonist personal?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: Multiple antagonists allowed me to merge this into one sense of inherent danger. It’s the monster with depth, the shark with a personal backstory. I like monsters that have humanity in them, that’s what scares me the most. In Jaws for example, I think everyone thinks of the shark as the antagonist, but when you look deeper, it’s not just the shark, it’s a mercantile society that’s trying to eat you alive for its own interest. So now the shark represents much more than just an animal, it represents the dark and greedy side of our human nature.
Horror News Network: What did authentic locations and costuming mean to this production?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: Authenticity, you said it. I spend months looking for a location. It makes or breaks a scene, the atmosphere, the lighting, and the vibe … it’s everything! Costumes are everything too… in fact, everything in this business is everything, right?
Horror News Network: This is Adil Ayoub second feature as a DP. Can you talk about working with Adil Ayoub and what he brought to the project?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: He’s a chief. His lighting is just so refined. He is nominated for best cinematography at Fear Fete. So happy for him.
Horror News Network: Can you talk about the importance of the found footage aspect of this film and using the camera as tool and weapon throughout the film?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: Yes, that was a tricky one because I knew found footage was on the decline, but in the end, a good film is a good film and the form is just a tool, so I took a gamble and hoped the film would bring something fresh to it — like deconstructing found footage. And that’s what it really does, hopefully in a cool way.
Horror News Network: Can you talk about your assistant directors and the roles they played in keeping this production on schedule?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: One thing Morocco is known for is its super qualified below the line. The crew was amazing, and they brought an impressive level of professionalism.
Horror News Network: How much insight did you have with artistic and production design? What role did it play?
Jerome Cohen-Olivar: Production design is key. I like simplicity and I like the design to serve the story. It’s always a challenge and I kind of went with my intuition. I try to listen as much as possible to my intuitions.
Horror News Network: Thanks so much for your time Jerome!