Canadian Ryan M.Andrews has crafted a stellar zombie-movie throwback in Sick : Survive the Night, which has been reanimating festivals for the better part of the year. The film hits DVD in January.
LEGLESSCORPSE: Have to ask. Was the title initially Survive the Night, without the Sick? It works, but what was the decision between adding Sick to the front of it?
RYAN M. ANDREWS: It’s actually the other way around. The movie was called SICK and survive the night was the tag line. Then as we hit the festival circuit people started calling it, Sick: Survive The Night. At first we thought it sounded strange but there was something unique and different about the title like that. It just kinda stuck after a while.
LC: Would you say the film is an old school zombie horror throwback – akin to Romero’s flicks? Or is it more in-tune with The Walking Dead?
RMA: It definitely has shades of both. I know people like to take sides on Romero classics VS The Walking Dead, but really they are two sides of the same coin. They share similar themes and we share them too. Yes there are differences but the focus in both is on the human struggle. I will say I think we borrow more from our Romero influences as my cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson and I are both huge fans of the Zombie Trinity: Night, Dawn and Day. Though he is more about Dawn, while I love Day Of The Dead the most. In all cases, you must fear the living.
LC: Why do you think zombie films have come back in fashion?
RMA: I think everything in horror goes in cycles. But zombies are always in fashion for horror fans. It’s just currently appealing to the general public as well. As for why, zombies are the faceless enemy. They’re like a natural disaster or the crumbling downfall of society and that is a subject matter that appeals because it is something we all share a common fear of. They represent politics, religion and consumerism. Anyone who thinks zombies are just reanimated corpses and nothing more are wrong. Dead wrong.
LC: Did you get a lot of say in casting? How did you find your leads?
RMA: I was very fortunate to be able to have the majority of the say in casting. Which is the way it should be because it is the director that has to be able to work with the actors to pull out the performance needed. For SICK, I wasn’t alone at the casting table. Producers were there too, but I was able to have a lot of say. Christina Aceto and Richard Sutton were just two of the many people who came in and auditioned and blew us away. Robert Nolan was an actor I had worked with before and knew he would fit perfectly with the film. And Debbie Rochon was the icing on the cake. I had asked for her specifically, no audition, just she has to be in the film. So my producers, with the help of Fangoria, made it happen.
LC: The film will be released on streaming services, as well as DVD. What’s your take on VOD? Do you think it’s the future of movie-watching?
RMA: I’m a bit old school when it comes to this. I still like to hold something tangible. Like most horror fans out there I am proud of my collection of dvds and blu rays. Hell I even love my VHS collection too. I’m not an idiot, I know that technology is moving us towards this way of life and I accept it. You need to adapt or perish, right? But I will always love my collection and prefer that method of watching films.
LC: They say horror films are an easier sell. What was your experience? Distribution come easier?
RMA: It is and it isn’t. Horror films appear to be an easier sell because it’s a Universal language. I have a friend who made a comedy and it can sell well in English speaking territories. Canada, USA, Britain and Australia, but his film may not translate well or the jokes may not make sense in another language. But horror translates everywhere and can therefore sell everywhere. So distributors everywhere are looking for horror. My experience is no matter the genre it is still hard and a lot of work, but there are more opportunities with horror so it might look like an easier sell.
LC: Is there anything you didn’t accomplish with the film, either due to budget or time constraints that you wanted to?
RMA: I think every filmmaker will say yes to this. Making an indie film we are always fighting time and budget. So there are always sacrifices to make and things that you have to cut. Nature of the beast. But I told a story and created artful horror. So I don’t look at what isn’t, I just look at what is there and that’s good enough for me.
LC: Would you consider doing a sequel?
RMA: My co writer Chris Cull and I actually created this story as a trilogy. The reason is because we want to explore different times during the zombie apocalypse. It just started with Sick, two years after the infection began. The second one, titled Survivalism, shows what happened over those two years and well, we’ll leave the third as a surprise. The second and third parts definitely require bigger budgets as they are bigger stories, so hopefully one day it will happen. But even if it never does, Sick is still a film that can stand on it’s own, telling and completing a single story.
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Interview With Ryan M. Andrews Director Of The New Zombie Flick SICK: SURVIVE THE NIGHT
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