If you haven’t heard of The Upper Footage, check out our review here, or go watch it online!
I got a chance to throw some questions at director and writer, Justin Cole, to pick his brain about the found footage genre, social media, and the stupidity of celebrities. Check it out!
LEGLESS CORPSE: I love films like this, in which the true horror portrayed is that of humanity. Granted, the media will grab anything it can sink its teeth into and make money off of. What gave you the idea for “The Upper Footage”?
JUSTIN COLE: It was a mixture of a lot of things but first and foremost it was my thought that the found footage genre has a lot of untapped potential, and had gotten really far away from what it originally intended to be. For me, the best part of watching a film is the suspension of disbelief, and nothing takes that to the level that the Found Footage Genre can. I always wondered why no one really went for it since the Blair Witch Project and figured I would try to implement the same principles with the age of Google.
LC: There have been a few “found footage” films in the past (“Blair Witch,” “Cloverfield,” etc.), but none have given me the same chills as your film. None have seemed as realistic, either. Was it more difficult to shoot a film of this kind, as opposed to a scripted, choreographed film?
JC: Thank you. I think this was a more difficult way to shoot due to the fact that authenticity was paramount. I wanted to make sure that everything from the acting to the camera placement was as authentic as possible. It drives me crazy when I watch a found footage film where someone is running away from a villain or monster, while recording it the whole time. You are on the edge of death and you decide to run backwards to get the perfect shot? Get the fuck out of here!
To make sure everything was as authentic as possible, pertaining to how the camera would be placed and reacted to, I went on a trip to Sweden with a buddy of mine before shooting began. While there, we went on a 2-week bender and got ourselves in about every odd situation you could imagine, while filming everything. When I got back I was able to study the footage and picked up a lot of interesting details that I was able to implement into the film.
As for the actual actors I did a lot of unconventional things to make sure they really became these characters. When shooting in this style you don’t have the advantage of a lot of cuts so I had to make sure everyone was on top of their game. We would shoot long blocks of footage and if one person was off their game we couldn’t use any of it. It was extremely important that the actors became these characters, even when the camera wasn’t rolling. As we got deeper into the shoot the performances became a lot stronger. Night after night spent in beautiful apartments and limos really started to change the cast members.
LC: The film itself is amazing. It’s creative, innovative, brilliant, and extremely clever. With the controversy surrounding it, do you think we’ll ever get a theatrical release? It’s definitely getting some attention, though maybe not for the reasons it should be…
JC: We actually had a theatrical release early last year that was met with a lot of controversy (including the first night being shut down due to protestors who thought the film to be real). From there we had offers domestically and internationally for a wider theatrical release but it simply did not make any sense for us as everyone wanted changes to be made to the film. It was and still is extremely important for me to retain creative control of the project and releasing on Vimeo VOD was the only way to insure that would happen
LC: “Upper” almost seems to be a warning to a lot of the starlets and celebrities whose entire lives are being broadcast to the world through the media. Would you consider “Upper” to be a sort of social commentary?
JC: For sure. As a culture we are being brainwashed constantly into thinking that these people are important. The reality is just so far from what we are told and I feel like a very small segment of society understands this. What I am proudest of is that the film shows a segment of society for what they really are, while showing the media that glamorizes them are full of shit.
LC: What do you have coming up next on your radar? I, for one, am looking forward to your next film, and I’m sure there are a lot of others foaming at the mouth for some more Justin Cole work.
JC: Well thank you! I am actually working on my next script right now entitled “Abadi”. It is pretty far outside of the Horror and Found Footage genre but it is something that it extremely unique that I couldn’t be more excited about. I am also working on a series idea that is still in a very early stage of development.