I recently had the good fortune to enjoy a well-written and produced short horror film called The Cleansing Hour, written by Aaron Horwitz and directed by Damien LeVeck (you can check out my review of the film here).
LeVeck graciously took some time out of his filmmaking schedule to answer a few of my questions about the film and its production.
LEGLESSCORPSE: Tell us about the conceptualization of THE CLEANSING HOUR — Where did you come up with the idea, and what, if any, were your inspirations?
DAMIEN LEVECK: Aaron Horwitz, the writer, and myself both have worked a great deal in unscripted television. We are continually fascinated by the public’s ignorance of the manufactured nature of the “reality” shows they watch every day. Further, it seems that the lower the video quality, the more believable it is. Think of any “leak” or “fail” video on the internet. We never question that it’s real because the camera never cuts and it was shot on someone’s iPhone. It was only natural then, and not so far-fetched, to extend this idea to exorcisms broadcast live online.
DL: Heather and Sam are both friends of mine, so it was really just a coincidence that they fit the roles in the script and agreed to do the movie with me. I filled the other roles by meeting with friends of friends who came highly recommended, as well as doing a traditional casting call with my casting director.
LC: It looks like this film was probably a lot of fun to make — any on-set stories or particular memories from the shoot that stand out to you?
DL: We definitely had a blast making the film, but in the moment I wasn’t thinking “fun”, I was thinking “stress.” My eye was always on the eight ball, and I was committed to making my days no matter what. Looking back on it, yes, I had the time of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again.
As for interesting stories, we had a 5 vehicles break down under strange circumstances over the course of the week. Some said it was “demons.” Others called it “coincidence.” There was also a fair share of time-consuming debacles on set involving malfunctioning technology — but I imagine that’s commonplace to any set. I’m not prepared to say one way or another what was the cause.
LC: The production value of THE CLEANSING HOUR is insane — it looks amazing, and having the multiple locations and situations that funnel into the narrative is brilliant. What were some of the challenges you faced getting all of this together? Was it the plan from the beginning, or was some of it “happy accidents”?
DL: Everything was meticulously planned from locations to makeup. There were multiple meetings with all of the departments to make sure that we were always on the same page. The biggest challenge was making everything fall into place at the right time on a limited budget. Fortunately, I had a very professional crew whom I could trust at all times. The crew always knew what had to be accomplished to get the work done, so when they were cut loose, things flowed smoothly. One of our last-minute decisions was actually choosing the primary location for THE CLEANSING HOUR set. We locked it down only a few days before filming was set to begin, but I couldn’t have been happier with it. It was the most visually appealing of the over 10 warehouses I looked at, and the location itself played a huge role in the heightening the production value of the film.
LC: So is this a pitch for a feature-length film?
DL: Yes. THE CLEANSING HOUR is a “proof-of-concept” for the feature length version which Aaron Horwitz and I are currently re-writing.
LC: Are you currently working on any other projects that we should check out?
DL: I have a couple of horror screenplays I’m currently writing, and my company, Skubalon, is developing a slate of horror films that I will independently finance and produce..
The Cleansing Hour certainly convinced me of the kind of skills LeVeck and his cohorts bring to the table — I want to thank him for taking the time out to answer these questions for li’l ol’ us, and to wish him all the best in the future! Personally, I’d like to see that feature-length version!