Back in January, we broke the news that cult writer/director Chad Ferrin (Someone’s Knocking at the Door, Easter Bunny! Kill! Kill!) was producing an original horror flick inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft.
Three months later, the film has wrapped and post-production is underway on what can only be described as a very sticky, very bizarre and oft-amusing throwback genre entry that combines the Cthulhu mythos with what you might call that Chad Ferrin feeling.
In the wake of the flick’s gory execution I spoke to the veteran indie filmmaker about how the picture came together and what audiences can expect from the mind behind John and Wilma Hopper (Someone’s Knocking) and the murderous mole people of Parasites.
Bob Freville: The Deep Ones is very different from anything else you’ve made. What was the genesis of this project?
Chad Ferrin: Star/producer, Gina La Piana offered her beach house as a location, and said we should shoot some kind of airbnb horror film there. The moment she said Airbnb, my mind clicked and the script was done in two weeks. It fell into place faster than anything, from script to production that I had done before. Perhaps it was writing for specific actors, seaside locations, divine intervention or Lovecraft guiding my hand…whichever, it was a perfect formula.
Were you reading a particular Lovecraft work when you alighted on the idea?
Shadow over Innsmouth, Dagon and The Call of Cthulhu inspired me the most. And I must say, it’s truly a dream come true to make a Lovecraftian film.
How did the project come together and what did that look like from inception to pre-production to wrapping on the beach?
It all started with Robert Miano introducing me to Gina for another project and when that didn’t work out, this one fatefully slithered up. Once we had her and the locations, Robert found the first batch of investors Michael Schefano and Richard Pate, followed by Gerry Karr and Jerry Irons. Then producers Zebadiah DeVane and Jeff Olan came in with the rest of the budget. Gina recommended Johann Urb and Jackie Debatin who were FANTASTIC in the roles of Petri and Deb. We had Zeb’s excellent catering, perfect weather, I only almost died twice(fell asleep at wheel)…it was really a blessed production.
How much planning went into the creature FX? I imagine you had a hand in sketching out the design of the mythical beast.
Jim and I went back and fourth on few concepts for Dagon that fit within our budget. Elements of C.H.U.D. were the icing on the creature cake. Then Jim and his crew had a couple months prep and they really out did themselves.
How was this experience different from that of your previous films? What were some of benefits to this shoot and, by contrast, the struggles you came up against?
It was the smoothest from start to finish and by far the most rewarding for me artistically. In large part due to a really top notch cast and crew that gravitated to the material. The set had a family vibe that helped keep everyone in high spirits and the beautiful locations didn’t hurt.
I understand that Robert Miano co-produced this one with you. How did that come about and can you talk a bit about your collaborative process with someone like Rob?
We collaborate on everything from script to screen. I first worked with Robert’s wife Silvia Spross on Someone’s Knocking at the Door, and she introduced me to Robert. The three of us had an amazing collaboration on Parasites, and then continued with Robert Rhine on Exorcism at 60,000 Feet and now The Deep Ones.
Did you have any specific influences in mind when you were prepping The Deep Ones? I know we touched on some aesthetic similarities to Brian Yuzna’s Society and Peter Jackson’s Braindead when we were talking about a particular sequence from the script, but were there
other influences that you were consciously or, subconsciously drawing upon?
Yes, Society and Braindead, as well as Kubrick’s The Shining, Horror Express, Rosemary’s Baby, Halloween III, Dark Shadows, Possession, Humanoids from the Deep, Salem’s Lot and Prince of Darkness.
The Deep Ones has reunited you with some people that you have worked with frequently in the past. I believe this was your third time working with Robert, but you’ve also got Timothy Muskatell on board for the first time since…Someone’s Knocking? You’ve always had a bit of a repertory company of actors going. Do you have a dream team of sorts that you’d like to work with in the future?
Well when you find talented cast/crew you just want to keep that magic going from film to film. Worked for John Ford, right? I hope to add Gina, Johann, Jackie, Kelli, Nicolas and Jerry to the next one. It’s nice to work with talented people that you have a little history with. I worked James Ojala back in my Troma days. Rae Robison had done costume design on Unspeakable, so it was pretty awesome to reunite 20 years later. Jeff Billings worked on Parasites, really dug the script and went above and beyond. Steve Hitselberger, John Santos, David Defino have been on most of my films since The Ghouls. Richard Band and I had a such a great experience on Exorcism that just had to get him on board.
I have to say that this flick seems pretty epic in scale in terms of the practical creature effects and whatnot. Do you see yourself going in the opposite direction with your next picture? Could we ever see a two-person character study from Chad Ferrin? Maybe a claustrophobic single location thriller?
I have a sort of single location thriller sitting here as well as a few bigger budget things. I’m ready for anything.
What do you think audiences can look forward to experiencing when The Deep Ones is finally unleashed on them?
Wall to wall cosmic creepiness and a score that is phenomenal. A Lovecraftian Rosemary’s Baby that will leave you gasping.
Do you have any acquisition deals in place? Is there a global sales rep attached or anything of that nature?
There’s a lot of interest, but I’m waiting to do a festival run before locking anything.
Can you see yourself expanding on the Cthulhu mythos down the road?
Yes, working on a sort of sequel to The Deep Ones now. Very excited.
Are there any other existing IPs that you would be interested in tackling?
I have a western version of Kihachi Okamot’s The Sword of Doom ready to roll.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates regarding The Deep Ones as they come in…