Can we talk about location shooting? Someone mentioned that Dead Night is shot mostly outside, which I balked at. Some of the cinematography looked so vivid it couldn’t be real. Where did you shot and how did you get the perfect snow cover?

Brea Grant: It was miniatures, I’m just saying. [Laughs]

Barbara Crampton: [To Brad] Way to sell it!

Brad Baruh: We had a huge project, location wise. It was all real. We had a certain style and I, like you, saw how some of it looked and just said “Wow.” It’s because we’re not used that shooting style. Independent movies wouldn’t have the budget or the idea to shoot that way, and I talked about this. Like rule number one is don’t shoot in the snow, so we’re like, shoot in the snow! I don’t like rules.

We went to Lake Tahoe and we shot in the snow. Visually – and Kenton Drew Johnson our DP did a great job – we wanted to go for a lit look meaning movies in the 80s, and early 90s. They would light their exteriors. The cameras have gotten to the point now where they are so sensitive that a lot of horror movies are shot in the dark. I did some work on The Purge, and I remember being like they are just shooting this thing in the dark. It’s crazy, and it’s an awesome look, but for us we wanted to go back to that lit look.

I wouldn’t compare us to Aliens of course, but there’s a lot of blue light in James Cameron’s movies and whatnot, so we really wanted to get out there and light these big scenes and they ended up giving us a visual style that hopefully did stand out. But you’re right. Some of it looks fake and it’s not. We were out there in real blizzards. There are some CG snow-adds, there’s some stuff like that but very little of it. We were in the Lake Tahoe area on the California side and it was just the combination of our camera and shooting on vintage lenses and the light out there. The actual snow storm really gave us something that hopefully feels different.

Yeah, and I hope my comment wasn’t taken in the wrong way.

Brad Baruh: [Laughing] No, no! I totally know what you mean.

There’s this one shot with A.J. Bowen between two trees and it was so perfectly symmetrical and I just sat there like “Is this a green screen?”

Brea Grant: What you don’t know is that it’s, like, 17 degrees in that shot.

That was my next question – how was it shooting in the cold for the performers?

Barbara Crampton: So, so cold.

Brea Grant: My character didn’t even grab a jacket, which was true to life. We were talking about it a lot, like would she grab a jacket?

Barbara Crampton: Your life’s in peril…

Brea Grant: I’m literally running around without a jacket. I think the coldest it got was 17? But it was in the 20’s most of the days for most of the shoots and it was very cold. The coldest it ever got is the scene where Sophie and I are on a dock over the water. That was significantly colder…

Sophie Dalah: Freezing…

Brea Grant: And we kept running to our van. These guys were out there braving the cold…

Brad Baruh: She says that but I was literally in an Alaskan North Face, like the Michelin Man, and I was still cold.

Brea Grant: [Sophie and I] would go sit in the van and crank the heat up and fall asleep…

Barbara Crampton: Well when you’re acting you forget about the cold, right?

Brea Grant: You do…once you start. In that scene in particular I had my hands exposed, I didn’t have gloves on. I won’t give it away but I had to deal with some teeth, is that a spoiler?

Brad Baruh: Not at all, and those teeth were really huge. They were really sharp, man!

Brea Grant: I was very cold and I was covered in blood, the dampness of the blood…

Sophie Dalah: I don’t’ know about you but it felt like the silicone my face was hardening and also sweating underneath…

Like freezing to your face?

Sophie Dalah: Yeah but I guess you do forget about the cold when you’re shooting, except when it’s a bit of a chore…[Laughing]

Brad Baruh: Also we had a long setup…

Brea Grant: Brad was so excited about that scene, and there were so many fun practical effects going on because it was all practical, and when we were dealing with that, it looked crazy to be there. That wakes you up cause you’re running and doing all sorts of practicality.

Sophie Dalah: Like fake fighting, I never had to do that much before…

Brea Grant: All the tackling. [Laughter] You never hurt me!

To end, today’s film festival atmosphere is really interesting because you can find immediate reactions on social media. Do you have a favorite reaction to the film that you’ve seen so far?

Brad Baruh: I was surprised by how much of the comedy landed. People really bought into A.J.’s stuff. We talked about it. A lot of it was off the page, his delivery was great. His interpretation of it was great. I was really happy that some of those funny moments landed.

Barbara Crampton: There were so many people who were saying “Was I supposed to laugh at the true crime TV show, because I wasn’t sure?” And I was like “Yes! Of course, yeah!” There’s so many layers of things going on, but you walk in and have fun with it.

Brad Baruh: For sure, 100%. I think the idea is to laugh at the true crime show because you’re so used to the format. It’s not like the true crime show is necessarily funny, but the melodrama of what they were doing was certainly intentional. When you watch the shows they are that ridiculous, so you see in that context. I thought it was a lot of fun to see how people reacted, so that was very cool.


Dead Night is in select theaters and on VOD now.

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