Funny & Crazy + [Willem Dafoe]

Daybreakers

Daybreakers

Daybreakers (movie poster)

Well, well, well…do I have a fantastic exclusive for you or what! I just wrapped up an interview with Ken and Mark Freeman, aka The Freeman Brothers, who are the masterminds behind vampire flick Daybreakers (reviewed below). Not only are the visionary writer/director/producers Australian, they’re also twins which gives them double cool points in my book. Oh, and they think Twilight is “lame” (awesome!)

The bros have been working together since in the womb and first burst on to the scene in 2000 with their debut effort The Big Picture, a dramatic short film. But it was their 2003 follow up Undead, a low-budget zombie flick, that really garnered them attention and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came knocking. Fast forward a few years and the lads are busy on a worldwide press tour to promote their latest film Daybreakers, which has been getting all sorts of kudos from critics for its unique blend of sci-fi and horror.

Anywho, I sat down with doppelgangers for a chat about life, love and relationship. Just kidding, I wanted gorey details damn it and the bros certainly delivered.

Barbie: First of all, howdy, it’s awesome to meet you guys. I’m a big fan of Undead and can I just say, Daybreakers freakin blew my mind.
Ken: No worries, it’s good to meet you too.
Mark: Great, glad you liked it.

Barbie: Okay, so what is something you want audiences to take away from Daybreakers?
Mark: I hope it’s something new and different for the genre. We wanted to offer something original and stay true to the vampire mythology as much as possible, but then add something new too. Hope what we’ve done finds an audience that wants something darker in their vampire films compared to what has been out there at the moment.

Barbie: Are you happy with responses to the film so far?
Ken: Horror films don’t usually get a good wrap from mainstream critics. We care what some critics think, the ones who really love the genre and have a passion for it. I don’t really care what mainstream critics think, I think they don’t like the horror genre to begin with but what’s important is that it finds an audience and we think it has.

Barbie: What was it like shooting it on the Gold Coast?
Mark: To be perfectly honest we shot mostly at Warner Bros studios and it was great, we did some exterior shots outside on the Gold Coast but most of it was inside. The studios are fantastic and the crews down there are world class.

Barbie: There has been a real push lately to try and attract big budget films to come and shoot here, what were some of the benefits for you guys shooting on the coast?
Mark: The benefits were the studios and the crews; they were really experienced and had the background working on big budget American productions there. The hardest thing about filming wasn’t on the Gold Coast, it was in Brisbane. The locations were incredibly expensive which is unfortunate because it’s a city that doesn’t have too many films come through and it’s ridiculous to have the locations at Sydney prices.

Barbie: Would you like to see more horror films shot in Australia?
Mark: I’d like to see more films shot in Australia in general, but they need to be films that people want to see. There’s a very small number of people that actually go and see Australian films and a lot of them end up being DVD releases. We need to focus on finding more promotable ideas. Unfortunately we’re at a time when a film like Undead would struggle to get a theatrical release, but the good thing is the DVD market is so huge you can use that to gain an audience.

Barbie: Call me slightly delirious but I thought there were some Dawn Of The Dead-esque moments toward the end of the film, is Romero someone who has inspired you guys?
Ken: George Romero has been a big influence on us, we actually got to meet him last year too. Dawn Of The Dead and the whole Living Dead series are really good at subtly layering social commentary within a B-Grade splatter movie and we tried to do that with Daybreakers. He’s really good at shooting bloody splatter scenes and we tried to do the same. They’re actually really hard to shoot and you have to hope you get it right the first time because they take so long to set up afterwards.

Barbie: Yeah, I could understand that, like in the scene with the soldier.
Ken: Exactly.

Barbie: What are some of the films that have inspired you, horror or otherwise?
Mark: We grew up in the 80s which was a great decade for films with Spielberg and everything that was going on. In terms of horror stuff we’re heavily influenced by (Sam) Raimi’s early stuff and Peter Jackson, big fans of Peter Weir, (Stanley) Kubrick. The reason we started off in horror, we loved the genre, but it’s an easy one to do low budget if you’re starting out and don’t have all the resources.

Barbie: Now that Daybreakers is done and dusted, what’s next in the pipeline for you guys?
Mark: We have a few projects at Universal and Warner Bros that we’ve been looking at and there’s been a script Michael and I have been working on for a while. It’s not going to be six-years between films or anything. We have to be vague on the details because it’s still all in the works. It’s just good material is very hard to find. We’ve read a lot of scripts and a lot of them are awful. As long as the material is good we will be working on something.

Barbie: Now you two are twins right?
M+Mark: Yeah.

Barbie: I don’t want to ask you any lame twin questions like when one of you pinches himself does the other one feel it, but is there ever the possibility of making a twin horror film down the track? Like your appropriation on a J-Horror one?
Ken: (Laughs) Like Dead Ringers.
Mark: (Laughs) Doubt it, our life as twins is enough of a horror film (laughs).

Barbie: So do you guys get along well? You work together all the time writing, directing, producing, it never ends up in a punch up on set?
Mark: We get a long just fine, we have a lot of the same influences and we have a sort of shorthand between us. We know each really well, it’s a very honest kind of relationship and no fights.

Barbie: I know you mentioned before about some of the directors that inspire you, but are there specific elements of a director’s work you really like or has intrigues you?
Ken: I’ve always been a big fan of (David) Cronenberg. He does really interesting things and his films are always about the monster within. Sometimes what he’s doing doesn’t always work but he has some interesting ideas.

Barbie: Yeah, he’s great. The horror genre has seen quite a resurgence in the past few years, are there any horror films that you’ve really like or have caught your eye?
Ken: I really enjoyed Let The Right One In which was a little Sweedish vampire film that was particularly good. Other than that there hasn’t been a lot that has stood out…
Mark: I like this little independent film called New Moon (laughs). That was a joke.

Barbie: (Laughs) Right, but does that annoy you? I mean, the vampires in Daybreakers are all hardcore and badass, does the romantic, swooning ones in Twilight and True Blood tarnish the genre for you a little bit?
Mark: Ahh, there’s nothing wrong with True Blood, it’s quite good. Twilight is lame but it’s like the training wheels of the vampire movie; it introduces the audience to a genre they would usually be in to and hopefully it encourages them to explore a little bit further.

Barbie: Nicely put. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me and good luck for the rest of the whirlwind press tour.
Mark: Thanks a lot.
Ken: Thanks.

Sigh. There ain’t no business like family filmmaking business.

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Daybreakers {Willem Dafoe}