I recently got a chance to see the film I Sell The Dead at the L.A. Film Festival and it was awesome. This is a fun and original film that has a lot of character. Click Here to read my review for the film. I was lucky enough to sit down with the director of the film, Glenn McQuaid, and we talked about his journey into filmmaking, how he got into making this film and where he plans on going from here.
We have the video interview which you can watch, or you can read the interview transcript below.
How did you film the movie?
We shot it on 35 mm. In the very early days of the script we were gonna shoot it for like, next to nothing. We were going to shoot it in DV or on the P2 the Panasonic. Then you know the ambition grew and grew and suddenly when we got Ron (Perlman) and Dom (Dominic Monaghan) It was one of the first, sort of, one of the things I really pushed for, you know, just to make it a period movie on film I just thought it would be really appropriate. It was a great experience, I’ve shot on film twice now, I love it, I love it! I mean I love all the formats, There’s really something really special there with film.
How did you get Ron Perlman and Dominic Monaghan on board? Thats pretty freaken cool.
Yeah, Ron, I’ve worked with him before, on a movie called ‘The Last Winter’. Which Larry Fessenden directed. So there was sort of an in there, and that I could send him out the script. And certainly Larry helped with the connection of getting the script to Ron, and so, from early enough he new about the project, and about what we were trying to pull off. It took a little bit of persuading to get him. Then Shortly after we started going after Dominic Monaghan, and we sent out a script, a sketched comic book and just some artist renditions in the letter saying, “Please, please come do our scrappy little movie.” And he was great! He’s used to... they’re all use to bigger budgets you know. They came in and rolled up their sleeves and just sort of became part of the family. It as pretty amazing.
Thats great, thats awesome. They did a great job, I mean they were like live action cartoons they were just so fun to watch, their mannerisms, facial expressions, even the way they move their bodies and stuff was just...
Dom had some great physical comedy. And that’s all him. Just pretty early on after the first hour or two on set he just started loosening up, and just started doing some crazy... there’s a great scene when he wakes up in the grave yard and just does this crazy monkey walk. As soon as Dom was on set and seeing him and Larry together as Grimes and Blake was really cool.
Those two guys make a great team.
Yeah, I think they’re cool horror comedy duo.
What movies inspired you to do this?
Wow umm, you know I’ve always loved grave robbing movies, movies about grave robbers, I love ‘Flesh for the Fiends’ and ‘The Body Snatcher’ of course with Boris Karloff and I always just wanted to put these characters into a full on horror environment, it seemed like allot of the grave robber movies are pretty much thrillers, so I wanted to throw the body snatchers into, you know, having them run into vampires and zombies and what not, and it seemed kind of oddly appropriate that they would, you know. A lot of the look of the movie I king of went for the old hammer Terence Fisher, Freddy Francis kind of vibe, you know, lots of fog, desaturate the imagery a little bit. You know allot of British horror was which I grew up on was a big influence on it. But to actually go out and make movies, ever since I was a kid it’s just people like Spielberg, and Joe Dante, and just American fantasy and filmmaking really has always been a huge inspiration, got me so much magic when I was growing up with so much optimism when I was growing up ya know. That was the start of it and it never left me.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they run into and encounter their first vampire.
Thats when the movie starts really coming to life, you know, and thats actually the very last thing I shot. That whole sequence up until them pulling the stake in and out, that was literally the last thing I shot.
It was very cool to um, to just see the audiences response to that around the world, you know, it’s been pretty impressive to hear the belly laughs. It’s great, I’m so proud of those moments. I love horror comedy, again, people like Joe Dante and John Anderson, Paul Bartel, and people who were mixing macabre kind of content and just having a laugh with it. I just love that work you know.
That would be the ambition working on that kind of effects.
So for a term thing is sticking with Horror/Comedy something you want to do?
In one way shape or form, yes. I mean, I’m working on a piece in ireland, writing it write now which is definitely more of a comedic thriller, but there’s scares and laughs. I don’t know I love that kind of work. And I feel like the audiences response to I Sell The Dead, it’s been encouraging me to sort of follow that path.
I feel like I’m on to somthin. Definitely the comedy/horror stuff is very enjoyable to write and direct, and also hopefully it’s doing well for the audience.
What’s your favorite seen in the movie?
Oh! I like the Vampire scene and I love the scene where Ron Perlman and Dominic Monaghan are chatting and Ron saying, or Father Duffy’s saying I paid to be alone with you. It’s just this very silly moment. But it’s the sound design by Graham Resnick and the score by Jack Grace it all just comes together and just very, with the right atmosphere , so seeing those guys together, but I love the vampire scene, it makes me laugh. And some of the beach stuff I think is just hilarious. And I’m very proud of the end of the movie, with some of the more technical special effects.
I heard you say the film was shot on a really low budget and that looked really good.
Yeah, that a New York company called Spontaneous and they do a lot of visual effects for Television commercials. And I know one of the producers over there I brought the project to a good friend over there and they enjoyed what I was trying to do, and they just came in and sort of really became just a passion for them, for the love of the genre, It was great, so yeah there’s lots of bits that I’m very fond of. It was a real trial by fire making your first feature film. I’m very proud of it. I’m very happy that it’s getting out there. And that it’s gonna find an audience. It’s a crazy, crazy process.
What are some experiences you had while shooting the movie that just kind of stick out like just some good times that you and the cast all had, some of those moments?
The cemetery stuff at knight was cool because that was the first time Dom came on board, and very quickly himself and Larry found their characters and their roper together. So, just having a laugh with those guys on set. Some of the hairier moments were on the beach. Because it was actually quite hot. We had giant silks diffusing the light, to give an over cast look. That you might find somewhere on the British Isles. It was a tough four day shoot just to get all that.
It must have been hell for the guy in costume.
Yeah, he’s a trooper, there some great photographs of him on the site. Just this crazy waterlogged zombie chilling out at the beach. And, you know, working with Perlman was a huge honor, I’ve been a fan for a very long time. I love his history he’s done absolutely everything, theater, television, and film, and he just really knows his stuff. He just came in extremely prepared. It was just an honor to work with him. Just everybody, it’s been pretty incredible. I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker, but when I was growing up in Ireland it was just a billion miles away. I never thought I could go ahead and do it. It’s been a real thrill and to be in LA on the scene out here, just meeting other filmmakers has been pretty cool.
Now you said you had another movie in the works.
Yeah, well I have, it’s not easy, I’ve been kicked to the curb a few times, but I’m still fighting. I’m hoping to get something off the ground in Ireland. But, at the same time I am very eager to keep things rolling here in the states. Basically I’m just writing a ton of stuff, and I’ve written sort of a sequel to I Sell The Dead, I mean it’s really...
That was my next question! I was gonna ask if you have something in mind for that because these two characters you created, it’s like an Abbott and Costello world.
Thank you, thank you. That’s what sort of became the goal especially when we were on set, and just frikin choose scenery and go for that kind of older school comedy. So, and it’s all about the characters.
It is, and they are original characters to, and thats what’s awesome.
Thank you. I’ve written a further adventures of Grimms and Blake, and it’s basically those guys and putting them into a different scenario. It will be more of a three act structure. It would be like a giant undead heist movie. So, it’s a lot of fun, allot of different weird creatures, and locations. But I’m turning it into a comic book first. I work with Brahm Revel who adapted the I Sell the Dead script into a comic which will be coming out in august from Image Comics. So were gonna go ahead and work on a sequel in graphic book form and hopefully raise enough interest to get some more fund too hit this world with a bigger budget.
I can’t imagine what you could do with a bigger budget.
Yeah, I would keep things simple enough because I think the parts that really work very well about I Sell The Dead didn’t need a ton of cast thrown at them. You know, so I would definitely keep that kind of world because I think having somewhat a guerilla mentality with these guys is just really appropriate. Also just working with Larry Fessenden and just really learning every aspect of filmmaking. To approach these guys again, pretty much where I left off which was the vampire scene, the goal would be to create a little masterpiece for horror comedy. But again, it’s all about these characters and if Dominic and Larry weren’t into it then it wouldn’t go anywhere. But they are kind of intrigued right now.
If you had a dream project out of any movie what is like your dream movie project.
Oh shit, umm you know I’ve got so many ideas of my own that I’m jugglin right now, the idea would be just to keep rolling and keep building on what it is I’m doing. I don’t know there are so many remakes being made, its crazy, so just to work towards original content and get that out there, thats the dream.
So if a studio came up to you and said, hey we have a comic book movie we want you to direct.
Oh! I’d be all about it! But to be honest with you if they came up to me and said ‘you know we have a remake’ (laughs) I would, mean I can’t turn anything down right now. But I think some movies could or it would make sense, I’d love to see a Race With The Devil remake, Peter Fonda, Warren Oates movie, it’s time to have a devil worshipping rouge movie with a winnebago.
But as far as comic books I think they still haven’t made a Hellblazer movie. They did Constantine and they shifted it to L.A.! Now it’s not a bad movie, but I mean the comic book I love and it’s just a gritty east end of London The Craze meets The Exorcist. You know, I’d love to do that! Where Ray Winston as an older John Constantine, and just set it in a smoking nasty east end London gangster club, with demons. (Laughs) So yeah, thats what I want! Can you get that started for me?
Well get the word going!
Anything else you want to say to everybody about your movie?
Well, thanks, I hope you enjoy it and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me again soon. So, Cheers.