LA Film Festival Spotlight: "Beyond The Gates" Filmmaker Jackson Stewart
Two brothers play a vintage 80's VHS board game and mayhem ensues!
The Santa Monica Observer met up with Jackson Stewart, Director of the retro horror film, "Beyond The Gates", which had its sold out World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 2 at the ArcLight in Culver City. A second screening has been added by popular demand on June 6 at 8:45 PM, also at the ArcLight in Culver City.
"Beyond The Gates" tells the story of two estranged brothers who reunite to liquidate the contents of their father's video store after his mysterious disappearance. As they dig through the videos, they find an old VCR board game called "Beyond The Gates" that they believe may hold a connection to their father's disappearance. As they play the game, all Hell literally breaks loose and soon they realize that they must beat the game to stay alive.
The film stars Barbara Crampton ("Re-Animator", "From Beyond"), Graham Skipper ("Almost Human", "The Mind's Eye"), Chase Williamson ("The Guest", "Fetish Factory"), and Brea Grant ("Halloween 2", "Pitch Perfect 2").
Observer: Was "Beyond The Gates" inspired by the VHS board game "Nightmare"?
Jackson Stewart: Yeah, "Nightmare" was definitely the biggest influence as far as the layout of the game. "Clue" and "Black Sunday", the Mario Bava movie, were a pretty big influence on it too. We wanted Barbara Crampton to look like a Barbara Steele-type character in one of those films. The layout of the game is also influenced by Edward Gorey, a Tim Burtonesque artist.
Observer: Was it a conscious decision to make the film feel like a throwback to 80's horror movies?
Jackson Stewart: We tried to keep everything in a set of parameters as far as how we were shooting it. We were watching movies like "The Gate" and "Phantasm" and "Poltergeist". We were basically like, "Ok, we were not doing any camera moves that went past this period," and so we were trying to keep everything on dollies and frame it out as close to those movies as we could.
Observer: When you were writing this script, did you have certain actors in mind?
Jackson Stewart: Yeah. Basically my co-writer, Stephen Scarlata, and I used mostly people that we knew or had worked with before. Graham Skipper who plays the lead actor Gordon - he's been a friend for years and I've seen him in "Re-Animator: The Musical" and "Almost Human", and I thought he was really great. That role was written for him. The John character was written for Chase Williamson. Margot, the girlfriend, was written for Brea Grant.
Observer: How did Barbara Crampton get involved as one of the producers and then get cast in the movie as the VCR board game host?
Jackson Stewart: I wanted a connection to those movies that had influenced stuff like those 80's Supernatural movies like "From Beyond". Barbara had been a friend of mine for years and she wanted to get into producing. I reached out to her about this project and she agreed immediately. Barbara was there and I realized she'd be perfect for this role. I basically just begged her and then she agreed to do it.
Observer: Are there other films in the works?
Jackson Stewart: I am writing another film right now. It would be like a "Halloween" movie if Michael Meyers actually stayed dead. I am also writing a sequel to this movie. It would be a pretty different story but it will have a lot of the same people back.
Observer: "Beyond The Gates: The Next Generation?"
Jackson Stewart: It would be called, "From Beyond The Gates!"
For tickets to "Beyond The Gates" and other LA Film Festival films, go to http://www.filmindependent.org or call 1 (866) FILM FEST.