A little reminder for the UK and European Moyerists that The Caller will be out on DVD on October 24. You can order it on Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk. I am impatiently awaiting the copy I have on pre-order.
Director of The Caller, Matthew Parkhill, was asked in a recent interview what it was like working with Stephen and if there were any True Blood fans in the The Caller crew. It seems that Steve makes new fans where ever he goes.
Parkhill: “It was great. He’s a fellow Essex boy. In fact we grew up fairly near each other. He’s very down to earth, very unaffected, and very professional. He has great instincts and he hits it pretty much every time, every take. Were there any True Blood fans? Not that I was aware of. I mean, no one was asking for autographs on set or anything. But there were a lot of Moyer fans by the end of the shoot.”
The Italian fans will be able to see The Caller at the Ravenna Nightmare Film Fest that will be held 26 oct – 1 nov 2011. The Caller will be shown on Sunday October 30 at 20.15. For more information visit the festival’s website.
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In the latest issue of MovieScope Magazine Issue 24 (September/October 2011), Sergio Casci, writes about his 14 year experience with his screenplay for the film, “The Caller.”
After receiving BAFTA nominations for his 2003 debut American Cousins, Sergio Casci has immersed himself in writing for the big and small screens. But, as he exclusively reveals, horror movie The Caller was challenging in ways he never could have imagined…
Never trust any filmmaker who tells you that spooky things happened on the set of their horror movie. It’s just a little too obvious, isn’t it? And getting folks to believe that there’s something genuinely weird going on certainly can’t harm sales. But here’s the thing; spooky things really did happen on the set of my horror movie, The Caller. Nothing major—it didn’t make the papers—but bad enough to make an otherwise level-headed bunch of filmmakers extremely jumpy.
As Puerto Rican producer Luillo Ruiz says, “I know it sounds ridiculous, but little by little it started messing with our minds. Every single day creepy things were happening, to the point that the tough, big guys in the crew were getting a little nervous. It was decided a ghost was stalking us.”
Towards the end of the shoot one member of the crew actually saw the spectral figure of a woman walk slowly past him, followed immediately by an explosion in a major piece of equipment. By then, however, we had stopped worrying about our uninvited guest. With heavy rain destroying sets, our lead actress being replaced on the first day of filming and countless other production headaches, real-world problems were trumping the supernatural kind.
The story of how we came to be shooting a supernatural thriller in the Caribbean city of San Juan actually begins 14 years ago, on the top floor of a Glasgow tenement. I was sitting watching the rain when the phone rang and, out of nowhere, the thought came to me, what if the person on the other end didn’t dial the number a few moments ago? What if they dialled in 1967 but, through some weird temporal hiccup, the call came through to me? Everything else flowed from there. I began to imagine how I’d react. I wouldn’t believe it at first, but what if they proved it? What if no matter how much my rational mind rebelled, I could no longer deny what was happening?
It was one of those rare stories which seem to write themselves.
My two main characters were Mary, the woman living in the present, and Rose, the woman living in the past. Or rather, the psychopath living in the past. Mary’s nuisance caller is the kind of person you’d really rather avoid, and when she stops taking her calls, Rose decides to take revenge.
The first version of the story, Rose, was low-budget, half an hour long and broadcast by the BBC in 1998. It was directed by the wonderful Don Coutts and there were only two characters. The critical reaction was great, the Herald critic calling it ‘a very efficient little chiller’. But that was the problem. I didn’t want my story to be ‘little’; I wanted it to be a full-fat, 90-minute, Saturday night ice-cream-and-popcorn trip to the cinema. So I decided to rewrite it.
I thought it would be difficult, but it wasn’t. Subplots and characters threw themselves at me. It was as if it was always meant to be a feature film and I’d only just realised it. Within a few months the new screenplay was finished and I sent it off. I won’t bore you with the pain of the next few years. We all know films are hard to get off the ground. Potential producers came and went. Drafts were written, rewritten, then written again. I gained weight and lost hair.
But, eventually, someone somewhere flicked a switch, the green light came on, and we were ready to go.
The idea of shooting in Puerto Rico was, at first anyway, a practical one. The island provides excellent financial incentives, and director Matthew Parkhill flew out to see if San Juan could double up for New York. Within 10 minutes of arriving he had the answer. You could shoot San Juan to look like New York, but why would you want to? The city is a fabulous mixture of old and new, with rich spiritual traditions combining African and European religions. Matthew immediately felt that the “feel and taste of the place” would help give the movie a distinct identity.
Next up was casting. Stephen Moyer of True Blood had read the script and loved it. Given that he’s simultaneously a wonderful actor and the sexiest man in long trousers, he was a no-brainer. The role of Mary was initially given to Brittany Murphy, an actress who came to fame with her roles in Clueless, Girl, Interrupted and 8 Mile. Her time on set lasted less than 24 hours. I wasn’t there at the time and I’m not the best person to discuss why her participation was cut short, but Brittany’s departure sparked an explosion of media interest. There was even a sketch about it on the iconic Saturday Night Live. (Just a few weeks later there was to be a second and far bigger wave of media interest when news broke of Brittany’s death, an event which shocked and saddened everyone involved with the film.)
MovieWeb waited until the release of the DVD of The Caller to publish the interview they did with Stephen Moyer in Puerto Rico in August.
Stephen Moyer: I am looking down from my balcony in the hotel, and people have written things in the sand beneath me. Karen has written, “I want a divorce!” In the sand. (Laughs)
You need to take a picture of that one!
Stephen Moyer: I know. Right next to it, it says, “Billy, I love you.” My friend’s name is Billy. So I did take a picture of that.
Someone is down there doing your work for you. Are you going to go down to the restaurant and find out whom this poor sap is that’s getting a divorce?
Stephen Moyer: Yes. Right. Though, I think its Karen that is being asked for the divorce. Poor Karen is probably sitting at the bar as we speak. Crying.
You guys are in Puerto Rico, right? How’s that treating you?
Stephen Moyer: It is lovely. The Puerto Ricans are fantastic. But, the hurricane has cut all of the power to the island. So we have a black out. The hotel is running on a generator, but we have no power in our rooms. The only reason I am able to speak to you on the phone is because the emergency phones are working. We have no running water. No electricity. No air conditioning. No lights.
That sounds scarier than this movie…
Stephen Moyer: Its funny, because last night, after the movie finished, all of the restaurants and stores were closed. Because no one has any electricity. So the crew, and all of the cast, and all of the people here to support the film…We all went back to the bar at the hotel. We sat with the critics, we had some drinks, and everyone debated the movie. It was really interesting. We stayed up very late doing this. Of course we went to bed eventually. The hotel had given everyone flashlights. Everyone had to find their rooms with these flashlights. You’d close a door behind you, and you had to sit in your room alone, after you’d just watched this horror film. (Laughs) Some of the girls? They weren’t havening the best time.
I don’t know. That sounds like one of the best junkets I’ve ever heard of…
Stephen Moyer: I know! Isn’t it fucking great? We are having quite a great time, actually.
That is a pretty intimate setting to be discussing a movie with the cast and its creators. What was the general consciences about the film? It seems like, after a few drinks, in the dark, real opinions about the work can’t help but come out.
Stephen Moyer: Listen, I don’t want to jinx anything, but people actually loved it. It had a wonderful reception. So we were excited to be able to talk about it in a real setting. We talked about it for hours, and every single person had a different opinion on what they thought the film was about. That is the really interesting upshot of the film. I have been fascinated by it. I even came up with a whole new concept about it today. What I think it could be about. I watched it with the critics, and I loved doing that. I think this is a proper, old-fashioned thriller. We do all of our effects through sound and practical settings. There are no digital effects. I am really proud of that. I think it’s a great little movie.
How have your views on it changed from that initially script reading to now, sitting with critics, discussing all the different things that it represents?
Stephen Moyer: The thing that made me most excited about this project was director Matthew Parkhill. We had discussed it on the phone. He was very thorough with his concepts. And it was there, on the phone, that he offered me the part. We had a long chat about it. We had a similar sensibility about filmmaking, and the films that we love. What I liked about the character was his humanity. Here is an ordinary soul that gets mixed up in these extraordinary events. I liked that he was this ordinary guy, especially coming off such a wild season of True Blood. We went pretty dark. So the thought of playing someone that was normal and ordinary was a really nice idea. I’d hoped that it would be a compelling film, but I have to be honest with you. I was surprised. I think it’s a really wonderful piece. The cinematography is wonderful. I love the score. Matthew did a great job with the editing. It’s a film that works.
I like the path of destiny that has been laid out between you and Matthew. It sort of ties in with the themes of the film. You are both from Essex. You have both frequented the same bars. Do you think you guys crossed paths numerous times before meeting, and you just didn’t know it?
Stephen Moyer: It is very possible, though at the time, I was seventeen and he was, like, fifty. I joke. We are very similar in age. And its not that big of a place. It has been lovely hooking up with him again. He is in London, and I live in America. Seeing him here, I like the feeling of being around him again.
Below is a new still photo from Stephen Moyer’s film, “The Caller.”
The caption on the photo reads:
“You really care about her, and you’re also thinking, ‘Is she out of her mind? Is she bi-polar? Is this real? It feels real!’ I really think she makes you go through the gamut of emotions.” – StephenMoyer, on co-star Rachelle Lefevre’s performance.