Sunday, April 29, 2018

Interview: Douglas A. Ewen (writer/director) of Harmonized Combustion

If it weren't for the Troma film Terror Firmer then I probably wouldn't have ever made this website.  I know that's a weird pull, but stick with me here.  In college, it was the first Troma film I had access to, but more so than that it was the first time I was able to really recognize independent film.  Previously my associations with independent film were neutral.  It didn't feel accessible for just anyone to make a film, until I saw the absurdity that was Troma.

So what does this have to do with Douglas A. Ewen?  He is an independent writer and director making his own film dream come true.  His first project, Harmonized Combustion, is in the process of wrapping up and running an IndieGoGo to film its final scene.  What is Harmonized Combustion?  Glad you asked:

"In this devilish romance tale of revenge, glamorous 80’s dark synth and bandmate battles. Rae, our cursed beauty, finds herself hopelessly in love with the one person who she can never truly be with, Parker. The frontman to a rising local band and the love of all who hears him play. Parker hosts one last show in the memory of his fallen bandmate, Charlie. As the crowd begins to pile in to hear the melody of memory they're none the wiser that this is the one concert that will literally blow their minds."

Thanks for joining us on 30 Days of Plight, Douglas. How about we start with you telling our readers about your background with horror? I know in your IndieGoGo video you spoke of being a fan of Cronenberg.

My background with horror… I would have to give my older brother credit for that one. He is ten years my elder and he was watching horror movies, mostly slashers, before I was born. I was born in ’85. One sunny afternoon, he had some friends over and, as many younger siblings, I always wanted to be around them. They were watching Friday the 13th, the original, and as I sat there in pure terror and watched this gore fest my older brother looked over at me and asked “You’re not afraid are you?” As the brave young lad I was I responded sharply, while chewing my fingernails, “Not at all” Later that week I was going to the beach with the neighbor’s family and it was on my mind a lot. Swimming, boating, fishing, and just relaxation. So, as I sat on the couch in between what seemed to be the biggest man I have ever sat beside, at that time, I was thinking about fishing and right as that popped into my head little Jason Voorhees plunged out of the water. After that, I was hooked. I started watching everything I could, my parents were liberal when it came to me and cinema. They knew I was not dumb enough to do the stuff I saw and I knew they wouldn’t see me doing the stuff they told me not to do. We had a good understanding of that. As I grew up and fell in love with Cronenberg, I understand a lot of people do not consider it ‘horror’ all the time but, there are only so many times a bump in the night or a scream on screen can shock you until you realize, ‘I saw that coming’ My chum in public school introduced me to Twin Peaks and everything Lynch, in high school my friend got me into the world of Craven. Nightmares never frightened me. I always thought it was better to feel the adrenaline of intensity rather than the mellow minded comfort of a fantasy.

I have watched and have been watching everything I can get my hands on from Lucio Fulci’s Zombie to Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void. It is one genre I do not give up on even when I see it be done the same way over and over again.

So right now you're wrapping up on your short film Harmonized Combustion. You have a crowdfunding campaign that's going to pay for your final scene (which we'll get to in a minute), but tell us what Harmonized Combustion is about. What about it is going to knock the world on its ass?

Can one still knock the worlds on its ass? The streets seem to be more horrifying than films as of late. I prefer to take them out of their heads, make them uncomfortable; when they walk away from the film they have to pat themselves down, as if they forgot something and soon realizing the film took a piece of them. A piece they will not get back, whether it is fear, thought, laughter, or a piece of themselves they didn’t need anymore. Fulfillment can be as creditable as shock.

I always viewed film as an escape from reality. A way for us to reach other worlds and life, culture, and dreams that do not exist in our present life. After we return to our world we will have the power to create change within ourselves and in our lives. Gaining knowledge from unexplored territory can put your present view of yourself and the environment around you into perspective.

You've been working with The Far Removed and Jupiter Marvelous. With music being such a focal point with your film, how have they been adding to Harmonized Combustion? Have they written any original material for the film?
The Far Removed has been working in the business for decades, in different bands and on other side projects. The music they supplied were original songs that they produced and wrote, not specifically for the film, but, music people have not heard. They then worked further with me to cut, edit, and mix the music and feel of the film to add a bit of originality that was personal to Harmonized Combustion. Jupiter Marvelous is scoring the film as well as mixing. All his recordings are originals for the film and he has been working close with myself and The Far Removed. Also, Shadow Cell Theory has allowed me to use music and mixes for particular scenes I needed a more ‘industrial metal’ sound for. A lot of great talent has been guiding me along the way and showing me the ropes. They are responsible for creating a weapon from a piece of beauty. There are not too many people/musicians who can do that. Not hurt you emotionally but, actually make a song and a beat that you fear to hear because of the outcome.

Getting back to your final scene, or the "Score of Gore" as you call it, you have something major planned,correct?

It’s major in the way that I wrote it and am going to reveal its intensity to the audience. I did not sit back at my computer and say “Well, how can I get money to do something over the top?” It was written in. It was a thought that is going to be a reality, not only to show something extraordinary on screen, it was already extraordinary.

My philosophy is, if you don’t have something to say then I do not suggest you write it. If you write something to show what could be, or in the sense of ‘look at me mom no hands!’ then it is not worth the time or the ink. It was planned the moment I wrote it. A single thought turned into a magnificent evil. It will be the impact of the scene not the action, the violence, or the SFX you see.

I enjoy Cronenberg, Lynch, Kubrick, and though I do not know them or have heard their secrets. I don’t recall reading on something ‘major planned’ If the scene calls for it, and it happens to be large in capacity, then it shall be major. The more I put into it and into my cast and crew the more they can prefect the scene. That is what is major to me. Making sure everyone has the tools they need to accomplish the madness I scribble on paper, then make the script pretty in Final Draft or does Final Draft make it pretty?

So your IndieGoGo right now is to do this final scene and reimburse your FX designer, Hannah Grace Rooney [Laurie Holden's (Andrea) make-up artist for The Walking Dead], for what she donated to your film? Speaking of Hannah, how did she become a part of this project?

Hannah came to me after seeing advertisement I had acquaintances, friends and family post down south, Toronto, for me. We talked, I explained it to her and she seemed ‘iffy’. Freelance volunteer work after you have worked in the industry for as long as she has is not the most intriguing offer to give someone. Then she read the script, we met, and she was on board. She has worked on a lot of features, she happens to be back in her home city continuing her education, in the same college as I, so she needed to keep her hands busy creating.

The IndieGoGo campaign is not just to replenish Hannah, though she would love that! It is more for production design, we have to re shape an entire basement bar/music stage into our vision. A team of over 30+ people, including actors/actresses who need to eat and be accommodated, as well, film festival entry fees. Plus, we are bringing the whole gang with us when we go. We worked hard and we will play hard afterwards. It is nice to get down to Toronto and enjoy the blood thirsty scenes of their festivals.

Harmonized Combustion is going to hit the festival circuit in November, where can our readers catch it while it's on tour, and do you have anything set up yet for people to request the presence of your film?

The Blood in the Snow Film Festival is where we will be debuting Harmonized Combustion. Until then, the only way to get a copy of the film is through perks on Indiegogo. Also, I love criticism. I would be more than willing to let people watch it and review it, critique me, and make my drive stronger.

Finally, once the film is out, we get a chance to review it, right?

Of course! 30 Days of Plight deserves to let their readers know what they’re getting themselves into and as soon as we wrap up in early June, I will be sending it your way!

If you're interested in helping with Harmonized Combustion, the IndieGoGo campaign will be running until May 14th.  For only $10 Canadian (that's $7.79 US!) you can get your name in the credits as well as have access to Harmonized Combustion before it hits the festival circuit!  There are other options, also with some really great perks including Associate and Executive Producer credits!  Impress your friends or random people that think they're cooler than you with a possible IMDB credit!  Make business cards with that!  Seem super cool!

We want to thank Douglas again for doing this interview and wish him luck with the last of Harmonized Combustion!

No comments:

Post a Comment