Catching up with director of the horror film VooDoo, Tom Costabile, and learning about his filmmaking passion.
BC: Who are you, and tell us about your film Voodoo?
TC: My name is Tom Costabile. I’m a filmmaker originally from Chicago. VooDoo is about a girl from New Orleans who comes to stay with her cousin Stacy in LA after breaking up with her boyfriend who she discovered was married to a voodoo priestess. The voodoo priestess follows her to LA and curses her to Hell, and half the movie takes place in Hell.
BC: What made you ready to tackle for first feature project? What was your creative or emotional inspiration for this movie?
TC: I moved to LA about 13 years ago and finally all the pieces were aligned for me to do it. Blackout Haunted House was running strong in LA and I felt the intense horror cinema I always wanted to tell would be acceptable to a wider audience for the first time in my life so I ran with it.
BC: This is your second horror film production, since 2006 why did you return the genre after 11-years? Why such a long delay?
TC: Well it took a few years to get to this point. I started writing the script in 2013. So maybe a 7-8 year gap. The film you’re referring to was a short I made in film school which turned some heads. I think I’ll always want to tell horror stories.
BC: Since this is an independent film, what compromises did you need to make from your script to film?
TC: We had to do everything ourselves. From Wardrobe to set builds we were on our own. The resources of a studio are vast and the funding is vast. When every dollar counts you gotta get your hands dirty. It’s hard but it’s that determination that brings everyone together.
BC: Many Horror films usually stay in the biblical reference of Christianity versus Satanism, perhaps only notable recall variations were Wes Craven’s Serpent and the Rainbow, and Skeleton Key, why did you venture in the more obscure topic voodoo?
TC: It’s a subject that has a certain allure in the US and I was intrigued by it. I originally wrote the film to direct it for Nollywood and voodoo is obviously still very much present in Africa. We ended up Americanizing the story and that’s the film you see today but the mystique surrounding voodoo always intrigued me.
BC: How long was the production to film the movie? And then the post-production?
TC: We shot for 14 days with pick up shots. Post production was over 2 years.
BC: Was it difficult to obtain both your crew and cast?
TC: We came down to the wire before we found Adam Rettino who changed everything. Without Adam I don’t know how the picture would’ve looked. So finding someone of his caliber almost never happened. For the leads, we interviewed I believe close to 500 girls. Sam and Ruth stood out entirely.
BC: Were there any eerie aspects that occurred around your project that seemed a bit odd or unexplained? (Many films that deal on the occult or voodoo seem to have an oddness surrounding them such as The Omen or Poltergeist) Any thoughts?
TC: Nothing worked! Haha! The camera was always down, the focus pulling system was always down, video village never worked, just everything surrounding the camera was always on the fritz and I definitely credit voodoo for that! We tested everything for weeks prior. Then we get to set and nothing worked. It happens.
BC: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
TC: I like when we are enveloped by the characters. With a lot of horror they just want to bring the scares and the shock and the gore asap. I think that’s a huge difference between horror films when I was young and cinema that exists for young people today. The Exorcist took over an hour to build up. The Amityville Horror, Omen, etc all had a slow build before insanity ensued and it made you appreciate the characters and care for them. It’s always about story.
BC: Many directors have influence from many great sources including other directors, what are yours? And how do they influence your craft?
TC: I grew up in a perfect time for film. In the 80’s we had the masters like Spielberg, Lucas, Friedkin, Coppolla, Scorcese, etc doing fantastical pictures, and then in the 90’s the wave of indie films like Run Lola Run and Once Were Warriors, films like that which just showed a more seedy and creative side of the world. I think my desire to push film forward in some way is directly correlated to these artists and films.
BC: Most filmmakers have a favorite horror film and while the readers like to know that, what horror film hooked you onto the genre? (If horror is not your favorite genre, why did you make this movie?
TC: The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs were my favorite. Very different pictures but both were insanely intelligent and emotional. Witnessing Damien discover that he truly is speaking with a demon was frightening. You worried about him and everyone in that house for the last hour of that movie. It was nerve wracking. And in Silence of the Lambs, you witness this extremely intelligent dialogue and banter between Hannibal and Clarice which takes you in many ways into the mind of a maniacal serial killer. From a story standpoint they’re solid pieces of work that are so memorable, and from a directorial standpoint they’re masterful.
BC: What is like for this movie, festival circuit? Next for you?
TC: I’m working a few new projects you can see on our website http://www.hypercubefilms.com. One is a fast paced action film that focuses on the corruption that exists in our government with the outer space alien agenda called SERE. I have a couple more horrors I would like to do called Little Ditty and The Uninvited, as well as a comedy about the gay mafia called Cabone. Just been working on those in some capacity now that VooDoo is almost released.
BC: Where can the readers and fans find more about you this movie?
TC: If you go to http://www.voodoothemovie.com you’ll be directed to our Facebook page which has the latest updates, theaters, vod, trailers, and stills from the film. Please check it out!
TC: Thank you so much, Baron!!