Absence is a thriller about a pregnant woman whose unborn baby disappears starring Erin Way, who was Kat on Alphas. It hits theaters July 5 at the Quad Cinema in NY, and at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, OH, and it'll be on video on demand. RevolutionSF talked to director Jimmy Loweree about staging UFO sightings and guerrilla filmmaking. Here's the trailer. For more about the movie, check out AbsenceIsComing.com and follow them on Twitter at @Absencefilm.
RevolutionSF: What books, movies, or other geeky stuff inspired the story?
Jimmy Loweree: I'd say a few films for sure, the found-footage predecessors, classic horror movies we studied a lot when crafting the script like Jaws and The Exorcist, but also movies by Christopher Guest. Also an 80s flick called Communion messed me up (well, at least the first 10 minutes as that's all I saw). This super heavy conspiracy book was an odd but useful influence in entering part of the world, it's called Ruled By Secrecy by Jim Marrs.
This is kinda weird, and I hadn't really thought of it before, but the sound design was something I spent a lot of time on and even wrote into the script. We always planned to use creepy audio in a "it's what you don't see" kind of way and it stems a bit from playing Resident Evil and having that game be the scariest game I'd ever played.
RevolutionSF: Tell me about the "guerrilla-style filmmaking" that the Absence site mentions. Where did you film the movie?
JL: We shot the movie in a small town outside of Los Angeles called Wrightwood.
The cast and crew all crammed into a couple cabins while shooting the movie. We didn't have any permits and it was definitely fly by the seat of your pants but it was a total blast. We definitely had an eye out at all times for unwanted attention, by which I mean any authority at all and at times it was like calling time out in street-football for a car -- we'd all stop for a minute, then "game on" and we're shooting again.
RevolutionSF: What was your favorite moment during production? Where you said to yourself, “This thing is going to be awesome.”
JL: I think there was a kind of buildup of those from the first day as it was pretty unreal at first that we were actually shooting a feature film. But two clear moments where when one of our actors just killed a performance and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop -- I just knew how lucky I was. The other was watching playback on a pretty intense scene and realizing how legit it looked -- I was watching the action happen in real time and was thinking "Uh oh . . . " but then on playback it was a like a full on movie magic moment, it totally worked!
Also we wrecked a car. That was absolutely awesome.
RevolutionSF: You have a ton of marketing campaigns to promote the movie. Tell me about Six Second Horror and the deal with Bittorrent.
JL: 6 Second Horror has been a fun way to engage the horror community on Vine and Twitter to build awareness about Absence, and also because it sounded fun!
We asked Vine users to share their best 6 second horror movie which will be judged by our partners at Dread Central and Scream Fest L.A.
Given how new Vine is, it's been super fun to see what people came up with, and our film team created a few 6 second films to join the fun as well!
When Cinedigm approached us at first about partnering with BitTorrent to help get the word out about Absence,they were really excited, so that really got us into it as well. We jumped at the idea, the spirit of sharing with the community this way it makes total sense for us as an indie film in order to connect with a wide audience.
We're excited to get an opportunity to preemptively share content with this community, and hopefully engage them. It's gonna be fun.
RevolutionSF: You staged a UFO sighting in Wrightwood, California. (Check out the Wrightwood Coverup site.) That sounds incredibly fun. Talk a little about putting that together.
JL: This was a total blast! We did put together a pretty wild experience just to see what would come of it.
Before we made the film, we didn't know about any sightings in the area, and it wasn't until after our shoot that we learned about sightings had happened. Creating the experience involved careful staging, an authentic UFO sighting over Wrightwood and seeing what happened. It also was great to build out experiential content that people can explore on their own after encountering the movie.
Witnessing 20-30 people outside pointing at the sky was freaking awesome. And the best part was
listening to the community share their personal stories of UFO sightings over the town. Super cool.
RevolutionSF: Did you let any residents in the area in on what you were doing? Have you talked to anyone who witnessed the sighting?
JL: We didn't give any of the residents a heads up. But we did get to chat with them afterward and it was great. People had footage of it on their phones and were calling their friends!
RevolutionSF: What’s next in the works for you, once Absence is out in the world?
JL: I've been so focused on Absence that I'm really just looking forward to having other people get to see it and seeing their reactions to it. It's a really exciting experience for me.
I've got several other screenplays ready to go and am teaming up with producers on which one is the right next project so that should be fun. I'm hoping to get into production later in the summer!