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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Jun. 29, 2011 | 2:34 PM

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LAFF Interview: Dallas Hallam, Suziey Block, and Patrick Horvath of ENTRANCE

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From Left: Dallas Hallam, Suziey Block, Patrick Horvath

In the midst of their successful run as part of The Beyond section of the 2011 LA Film Fest, Entrance co-directors Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath and actor/producer Suziey Block sat down with Film Radar to discuss the festival circuit, horror genres and the ups and downs of living in Los Angeles.

The following is an excerpt of a conversation conducted at the JW Mariott in downtown LA on June 25th, 2011.

Film Radar: How did this project come together for you guys?

Dallas Hallam: Let’s see.  I had a couple years ago AD’d a movie for Pat, called Diner, a real cool horror movie, so Pat was gonna return the favor and AD a project for me that I was putting together called Land of Dust and Water.  It was gonna be really complicated, a really expensive project.  We got all the balls in the air, did a bunch of casting, and during that process is when I met Suziey, and then as sometimes things do, it just fell apart.  And now, looking back, I’m glad it fell apart, because it was the kind of project that we would still be working on.  We wouldn’t even be done today-we wouldn’t even be halfway done today. It was that kind of thing, we’d still be working on it.  Whereas with Entrance, it turned out to be the kind of thing that we could really get done.

FR: Right.

DH: And um, it fell apart, but Pat and I had all this built-up creative energy, and I had just met Suziey, and we had access to a little bit of money, and we had access to a cool house, and a camera, so I pitched Pat this very basic idea, it wasn’t even a plot idea, it was more of a structural idea, more of, like, an aesthetic idea, and said, here’s something we could do.  We could make a slasher movie in this way, and I’ve got this fantastic actress, what do you think?  He ran with that, and we started developing the plot from there.

FR: Great.

DH: And just to note, within two months it was done.

FR: Wow. From conception to completion…

Patrick Horvath: Well, we still had to edit it.

FR. So how did it come to the attention of the L.A. Film Fest?

DH:  We had a cast and crew screening, not a real screening, and one of our actress’s roomate, was a producer on independent films, and he had a really good sales representative that he hooked us up with.  So, we were already planning to do some festivals, but once we got together with George Rush, our sales representative, George sort of helped guide us in such a manner where we applied to festivals more surgically.  A lot of people make the mistake of just applying to…

PH: ...Everybody, yeah.  And it definitely comes down to the climate of the film festivals, what they’re programming that season, or for that year….there were definitely ones that, I mean, we’ve been rejected for sure, but finally LA Film Fest saw it, and they thought it would be a great match for their programming this year.

DH: And George helped make those relationships work.  But now that we’ve played in LAFF we’re getting calls from, we’ve already gotten calls from Toronto After Dark, from Sidewalk down in Birmingham, from the Hamptons, and we’re really hoping to get into Fantastic Fest. 

FR: I know that you two guys have collaborated on a lot of things for a while now, right?

DH, PH:  Mm-hm.

FR: And you’re credited as co-directors on Entrance.  I know that can be a tricky beast, having more than one director…

DH: Right, right.

FR: How did you approach those challenges in terms of co-directing?

PH:  Dallas and myself, we’ve known each other for over a decade.  And then we’ve also been in a band, so we have that sort of sense of collaboration. The way it works out is, say with the band, one of us will bring in a riff, or whatever, and the other one will be like, ‘yeah, that’s really cool, what if we did this, too?” “Yeah, I like that idea, then maybe we can take it here,.” But we have such similar sensibilities, but different tastes that go in slightly different directions, but it totally helps the whole process. 

FR: Yeah.

DH: Yeah, we’ll just knock something back and forth, you know? 

PH: We have yet to reach an impasse, which is totally amazing.  It’s just that we get along so well.

DH: It really is the same with our band. 

FR:  Actually, I wanted to talk to you about the music in the film, because I think it’s really effective, especially when you get to the final third.

PH: Thank you very much.

FR: If you guys can just talk a little bit more about how you approached that. Was the soundtrack something you were thinking of in the initial stages?

PH:  Well, we had a ton of rules, well not a ton, say a handful of rules to sort of help us structure everything because we did the film so fast, just formalistically.  One of them was, we don’t want any music that’s not in the movie. 

FR:  Right.

PH: But at the same time, both of us very much respond to music.  So, then, (in the film) it’s a dinner party, and we have all these records swapping out.  And then when it starts to flip over into madness, we’re really just having power cut, music drop, where we want it to be very evident. 

DH:  It was fun to play with that, because the music is all supposed to be very organic, in the space, but even so…

PH:  We wanted to make it emotional.

DH: We were playing with that whole diegetic versus non-diegetic thing where it just so happened that the record that they played, it does seem to be commenting on the visual. That was probably the closest we came to breaking our wall, by picking songs that did comment, or did work with the visual, even though it was supposed to be people randomly playing records.

DH:  And all the music,  Pat and I did everything, from the ediiting, to agreeing on the shots, to the music supervision.  So it was just the two of us saying, how bout this, how bout that? going through tracks and working through them.

FR: Suziey, maybe you can address this.  I feel like this film demands a lot from an audience in a lot of ways.  You get a very gradual build before the really bad stuff starts happening, so I was wondering what the response has been so far?

SB:  Last night it seemed like it went really good.  Someone actually came up to me once and said, ‘even when you’re not doing something, you’re doing something.”  She thought that was very interesting,(she said) “whether you’re changing the look on your face, or doing something with your hands,  you were never boring to watch.”  I thought it was a huge compliment.  I was very nervous.  It’s a lot of pressure to hold kind of a whole movie on your shoulders. 

DH: Suziey’s our ace in the hole.  For the most part it’s been a good response,  but even with the negative reviews, no one can ever say that the problem in Suziey.  Pat and I never worry about that because the acting in the thing is always fine.  We may say, “I don’t know if this is working, but Suziey’s fine, I’m not worried about that.’  It’s been like that the whole time.  Looking back on it, it was almost like we took Suziey’s talent for granted a little bit while making it because, we would just go.  We never, like stopped or anything, it was after, when we were editing when we were like, ‘wow, this girl’s amazing,’ but while shooting it, we were just working, you know what I mean?  We weren’t like stopping to think, and, maybe this is the best testament to her work, is that we never had to do,like, a ton of notes, to guide her too much

PH: That’s one of the main reasons we were able to pull this off so fast, when we were shooting it.  The only thing stopping us was Dallas and I getting the shots worked out.

DH: Yeah, yeah.

PH: That was the only thing holding us back.

DH: Performance was never an issue.  Not once.

FR: (To Suziey) Following up on that, as you mentioned, your character is onscreen for almost the entirety of this film,

SB: Yeah, I think that was one of the rules, that I was never not in the shot.

FR: And you’re also a credited producer on the movie.

SB: Right.

FR: Did the knowledge that you could sort of put on your producing hat at any time help you get through some of the more daunting parts of the film?

SB: It was more of a chance producer thing, because there were certain things that the film needed, and I was like, “Oh, I have a friend who could do that”, and finally they were like, you’ve given us such good doors and people to work with that we’re gonna go ahead and give you a producer credit, just because you’ve helped us out so much in the process.

DH: Well, the chance was really more on our end. We were just lucky to get Suziey She opened a lot of great doors for us.  Because of Suziey we had great sound mastering, a couple of our best locations, even casting-wise.  She helped us out a lot there.

SB: Yeah, my friend Flo, was a friend of mine that I brought in.

PH: It was a blind cast!  We were like, sure, get Florence! Let’s give her the part.  And then it just turns out she’s awesome.

FR:  I was actually very impressed with the people who played the smaller parts in the movie.  Everyone was very naturalistic.  It all felt very believable.

DH:  We were blessed.  That’s pretty rare.  We shot this in 12 days, and the performances were never an issue, you know, from anybody really.

SB:  We did have good directors.  They never bickered or argued, and from an actress point of view, they were really good at giving me exactly what I needed to do the scene.  I don’t know how they did that, but they worked really well together.

FR: That’s got to be really important with a movie like this, where in the last 15 minutes of the film, you really get put through the ringer.

SB:  Yeah.

FR: Did these guys make it a little easier for you to have to do that stuff?

SB:  Oh yeah, every chance they got, they asked if I was okay. And I’d be like, “I’m fine!”

DH, PH:  We felt really bad!

PH: Suziey insisted on having her hands tied together!

SB:  Like, for real.  Because I felt like if they weren’t really tied, I would’ve messed it up, or I could’ve been able to open something, or been able to get away, so tying me up that way, I really am constricted. 

FR:  Your film played as part of The Beyond section of the LA Film Fest.  How did you guys feel about that, and where would you place this film on the spectrum of horror genres?

DH: Well, the tag line for The Beyond section was,“films that dare to be different”, so I take that as a compliment.

FR: That makes sense.

PH: It’s good company, too.  And it sets us aside from getting mixed up with everything, so just because of that, it’s been actually quite a blessing, because nobody knows who we are, and we’ve been stuck with Ti West, as the only other American film makers in that section.  People that are aware of genres or a least, horror, or indie horror, know about Ti West, so they’re like, oh Ti West, yeah, yeah, yeah, well who are these guys?  That’s been giving us a lot of interesting attention.  I guess we’re calling it a horror film, and it’s obviously not your average horror thing.  The film plays differently for all sorts of different audiences.  For just “straight horror” people, a lot of them find it really boring, until they get to the end, and then they’re sort of divided as to whether or not they thought it was successful. 

DH: And then a lot of like, the Film Comment crowd love the beginning, but then some of them feel betrayed by the horror aspect. So we’ve kind of got both sides, and then we’ve gotten a middle ground audience which loves it, but on those two extremes, there’s like an art crowd, and a horror crowd, and there’s a conflicted feeling about how they’re supposed to take it.

PH: For us, to give you the shorthand, we saw it as character centered European art film meets, you know, slasher film for Friday the 13th enthusiasts. So, for film lovers like us that are into that, it’s great.  But it conflicts a lot of viewers, which is very interesting, so it’s been fun to see the reaction.

FR: You guys take a lot of subtle and not so subtle digs at Los Angeles in this movie.  Is it safe to assume that you’re not fans of the city?

DH: No, no, we are fans.  In fact, I feel like we have a lot of sympathy for L.A. and we were trying to show a kind of experience of LA that a lot of people don’t understand.  But an experience that’s commmon, and specifically for women.  It’s funny, our biggest fan base is women. While making the movie, I don’t know that we were so aware that we were making this feminine movie, but we had after every time we show it, girls that come up to us and say, “I know how that feels,” “I know how she feels,” or “I have friends just like her”, so it’s not so much that we were trying to make fun of LA as much as just…show what LA can be like.  It’s a hard city.

FR: There are a lot of lovingly photographed shots of Silver Lake and the surrounding area.  Was it your intention to use those as a counterpoint to the sense of alienation that your character is feeling?  The idea that she’s suffering even though she’s in this very beautiful place?

DH:  Absolutely. 

PH: It’s funny too, because it’s sort of just a symptom of being out here. cause it is gorgeous, like 95 percent of the year.  And especially the Eastside Silver Lake vibe to it all, that was all circumstantial.  And it’s funny, we were talking about this yesterday.  How would it have changed if we all lived on the West side? It just so happened that we all live on the East side, so that was the film we made.  We weren’t going to go out of our way to go shoot on the West Side.  We knew how to make the movie on the East side, and because of the limited resources, that’s why we did it.  It would totally be a different movie if it were on the West side.

DH:  And there’s a movie in there.  There’s an idea for something in there.  Most movies about L.A. take place on the West side.  I don’t know if movies about the East Side is a new thing, but it’s a returning thing.  But you know,  a lot of people have a really hard time figuring out how to fit in, specifically people that move here.  There are people that leave, and then there are people that don’t leave but become embittered.  And then there are people like me, who went through a bitter phase, like a lot of us do, and started contemplating leaving, and then eventually came to a certain understanding of the city and learned to love it, and now I can’t even imagine going anywhere.  But it’s not a city you can visit, and fall in love with.

FR: I’ve heard people say it takes five years to crack LA, which seems about right to me.

PH: That’s exactly how long I’ve been here!

SB: That’s how long I’ve been here, too.

DH: It’s a weird city, because it’s the only city in the world that so many people move to with ulterior motives.  Every person who comes here comes completely selfish, and thinking how do I get myself forward, and what can I take from the city, and what kind of power can I get from this city? And when I get that power, I’ll probably leave, and use that power for the rest of my life.  And most people that come to LA and get power, eventually leave, take a second home somewhere, or they move to New York, because it’s cooler, but they can still kind of use the power of LA to their advantage, and in that way, LA becomes a place they like. But if you view it from the right perspective, you can have a lot of sympathy for it.

FR: You mentioned that you’re targeting some specific festivals. What do you think is the best way for audiences to catch up with this film in the future?

PH: It’s all up in the air.  Right now, the best avenue we have is to try to get into more festivals.  We have had a little bit of interest from distributors, but it’s just interest at this point.  Basically, we pop up on their radar. In part, because we are in The Beyond section.  We’re definitely getting a lot of “Who the hell are these guys?” kind of questions, which is great!  That’s a great place to be.


First Comment:

  1. oh man, scared the shit out of me!!! I maybe to scared to go see the film!!! but I probably will! I mean its all about getting scared and shiting your paint!! Right??!!!!

    Posted by Michael Paul on 04/15 at 06:47 PM