DALLAS HALLAM and PATRICK HORVATH of ENTRANCE
It absolutely reminded me of something that Ti West would have put out. Oddly, West is hosting a Q&A with directors Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam this Friday night, the 18th, in LA at the Downtown Independent and it’s so fitting. A movie about a woman who is living an isolated existence and feels disconnected to the environment around her. When her solitary life is interrupted by the very worst kind of interruption, life goes south and what was a quiet portrait of a lovely woman turns into a deranged expose of evil. I had a chance to talk to Patrick and Dallas about their film, their relative newness on the scene, and what the future holds for a couple of guys looking to redefine what horror should be.
ENTRANCE is in theaters and On Demand starting today
DALLAS HALLAM: Hi, Christopher, I’m Dallas Hallam.
PATRICK HORVATH: Hi Christopher, I’m Patrick Horvath
CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Hi, how are you doing?
HALLAM: Doing alright. How are you doing?
CS: Doing well, thank you. I’ll just launch right into it I got to see the movie a few days ago and was really wowed by it.
HALLAM AND HORVATH: Very cool, thank you so much, Christopher
CS: Really loved it. I’m sure people have brought it up – that there are elements of TI WEST in there – that you seem to really be going back to making horror films that are moving away from torture porn and trying to make it more cerebral, more visceral.
HALLAM AND HORVATH: We really appreciate hearing that. Thank you. It can get frustrating after a while when you see a movie coming out that is just there because they thought if we do that and the other we will get people to come watch it but we were lucky enough to be at the same festival where The Innkeepers was playing and part of what they do every year is fly all the directors up and hang out and get drunk at this ranch. So that’s why we were actually able to hang out with Ti and get to know him better as well.
CS: So is this a genre that, much like Ti works in it movie after movie, is this something that you feel comfortable with sticking around in or is it something more like a one and done – out of your system and you want to go into something else?
HALLAM AND HORVATH: We’re definitely going to stick around with horror films. I made a zombie film back in 2008 – I think we love horror but love all sorts of films – we’re huge film buffs and to be honest in the future we want to make all sorts of movies. And what we were saying about the businessman’s aspect of horror films, is that it’s sort of the symptom of how easily accessible – they are very visceral and very easy to jump on to. A bonus to that is that you don’t necessarily have to have big names in the film in order to be successful. It’s honestly why a lot of directors end up starting off in horror for sure. But yea, horror is definitely a genre that we both love. And going into the future we will definitely be working in horror again but we would love to work in other stuff as well.
CS: Speak to me about how you two came together. It’s interesting that you both co-directed and co-wrote the movie, what brought you two together to say, “Hey, why don’t we make a movie and co-direct it with one another?”
HALLAM: Almost a decade ago at film school at the University of Iowa we had similar interest, we had a band together, made films together and worked together and then Pat went to Chicago and I went to LA and a couple years later Pat came to LA and we just kept in touch. I never thought that we would co-direct together but we would help out with each other’s projects.
HORVATH: We would help out in anyway we could.
HALLAM: To answer your question, I don’t even know the answer – just instinct. It came about because something else fell apart and I don’t even remember asking Pat if he could co-direct. I just said how about this thing and we’ll co-direct together and blah blah blah. And it just came out like that. Just instinct. And since then what I’ve learned is that we really compliment each other. The things we’re good at we make better for each other, things we’re not good at, we cancel out each other. We compliment each other and love working with each other.
CS: So take me though the steps of actually putting rubber to the road after the script was written. You wanted to direct it and I know, Patrick, you directed before, Dallas not so much, but what was the process like of actually getting this off the ground and finding Suziey and getting this thing shot?
HORVATH: Necessity is the mother of invention – Dallas had basically secured a good chunk of change, about $6,000 bucks and that’s what we went in to shoot it with. But we wanted to make something and for different reasons his project fell apart, whether because people backing out or their schedules not working, so then we had the desire to run in and make something and we had a time limit because we were both still working. I’m actually at my day job right now. We had a window of a month and a half and came home from work and Dallas already had a tiny idea of, “Hey, what if we made a horror film?” And immediately I liked it a lot. We took a couple weeks and pounded out what would be used as a script and then we pretty much, the whole film, was made from necessity. All the characters that were involved were accessible and agents were accessible and throughout the whole film we came up with all these stylistic rules formed by other films that we were inspired by. Just to keep the whole thing moving – we shot in 12 days. Suziey was working, she would work all day, come back, and we would shoot her at night.
HALLAM: I actually met Suziey while casting my ill-fated projected that fell apart. She wasn’t right for that project so I didn’t cast her but she was a nice person. And I remember when I told her she didn’t get the part she vehemently told me I was wrong and that she was the right person for it. She had such gusto and she was so terrific – she had such a spark and was so right for this thing I just said, you don’t have to cast the lead, I got her. I said Pat and I share the same brain and he just trusted me and she was totally right. Everbody else just came once we started making the film. Suziey had to have a job and it turns out she worked for a coffee shop and we could shoot there at night so now her character works at a coffee shop.
CS: It’s interesting you mentioned about the script, it’s so much a departure that many people would classify as a horror kind of movie. It really takes a step back in that we are just really watching her live and things happen here and there that kind of lead up to the third act when things really start coming together in a huge way. When you were putting the script together did it materialize the way you saw it as you were writing it as you see the finished product now?
HALLAM: Very much so. We knew that we couldn’t write out a full dialogue of scripts and have the time to activate that by shooting it. What we focused on was a very detailed plot point list and all these pieces that we needed. It was a very collaborative process of improvisation in rehearsals that we got the dialogue to where it is. We just had all these rules and because of the rules what we ended up getting back was better than what we thought it would be.
HORVATH: It was funny because the rules set us free in a way. By chaining ourselves to a strict style and the strict way of making the movie set us free and kind of feels more real because of it. We never attempted anything in the movie that we couldn’t pull off with $6,000.00. We tried to make a movie that could have been made for any amount of money. We didn’t want people to go this is a little movie. We wanted to just enjoy it. So I guess to answer your question, the style in the end was exactly what we pictured.
CS: Once you had the finished product and thankfully IFC has come in and is giving it a nice push, when did you know – every filmmaker thinks this is going to be great and get recognized as a great film and take us places – at what point did you think you really had something special with this movie?
HORVATH: I don’t think we ever did. We made it and we both loved what we made. But, at the same time, we have worked on projects that just don’t get around and I think a lot of it has to do with, I don’t want to say luck necessarily, but you really do have to wait for an opportunity to help push you along.
HALLAM: There were times when I thought, is this really good or am I too close to it? I can’t tell. It always felt like it was a part of my soul. When we were finished we immediately rented out a theatre to screen it – just to screen it, which is the way to do it. I think the first time we saw it with an audience we got a real strong reaction from the audience. That was the first time we thought we really had something rad on our hands. And then after that, it was a slow process. I have a friend who is a sales rep and I want to show it to him and he had a positive response and also once we got into the Los Angeles Film Festival – that was a very gratifying response and pleased that it sold out. I think by that point, we thought that this was more success that we had ever had with anything.
CS: So now the movie is finished and you’ve seen the critical reception of it, what do you think a) about the finished piece and b) has it made you think about what will be next for the two of you together?
HORVATH: I must admit and I think that all artists do have moments of insecurity, before every showing I would look at Pat and say did we trick everybody? Is someone going to pull the clothes off of us and say this isn’t good? It feels good and reactions are good and I realize it’s just the normal insecurities people go through.
HALLAM: This is not a film for everybody. It’s definitely a film that we would like to see. I always enjoy watching it and think at the end of the day it didn’t take that much money to make it and it will last forever and we have long lasting relationships making it and I can say we will work with Suziey Block the rest of our lives. We owe her so much. Her performance is so great. Without her the film wouldn’t be anything. We probably would be here today talking to you. And we’ll keep those things with us forever.
HORVATH: Moving ahead, we’re well into a script that we’ve been working on and hopefully will increase interest and that’s actually going to be Christmas – like a dysfunctional Christmas family film that goes off the rails and go into extreme horror with a capital H.
HALLAM: And a different kind of style. Our next film with have some tripods, a musical score. We want to make – I don’t want to say traditional – but something that pushes the envelope of horror, we will always do that but the bombstic score and the style of the film will be what you would think of as a horror movie.
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