The indy horror film Bloodline, which Matt Thompson wrote, directed and stars in, has received widespread coverage from all over the Internet. With anticipation building for the film, as it opens in theaters on Sept. 27, we spoke to Michael Reinero, the film’s co-director and producer about how the film came about.
First things first, what exactly does a co-director do? Are you on stand-by just in case the lead director screws up?
Absolutely NOT! As a co-director I am a caretaker of the primary director’s vision. Specifically, in this case, since Matt was in so many of the scenes of Bloodline, it was necessary for someone to watch his and the other actors’ performance and maintain the consistency in the characters and their relationships that we both wanted. With Matt Thompson wearing so many hats, having someone else he could trust behind the monitor helped him keep his sanity and deliver a great performance.
It would be easier to list the tasks I didn’t do. As a producer on this type of film, you end up performing tasks that a producer on a big budget film would never be caught dead doing. From assisting the grip crew, to running media from the set to the media truck, to rehearsing with actors, to providing production accounting services, to drafting and reviewing legal documents, to participating in casting sessions, to securing props and picture cars, and the list goes on. That said, I am glad that I was able to do so many things on set, because it not only taught me first hand all the tasks required to create a movie good enough to get to the theatrical level, but it also brought me closer to the cast and crew, creating a mutual respect that I think is reflected in the final product.
Back tracking a bit, how did you get involved in Bloodline?
Matt and I were both asked independently by another filmmaker to be assistant producers on a film project he was developing. When that film project ran into funding issues, we both decided that we still wanted to make a film together. Matt had a script that he had been developing since he was 19 that he offered for the project. After working on that script together and adjusting it to what we could do with the budget we had, we got investors to come into the project and the rest is history.
Although many of today’s horror films have a “story”, what they really bring is a gimmick. Either it’s the “haunted house” gimmick or the “how many ways can I dismember a body” gimmick or it’s the “sick bastard who relentlessly kills (aka – the slasher)” gimmick. You come away from those movies not talking about the story but about how well the gimmick was executed. Bloodline is different. In fact, we referred to it often on set as we were shooting as “epic horror”. Bloodline is a hero’s journey story first. The backdrop of the story is the legend that has cursed our hero’s bloodline and the horror that it brings. The challenge for our hero is to put all the pieces of his life together in time to stop the horror. Our hero is flawed and his flaws cause his friends to end up…well, you know. Because of the structure of our story, the audience actually cares about the people who meet their maker in the film. They root for our hero to figure things out.
Did you find the budget limiting at all? Had you have had more money to play with, what might you have done differently?
Yes and no. We sure could have paid our cast and crew what they were worth, which was more than they got. I think that is probably the number one thing we would have done if we had more money. In the end, movie making, though creativity driven, is still a business. People need to make a living bringing their talents to bear on a set. As far as the rest of the film goes, we had enough to get what we needed. Having a limited budget kept us constantly thinking of creative ways to make the extraordinary possible. It is the greatest challenge for the filmmaker.
Absolutely. I play Officer Daniels, a local Sherriff who brings officers in to arrest our hero at the end, mistakenly thinking that he is responsible for all of the killings. I got into acting 17 years ago. It is still my first love. So I had to be in the movie somewhere. Being a producer made that possible. Sometimes, it’s good to be the king.
Why do you think Bloodline has been lucky enough to receive a cinema release, where so many horror films go straight to DVD?
Because it is different. It has a higher quality that you wouldn’t expect to find in a low budget horror film. It is a movie in the horror genre that has a story that takes care to develop characters you end up caring about. I think people who don’t like horror will watch it and like it. I think people who like horror will watch it and think, wow, that was different.
Bloodline opens September 27