GORE IN THE STORE
IN CONVERSATION WITH TAYLOR CHIEN
In filmmaker Taylor Chien’s THE RESORT, four friends Lex (Bianca Haase), Chris (Brock O’Hurn), Sam (Michael Vlamis) and Bree (Michelle Randolph), head to an abandoned and haunted resort in Hawaii, in search of the infamous Half-Faced Girl. After arriving, it’s not long until they begin to realise the old adage of being careful what you wish for is true.
In conversation with FRIGHTFEST, Chien discussed how the inspiration behind the film was driven by the location instead of story, and how a filmmaker hopes their vision will translate to the screen. This interview has been edited for clarity.
FRIGHTFEST: Why filmmaking as a means of creative expression? Was there an inspirational or defining moment for you personally?
Taylor Chien: There have been a lot of moments, but the biggest one was when I was around eight-years-old and I first picked up my dad's video camera. My brothers were there and we were messing around doing these little camera tricks.
I've been lucky to be able to do so many different projects. One of my close friends now, and mentor in the business is Jamie Fox. I went from filming with my brothers and neighbours, to now working with a top actor in Hollywood. The only thing that has changed is him and the people I'm shooting with. It’s crazy because the way I'm filming, it's still the same style.
FF: 'What we are' versus 'who we feel we are' can often be out of synch. I've spoken with directors who say that it took a number of films before they felt they could call themselves a filmmaker. Do you feel that you can call yourself a filmmaker?
TC: I still don't feel I can call myself a filmmaker. I am at heart, and it's funny that other filmmakers say that because it feels like I'm always testing myself. I can shoot, I can direct, I can write, and I can edit. I can do a lot of these things just because growing up you have to teach yourself how to do them in order to get a project done. Filmmaker would be the word, but I struggle with it still.
FF: It’s a commitment to make a film, requiring you to give up a period of your life. What compelled you to believe in this film and decide to tell this story?
TC:It all came down to the location. It wasn't even about the story, we didn't even have a story. I was down in Maui, Hawaii three or four years ago with [producer] Will Meldman, and we happened to walk by this location.
I could remember when it was a working resort and it was now dead. I've always been a fan of good locations, and as we walked through the abandoned resort I asked what the deal was with the place? It was so creepy that it was the perfect setting for a scary horror movie. They said, "It’s funny you say that because there are actual things that have happened here.”
We had three months before they knocked the resort down, and we had to figure out how to make it happen because it was too good of a location to give up on.
FF: Did this lend the film an aura, and does it do some of the groundwork for you by creating an organic atmosphere?
TC: During the day it's very creepy and during the night it's a whole different level. There was a lot of inspiration in the resort we were able to capture and put in the movie, that we didn't even know would be there, like the coyote scene. It wasn't a coyote, but when we first walked into the resort there was a huge dead bird in one of the rooms. It was weird and creepy because it didn't belong there, and so we used a lot of the natural things that were in the resort to help influence the movie.
FF: How do you take an understanding of tension and fear and create that onscreen? I imagine it must be a challenging process, because until you’re editing the film it’s in a raw form, requiring you to have faith in your choices.
TC: I've been an editor my whole life, and when I shoot, I know what assets I need to capture in order for the edit to work. And if you don't know, then the best thing to do is just roll [laughs], and get as much footage as you can because then you can piece things together. You have to see it before you even shoot it, so that way you can trust your own vision. Hopefully it works, but it doesn't work every time.
THE RESORT is released On Digital and On Demand 30 April.