HEY SHORT DEBUTS IN L.A
Not long ago, FANGORIA was invited to the swank Los Angeles premiere (hosted at the new screening room/restaurant Cinespace on Hollywood Blvd.) of the sound design-obsessed horror short film, HEY! from filmmakers Jeremy Whitham, Josh Chesler and Paul Connor and got to talk to the men behind the movie. The film, a surreal odyssey through Los Angeles that follows a young man as voices echo through the city with increasing urgency and lead him to a dark end, was shot over four weekends in and around L.A. ? though the sound design work took around 'six months' according to the film's co-director and cinematographer, Josh Chesler.
'I think in the beginning, we tried to have [the voices] be a little more normal,' Chesler admits when talking about the various human [and otherwise] voices that pepper the film, all uttering the single word, 'Hey.' '[Composer/sound designer] Kevin [McDaniels] did a lot of work with us in helping tweak that because there's an evolution in the tone of the voice, in the quality of the voice and in the direction. I think it gets a lot more confusing. It's really an evolution from a natural human voice to something that's completely other-worldly. We wanted to have that be a slow build that would really crescendo at the end to the point where it really wasn't the word 'hey' anymore. It's as far distorted as that word can go.'
As the soundtrack consists almost entirely of sonic 'hey's' and an increasingly diverse score, that left zero dialogue for its young lead actor/sitcom veteran Paul (3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN) Connor to turn his performance on, so he had to rely on body language and silent film acting (something Connor adds he did at USC in various student projects) to execute the role. On top of being the lead actor (as well as a co-director and co-producer, titles shared by Chesler, Connor and writer Jeremy Whitham), Connor also worked closely with McDaniels on the sound mix.
'I was very involved with Kevin and that idea of how sound was going to drive it, so I knew the sound would be a big driving force in the meaning of the movie,' enthuses Connor. 'The sound was going to tell the audience a lot of the emotion and I just had to back that up with the acting and react to things that weren't there that I knew were going to be there later. I had Josh and Jeremy on set and we knew what we would do, then we'd get on set and get down to the nitty-gritty of like, 'This is a shot where you're going to turn and it's going to be set this way. This is the part where you're getting scared and we're going to have sound going around you.''
As this is FANGORIA, naturally, we have a monster to mention to you ? even if it's rather elusive in the film. Scripter Whitham (favorite horror movie: JAWS) knew from the start the best way for any movie about a guy chasing down something that could potentially be big, nasty and dangerous would be for him to get devoured for his trouble.
'I had the idea fully-formed at first ? just the idea of this guy being badgered by these 'hey's' and then it would end with him being eaten by a creature of some sort,' says Whitham. 'I think originally I just thought it was a funny idea more than a sci-fi/horror influenced [piece] in a supernatural setting. So, I just told Josh and Paul about it and we were all on the same page right away, wanted to do it and thought it might be something to do over a weekend ? a quick project. Finding the right tone was the hardest part for me, but I think when I started with the image of the rotten apple falling from the tree and then brought in some of the sci-fi influences, it went from there.'
The filmmakers put up a website where you can catch the film online (click here to check it out), but if you'd like to see it on the big screen, keep y'er eye on the papers. 'We're submitting to festivals right now,' says Chesler. 'There's a lot more to come!'
Courtesy of Fangoria