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After its success with the MY SUPER PSYCHO SWEET 16 slasher
flicks, MTV goes for more psychological tension in its latest original movie,
THE TRUTH BELOW (premiering Thursday, June 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT). Yet the man who
helmed it made his name with a stalker opus: Scott Glosserman, who won raves
for his debut feature BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON a few years
back and spoke exclusively with Fango about his new opus.
Forgoing MASK’s satirical approach, Glosserman aims for
screws-tightening suspense with TRUTH’s study of four young people under
pressure. Jenna (90210’s Gillian Zinser), Ethan (Reid Ewing), Dante (Nick
Thurston) and Liam (Ricky Mabe) are a college-age quartet heading home from a
snowboarding vacation when their car goes off a mountain road and winds up
buried in the snow. Unable to free themselves or the vehicle, they decide to
play a game in which they share secrets from their pasts, slowly revealing dark
sides and threatening each other’s ever-dwindling hopes of survival…
FANGORIA: This is the first movie you’ve directed that you
also didn’t write.
SCOTT GLOSSERMAN: That’s correct. I spent a long time
developing the script. I was familiar with it for over a year and trying to get
a meeting with the writer [Wendy Diane Miller], because I had a particular take
on it and was super-excited to discuss it with her. But there were a couple of
different encumbrances; I think there was another director attached for a
while. But when we finally sat down together, we just totally gelled, and by
that afternoon we were committed to working together. We developed several
iterations of the draft together, and got it a place where we both were really,
really pleased with it.
Then I happened to be at MTV talking about some other
projects, and they wanted to know what else I was working on. It was a great
example of perfect timing; we had just gotten the script to a place where I
loved it, and I think they were excited about taking on real issues and pushing
the envelope for television films, and TRUTH BELOW really resonated with them.
I was pleasantly surprised, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to
explore these really raw, grounded teenaged/adolescent feelings and emotions
and drama. I’ve been trying to think of other television movies that aren’t
based on underlying material. You think of a lot of the TV movies that are
dramatic and intense, and they’re usually based on some real-life story. We’re
an original movie, and I like to think we’re going into unexplored territory
and pushing the envelope. I’m impressed and really humbled that MTV put that
trust in myself and my cast to allow us to do that. That’s a big responsibility
that I hope we’ve delivered on in a good way.
FANG: Did they put any kind of restrictions on you? THE
TRUTH BELOW isn’t an especially violent film, but were you restrained in terms
of language, the themes explored or anything of that nature?
GLOSSERMAN: It really is amazing to me, the…I’m not gonna
say the stuff we got away with, because we didn’t really “get away with”
anything. But MTV really allowed us the breathing room to push the envelope,
and approved a number of things that not only myself, but some of the producers
didn’t imagine would be approved. We were able to present strong themes,
language and situations, and that’s a real testament to the realistic way we
treated this, and the trust that MTV had both in its filmmakers and its cast,
and in its audience, to embrace this type of material.
FANG: Would you call THE TRUTH BELOW a horror film?
GLOSSERMAN: No—there are certainly terrifying moments, and
situationally, it’s pretty scary. But the tone of it is much more of a suspense
thriller, with many psychological themes.
FANG: It does seem to follow the
trend of recent films about people being trapped in a confined space, like
BURIED, and also WRECKED with Adrien Brody. What do you make of the fact that
at the same time you were developing this, a few other films with a similar
theme were in the works?
GLOSSERMAN: You know, it’s just amazing. I mean, we could
talk about, how did DEEP IMPACT and ARMAGEDDON happen at the same time? There’s
this ether that occurs in the air. I was so excited to see BURIED for so long;
I missed it at a couple of festivals, and finally got to see it in Austin at
Fantastic Fest, and was so impressed. Not to completely digress, but one of the
biggest crimes was that neither the director nor the cinematographer of BURIED
was nominated for an Academy Award, because I thought what they did in that
movie was so impressive. But yeah, there’s a movie that Joel Schumacher’s about
to direct called THE HIVE, with a girl trapped in the trunk of a car… There are
so many screenwriters starting out, and I think they tend to gravitate toward
contained movies—something that doesn’t take a tremendous amount of physical
production to make. Even a movie like SAW is pretty contained. So there are
lots of those scripts in Hollywood—though there are very few that are actually
good. But it just so happens that some very high-quality, contained suspense
thrillers have been made and written recently.
FANG: How did you deal with the particular challenges of
this one, where you’re pretty much trapped inside the car for the better part
of the movie?
GLOSSERMAN: Well, the key was to convince the powers that be
to purchase multiple cars so we could chop them up, and get our cameras in very
unusual, sort of omniscient places, and light it in such a way that we could
have dynamic movement. It really increased the production value. Fortunately,
the producers saw what we were trying to do and trusted our vision, and gave us
the tools we needed to make that happen. If you’re gonna shoot a movie in a
car, and you’re just sitting in there with a handheld camera…that’s obviously
not how you’d wanna go about it. So being able to cut Suburbans in half—we were
very, very fortunate to be able to do that.
FANG: How about selecting your cast? Was there any
particular quality you were looking for during the auditions?
GLOSSERMAN: Before I sort of married myself to particular
looks or intricacies or physical movements, I wanted to make sure I cast
incredibly intelligent actors, who were confident in their own choices and
their own skills. Being in such a confined space, there’s so much emotion in
there, and so many things that needed to be conveyed with very little movement.
And I also wanted to connect with the MTV audience, which is younger than
me—but I knew my cast was going to be a lot more familiar with them. And some
of the preconceptions I had about my cast, about my characters, some of the
archetypes and most importantly about Gillian’s role, Jenna, got overturned.
Gillian [pictured right] and I had some amazing, unbelievable talks about her philosophy, about
pop culture, about women and young people and femininity and sexuality. And
they informed my directorial decisions as much as I informed hers, and the
The cast was spectacular. They were all anxious to do
something different. Gillian’s role is completely different from the one she
plays on 90210, and she really stepped up to the occasion. Reid Ewing also goes
completely against type from what he plays on MODERN FAMILY, and I think people
will be amazed at his performance. They all brought it; Ricky Mabe has been in
the game for a long time, a lot longer than many others, and he brought a real
even-keeled, professional quality to the cast. He was a real great anchor for
everybody. And Nick Thurston’s a movie star; he’s incredibly charismatic and
bright. All of them were so prepared, so professional, so talented, and it just
made my life as a director that much easier. The other thing is, we were all
friends, we were all a big happy family, especially given that we were in a
confined space for such a long time, and we all got along tremendously. That really
FANG: Was it a bit of a leap going to this movie, which is
very seriously intended, from doing BEHIND THE MASK, which is much more
GLOSSERMAN: You know, not really. I’ve developed a lot of
material since BEHIND THE MASK. I’ve done a serious, intellectual documentary
about Wikipedia, and I’d written a serious horror film for Paramount during
that time [go here for his comments on those], and was very comfortable with this more
serious-toned movie and content. So for me, it wasn’t difficult. If I wasn’t
confident about doing something serious, I think it would reflect in the end result—but
I was very anxious to take this project on, and I had a crystal-clear vision
about what I wanted to do, so it didn’t bother me that there wasn’t a lot of
I’ve just been really thrilled to have the opportunity to
take TRUTH BELOW in a direction that totally changes my opinion of what a
television movie can be. And it gave me the opportunity to stay grounded and
raw and real, working with issues that young people really deal with and the
secrets that they keep, in a way that I think is very relatable. It’s been
great getting to do something like this.
For more on THE TRUTH BELOW, check out the movie’s
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