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Blood in the Snow Q&A: Chad Archibald on “EJECTA”

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As genre fans may or may not know, the favorite parlor game regarding Hollywood stars is Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In the Canadian indie horror scene, Guelph, Ontario-based Chad Archibald is becoming just as much of a ubiquitous presence as he finds himself involved in a large number of fright films. His company, Black Fawn Distribution, is in the business of releasing exciting new Canadian horror films, such as the acclaimed SILENT RETREAT and DISCOPATH. Archibald works as a director, screenwriter and producer for Black Fawn Films, which he co-owns with fellow multi-hyphenates Christopher Giroux and Cody Callahan.

As a director, Archibald is lucky enough to have seen two of his films hit theaters in 2014. His first 2014 entry, THE DROWNSMAN (reported on in FANGORIA #336), had its World Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival and Montreal and was recently acquired by Anchor Bay for distribution in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. His second 2014 film, EJECTA, has played Fantasia and the Telluride Horror Show, and will be making its Toronto premiere at the Blood In the Snow Canadian Film Festival on Sat. Nov. 29 at 7:00 p.m. EJECTA is the third in a triptych of films that see Foresight Features collaborating with PONTYPOOL screenwriter Tony Burgess, including SEPTIC MAN (now available on DVD) and HELLMOUTH, which debuted at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival last month.

EJECTA’s story structure is unique as it is seamlessly crafted from two parts, which run simultaneously using a found footage element. In one half, a filmmaker (Adam Seybold) interviews William Cassidy (Julian Richings), a man haunted by an extraterrestrial encounter from years ago, who believes the visitors will return on that night’s titular solar event. The second part of the film sees Cassidy interrogated by the sinister Dr. Tobin (Lisa Houle), desperate to make contact with the supposed alien beings as she watches the footage from the part one.

Not only does is the film comprised of two story threads but it also boasts two directors: the found footage segments are directed by Matt Wiele, a producer of Foresight’s previous films, while the second part involving the interrogation is directed by Archibald. In anticipation of its Blood in the Snow screening, FANGORIA sat down with Mr. Archiblad to discuss the adventure of making EJECTA and where it fits in this exciting time in his career.

FANGORIA: How did you get involved with the folks at Foresight Features?

CHAD ARCHIBALD: I met these guys a few years ago while on set of a film called SWEET KARMA. Years later after many good chats I became great friends with the guys. I came on board for their three film slate as a producer and Gaffer. We had small crews, so a lot of us were doing double jobs on them. We set out in 2012 and filmed EJECTA, SEPTIC MAN, and HELLMOUTH almost back to back. They’re great guys and I’m sure our paths will cross on set again soon enough.

FANG: How were you brought in to assume directorial duties on EJECTA?

ARCHIBALD: We had filmed the first version of EJECTA and it was entirely a found footage movie and it was great, but with all the found footage films getting released, the guys sat down and decided they wanted to play with the idea of changing the film into something that would stand out more to the industry and to fans of the genre. Jesse, John, Matt and I had spoke of working together on a film that I would direct a few times in the past, but it wasn’t until this came up that they decided it would be a good chance to collaborate. Almost a year after we shot the first version of EJECTA, the guys approached me about coming on board. Matt Wiele and myself get along so well that it was a no brainer for me. They asked if I would come on board and help develop what EJECTA would become and direct the new segments.

FANG: What was the plan once you saw what you had to work with?

ARCHIBALD: I worked with Tony Burgess and the Foresight guys developing the new additions to the script and we set out for seven days to film the new segments of EJECTA. It was very collaborative and, of course, a pleasure to work with such talented actors like Julian Richings and Lisa Houle. As well it’s always great to work with great friends and the fantastic filmmaking talent up at Foresight.

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FANG: One of the unifying factors of both parts of the film is the intense and riveting performance of Julian Richings (CUBE, HARD CORE LOGO, TV’s SUPERNATURAL). What was it like working with him and developing his character in your part of the film?

ARCHIBALD: Julian is not only a phenomenally talented actor but also a very amazing human being. I’ve spent a lot of time with Julian between shooting and doing panels/festivals and I must say it’s been a complete pleasure. We went into filming the second part of EJECTA knowing that Julian would have to hold half of the film while tied down to some sort of alien torture chair. As a director, it’s always a worry when you have an actor restrained for that much of a film but we knew that if anyone could hold it together it would be JR! After five days of sitting in a chair, Julian was wrapped and as you can see in the film, his performance couldn’t even be restrained by alien technology!

FANG: Looking at it now, how do you feel about the finished product?

ARCHIBALD: As we were developing the new script for EJECTA, right up until when we wrapped, we all kept looking at each other going “Is this going to work?”. It’s such a unique combination of filmmaking mediums and styles. We couldn’t find a film quite like it in that regard, so we just crossed our fingers and moved full steam ahead. Once the film was done and scored, so beautifully by Stephanie Copeland, I was pretty amazed at how well it came together. It worked the way we set out for it to work. I was also pleasantly pleased at how scary it is. It’s got some good jumps. On top of it all, Julian, Lisa, and Adam Seybold really showed their chops. They were all amazing to work with and their talent really shows through in this film.

FANG: At the end of the month, you go back behind the camera to direct BITE. Your distribution company, Black Fawn, is also in the middle of an eight picture deal with Breakthrough Entertainment. This could be the busiest time of your career. What lessons did you learn during the making of EJECTA that you are applying to your filmmaking now?

ARCHIBALD: It’s definitely the busiest I’ve ever been. Our whole team is working around the clock as we’re in post for ANTISOCIAL 2, as well as prepping the next few films. Every film is such a different experience, and with every experience you learn more and more about filmmaking.

EJECTA was an experiment in mediums. It was a film we had to just dive into and trust that between myself, Matt Wiele, Tony Burgess, the Foresight team and the cast and crew, we could piece together this puzzle and make it work. Filmmaking is about collaborating with a team and we had a great one with this. It was small but a talented group of people that all did multiple jobs. The whole Foresight team worked around the clock doing a bit of every position that exists on set. I actually produced and gaffed the first EJECTA shoot. Christopher Giroux, who is a Black Fawn producer, was the Production Manager and Key Grip on it. Cody Calahan, who I own Black Fawn with, was a producer and was also the Camera Operator on the entire film so it was a great group of people doing multiple jobs and without all of their hard work, we would have been able to pull this off. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this film really shows what a small group of people, who really put their minds together, can create.

EJECTA plays the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on Sat. Nov. 29 at 7:00pm. The screening takes place at the Carlton Cinemas in Toronto. For more information and tickets, visit the official site.

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About the author
Jason Tannis
Jason Tannis is an writer, actor, musician, film programmer and teacher. His articles have appeared in Fangoria, the Meridian Music website and the Eclectic Screening Room. As an actor, he has appeared in THE GALLERY, GOD'S OWN COUNTRY and more recently, Chris Alexander's BLOOD FOR IRINA and Greg Lamberson's DRY BONES. He was a masked cowbellist/vocalist in The Withouts from 2008 to 2011. Most recently, he became part of the programming team for the Blood in the Snow film festival. He and his wife live in Toronto.
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