EJECTA (2014)

Editor’s Note: This was originally published for FANGORIA on February 27, 2015, and we’re proud to share it as part of The Gingold Files.

Julian Richings has one of those faces you know you’ve seen before, and if you’ve been a regular horror viewer over the past couple of decades, you’ve seen it a lot. Currently center stage in the sci-fi chiller Ejecta, Richings took some time to discuss this latest project and reminisce about his past genre highlights.

Ejecta hails from the team behind Monster Brawl, Exit Humanity and Septic Man, the latter of which also featured Richings. Directed by Matt Wiele and Chad Archibald from a script by Tony Burgess of Pontypool and Septic, it casts Richings as William Cassidy, a man who has had a frightening close encounter with an alien being. The film alternates between Cassidy’s encounter with the creature, as captured on camera by documentarian Joe (Adam Seybold), and his subsequent interrogation by government operative Dr. Tobin (Lisa Houle). It’s a rare and welcome lead role for Richings, who has notched attention-grabbing supporting turns in Cube, Wrong Turn (where he originated the role of the vicious Three Finger), Survival of the Dead and many others.

Ejecta has an interesting dual structure; were these two portions shot back to back or at different times?

At different times; in fact, a year apart, which made for a very interesting process. We shot the section with the alien landing first, the stuff with myself and Adam Seybold. Then, in cutting it together, Tony Burgess, the writer, and the other filmmakers realized that it needed to go different places. It couldn’t be just found footage; it needed a couple of different layers. So we came back for a whole separate shoot a year later, in an airport, and that was the investigation facility, the scenes with myself and Lisa Houle.

Was a significant amount of the found-footage material cut out to make room for the new scenes, just to keep the movie at a manageable length?

Yes, it was, and it was an interesting thing. You know, Tony is very pragmatic as a writer, and tends to write imaginatively, but he’s always aware when there’s a small budget. We realized that we could get around a lot of issues doing the found-footage stuff, particularly in dealing with an alien without the money for big prosthetics or millions of dollars’ worth of latex. We could get around that with the idea of the subjective camera. So there was an awful lot of that kind of stuff—operating on the alien, us being chased by the alien, that was kind of cool, but we realized we needed a different perspective. And in fact, audiences have become so used to the notion of found footage that this needed to go to a different place. So a lot of the original scenes actually did go.

Did the two directors each handle one different half of the shoot, or did they work together throughout?

They did both. Matt Wiele took command of the overall and directed the first portion of the filming. Chad Archibald was involved heavily in that part, but not as a director. And then, Matt just wanted to step back a little bit, and as they cut it together and decided they wanted to get rid of some of that found-footage stuff, he felt it was a good idea to hand the reins over to Chad. So Matt was very much present, but it was kind of a handing over of the baton, of the ultimate responsibility. And then, it was really Matt who cut it together.

Did you make any contributions to your character when you returned for the second round of filming, based on what you had done in the first?

Yeah; I mean, we’d gone down a road, and taken it to a certain place, and therefore the new scenes had to be consistent with what we’d created. I had some input, but I put it down to Tony Burgess to be the orchestrator of the story and the reasoning of that world, and he took what we had and stitched it together with the second storyline.

How was it working with co-stars Houle and Seybold?

Pretty cool. I’ve known Lisa for many years, but I had not actually worked with her. We share a lot of commonalities, like she’s married to Stephen McHattie, and I’m a great admirer of his work, and he’s appeared in a lot of things I’ve appeared in. It’s kind of cool when you get a brand new actor coming into a movie halfway through, with a substantial role; that gave us all a new perspective on it. So we two kind of gave it a different texture, and I think that was to the film’s benefit. And then Adam Seybold, whom I spent most of the time with in the first section, is a great guy. We hung out a lot together preparing for that shoot, and had a good time.

I want to complete that thought by saying that there are pros and cons of DIY, guerrilla-style shooting, and lack of budget is one of the drawbacks, but there are positives too. One is that everybody is on the page and ready to go the extra mile, so there’s a real sense of collaboration, and that any obstacles are there to be overcome, but they’re not body blows, you know? They actually became a source of creativity, so Adam and I worked really hard on that first section, and then we were kind of invigorated to have this new dimension to explore.

You’ve worked a few times now with this filmmaking team, so have you gotten into a groove with them at this point?

Yes, I have. I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s away from the big city. They shoot their movies in a smaller town in Ontario, so the working environment is a bit different; they’re more relaxed and there’s a sense of everybody bringing their own resources to the project. For instance, in Septic Man, which was directed by Jesse Cook, the lead actor, Jason David Brown, who played the guy who becomes the Septic Man, actually built most of the set. It’s kind of funny that he ended up trapped in the set that he’d built! There was one point while we were filming when the set sprung a leak, and he had to jump out of the acting side and try to problem-solve the mechanics of keeping this thing afloat. So that’s generally a cool and interesting situation; it requires a stamina you can’t maintain for a long time, but these guys come at it very fast and furious, and I’m sure they hope to eventually get to a point where they can work with bigger budgets on bigger projects.

What can you tell us about their upcoming movie Hellmouth and your part in that one?

Well, that was just myself and Bruce McDonald doing cameos as these two guys who go crazy in a graveyard. There was no responsibility of carrying the story, really; both Bruce and myself came in for a day, and kind of ripped and had fun.


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