Brian Patrick Lim Spotlights His Passion for Horror, Filmmaking
Brian Patrick Lim worked as Director and Co-writer of the Horror Short film; Marian.
The film premiered at Screamfest Horror Film Festival and Freak Show Horror Film Festival in 2017. Audiences can see Marian via CryptTV for free. We’re embedded link for your horror viewing enjoyment.
Brian Patrick Lim provokes a fascinating commentary on dealing with fears, perseverance and committing to creative passions. This is a subject that will reverberate with most artists whether you’re a performer, producer or screenwriter.
The subjects enclosed in our interview revolves around the production for Marian. Audiences will attain understanding into a Horror themed production and its misinterpretation when casting a child actor/actress.
Thank you, Mr. Brian Patrick Lim, for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer our queries.
The facilitator to this interview was David Teixeira, DecayMag Content Contributor
SUPPRESSING YOUR FEAR only makes it MORE POWERFUL….(WAIT FOR THE ENDING)
Posted by Crypt TV on Monday, October 16, 2017
DecayMag: Can you please tell us a bit of your background in filmmaking and how did you become the vision director you are now?
Brian Patrick Lim I’m a freelance DP. I usually collaborate closely with a local production house here in the Philippines. We focus on advertising and digital content. Unless they ask me to, or a client has seen my work, and requests for me specifically, I rarely direct. I love working as a DP and find it a joy to be behind the camera.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Arts. I shot a full feature as my thesis film, that I now regret having ever made. But it did teach me quite a lot. So, it wasn’t a total loss. I went on a 4-year long hiatus after that. I would still watch movies, but I wouldn’t dare touch a camera. My hands would literally be shaking if I reached out for one. But somehow my love for filmmaking caught up with me, so I decided to enroll myself at Vancouver Film School. VFS provided a safe, creative, and nurturing environment for me to discover what it was I loved about film again.
I thought I wouldn’t direct a film again, but after getting frustrated just working on commercials, I finally decided to make something for myself. Something I would enjoy doing. Having made Marian was somehow cathartic for me.
DecayMag: Have you been a fan of horror for a long time? What’s your favorite scary movie and why?
Brian Patrick Lim Thank god the rental stores here during the 90’s were very lax when it came to renting out horror movies to children. Haha! Growing up, I liked Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday The 13th, and Jaws.
I think the one horror movie I remember having nightmares about was a little movie called, “Langoliers”. I don’t exactly know why, but the idea of waking up to a world where everybody just all of a sudden, disappears without a trace was frightening to me. And it still does to this day. Does that mean I have abandonment issues? I don’t know.
I don’t have a particular favorite, but I do have a list of horror movies I really like. Movies like the original, Shutter, The Ring, The Eye, to Martyrs, The Innocents, The Devil’s Backbone to Korean murder mysteries like, I Saw The Devil and Mother. There’s just too many to mention, but I think most drawn to horror movies that have interesting characters, a great backstory, and clever plot twists.
Horror has always been my favorite. Growing up, I wouldn’t watch anything else if it wasn’t a horror or a suspense thriller, everything else seemed boring.
DecayMag: Any inspirations from the genre that brought Marian to life?
Brian Patrick Lim Marian was actually based on a 2-sentence horror story I read 3 years ago. I think people have done variations of it by now. I’ve been wanting to do a horror film for the longest time, and somehow after reading that story, the hairs on my arm, visibly stood on end. I knew I had to expand the story.
But growing up in a country where a lot of people, actually believe in the Boogeyman, daily life is my main source of inspiration. Someone even made a documentary about it called, The Aswang Project. It’s wonderfully done. It explains local myths and legends, and it’s a wonderful insight on Filipino culture. And yes, I have had a number of experiences with the supernatural growing up.
I had previously seen, The Innocents (1961) and The Witch (2015) and loved how tense and atmospheric it was. I also really like, The Babadook (2014) and how it was a metaphor for mental illness. I’ll throw in Jaws (1975) in there, as to further illustrate that these movies weren’t just about the supernatural. So, in a similar vein, I wanted Marian, to have the supporting backbone of a story about coping with loss and abuse.
I knew right off the bat, I wanted to make a film that was atmospheric with a dark undertone.
Related Article; Marian Film Review
DecayMag: Any intentions of expanding Marian into a feature?
Brian Patrick Lim That was actually the original intent. But now I feel Marian, works as a short film, and expanding her story might not work. But who knows. We actually have an idea for a sequel, but I’m not sure if we want to tackle the subject matter.
DecayMag: How has been the fans’ input through Crypt TV?
Brian Patrick Lim It’s been great! We honestly didn’t think people would respond positively to the film. Some even came up with their own unique theories as to the character’s backstory. I love it!
The support though from Filipino Crypt TV fans has been amazing! That’s what I’m most happy about.
DecayMag: How was the experience to co-write your film with Sundeep Bhathal and Levi San Luis?
Brian Patrick Lim It was a great actually. It was my first time working with Levi San Luis, I was struggling to explain the backstory why there were two version of the woman, Marian was seeing. He gave me the idea of making them twins.
I’ve collaborated with Sundeep Bhathal before on a feature and smaller projects where I needed a fresh set of eyes. But this is the first time she’s been involved from the ground up. She was even our script supervisor on set.
Writing Marian, was one of those rare occasions where except for some minor tweaks here and there, and a lot of tightening, the story basically wrote itself. Isn’t that great when it happens?
DecayMag: What can you say about the film’s important subject? Has bullying been an issue that was intended to explore since the beginning?
Brian Patrick Lim When I wrote the script 2 years ago, it was only 3 pages long. I was in a hurry to participate at a local film festival, I ended up sending my treatment and presentation, half-baked. Thank God, I got rejected. Gave me room to expand the story a bit more.
It wasn’t until I really dug deep into these characters that the issue arose. Growing up reading Goosebumps books, I love plot twists. So, I decided to throw in a curveball and have that as a big reveal. I also wanted to make a film where the audience could have an entirely different experience upon second viewing.
I was asking myself what horror was. Did it have to be about monsters in the supernatural sense or as a metaphor? I chose the latter.
I didn’t want the bullying aspect to just be a gimmick. I think I wrote it honestly enough and it fits in with the narrative.
DecayMag: How was working with a young lead on such a tough subject and with a lot of violence and gore?
Brian Patrick Lim I read a comment where someone felt we went too far for the child actor. First of all, we weren’t abusing the kid on set. We kept the mood really positive. The entire cast and crew, all knew we were making a horror movie and that it was all pretend.
We actually auditioned 8 girls who wanted to play Marian. We sent them scripts early on so their parents knew what role their kid was singing on. I remember being in the audition room, I had Astarte Abraham with me, whom I cast early on, we were a lot more scared of the kids coming into the audition that they were. These were really talented young girls that knew what they wanted and were actively pursuing it as a career all while balancing school work.
I remember this one girl came in, she must have been 9, and just as we were about to do the confrontation scene, she told Astarte, “You’ve got to really hit me! If you must slap me, go ahead. I need to feel the pain in order to deliver an honest performance.” Of course, we had to explain to her other acting techniques that didn’t involve her getting too physical. But talk about dedication to the role.
I tried to keep direction as simple as possible. For example, with the opening scene, I told Johanah, to play the scene as if, “there was a monster in the next room, and if they were too loud it would come in and take her mom away.” Simple directions like that. There wasn’t any psychobabble involved. Also living in the Philippines, kids are exposed to grown-up issues quite early on in life.
Also, and I’m not sure if this particular direction helped, I think I told Johanah, as we were doing the murder scene, to channel all her frustrations from school as she was swinging that foam bar unto a tissue box. Haha! I think some people have the notion that horror sets are really depressing places, but it’s not. We were joking around on set a lot. Believe it or not, there was a lot of humor and lot of dancing.
I’ve got to give credit to Johanah Basanta, who portrayed Marian really well. I could not have asked for a better, Marian. At 10 years old, she was amazingly professional on set. She was a joy to work with.
DecayMag: I loved the idea that the demon in Marian was really a visual aspect of a deep emotion from the character. How did you come up with the idea of that type of demon? Any inspirations?
Brian Patrick Lim Well, we hope our creature didn’t look too much like the ghost from, Mama. I love that movie, but we were scared she might end up looking like her.
We decided to have the demon look primal, but still resemble Marian a bit. So, it would be as if she was looking at a mirror of herself. Also, “This is what would happen” if you stayed. But still, make the creature look like she’s been through hell and back. Early on we even planned on having identical scars for both of them. But we didn’t have time to work that one out.
We had lengthy discussions about what the creature would look like, and we didn’t want to go over the top, but we knew it had to be a visual representation of Marian’s “ID”, so to speak.
DecayMag: How was working with prosthetics? Do you have a preference for working with practical or special effects?
Brian Patrick Lim This was actually my first time working with prosthetics and given the situation we were in, it was tough. One of the major challenges we faced on set was shooting in the summer, a hundred degrees outside, the inside of that house was like an oven! It got so bad, that the actor who was set to play the creature fell ill the next day, and we had to look for an immediate replacement.
We only had one day to shoot our scenes with full makeup on, because that’s what our budget allowed, by the time we were shooting the death scene, the demon’s eye kept falling off! You could also tell the make-up was peeling off in some of the shots, that’s another reason we had the creature covered in smoke.
I also don’t mind CGI, as long as it’s done well. Nothing pulls you out of the story more than terrible CGI. But CGI married properly with practical effects can elevate the look and feel of whatever’s on screen. That’s why I love Guillermo Del Toro’s work. He does this beautifully.
I love practical effects because as an audience member, you can tell it’s there. It’s interacting with the environment around it. It’s much more… palpable in a sense.
DecayMag: What can we expect from you in the near future? Are you going to stay focused in horror with real drama and real problems? Are we going to see you work in another genre?
Brian Patrick Lim I’m not always so serious with my work. I want to do something fun as well. Maybe a Johan Carpenter style splatter feature, but I guess that would depend on the circumstances.
Currently, I’m working on a short script for Crypt TV. I’ll probably pitch it to them sometime early next year. I’m still kind of iffy about it since it deals with the current political climate here in the PH, it might be too “political”, I don’t want to get shot. Haha! Also, I’m really excited about working as a cinematographer on a full feature next year, some of the key creatives are buddies of mine from film school, we’re planning on shooting half of the movie in Vancouver, and half of it here, in the Philippines. I’m also writing a full feature script, a revenge thriller, about the dark web and kidnapping. Should be a busy year! It’s exciting!
I like the idea of horror with real social problems, seeing that audiences responded positively to it, I might just take that on and make a series of films in that style.