Harvesters Production Team: Nick Sanford & Laurie Cummings
Harvesters, indie Horror Mystery currently on Kickstarter
The following is our interview with Nick Sanford, Director and Laurie Cummings Producer to the indie horror film “The Harvesters”. The film is currently seeking financial aid from the public via crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The interview was conducted on Monday January 28th 2016 by Stacy Cox, Staff Contributor at DecayMag.com. The following article is a transcription from a thirty-five minute telephone interview.
[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]
DecayMag.com: Mr. Sanford and Ms. Cummings, my name is Stacy Cox, I am staff contributor at Decaymag.com. I want to take thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedules to conduct this interview with me.
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Laurie Cummings: Pleasure.[/box]
DecayMag.com Mr. Sanford, “The Harvesters” has a very interesting plot. It has the trappings of a psychological thriller. Can you please elaborate on what genres “The Harvesters” will cover?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Uhm…That’s kind of a tricky question. Horror in a lot of ways, Mystery In a lot of ways Thriller in a lot of ways but I wouldn’t say its biggest cinematic influences are somewhat genre as it is decades and in this case we’re talking like the 1970’s. Cause there is lot in that decade like “Jaws” and “Halloween”. There were a lot of movies outside of the horror format there that I’m taking inspiration from too like those very low key kind of Thriller type that kind of escalates and escalates.
There a lot of films from the 70’s that really, that to me is the golden era of films so that is really where I learned most of my lessons from. I want to try and take what those films did and kind of go off in a new direction with them, kind of a modern direction with them. So I wouldn’t say it’s so many genres as the kind of just overall cultural sensibility and kind of like where they were in the seventies. I think kind of not too far from where we are now in a lot of ways now, you know. Distrust of the government and stuff like that so it’s kind of just the overall seventies is what really inspired this movie the most.[/box]
DecayMag.com: Thank you. Now That you mentioned “Jaws” on the Director’s Statement page of “The Harvesters” official site, you make a few statements that stand out. One of those I am particularly interested in: “There are traces of “Jaws”, “Alien”, and “Halloween” in the DNA of “The Harvesters”. You then proceed to reference other films, such as “Forest Gump”,
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Chuckles[/box]
DecayMag.com: “The Exorcist”, “Psycho”, among others. Can you please elaborate on this statement in whole?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Uh sure uhh…What I mean by that those other movies those were kind of I think they kind of did it best in the seventies. But they’re movies used to be really really be kind of you know they used to transcend just being stories they were real experiences. You know where the people who watched them you know like “Casablanca” I think is another one that I mentioned in that little thing from the uhh…from the website.
But you could tell they were experiences , they’re experiential they uh they went beyond just being a story because I mean they were so big in scale and the way they used to film movies back then the way they don’t really shoot movies these days where you really really really had a sense of you know you know stage where the characters were in relation to camera and how that corresponded with the music and the editing that really you know then they really went out of their way to give you a sense of uh environment you know they would shoot forward in such a way you know that you can really get a feel for what the form in “Forrest Gump” houses. You know you can smell the smoke in ray’s casino in “Casablanca” and stuff like that and that you know from an angle that’s something I really, really want to do with “The Harvesters”.
You know in giving that full experiences like you really really really feel like you’ve been pulled through the stories so much to where it’s not even about the plot point anymore or you know certain stories be you know that’s not the overall experience is going through the know kind of the world that the film sets up. That’s something that those films did really really really well you know you seen one frame of any of those movies and you know exactly what they were and how you felt while you were watching them you know they were a lot more about feeling back then. Whereas you know they’re not so much today and that’s something we’re kind of getting back to. [/box]
DecayMag.com: Thank you for sharing that. Ms. Cummings, “The Harvesters” crowdfunding has risen over $12,000 since its launch. Congratulations!
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Laurie Cummings: Why Thank you, Thank that’s a lot of it is Nick and uh his partners that are helping me with the social media. I can’t take credit for that because they’re doing some really creative things but thank you.
Nick Sanford: A lot of it was Laurie too I mean we all have been patting each other on the back because we wouldn’t be where we were without her, she’s been pursing it kinda in her own way and getting it out there and kinda everyone.[/box]
DecayMag.com: Thank you. What creative aspects of the film should prospective backers be enticed by?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Laurie Cummings: Well uh I think Nick has explained enough about the story. It’s got a female protagonist and also just the whole concept of growing up and feeling like you not launched you know you need to go to that next step in your young adult life and that’s something that I think really everyone keys into and identifies with. What do you say Nick?
Nick Sanford: Yeah, No I mean that’s absolutely right the main character is someone you know who’s going through a lot of anxiety because you know, she’s still young but there comes a point where you know you kind of wish things were exactly right at right now which is why you know why the movie is so personal to me. But you kind of look around and its like “whoa I am not right thought I was going to be” you know I mean the world is a lot. The world is different than you thought it was with something like High School or whatever and uh…you know kinda the anxiety of the fear of not necessarily getting left behind but you feel like your window is kinda closing and you feel you kinda wasted a lot of your youth thinking stupid. It’s Kind of about that, about awakening and like “Okay its go time. Go, go, go, go, go, I got to, go, go, go, go, go.”
And so our main character Jane she literally has a plane ticket out her hometown and then this horrendous event just falls right into her lap and she has to decide is she’s going to stay and help or if she’s going to leave and pursue personal goal. And the more the day goes along and crazier the mystery gets it kind of locks her into it now. She really really gets torn about what she’s going to do and that’s kind of the main personal angle and that’s something I, that we hope a lot of people can relate to which is why we pushed that so hard in trying to explain to backers you know that what uh that’s sort of the emotional ends in a whole.[/box]
DecayMag.com: Thank you and thank you for share that because it kinda of actually goes into my next question about the protagonist of “The Harvesters”. Ms. Cummings, your IMDB resume boasts work on a number of horror, thrillers. Can you share insight on the recent shift in the genre, portraying women from helpless victims to becoming strong leads in horror films?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Laurie Cummings: Well I think that’s a timely question because I think there’s a push in general in films there’s more people waking up to this whole issue of female leads and that is one of the main reasons that when I read the script of Nick’s that I really really wanted to get involved with this. There’s so much attention on this you know I grew up in the seventies and this is kind of what Nick was talking about. Horror movies back in the seventies when I was growing up, coming of age and it was very in tune with this genre that is exactly what you said the female they were always getting murdered they were portrayed as weaker individuals sometimes and this whole female protagonist in “The Harvesters” really interested me and intrigued me and I bought into it immediately wanted to get involved with it. Uh I don’t know if that exactly answers your question. But uh you can tell me now
Nick Sanford: I think to interject. From a straight white guy interjecting on what feminism means in horror films but uhm I think there is something I think there is a reason there something that Alissa Rose and I were talking about, you know she’s the lead of the film she’s playing Jane. There is a reason that those horror films from the seventies ever since Janet Leigh starred in “Psycho” she was kind of really beyond that there is a reason that those horror films have female protagonists and that’s because horror films I not a woman so I can’t say for sure but what a whole lot of anxiety those women have to go through in her world when…I mean there is so much. I mean.
Women have to be a lot more afraid of the world than men do unfortunately and I think that’s why you know they always wind up there being a woman character in all these movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “The final girl” or “Halloween” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” there’s always the woman winds up being victimized the most in the beginning but by the end she over comes that and I think that’s very reflective of just how women are treated now and that got me how they’ve been treated I mean never dawned on me you know it’s always kind of always be this way and I think it’s getting better hopefully a little bit as we progress as a society but I mean I think Horror films do adequately reflect you know how terrifying it must be to be woman in today’s society.
Laurie Cummings: I think it refreshing to see a woman portrayed in a horror film that is a strong independent woman ..I felt that was refreshing and when I read that script and saw how he had written that role I Loved it
Nick Sanford: …and we’re putting together a new teaser trailer like tonight partly and it’s kind of a joke that the editor and one of our producers made about, its two women talking to each other in the teaser about this horrible thing as opposed to you know two women talking about a man or whatever which I thought was funny but yea because I mean the character that Laurie played is maybe the second maybe I mean arguably the second biggest supporting or the biggest kind of supporting role you know and so it’s literally the movie is about women you know kind of on this mystery journey together and so which was all an accident it wasn’t like I was trying to make a check list of you know “whoa what are the current social things today that need to be addressed, hmmm” you know you it just kind of happened that way I mean really what actually how Laurie got involved is that I wanted to work with her anyway and her character was originally rendered as a man so I just kind of I didn’t …I didn’t just make it the same character and then you know be like “oh you know put a woman’s name” on it you know changed it originally there’d be some terrible rewriting with that character but I still you know changed it originally you know from a man and we purposed it as a woman so she could come in and play it, even though she’s so talented she probably could have played the man anyway.
Laurie Cummings: Laughs[/box]
DecayMag.com: You seem to speak very personally about the film which leads me into my next question. the film is filmed and produced and cast locally in the state of Oklahoma. Is the underlying plot to “The Harvesters” based off a local urban legend or story?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Uhm…not so much an urban legend this is something that I have no idea how to discuss. it’s just a weird kind of point of reference but one of things I started writing the screenplay a week after the May 20th 2013 tornado that came through Moore which is my hometown There was just this huge record breaking, historically strong tornado that actually touched down exactly where I’m driving right now. That’s kind of weird. We’re in Newcastle. It touched down in Newcastle and went to Oklahoma and it was just… I watched this tornado form I watched it go through my grandparent’s house which got destroyed and then I watched it just go into Moore and a quarter of Moore just got blown away I mean there was just this huge catastrophic and I started writing the script to “The Harvesters” about a week after that it was kind of a reaction you know.
Whenever you watch your hometown go through something like that you know it makes you really angry I mean I was just angry that whole summer but you know what am I going to get mad at nature? you know I couldn’t help it, I was just so angry that it happened and so many people’s lives are just screwed up it was just this horrible thing and that kind of became you know what turned into “The Harvesters” because kind of the way you know kind of how Japan put out King Kong after you know the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is kind of how this film started coming and kind of my reaction to not just the May 20th tornado but all the tornadoes that have come through here. You know we have one ever few years. It’s just…It’s just…horrible. Horrible. And that’s kind of not so much an urban legend even though Oklahoma does have you know like the city of Guthrie has this considered to be one of the most haunted towns in America and whatever. It’s really gained more out of the tornadoes and that tornado in particular that happened about three years ago now
Laurie Cummings: And the question that came up: Why does someone continue to live in an area that is pretty much ground zero for these F5 tornadoes that come in every three of four years it seems like?
Nick Sanford: Yea yeah that’s uhm…that kind of a question that’s that’s addresses in the uh…film as well because that’s something, like every time a tornado come though we all ask ourselves: “What are we still doing here?” but I’m like you know there’s something about this community here that keeps us here and its kind of you know does uhm you know what’s the balance between the disasters and kind of the social aspect of all these people you know because as heinous and this is another thing as heinous as all this stuff is you know good can come out of it because in a weird way it does kinda brings people together and it brings out the best in people a lot of times and that is something I really you know…
That was one of the big questions that kinda in this movie is not that question so much but just you know the idea of that out of horrific events and you know “The Harvesters” has some very bad things that happens in them but out of all that you know you can find the ray of light for whatever which isn’t very common in a lot of modern horror films they all end you know pretty equally and even you know older horror films but ..but that’s something that I really wanted to kind of sink my teeth into was kind of the aftermath, what happens you know after because you know something I noticed about the city Moore after this tornado happens is… I was helping out people I never met before get out of their house you know like finding all their stuff and shift though the wreckage and find things that they could reuse you know so that they could move and all that and you know I know a lot of people that helped out and did whatever they could and then it just kind of you know it changes you and so that’s something that I really wanted to uh wanted to take a look at with “The Harvesters”[/box]
DecayMag.com: Thank you for sharing that information about your hometown that’s very insightful. I was scrolling through the images on “The Harvesters” official site, and I see good times on the set with the cast and crew. What are some of your most memorable moments on the set?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Uh we all like shooting the opening scene to this movie cause we only shot the opening scene so far but uh I’d say in the opening scene that we shot come together and put on the internet so people can try and get a taste of what the movie was really going to be. We shot that over a couple of nights and the movie takes place the movie starts right at midnight on Halloween and last through the whole day. The movie takes place on Halloween and we actually started shooting the evening of October 30th which spilled over into Halloween so there was just this really like we were really counting down you know when midnight was and you know and all that almost as if it were new year’s. just because the movie starts right at midnight on Halloween it was really just this cool magical kind of feeling in the air that we all got a kind of got a kick out of.
Laurie Cummings: Also Nick had the wolves and the howling it was just awesome.
Nick Sanford: yeah
Laurie Cummings: It was just really cool
Nick Sanford: We filmed that well and it was kind of the perfect way it worked out because you know the scene takes place in a field at night you know just kind of in the middle of nowhere and it’s been raining just torrential downpour all day and I kept talking to DP saying: “You think we should call it? Do you think we should, you know reschedule? And he’s like: “No…No…No..No..No..We’ll figure it out; we’re going to make it happen.” and whatever and scheduled to start shooting at six and it stopped raining at 5:30 and it just stopped for several hours and we had this huge window where could go in and shoot it just kind of allowed us to it was just this weird, kind of made you feel that the universe was ..That the stars were aligning or whatever.
And you know kind of made you feel you were on the right path in putting this together and so you know we were all relieved we’re out in the field in the middle of Oklahoma. My uncle’s property shooting and you could hear these wolves out in the background. and I don’t remember I think there’s one or two shots where you could just barely hear them kind of out in the background whenever the characters are speaking I mean you’ve got to really know it’s there. but yeah it was just I didn’t know it was just this cool it was cool for five seconds then we realized “oh shit what are we going to do if wolves start like or coyotes start acting up.” But they never got that close though.
Laurie Cummings: They were coyotes, they weren’t wolves. it was probably coyotes
Nick Sanford: yeah
Laurie Cummings: They were just overall a really cool vibe to what we were doing and it kinda energized them you know.
Nick Sanford: Yea it was just a match I mean Halloween you there’s a reason that the movie is that on Halloween it was just this really you know it just kind of has this magical feeling and so shooting it which was kind of an accident but I was hoping it would work out that way shooting it in that first night you know leading into Halloween it was just I don’t know it just felt right. You know because lot of things were starting to go wrong like with you know the uh the rain and all that and there were a lot of things that made it feel right we’re good it’s going to work and I hope it does but you know it kind of fell together and especially that night. October is my favorite month and I said a lot of movies like you know kind of honor around uh Halloween or holidays in general because it’s a real cheap easy way to build up some atmosphere. This is why so many directors do it. It was a very special night, I’ll never forget it, and it was real cool.[/box]
DecayMag.com Thank you, now that you mentioned those set backs on the crowdfunding site, you mention the risks and challenges a production team can experience during production. What’s your plan, if any risks and challenges should hinder completion to “The Harvesters”?
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: uh you mean the weather and stuff in general[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Well yea you know I mean one of the kind of one of the major instances of the film was to get back to what I was kind of talking about with the seventies movies was the big theatrical experience because you know I kind of want this thing on theater screens and I want it as many as we can figure out and so the plan for now is to play it in Oklahoma city probably Dallas and Los Angeles and just see where it goes from there see if we can expand it and see if people even like it enough to kind of demand it but yea I would love for it to be in every theater in America if we could but uh I think we’re going to start off with those two cities Oklahoma and Los Angeles because one of the other producers he knows a theater owner out there in kind of let us screen it and kind of stuff like that so uh we’re just going to start off small and kind of see what happens. [/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Nick Sanford: Uh I would like to, the whole plan is to start screening uh as early in September and then kind of let us play throughout fall you know and kind of see what kind of deals we can make with art house theaters because it’s really the only theater that you know that will be interested in picking us up probably because we are such a small movie but uh I go to a lot in Oklahoma city and Tulsa and down in Dallas anyway so you know I know how to get some to a lot of these guys but should everything go according to plan which I’m knocking on so much wood right now it all goes according to plan we should have started screenings as early as September. [/box]
DecayMag.com: I am definitely looking forward to the release of “The Harvesters”. Until then, we will continue to stay tuned for more information as the production progresses. Once again my name is Stacy Cox. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to meet with DecayMag.com.