Today we are talking to Ryan McCoy, the mastermind behind the movie Evidence. I reviewed it recently (here) and cited it as the best horror movie I’d seen in 2012. I was impressed and anyone that knows me knows that I’m not easily impressed. Ryan has created the best horror movie in a long time and you should all track it down.
We talk to him about Evidence, how it all began and where does it go from here.
FTN: Ryan, welcome and thank you for taking time out to talk to us.I bet Ireland was the last place you thought you had fans.
RMC: It’s pretty cool to know that you guys are out there!
FTN: Like a certain Mister Speilberg, you used to make movies as a kid. What got you into that?
RMC: Funny you should mention Spielberg, he’s actually my favorite director. Um, yes, when I was in 4th grade, my family bought a camcorder and you could really never get it out of my hands. I used to make Lego stop-motion movies, and movies with my friends. I had a gorilla suit that was usually the monster in all of them, and it’s actually the same gorilla suit that my character wears in EVIDENCE when I try and scare the others at the campfire.
FTN: What sort of movies did you watch growing up? Was there any move makers you wanted to emulate?
RMC:I was, and still am, obsessed with Schwarzenegger. I watched all of his movies growing up. Predator is still my favorite movie of all time. As far as filmmakers, like I said before, I love the way Spielberg tells a story and try to learn as much as I can from him.
FTN: You went to the Art Institute of Seattle to study film and video production. it was there you did your first movie Black wasn’t it?
RMC: Yes. We shot the movie during my last semester, so we were able to use a lot of the school’s equipment. It was a huge learning experience, even though ‘black’ has never really seen the light of day.
FTN: As a self published author I know how hard it can be to get money together to start a project. How do go about financing a new movie?
RMC: Well the financing for Evidence came from my own bank account. Not the best way to fund a movie, but the only way I could.
FTN: Where did the idea for Evidence come from?
RMC:I watched the first Paranormal Activity when it came out on DVD and said to myself, “I can do that. Only bigger.” I also live in the canyons around LA and everything just kind of came together.
FTN: I first heard of it via a trailer on YouTube and the trailer gave the impression this was going to be a Blair Witch Bigfoot movie. If only it were that simple. Was that intentional?
RMC: Sort of. The initial outline didn’t have any of the para-military stuff in it. But, once we got going, I found myself wanting to push the envelope more and more. We kept finding all sorts of great locations and it really kind of snow-balled into this very high concept sort of thing.
FTN: You already know how much I liked it. It is one of the few movies that I actually sat open mouthed at the end and thought to myself, I have to watch that again. I was completely blown away. You thought Evidence was going to be a monster in the woods movie then it kicks you in a completely different horror direction you never saw coming.
RMC: Thanks, man. I appreciate it. I like to make movies that have some balls to them and that take risks. Evidence definitely takes risks.
FTN: You use all the classic scare tactics to great effect. I jumped several times and even near the end when the creature jumps through the door in the base when Ashley opens it scared the life out of me.
RMC: I learned from the greats. I remember watching the DVD commentary for John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness,” and there’s a part at the end where Sam Niell is walking alone through the hospital and a figure walks past the lens and they shock you with noise and sound effects. It’s a cheap gimmick, but if done well, it will scare you every single time. I tried to do that with every turn on Evidence.
FTN: How much of an influence was the Blair Witch project on you?
RMC: Not really at all. When we started pre-production, I watched it again just to remember why I didn’t like it before, and hopefully try not to fall into the same traps. I respect the hell out of the movie, and the filmmakers, but I’m not a big fan of it.
FTN: Now you also star in the movie as well as your real life friends. How much of the dialogue was improvised or was that your original intention?
RMC: We had a full script with lines for every scene. Once we got the basic bullet points of it, we would make sure to hit those points, but try and do it in a natural way. All the actors knew each other beforehand, so it became very natural.
FTN: I have to ask, who made the monster costumes. they were incredibly effective. It made me look twice to see what the hell they were? It was all physical live action wasn’t it? The way they ran was again a What the Hell was that moment.
RMC: Yeah, I was pretty impressed with the creativity behind it. Ben Bayouth designed the costume, and did a lot of the acting in it. Scott Dawson also lent a hand in being the creature. I even put it on a couple times.
FTN: What I found so effective and powerful was the last forty minutes or so, with virtually no dialogue and it was a rollercoaster of terror. Those sequences in the base with the glimpses of so many weird things was like something from Hellraiser especially the pregnant person lying on the table. Was it your intention to fire all these things at the audience and let them draw their own conclusions?
RMC: Yes and no. People say the last part doesn’t make any sense, but it does. I wouldn’t have put it in if it didn’t. We just don’t explain everything. So, yes, it was my intention to throw everything at the audience and then see who picked up the real story and who didn’t. I’ve read some pretty amazing conclusions that people have about it, and I think that’s cool. I enjoy when a movie doesn’t spell everything out for you and each person can have their own take on it.
FTN: I’ve watched it five times now and still can’t decide what it was all about. Where the creatures a result of alien human hybrids or were they insane inmates?
RMC: You have to wait for part two! It’s a prequel/sequel to the first one that explains it all.
FTN: As I have said I just sat open mouthed at the end when Ashley is taken away by the military as it seems the whole world has gone to hell or has it?
RMC: I usually hate the likes of Inception where you’re left to make your own assumptions but in Evidence, the fact nothing was explained made the whole thing more powerful. You were running in fear along with Ashley and Abigail feeling every moment with them. How you invoke such real reactions. Did they know what was coming or was it improvised to a degree?
First of all, I have to tip my hat to how amazing both Abigail Richie and Ashley Bracken did. It was a very physical shoot. During the ending, the girls always knew when something would happen, they just never really knew why. No one on set really knew why all these things were happening, and I think that kind of comes across on screen, because if this were to happen in real life, nobody would know what the hell is happening and would just do what the girls do…RUN.
FTN: Is it hard to distribute it and promote it given the plethora of similar (and inferior) movies out there? Did you have to knock many doors to get ti out there?
RMC: I took it to AFM (American Film Market) the year we finished it, and yeah, it was hard. The first words out of people’s mouths were, “Who’s in it? What was your budget?” When I would reply, “No one. And, $12,000.” They would roll their eyes at me. But, Howie cut a really great trailer. I put together some really professional looking publicity materials, so people would give me a chance and watch it. Then, the response was always, “Holy shit! I didn’t see that coming.
FTN: Would you go camping in the woods now?
RMC: Of course! I love camping. We always make Evidence jokes now everytime we do.
FTN: What advice would you give to anyone that wants to make a movie?
RMC: You have to do something original. You have to take risks. You have to watch every single movie you possibly can, more than once. I watch 2 – 4 movies a day. Every day. I’m constantly trying to learn from other filmmakers, but still have my own sense of style.
FTN: What are you currently working on and when will we see it?
RMC: Right now I’m trying to raise funds for my next movie, BURY ME. It’s about a female Marine who is injured in Iraq. She returns home and tries to adapt to a life without war, when she is suddenly kidnapped, tortured and buried in a dirt cellar. She escapes and then seeks revenge on her kidnappers.
I hope to shoot the movie this Fall, so you will hopefully see it next year.
FTN: Where can people find out more about you and your work and more importantly where can they buy Evidence?
RMC: Well, you can follow me on Twitter @rynoryder, or friend me on Facebook. I have quite a few fans on there that I enjoy hearing from. And, Evidence is actually available on DVD in the UK on Amazon. Just look around for it, you’ll see it.
FTN: Ryan, thank you so much for talking to us. The doors of Followingthenerd are always open for you.
RMC: I LOVE it! Big thanks to you guys, seriously. You are truly the only reason I want to make more movies, are for the fans! Take care.