Could you imagine living a nightmare consisting of a “Groundhog Day” type time loop taking place in a hospital, and carrying out orders of harming versus healing patients? Better yet, how about directing a film that is just that? We talk to Director, Writer, and Producer Christopher Lawrence Chapman about his new film Inoperable starring Danielle Harris.
Inoperable will release on DVD February 6th!
Interview With Director, Writer, Producer:
Christopher Lawrence Chapman
Ryan T. Cusick: Thank You for chatting with us today. I absolutely enjoyed this film.
Christopher Lawrence Chapman: Wonderful! I love hearing when people really like it.
RTC: Tell us about the first movie that you worked on.
CLC: I think that it was probably a western I did called “Morgan Pickett’s Charge.” It was a blast because we were using a big drone with a RED and I think a 300mm lens chasing riders on horses shooting blanks back and forth. We had a festival run where we won a few awards, which is always nice. Westerns are hard to shoot, because of all the moving parts.
RTC: What were your inspirations when writing Inoperable? This is definitely a film that one could watch more than once and find something new, was that your initial intention?
CLC: Thanks! That was in the design and my desire in writing was a film where people would want to watch it at least a second time. There are these little-hidden subtleties that you might not catch on the first viewing, and maybe not even on the second!
As for inspiration, I think it was that Jeff and I got to talking about a project and wanted to make something a little different but still around the horror genre. I drew on an experience I had many years ago where I was in the emergency room of a hospital while a hurricane was spinning to the south and threatening the area where the hospital was located. I thought of how eerie it might be to be trapped inside of a hospital while it was being evacuated due to an approaching storm with some sort of killer on the loose inside.
RTC: Do you enjoy working within the horror genre? Have you always been a fan of horror?
CLC: The horror genre wasn’t always my favorite, but after working on Clowntown and Inoperable, I became much more of a fan, so much so, that I just finished on another horror film project a few days ago. I think that for a lower budget, a filmmaker can produce a horror film and have some success in that horror fans like to see all sorts of films, not just the big Hollywood films with giant budgets. I think with horror, the fans like a good story too, and not necessarily a big budget production.
RTC: You wrote, directed, and produced the film. What was your biggest challenge when making Inoperable? Do you prefer one job over another?
CLC: I like the writing a lot. It is where you can invent something, that no one has seen before, and take the time to be creative. Producing is a whole lot of work, and I think that often times the production title is used a little too loosely. Producing is where the rubber meets the road, and it’s the way one builds all of the surrounding elements of what enables a film to be shot. I think directing is probably what most people think of when they want to feel who is really responsible for a movie’s success or look. That is true in some respects, but the way I direct I really let the DP (Giorgio Daveed) have a go with the camera work, and they often have a style which is unique to them, so you really want to let them go with it. I don’t micromanage the team, and encourage them to display their art/craft in the shooting. We do spend a lot of time way before production hashing out the details so by the time we are filming, we are all basically on the same page.
Overall the shoot went very well. We had all of our shots we needed during principal photography, so that was nice. I think that with Inoperable, the biggest challenge may have been keeping the timelines straight, but we had a good handle on that, and also shot in chronological order, so that helped.
My favorite out of the three is the writing, so I guess I prefer that the most.
RTC: Inoperable is a unique film, scenes replaying – over and over. However, each having a different ending before the main character Amy would reset. Did filming ever get a little confusing? Or in the editing room?
CLC: We knew it was going to be a confusing film to shoot from the beginning, so we made the decision to shoot in chronological order, which helped everyone involved. It did cause more of a workload on production design (headed by Bobby Marinelli) in that they had to do a lot of hustling to keep ahead of the camera department because we couldn’t keep the same setup and shoot a later scene immediately afterward. Wardrobe and hair/makeup had to be spot on too, and with the AD (Ashley Eberbach) and Script Supervisor (Laura Coconato), we were able to keep everything in its proper order. We had very professional and skilled crew members as department heads who knew the script inside and out, and we had already worked out most (if not all) of the confusing timelines and the potential pitfalls.
The editing wasn’t that bad. We had amazing notes from the Script Supervisor which really helped, but also, I was part of the process. Our DP was also a huge part of the editing, and since he shot it, he knew the film very well and knew what we needed. The score was really fun, and Jonathan Price killed it with the score/music. We really wanted to make the film look and sound right and with high quality. We shot in 6K and cut in 4K and mixed the sound in 5.1. Hopefully, some of your viewers will get to watch it in true 4K with 5.1 sound as this will really immerse them in the creepy hospital experience.
RTC: Casting Danielle Harris was perfect for this film. How did casting her in the main role come about? Did you write the film with Danielle in mind?
CLC: She was amazing! But no, we didn’t write the film with her in mind. We knew we wanted a strong female lead, and some other names had been talked about. Jeff Miller reached out to her agent, and we started the dialogue which ultimately resulted in her being part of the project. I’m very happy with her performance, and she was a dream to work with!
RTC: Gotta ask this one. What’s your favorite scary movie, Chris?
CLC: Oh boy, I think the first Alien would be at the top. I guess, for its time, and when I saw it for the first time, I would also say The Blair Witch Project was pretty freaky. But overall, I would say Alien.
RTC: What’s next for you? Anymore horror or psychological thrillers in the works?
CLC: We just wrapped on principal photography on another horror film. It’s sort of a movie within a movie. I wasn’t the director, but I was on the production side/executive production roll.
RTC: Thanks again for the interview Chris and congratulations on your film!
CLC: Thank you! I’m really happy you liked it. That’s why we do it so that people really like the films!