When Peter Sullivan was casting around for an idea for his new film, The Sandman, he didn’t just want to make a standard boogeyman movie. In fact, after researching boogeymen from all around the world, it occurred to him that perhaps the way to go was to take a character whose lore wasn’t menacing at all and create a new monster all together.
“I don’t know if I heard the song on the radio, or how it suddenly occurred to me,” the writer/director explains. “But suddenly the idea of the Sandman struck me, and I immediately began developing the script.”
It’s not a new concept, really. The Tooth Fairy, the Gingerbread Man, Rumpelstilskin, and even Pinocchio have been given the horror treatment in the past. What sets The Sandman apart from these other films lies in the powerful little girl who brings him to life.
“From the beginning, we had this discussion about our central character, Madison,” Sullivan says. “We can give her a sinister power, but does that mean she’s evil herself? You think of her like the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk is a monster, but his human side isn’t at all.”
In his exploration of this idea, Sullivan realized that he was really writing an origin story, one that wouldn’t be out of place in the X-Men universe. The story opened a door for the director that he’d wanted to walk through for a long time when Stan Lee, himself, came aboard as a producer.
“”We’ve been looking to do a project with Stan Lee for a while, now, and this seemed like just the right thing,” he says. “It basically asks the question of what you would do if you had a super power you couldn’t control and there was no Professor Xavier around to help you.”
Mr. Lee quickly agreed to the project and before long, the other necessary elements began to fall into place in the shape of two horror icons and one very special actor to play Sullivan’s monster.
“We had a working relationship with Tobin Bell from a movie we’d done together before called Ominous,” Sullivan pointed out about the star of the hugely successful Saw franchise. “He was front and center in my mind when I was writing the character of Valentine. He’s very ambiguous and Tobin plays that type of character extremely well.”
For the role of Dr. Amanda Elliot, the psychiatrist who has spent her career studying children with special abilities, Sullivan lucked out again with Amanda Wyss. The actress who broke into the horror scene with the role of Tina in A Nightmare on Elm Street, seemed a perfect fit to Sullivan. After all, the Sandman is a creature of dreams turned nightmare in his story and he and the actress both saw it as coming full circle.
It was in the casting of Mick Ignis as the titular creature, however, that the film really came together.
“When we were first discussing the role, we were going to use a stuntmen,” he says. “But then Mick was brought to my attention and I brought him in. After talking to him for about an hour, I just knew that he was the one who should play this role.”
Ignis, who you might have seen on “Stan Against Evil”, has a complete passion for playing creatures and brings more than expected to his roles. Sullivan praised Ignis for disappearing into the role and also for his dedication and excitement about the film.
“He loves the process. He’s like a kid in a candy store! Everyday I’m getting texts from him about something he’s seen about the film and how excited he is. He really has a terrific passion for what he does.”
When all the elements came together, Sullivan was able to create a film he can’t wait for you to see. The Sandman will air on Syfy on October 14th with a DVD release after the first of the year.
Mark your calendars and don’t miss the premiere of this fun creature feature!