Lately, I have found myself overwhelmed when searching for a good film to watch. With the abundance of streaming services offered, I often can’t decide what to watch. I rely heavily on social media to guide myself in the right direction to find that perfect film. With that said, I stumbled upon the movie Disorder. The artwork for the poster caught my eye. The man standing in front of a window with his hand placed upon it. Different thoughts started going through my mind; the man looked isolated. Disorder is about a man named David Randall (Darren Kendrick), who was sent away for a brutal double murder, his claims of innocence and description of a masked killer went ignored. David is now suffering from the horrific memory of that night. David is a medicated schizophrenic and has returned home hoping for a new life. This is hardly the case, David believes that he, as well as his friend and co-worker, Melissa (Lauren Seikaly), are in danger. David turns to his psychiatrist and the local sheriff for help. Everyone’s suspicions grow immensely, and David believes that the masked figure has returned. Does David’s schizophrenia cause these hallucinations? Or does this killer actually exist?
Jack Thomas Smith made his feature film-directing debut with the psychological thriller Disorder. He also the wrote and produced the film. Disorder was released on DVD by Universal/Vivendi and New Light Entertainment on October 3rd, 2006. It was made viewable on Pay-Per-View and Video-On-Demand by Warner Brothers the following year. Overseas, it screened at the Cannes Film Festival and the Raindance Film Festival in London. Curb Entertainment represented Disorder for foreign sales and secured distribution deals around the world. The film opened in select theaters in the U.S. in the summer of 2006.
I thought that this film was well made. The story was well told, and the acting complimented that. The lighting created a dark and moody feel, which was shot in such a way that it created that feeling of isolation. Jack Thomas Smith did an incredible job of character building, in particular the role of David Randall. David had difficulties deciphering what was real and what was not, he could not think clearly, and was not able to operate in a social environment, this painting the picture of Schizophrenia. Disorder is a psychological roller coaster ride mixed with some traditional horror.
ihorror.com has recently had the privilege of having a Q&A with Mr. Jack Thomas Smith, Enjoy!
ihorror: What were your influences behind the creation of Disorder?
Jack Thomas Smith: My primary influences were the horror films of the 1970s. In particular the films of John Carpenter, Brian De Palma, and George Romero. The films of the 1970s, in my opinion, were the best ever. They had that gritty raw feel that’s true to life outside of the “Hollywood Machine”. I wanted Disorder to have that dark, grainy feel true to that time period.
iH: What was the biggest challenge(s) working on your film Disorder?
Smith: There were numerous challenges while making this film, but the biggest obstacle, honestly, was the weather. A large portion of the film was shot outdoors in the woods at night. We shot in the Poconos in Northeastern Pennsylvania in October and winter came early that year. It was brutally cold and snowed constantly, forcing us to shoot out our interior shots until the snow melted in the spring and we could finish our exteriors. Disorder was originally scheduled to be a 30 day shoot, but because of the weather it became a 61 day shoot. There’s a reason they shoot movies in California.
iH: Do you have a memorable experience on the set of Disorder that you care to share?
Smith: There were several, but the one that stands out was when we crashed a Mercedes into a tree. We only had one take to get it right because we bought the car from a junkyard. The car’s body was perfect, but mechanically it was falling apart. My friend, Joe DiMinno, who is NOT a professional stuntman (kids don’t try this at home…), said he would love to crash the car into a tree. Joe races cars in the Poconos, so he owned plenty of crash gear and safety helmets. He rigged up the car to make sure he was safe, drove it about 35 miles an hour, and crashed it into a tree. The shot was absolutely perfect and he walked away unscathed. We still laugh about it to this day.
iH: For Disorder you wrote, produced, and directed the film. Is this the most involvement that you have in a film?
Smith: At that time, yes. Before that, I only produced two films, The Regenerated Man (directed by Ted Bohus) and Santa Claws (directed by John Russo). Handling all three positions is very challenging and overwhelming. I also wrote, produced and directed my current film Infliction.
iH: What advice would you give someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
Smith: First I would say definitely understand the art of filmmaking… that’s a given. Understand character development, script writing, post-production, and distribution. Beyond that, I would suggest to go to business school. It’s called the “film business” for a reason. It takes money to make a movie, so you’ll need to know how to put together a business plan, a budget, projections, and a PowerPoint presentation. You’ll also need to know how to maximize federal and state tax credits. Definitely focus on your film’s vision, but keep in mind, it takes money to make it a reality.
iH: How have you discovered some of the members on your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?
Smith: A lot of the relationships that you establish in the film business develop through networking and referrals. Sometimes you can place ads searching for a specific need for your film. I found the DP for Disorder, Jonathan Belinski, in the “New York Production Guide”. He advertised in the guide that he was a DP with full camera gear, and I asked him to send me his reel. I thought his work looked great and, right out of the gate, we had the same vision for the film. He did an amazing job with the cinematography and we’ve been friends ever since. Through Jon, he referred me to Gabe Friedman, who was the editor on Disorder. He did an amazing job as well and he referred me to my sound designer, Roger Licari, who also knocked it out of the park. To this day, we’ve all remained friends. Ironically, the new DP on my film Infliction, Joseph Craig White, was mentored by Jonathan Belinski, and my editor, Brian McNulty, was mentored by Gabe Friedman. It’s a small business.
iH: What films have been the most influential to you and why?
Smith: Definitely Star Wars and the original Dawn of Dead. I’ll admit it, I was one of those little kids, who watched the original Star Wars… and when the two ships flew over head in the opening scene… that was it for me. I knew from that moment on I wanted to make films. And after I saw Dawn of the Dead, that shifted my interest toward making horror films.
iH: Several years ago there were two screens: the movie screen and the television screen. Now we have computers, phones, tablets; screens are everywhere. As a creator how does this influence you tell and how you tell them?
Smith: It’s very frustrating to put blood, sweat and tears into making a film… and then you finalize it with sound design and color correction to make it sound and look the best it possibly can… only to have viewers watch it on their phones. Although frustrating, this doesn’t change the way I make a film. I will always make a film the best quality I can, regardless of the viewing format.
iH: Have you ever thought about publishing a novel?
Smith: Honestly, I haven’t. However, when I was a kid, I completed a 300 page horror novel by the time I was twelve. It was never published, but when I first started writing, I did want to write novels. My father bought me a Super 8mm movie camera when I was a teenager and I shot horror and comedy shorts with my brother and friends in the neighborhood. From that point forward, my focus was on movies.
iH: Can you tell us about your future projects?
Smith: I’m hoping to shoot my next feature in 2015. It’s an action/horror film called In The Dark. I’ve already written the screenplay and I’ll be directing it as well. It takes place on a small island in Michigan that gets overrun by zombie/vampire creatures. There’s a handful of people left alive armed with guns and they have to fight hundreds of these things as they try to escape the island.
The creatures need blood to survive and their need to feed is maddening. They’re rotting and crazed… This isn’t Twilight. Lol. When they attack, they tear their victims apart to feed on their blood. And In The Dark is more than that… The characters are strong… And there’s an underlying theme to the story that is consistent throughout with the protagonists and antagonists. There will be imagery in certain places in relation to the characters’ specific flaws. I love blurring the lines between villains and heroes.
If you want to read more about Jack Thomas Smith’s work, check out my Infliction film review.