Today the stylish and unsettling film The Blackcoat’s Daughter releases, and with that being said we had the opportunity to speak to the film’s producer, Bryan Bertino. Bryan is no stranger to horror and suspense; you may remember a film that marked his directorial debut back in 2004 that tackled the horrors of a home invasion in a film called The Strangers. The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a remarkable horror film that is filled with gory slasher moments, and the payoff is divine.
Check out our interview below as we pick the brain of Producer Bryan Bertino.
A24 and DirecTV will release THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER in theaters and On Demand March 31, 2017.
A deeply atmospheric and terrifying new horror film, The Blackcoat’s Daughter centers on Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), two girls who are left alone at their prep school Bramford over winter break when their parents mysteriously fail to pick them up. While the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences at the isolated school, we cross cut to another story-that of Joan (Emma Roberts), a troubled young woman on the road, who, for unknown reasons, is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. As Joan gets closer to the school, Kat becomes plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions, with Rose doing her best to help her new friend as she slips further and further into the grasp of an unseen evil force. The movie suspensefully builds to the moment when the two stories will finally intersect, setting the stage for a shocking and unforgettable climax.
Interview With Producer – Bryan Bertino
Ryan T. Cusick: Where did filming occur for The Blackcoat’s Daughter? Was the school a practical set or a real location?
Bryan Bertino: We shot in a small town of Ottawa, Canada, called I think Kemptville. We actually found an agricultural college that was partially closed down, so we were very fortunate that we could use this as a one-stop shopping, every location of the movie was within 10-15 minutes of each other, we were able to actually house the people in the crew in the dorms, in the unused section of the dorms that we were using. You know when you are making low budget films it is crucial to maximizing everything. We found the school, really loved the look of it and it ended up working perfectly. We loved it so much that the following summer we went back and shot The Monster, on the same campus. While we were shooting Blackcoat’s we actually found a section of road, it was exactly what I envisioned so we were back there six months later.
RTC: That is awesome!
BB: Yeah, we got a lot of bang for our buck!
RTC: Definitely, has The Monster been released yet?
BB: Yeah, I mean digitally. I know that your site was a huge champion of it and it actually meant a lot to me. We are in this amazing time for horror movies, but at the same time, with so many different movies and with so little for advertising, I personally find what critics can do to spread the word on what movies to go out and see is really important. More important than ever, I think in some ways. With social media and all these different aspects to be able to get a movie out there and actually put it on their radar, when you are overwhelmed with content often critics can help shine a light on something that might get missed.
RTC: I definitely agree. Even for me, there are so many things that I miss, and I will go on our own website or go to other websites and find out content that I had never heard of.
BB: Yeah, I am still seeing cool movies from 2016, as we are getting close to Spring because I had never even heard of them, or it just didn’t pop up until I started seeing top 10 lists and things like that, and then I realize that this movie has been sitting on Amazon Prime for six months, and I never thought to click on it.
RTC: That happens to me all of the time, they just slip through the cracks, unfortunately. I am glad this one didn’t. This one caught my eye [The Blackcoat’s Daughter] because Emma Roberts is in it, and because your name was attached to it, I am a big fan of The Strangers film. How was it working with Emma, I know this was filmed a couple of years ago, correct?
BB: Yeah, it was in Toronto, and then it went through a few different things for it to be released. Oz and I both share the same kinds of feelings about character based horror and when you are trying to build these kinds of movies, having a cast of amazing actors is your already one step in the right direction of the building that connection with the audience and I think for all of us Emma was so dedicated. It is a very hard role that she has, spending all of that time by herself and in an isolated and very cold environment. There were scenes where she was literally standing outside in negative fifteen degrees, and she is needing to stay in character and stay in the moment. When she and Kiernan were both brought to the roles, it was so exciting. You could see the first day of the dailies I think that we all felt essential that we had something very special.
RTC: Her character like you said was very isolated, that is probably just exhausting staying in character like that.
BB: Yeah I mean this film is such a quiet but emotional film for all of the three main characters, what they were able to convey with the look or just their eyes was something that you hope when your starting production, looking at the script, your reading Oz’s amazing words, as a producer I was looking at it saying, “God I hope that we can capture what he put down on the page.” All of them brought so much, Emma, Lucy, Kiernan brought so much more that what we expected and hoped for.
RTC: It definitely shows, The film was quiet in a sense, and at the same time it weighed really heavy if that makes any sense.
BB: Oz and I talked a lot about sound design and you know he worked with his brother on a score. One of the things that I love most about the movie is the way that score and sound design go back and forth so at times you cannot really differentiate between the two. Being able to capture silence but yet is still atmosphere is a real delicate balance and Oz did an amazing job of being able to fill that silence with this dread that kind of exists throughout the entire movie that is really powerful when nothing is like hitting you over the head.
RTC: I got that same feeling, there was a lot of tension building but subtle tension, just to kind of keep you on edge throughout the film. Did the title change? [February] Was that from A24 did they decide to change the title?
BB: Yeah, I think it was something that they thought it would be helpful and I think for Oz he was able to find a title that had already connected to a piece of music that he had in the movie that was from day one was always there, it was something him and his brother had crafted together based off an old traditional. When they started asking about a different title, if we weren’t going to have it be February, this seemed like the coolest second option.
RTC: Yeah I know in distribution the titles often get changed.
BB: As an artist I am kind of like “If I make something, and you can change the title, and more people will see it, do you stick your ground and become the tree that evolves with the forest, if you stand your ground and say ‘no you will call it this’ and nobody watches it, was it really that important?”
RTC: Well the original title [February] you still do see it everywhere, it may not be on the poster or the movie, but it is wrapped up in there.
BB: Adrienne [Biddle] my producing partner and I first read the script four years ago and so it is hard not think of it is not February when you spend years on something but like you said it is a common part of the process as it seems more and more these days.
RTC: What do you enjoy more? Writing, Producing, or Directing all at once? Or do you enjoy a specific task on a film?
BB: I love directing, writing is my first passion, and if someone asked me what I do for a living I would say I am a writer, I do it significantly more. Directing is such an interesting job. I have directed three movies which I think is about 85 days of my life, not including prep and all those other things. When you think about a job, and you can do it professionally, but only so much of the job is in anticipation or preparation, or just attempting to let someone let you do the job. Whereas in writing, I was writing this morning. I woke up, and I was working on a script. As far as producing I think that it is a great opportunity, something that I had always wanted to do was work with other writers. The horror genre can be difficult because there are not a lot of financiers, and sometimes I feel that horror is still the wicked stepchild that nobody cares about. So you know for us we wanted to create an environment so someone like Oz can come to us and we weren’t instantly telling him, “let’s turn this into some sort of sexy teen slasher fest.” Instead look at it as, “Hey Oz we love what you are doing, let us try to make it the best version it can be.” I really became a producer because I wasn’t finding the environment in terms of development where I felt encouraged to try things a little bit different within the genre, so we wanted to create a home for writers that love horror and don’t want to be stifled by what is the easiest cell or what someone else thinks the market is asking for.
RTC: Yeah you want to give them a chance do their own thing and present their vision.
BB: It has been an amazing process for me developing scripts with writers helps me as a writer, producing a movie, I end up coming away from it knowing more. Every time I produce a movie I feel as if I am better equipt to direct. I may be able to pass on any wisdom I may have no matter how small or how big and the at the same time learn. So Oz is a first time director, he is amazing with actors, and the confidence he had from day 1. I learned to watch what he was doing, and I was able to bring that onto The Monster and hopefully going forward, and I feel that is the enjoyable process, and I don’t approach producing as much as being a boss as much as a partner.
RTC: I feel that does happen a lot, a lot of producers do fall into that boss role, and a lot of artistic value gets lost. Learning and passing along the trait is perfect.
RTC: Was The Strangers your directorial debut?
BB: Yeah, other than a few ten-minute shorts in college, I had not really directed before. It was a giant step. I had written the script, and I studied cinematography in college, so I had a visual background, saying “Action” the first day of Strangers was the first time I had ever said action in real life so [laughs] it was a lot to take in really quickly.
RTC: The Strangers was an enjoyable movie. I can remember exactly where I saw it, and it really does stick with you.
BB: I have been really fortunate because that movie has resonated with people over the years. Working at a video store, going to video stores and remembering those cover boxes that you would see that were still getting rented ten years later, I think you always kind of hope that you can have one movie that people care about at all, let alone ten years later still talking about and referencing, it means a lot.
RTC: I think it has been about ten years, right?
BB: Yeah I think it is coming up on ten years.
RTC: Are you going to be a part of the sequel?
BB: I wrote the original draft eight years ago [Laughs]. It really got caught up, the company that had made The Strangers got sold to Relativity, Relativity for whatever reason was the only company that did not want to make a sequel to a horror film. [Laughs] They came up with about 25 million excuses as to why not to make it. But thankfully, now that relativity isn’t around there is a group of producers that are excited about making the movie. It is strange to think about a script that I wrote eight years ago is back to life, I am really excited about the filmmaker and the other people involved, I am really hopeful that it could be a cool follow-up to the original.
RTC: I am starting to see some buzz pop up on the web about a sequel, people want it. Was Rogue Entertainment the company that had it originally?
BB: Yeah, Rogue had made it and then Universal sold Rogue to Relativity and then Relativity had bought Rogue’s slate and never made Rogue’s movies.
RTC: I really enjoyed Rogue, and I was actually wondering what happened to the company, and now this explains it.
BB: Yeah it is definitely very strange, this piece of your past. Like I said I wrote the script eight or nine years ago, and I know that there is a writer a few years ago that did a pass, and that seems to be the script that they are going off of. It’s a crazy business; I’ll be happy if it comes out one way or another. [Laughs] I am tired of everyone always asking me, “Hey is there going to be a Strangers 2?”
RTC: Well it was great talking to you, Brian. I have heard a lot of great things about The Blackcoat’s Daughter. I think it is appealing to a lot of people.
BB: I do, I think that it is a really, really special film. I think Oz is a special filmmaker.
RTC: Well, thanks for speaking with me Brian.
BB: Alright thank you very much man, and we will get to talk someday again.
RTC: Take Care.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter can be rented or purchased by clicking here.
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* Photo Credits – Courtsey of A24.
-About The Author-
Ryan T. Cusick is a writer for ihorror.com and very much enjoys conversation and writing about anything within the horror genre. Horror first sparked his interest after watching the original, The Amityville Horror when he was the tender age of three. Ryan lives in California with his wife and Eleven-year-old daughter, who is also expressing interest in the horror genre. Ryan recently received his Master’s Degree in Psychology and has aspirations to write a novel. Ryan can be followed on Twitter @Nytmare112