Fantastic Fest 2019 Interview – THE DEEPER YOU DIG director Toby Poser

“THE DEEPER YOU DIG is a waltz between Life, Death, and the eerie in-between; danced by three desperate souls…a mother, daughter, and a stranger who makes very bad decisions. After a late-night accident leads to murder, secrets don’t last long in the dirt, and the depths of darkness, fear, and love must be summoned to uncover the truth – or keep it buried.  We’ve got your goth ghost, the occult, clowns, saws, and maggots to round out the story. And some cool jazz.

Congratulations on your film playing in at Fantastic Fest this year! Is your first time at FF and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Thank you, and yes, our first time!  If this interview were 3D it would be doing the jitterbug off the screen, we are so happy.  I will be there all week with Lulu Adams, who is co-director John’s and my daughter and usual collaborator in the family film biz. 

So how did you get into this movie-making business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

When our kids Zelda and Lulu were 6 and 11, we got in an old RV and bumped around the US for a year making our first feature film.  We learned the ropes on the road and captured some incredible American eye-candy while experimenting with faux stories about faux families made up of real ones – Us!  RUMBLESTRIPS enjoyed a great festival run, and we were hooked.

We have made 5 features since then – KNUCKLE JACK, THE SHOOT, HALFWAY TO ZEN, and now THE DEEPER YOU DIG – and for each we’ve practiced the same wear-every-hat dynamic:  between the four of us we write, direct, shoot, edit, compose, produce, and act. Zelda and Lulu are now 15 and 20. Lulu is now in college so we’ve downsized to a power trio!

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

John and Zelda had a practice run making a horror project a few years ago in our wintry mountain region, and it turned out really cool, creepy, and beautiful.  We always make use of what we have, which is basically time, a roof over our heads, the nature surrounding us, and each other. So the spark of an idea about an unfortunate murder of a goth teen and her unusually creative vengeance, in the most spoiler-free jargon, turned into a story about a mother and daughter’s love for each other; and the mysterious neighbor who tries to hide his guilt behind the house he’s restoring because John is actually restoring an old farm house, and that’s where we shot much of the film, and the lengths to which an occult-leaning mother will go to be close to her girl again.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Soccer!  Zelda plays year-round, and we have to drive very far for that.  So the car is where we have our “office’ meetings and brainstorms.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

We live in the Catskill Mountains of New York, which has long, gorgeous, stark winters.  Looks brilliant on camera, but it is COLD to shoot in! That was the biggest challenge. The most rewarding pay-off is being invited to present our film at festivals like Fantasia, FrightFest, and now Fantastic Fest.  Really, this is a dream come true for our little band of film making misfits. The creativity and vision of the film makers, and fest staff, especially within the various genres at play- has been supremely inspirational and thrilling for us.

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed. 

We use a Canon 5D and 6D.  We all shoot when not acting, and sometimes simultaneously, but John and Zelda Adams share the DP job on this.  Zelda has a growing fascination with the camera and brings very modern ideas and angles to the table. John has a knack for finding the perfect outdoor images to smack the audience.  And we had a super-talented SFX pro, Trey Lindsay, help with the computer-generated images we needed – a first for us.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences here in Austin?

Austin has a such a cool, fun, creative vibe.  How can anyone not be jazzed to show their film in Austin?  Plus, the food and music scene rocks, so everyone is buzzing and in a good mood for MORE, just MORE, of everything!

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

In October we are headed to Sitges Film Festival in Spain. Also ScreamFest in Los Angeles, Lausanne Undergound in Switzerland, and then StuffMX in Mexico City!

If you could show your movie in any theatre outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

Can’t decide! I really dig the Hollywood Theater in Portland, OR.  Oh, but The Film Forum in NYC. That would be rad. I have seen such a diversity of films there over the years, and I always learn so much.  Oh wait, also The Quad and Cinema Village in NYC. I like their smaller rooms. Nothing better than walking off the street to see whatever old gem is playing at that moment, eating popcorn in those small rooms with usually only a sprinkling of people, and nobody goes on their phones in those spaces; it’s all cinephiles.  That’s heaven, man.

All of Fantastic Fest is taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse which is famous for enforcing its no talking or texting policies. What would you say to someone who was being disruptive through a movie?

I am always embarrassing Zelda, poor kid. I am not a terribly confrontational person, but I take my film-viewing seriously; I do!  I usually attempt to ask very “nicely” and give them a chance to be cool, but recently during IT CHAPTER TWO, I wasn’t in the mood to be polite and it kind of came out more like, “Turn off your f***ing phone!”  Oh, well.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Just pick up a camera and start shooting.  Don’t fret about rules and all the best equipment.  Just get rolling and learn as you go. Evolution is a constant for every creative person, so just start and keep growing.

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen? 

Movies I always go back to are THE WITCH and MOONLIGHT.

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 19th to 28th. For more information on this film and the many others playing in Austin, TX, point your browser to www.fantasticfest.com

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