One of my favorite things that I get to do after viewing a movie is having the opportunity to get inside the director’s head and hearing about some of the backstory that took place during filming. I recently got to sit down and have a quick chat with director Dagen Merrill and we discussed his upcoming Syfy Films thriller Atomica which will be in theaters on March 17th and on VOD and Digital HD on March 21st. Check out the interview below!
PopHorror: Hey, Dagen! I just want to start off by saying thank you so much for granting us this interview and I know you are super busy so I won’t waste any time. Let’s talk about your new film, Atomica, what drew you to direct it?
Dagen Merrill: It really came down to the script. I felt it was an interesting story to tell and it excited me. The screenplay was unique and I happened to have stumbled upon it after it had just won a prize at a film festival. The fact that it only had three characters in the script, I was like, “No one is in this film. I want to see what I can do with it.” Also, it was a great learning opportunity. All of the technical challenges really made me want to direct Atomica.
PopHorror: Yeah, some of these scenes were really cool to watch. What would you say was the hardest scene to pull off?
Dagen Merrill: I would have to say it was within the paradigm in the final scenes with Tom and Sarah. So much had to be communicated, so it was really important to get all those details in and we only had a limited time with Tom’s schedule. It really did turn out great in the end.
PopHorror: I agree! How long did it actually take to shoot?
Dagen Merrill: That is probably the question I get asked the most! (Laughs). I don’t remember. It was really short time frame, though. We only had Tom Sizemore for three days initially but Tom was so generous, he actually ended up giving us four and I just thought that was so cool of him. Although it didn’t take long to shoot, it felt a lot longer.
PopHorror: That is really awesome of him. What was it like to work with the cast and crew?
Dagen Merrill: The cast and crew were great. The set was really a 60 foot underground shot with no elevator. It was the same place that soldiers used to have to sit 24/7. It was a very dark place. There was a real energy in that space. I remember Dom and Sarah were always freezing and the cast and crew were amazing by keeping them warm and safe. I would say they 100% nailed the moments of the film and it really was a pleasure to work with everyone involved.
PopHorror: I would have never known that. I love fun facts! One question my editor had about the wardrobe was she wanted to know why Abby (Sarah) was in such different attire then the two men?
Dagen Merrill: That is a savvy observation! The idea being the facility proximity, less to do with the actual characters. She is the center of everything that has fallen apart. We wanted the uniforms to be different. One represented hope and the other more of despair. Cool question.
PopHorror: What would you like the viewers to take away from Atomica?
Dagen Merrill: Well, I would love people to relate to the characters… believe that something is inside them. Abby was not really aware of what was driving her and Robinson was much more aware of what was really going on. I want to make characters based on what lies in all of us. Be more aware of nuclear energy as a waste. I really hope this film brings out the awareness in that.
PopHorror: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
Dagen Merrill: I have a really cool indie sci-fi film I’ll be shooting later this year and a television series I’m pitching. Everything is still early so I can’t really say much, but the sci-fi film is really awesome. It tells small stories in a big way – the genre is going to have a bigger audience!
PopHorror: Anything you want to say to your fans?
Dagen Merrill: That I hope they see Atomica when it comes out. We all put in so much heart!