Recently, I had the pleasure to screen one of the horror film She Rises (see our review here). I was pretty excited since I’d heard Larry Wade Carrell was directing, because I had so much respect for his film, Jacob. Carrell did not let me down with She Rises and even granted me the opportunity to interview him. Find out all about his film experiences and what upcoming projects he has.
PopHorror: Larry, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. It is much appreciated!
Larry Wade Carrell: Thank you! Also, thanks for watching Jacob and She Rises!
PopHorror: Absolutely! Let’s just dive right in. How did you get into the film industry?
Larry Wade Carrell: I have always loved movies. When I was a kid, I used to spend all my time recreating my favorite props and monster makeup, which eventually led to me doing my first haunted house in high school. It was there I discovered that I was not half bad at scaring the shit out of people and that it was fun as fuck, so I grew up and went on to do it professionally. I ran some big haunts with 40+ actors, special FX teams, and six-figure budgets. After 14 years of scaring people, times began to change. It was becoming harder and harder to deliver the experience I wanted the audience to have. Then I realized that I was already building sets, working with actors and effects; I just needed a camera.
PopHorror: That is so cool! I actually used to work in haunted houses in high school for extra credits for drama class. What drew you into the horror genre?
Larry Wade Carrell: Video nasties! I grew up in the magical time of the ’80s VHS boom. So every night, it was the classics, over and over again: Nightmare of Elm Street, The Evil Dead, ReAnimator, Night Breed… I could go on for days! Some of my favorite memories are sitting around with my mates, eating pizza and watching those flicks!
PopHorror: Amazing films! Let’s talk about your film, Jacob. What inspired you to write/direct Jacob?
Larry Wade Carrell: I was acting in a lot of projects and working with some really talented people. We were having a blast, but there eres not a lot of opportunities for us to work together, so I decided to create one. I sat down to write something up and Jacob just kinda spilled out of me. It’s always like that when I write. It is like I can see everything happening in my head. Then I feel like I am the only person on earth who knows what happened to these people and it is my job to tell the world their stories. It seems very real to me, which is good because I like stories that move me. I like characters that you care about. Otherwise, when bad things happen to them, who cares? I think that being an actor helps, because I really spend a lot of time in each character’s head. I know what they are feeling, what makes them happy or what makes them sad. Once I know them that well, it becomes about pushing their buttons.
PopHorror: I thought it was brilliantly conveyed! The house in Jacob was such a cool location. Where did you find it?
Larry Wade Carrell: It went down like this. First thing I did before shooting was go into the town and reach out to the local community, get people involved. The local papers ran stories, and in the story was a list of things we were looking for, including the house. One of the local police officers told us about an old house that would be perfect. I drove by and I fell in love with the place. I was worried we would never get it. As I was working up the courage to walk up and knock on the door, a guy leaned over the rail of the balcony above me and asked what I was doing there. I said I was making a movie. He asked if there was any money in it. I said I could pay him $100 a day and he said yes. He asked if we could shoot it that night, but I told him we had a plan. It was fishy. We still made a deal and started to shoot our movie there.
To make a long story short, we were having one of the worst nights of the shoot where anything that could go wrong did. We were supposed to start shooting at 7 p.m. So 6 hours later at 1 a.m., I am about to call action on our first shot. The police car we had decided to break down, so we had crew that was about to push it into the shot when I called action. We were just about to go when all of a sudden a car pulls up in the middle of the scene and stops everything. An old man gets out, looking scared because there were two fire trucks and all these policemen around. My DP Stacy Davidson looks at me and says, “Who the fuck is that? “ And I said, “That is probably the guy that really owns this house.” I guessed right, it was the real owner of the house.
It turns out that somebody called him. They asked if something was wrong at his house told him about the crowd of people and all the flashing lights in his front yard, so he came in from out of town to see what was going on. The guy we were paying the money to was just some wino that was renting a room upstairs. We thought we were about to go to jail for trespassing, but my first AD, without missing a beat, went up to the guy and said, “Oh, good! You are here for your close-up. Do you need makeup? They said you would be so excited.” He was like, “Wow, a movie!” He let us finish our film and was very supportive. Good times!
PopHorror: That is crazy! So happy it worked out! There are so many cool scenes in the film. How did you pull off the effect of getting your arm ripped off so well? That looked so real!
Larry Wade Carrell: Thank you! I have to give credit where credit is due. I owe that one to our cinematographer, Stacy Davidson, and the talented Kristi Boul and her team from Rancid House FX. Early on in the production, we decided that we wanted to get all the kill scenes we could in one shot with no edits, so for that one, Dylan Horne (Jacob) and I choreographed and rehearsed our fight. Stacy locked off the camera outside of the screen door and on action, we would perform the fight and when I fell to the floor, about seven people quickly worked together to make it happen. Just off screen with me still in the shot screaming, one person hands Jacob my fake arm and Jacob starts to twist it. The crew member is holding the socket of my fake arm about where my real shoulder is. At the same time, 3 people are helping me get my real arm tucked into my shirt and hidden down the back of my pants, while Kristi is applying a bloody stump appliance to my shoulder. Then there were two guys pumping blood through tube hidden in my costume. Yeah, that took us 9 takes and I cracked a rib. Good times!
PopHorror: Holy crap, that’s insane! Glad you’re okay though. You act and direct – do you prefer being in front of the camera or behind it?
Larry Wade Carrell: I love all of it. If I had to choose one, I couldn’t. So I guess its lucky that I get to do both. It is an incredible thing to be able to direct a movie, and to have total control over how to share your vision with the audience. It does come with a lot of responsibilities and some stresses, but it is totally worth it.
PopHorror: Your latest film, She Rises, is certainly twisted! What was your favorite scene to film?
Larry Wade Carrell: (laughs) Thank you! Oh, man, that is a tough one. The entire shoot is like a dream when you are working with a team like this. Michael and Jennifer (Blanc Biehn Productions) made sure I had the very best cast, crew and equipment available. I can tell you that there were 3 scenes that were incredible to shoot. My first favorite would be Jennifer Blanc-Biehn’s dream scene. She becomes Jack Torrence from The Shining and she absolutely killed it! She is terrifying, and we shot it from Angus’s POV, so she is attacking the camera I love it! My next favorite was Daisy McCrackin’s meltdown monologue at the end of the movie in front of the Blue Goddess. Let me tell you, it was freezing out there, late December, middle of the woods, close to midnight and Daisy is in a silk nightie, covered in fake blood, and I am pretty sure she had a fever. She was sick all day that day. I did not think we were going to get it that night, but she quietly came out of the trailer, got on set and out spewed this exorcism of genius. It was amazing.
Last but not least, the monologue Angus Macfadyen delivers after the dinner scene, which can only be described as… shit, I don’t think I have the words to describe it. It was the first scene we shot together on the picture. His character, Connor, is a frustrated actor. He dreams of following in the footsteps of his heroes, Hollywood legends like Brando, Orson Wells, etc. But all he gets to do is shitty, low budge horror movies. And in this scene, he explodes, delivering lines from classic movies with a fierce honesty and intensity that, underneath all of that, is heartbreaking. I was moved to tears. Angus is of the best actors in the world… amazing.
PopHorror: She Rises is a fun, mind bending ride! What was the most challenging aspect of directing She Rises?
Larry Wade Carrell: Time. We had to shoot that movie in 7 days. All of it. But I prepared like Rocky Balboa. I came out to LA 2 weeks early. I went out to the locations and I figured out all of my set ups. I had an 18 page shot list and I was ready. There was not any question anyone could come up with that I did not have an answer for. We finished the movie a day early. It was insane but I loved every minute of it!
PopHorror: What do you want people to take away from She Rises?
Larry Wade Carrell: I love when I see a movie and I am able to connect with it on some level…. when I get the feeling that there is something on screen that I am going through or have been through in my life, even though it might be heart breaking, it still makes me feel better because I suddenly don’t feel alone in those 90 mins…. if there is someone or something I have connected with that has shared that experience with me, and it is very personal.
She Rises has heart. Connor is a super talented actor. It is his passion. When he is acting, all is right with the world. He is ready to make great movies like the ones that inspired him, but life is beating him down. No one will give him the chance to show the world what he can do. Once he meets Rosebud, he falls in love and all seems possible again. He drifts off into a dream where he is finally getting to do the things he has dreamed of, but they are twisted somehow. Eventually, he has to make a choice. Stay in the dream or go back to reality. I don’t want to tell everyone how it ends, but I hope that they take that journey with Connor, and when they arrive at the end of the movie, they will take something away from it that they can relate to, something they can identify with.
PopHorror: I highly recommend people to check out She Rises! What is your favorite horror movie? Also, do you have a favorite horror director?
Larry Wade Carrell: I don’t know if I can pick just one? I have so many. It really depends on what kind of mood I am in. Today it is Clive Barker, so horror wise, it is NightBreed. I love that movie! But my favorite movie of all time is Jaws.
PopHorror: Very nice! Do you have any upcoming projects or passions that you want your fans to be on the look out for?
Larry Wade Carrell: I do! But damn the man, I can not say too much about it yet! It is a sci-fi fi thriller that I am wrapping up that has not even been announced yet but it is almost ready. There are some movies I acted in that are just coming out. Altered Perception, also from Blanc Biehn Productions, just came out, and a movie I did in Istanbul with Patricio Valladares which is about to be released in the states called Vlad’s Legacy. That was a blast! I have several projects in various stages of production, including a script I am writing with Scott Perry that I can not talk about either. Shhhh! (laughs)
PopHorror: I will definitely be checking those out. What advice do you have for future film makers or actors wanting to break into the industry?
Larry Wade Carrell: Yes! Get yourself out there and get on a set… any set, any job. Start meeting people and networking. Trust me, it really is about who you know and who knows you, so always be yourself and treat others as you want to be treated. But most of all, don’t quit! Don’t listen to the haters. Follow your heart and your dreams will come true. It is just a matter of time and perseverance.
Thanks again to Larry Wade Carrell! Be sure to check out She Rises and stay tuned to PopHorror for future coverage of Larry’s upcoming projects. Special thanks to Josh Mecurio, Jason Snow, Art Giraldo and Stacy Davidson for photos of on the set of Jacob and She Rises photos by Mike Skillsky.