The Gracefield Incident is Mathieu Ratthe’s latest film, and we were given the chance to speak with him. Mathieu Ratthe not only starred in the film, but also directed and wrote it as well. Check out what he had to say about The Gracefield Incident, as well as some thoughts on filming a point of view film and being both a director and an actor.
PopHorror: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Mathieu.
Mathieu Ratthe: Hey, no problem.
PopHorror: First off, could you give us a description of what The Gracefield Incident is about?
Mathieu Ratthe: Yeah, definitely. It’s a suspense/action/sci-fi movie where six friends, 3 couples, go away for a weekend to have a good time and have fun and drink. The first nigh,t a meteorite falls to the ground and they go and try to investigate it and see what fell out of the sky. That’s where the suspense starts. The interesting idea behind the film is that there’s a camera inside a prosthetic eye, which allows the audience to really live the story through one point of view.
PopHorror: I definitely thought the prosthetic eye camera was an interesting take on a genre that usually uses shaky cell phone camera footage. Where did you come up with the idea for a prosthetic eye camera?
Mathieu Ratthe: Look, I’ll be honest with you. The first draft… it wasn’t in the first draft. After the first draft, we did the budget, and we realized that we had 13 days to shoot this film. So 13 days is a really quick shoot, so we thought, “How are we going to do this?” So we knew we weren’t going to be able to do all the camera angles and crane shots and what we usually do. We decided to put the camera on my shoulder and let’s do it. The idea came where I was going to act, be the main actor, and at the same time, operate the camera. But it was really because we didn’t have a lot of days to shoot. I just wanted to push it and try something different, and that’s where I came up with the idea that it would be cool to have a camera inside a prosthetic eye.
PopHorror: How, exactly, did you pull off that effect? It really looked like the prosthetic eye was real and you were putting it inside your head!
Mathieu Ratthe: (laughs) It is! I just went to see the doctor! No, no, I dealt with a company, two companies, in Montreal called Rodeo FX and Oblique FX. They’re just the best in the business, and one of the top companies in Canada. They make huge, commercial films and they decided to help me out and they did an amazing job. It was all visual effects.
PopHorror: Yeah, it definitely looks good, so they did a good job! What were the difficulties you faced in doing a point of view movie?
Mathieu Ratthe: Yeah, yeah, completely. First for me, first thing as a director,and as an actor, it was tough. I had to operate the camera on my shoulder as I was acting with them, as well as having all the crew around me speaking both English and French. It was tough. I was doing 360s, so my VP looked at me at one point and was like, “Man, where do you want me to put the lights?”
You know, it’s tough. You set up your camera, you do your shot, you do your thing, you switch up your angle, this and that, you build up your suspense in the logical way. With this one, everything was linear. I shot this film with it in mind that I was going to do one shot sequences where one shot was actually 14 minutes. When we got to the editing room, I had to cut because it was just too long. We shot it where it was just a continuous 14 minutes long, so the aspect of that, the technicality of that was just crazy for the crew. That was the challenge of it.
PopHorror: Was it difficult being both the director and an actor in the film?
Mathieu Ratthe: I mean, I think I handled it pretty well. It was tough for the focus itself. You know, you’re dealing with a camera, you’re dealing with a full crew, everyone’s looking at you to give them answers. You also have the cast in front of you. The actors are demanding as well, and they’re the most important part, pretty much.
I have a funny story where I was speaking in French with my crew and then I was standing around and I start doing the scene. I was doing the scene in French! My actors just stopped and were like, “Matt’s speaking in French with us.” My mind was so all over the place; it was a little nuts. It was just a crazy 13 days, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. That’s what I think independent filmmaking is all about. You do everything you can with your friends, with the favors that you can pull, and you just do it. I’m glad. It’s the first one, but it’s definitely not the last one. I don’t think I’ll use that technique again, but I’m glad that I’ve done it and I’m glad I accepted the challenge.
PopHorror: It really does sound like the whole process was pretty hectic. When can our readers see The Gracefield Incident?
Mathieu Ratthe: July 21st! So that’s on Friday. It’ll be on VOD, and depending on where you’re at, it’ll be in theaters as well. So, New York, Los Angeles, and. I think, Phoenix. I think it is in Philadelphia as well. Be on the lookout for the dates; it’ll be posted on Facebook.
PopHorror: Awesome! Thanks so much for your time Mathieu!
Mathieu Ratthe: Thanks! I appreciate it.
Definitely keep an eye out for theaters in your area that are going to be showing The Gracefield Incident, and check out the trailer for the film below!