Bob Giordano is the director for one of my new favorite horror films, The Odds. It was definitely different from anything I’ve seen before and it’s quite empowering.
I recently had the chance to talk with Bob about his career, his love for the horror genre, his new film, and more! You can now watch The Odds on VOD And Digital HD Platforms.
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me, Bob! What made you want to work in the film industry?
Bob Giordano – Thank you! I’ve loved movies ever since my mom took me to see Dumbo in the theater when I was five years old. (Yes, I saw the cartoon Dumbo in the theater, I’m old). However, I never really thought about being in the film industry until I was in my 30’s and stepped into a screenwriters’ critique group. I immediately was intrigued by the challenges of writing for a movie, and I’ve been stuck in the pursuit of it ever since.
PopHorror – I love that Dumbo was your first film in the theater. What was the first film you ever worked on?
Bob Giordano – I’ve helped several friends with their short films, as well as producing a couple of my own. I’ve visited the set of a few music videos and commercials, but this film was the first feature set that I’ve worked on.
PopHorror – You wrote and directed The Odds, what was the inspiration behind this film?
Bob Giordano – It started as a personal challenge to write a script with only one character (fail.) However, I toyed with the idea of a Russian roulette game that would only contain two characters. I had previously written a script about a group of people forced to play a life and death game that was disseminated on-line by a malevolent criminal organization. I thought about that same group running an on-line competition of Russian roulette players competing against each other. I didn’t think this notion could sustain an entire feature, so I eventually contrived the competition as a series of challenges, culminating in the gun and a bullet. I was concerned that this would not have enough emotional interest, so I toyed with notions of gender conflict, and that led me to the premise that the story could be structured as an allegory for an abusive relationship. That provided the focus for both characters, and everything fell into place once I had that key emotional core.
PopHorror – Wow, all that brainstorming paid off. I think it’s a pretty original concept. Something new and refreshing. Was that what you were aiming for?
Bob Giordano – Thank you! There are a few films that employ the notion of Russian roulette to good effect (famously The Deer Hunter and also interesting are Intacto and 13 Tzameti), but I really pushed to take the idea in a more psychologically challenging direction. I haven’t seen too many films that propose some of the more devious possibilities of our current technology, so I am definitely interested in exploiting that. As an independent filmmaker, you need to try everything you can to make your story stand out, because you likely don’t have the budget to create super-hero movie visuals to provide interest. In addition, you don’t have some studio overlords telling you what to do to hit all four quadrants, so you can be a little different — a little risky. In fact, I think we should expect that from independent films.
PopHorror – Completely agree. How did the casting process come about?
Bob Giordano – My fantastic producer, Alan McKenna, has been working in production in Nashville (where we filmed) for a few years, so he has relationships with the local talent agencies. Instead of open casting calls, he worked with agents to find recommendations for the roles. We watched a lot of tapes, then had a few limited auditions. The process is trickier than a lot of people know, because it’s not only about finding the people that you think can do the best performance; it’s about finding the right people that will work best together. And you, as a filmmaker, think that everyone should just WANT to be in your film. But some actors were definitely intimidated by the script, whether it was the performance demands that it required or questions about if we could even pull it off.
This was somewhat of a surprise to me — I know that sounds arrogant, but I had written a couple of roles that placed the lead actors in literally 95-100% of screen time. I thought “What actor wouldn’t want to star in this?” I know that’s cocky, but you’d better have a certain amount of self-assurance if you’re going to be a director. So the casting took a circuitous path, but we eventually landed on a couple of actors that were exactly what I’d hoped for. Both James and Abbi were heavily invested in their characters, and they provided input into behavior and dialog that drives writers crazy, but makes directors ecstatic. Through our table reads, they improved everything that I’d written, and their performances added more depth than words on a page could ever match.
PopHorror – Their chemistry was perfect on screen. Without giving away any spoilers, do you have any favorite scenes?
Bob Giordano – I love the first time James’ character truly reveals who he really is. It’s such a subtle shift, but it really adds a level of menace that never really dissipates from the story. I also like the scenes toward the end, when Abby finally begins to take agency over her fate, and her reaction when the twist comes. And, of course, I like the finale.
PopHorror – What was the most difficult part of shooting this film?
Bob Giordano – Everyone came prepared, so that helped a lot. I had done storyboards for the entire film, so I knew what I wanted, and the lighting was simple, so we saved time on set-ups. We shot it in a small number of days, but even so, we finished every day ahead of schedule. Which turned out to be a good thing, because on the last day of the shoot, we had a problem with the location owner that, through no fault of ours, set us back on our schedule, so that we finished several hours over time. Up until then, it was pretty pleasant!
PopHorror – That’s always a plus! Do you enjoy the horror/thriller genre?
Bob Giordano – I’ve been a fan of horror films for a long time. My most recent preoccupation has been with the film Hereditary, which is so simple, but in the method of the telling becomes a puzzle that packs several very effective punches.
My scariest early film experience I’ve ever had (not counting a Dracula movie by Dan Curtis, starring Jack Palance, which gave me nightmares) was a movie called Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. It’s a bit dated now, but for several years, I would make people watch that movie and be overjoyed at how terrified they would get, even though it was a very slow burn. Back in the day, they would make made-for-tv horror films that scarred a generation. I’ve met more than a few people who’ve suffered from early viewings of Burnt Offerings.
For years, my favorite horror filmmaker was Cronenberg, who has a handful of absolute classics to his name. But more recently, perhaps because the horror genre has been so well-mined, I think there are a handful of people who are trying harder to pursue new ideas, which is a good thing. I know some people were disappointed with It Follows, but I really admired that film for all that it accomplished within a limited budget, from the very simple, not too over-thought concept, to the artful way it was shot. I understand that there’s a glut of horror films in the market, right now, but I believe that among the ones that surface now, there are a few that have something exciting to add to the genre.
PopHorror – Completely agree and I really enjoyed It Follows for all those reasons. Any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Bob Giordano – I have several sequels to The Odds in various stages of development, as well as a TV streaming version, so fingers crossed on those projects. Right now, though, we are deep in the edit of our second feature, titled Gates of Flesh. This one is more of a straight-forward horror movie, with a real end-of-the-world, supernatural element to it. I’m excited about this, in part, because we had a larger budget to shoot with, and so we got to work with more interesting filmmaking tools this time. But as in The Odds, there is still a deeper intent behind the story, with a theme that, I think, resonates for the times we’re in now.