Today: February 28, 2024

Director Scott Leberecht

Midnight Son is the story of Jacob (Zak Kilberg), a young man with a baffling skin disorder that prevents him from being exposed to sunlight.

Midnight
Son is the story of Jacob (Zak Kilberg), a young man with a baffling skin
disorder that prevents him from being exposed to sunlight.

His world opens up when he meets and falls in love with Mary (Maya Parish), a local bartender. However, as Jacob’s actions
become increasingly bizarre and violent, he attracts the attention of the local
police who suspect him of a series of grisly murders. Directed by Scott Leberecht, Midnight Son is a twisting, terrifying
tale of vampirism and humanity and where the two conditions intertwine.

Paula Hammond chatted to director Scott Leberecht about the challenge of
injecting fresh blood into the vampire vein.

Q.
When you’re working on a film, do you watch other movies in the same genre
first to see ‘what’s out there’ or does that just muddy the creative waters?

A. I make it a point to stay on top of any new
release films. I think it is important to be informed about the current
landscape of stories being told, and more importantly, how they are being told. Then, when I sit down to write, I
keep it in the back of my mind. What drives me creatively is my own weird
thoughts and feelings about the world around me. I tend to work
‘inside-out’ digging deep to understand these things that are on the tip of my
tongue but I’m not sure how to say out loud. I think it’s the job of the artist
to find the truth, and tell it in a way that entertains. That said, I don’t
think it’s wise to write in a bubble. To keep the waters truly ‘clean’, I think
writing should be an inside-out process, coupled with a general awareness of
current trends.

Q.
Is the tag ‘vampire film’ a help or a hindrance when selling a
movie?

A. With Midnight Son, the vampire tag made
things a little confusing. It was too much of a love story to be horror,
and too much of a horror to be a love story. For me, the genre confusion is
what I am most proud of. This difficulty in labelling made me realise we
had something outside the box. I knew it would be a pain in the ass for
anyone trying to create a simplified description of the film, and I liked that.
That said, the fact that it could be labelled a ‘vampire film’ made it
seem potentially easy to sell. It was definitely a help. My hope is that a fair
amount of people who see the film will be pleasantly surprised that it is so
much more than just a ‘vampire film’.

Q.
Comparisons have been made between Midnight Son and George A Romero’s 1978
movie, Martin. Do you think such comparisons are fair?

A. Absolutely. A friend of mine read an
early draft of Midnight Son and asked me if I had ever seen Martin. I had not,
and when I did, I was excited by the similarities. It helped me craft
Midnight Son. I took note of its strengths and weaknesses, and I believe I
wrote a better script because of this.

Q. As
both writer and director, did you already have a cast in mind when you were
working on the screenplay?

A. Maya Parish was the only actor I had in mind
while writing. I had seen her in a short film while I was attending the
American Film Institute. I imagined her as Mary while I wrote, and as luck
would have it, she wanted to play the part when I contacted her years later.
Then, as even more luck would have it, she became a fellow producer and
spearheaded a very successful fundraising effort.

Q.
Midnight Son has a great soundtrack. Did you have your own soundtrack when
you were writing the screenplay – and did any of the music you listened to
influence the final ‘sound’ of the film?

Q. I don’t think the music I listened to while
writing the screenplay influenced the final sound of the film. At the time, I
only listened to heavy metal but Kays
Alatrakchi
is a master composer of film scores. He took the temporary
soundtrack I cobbled together from my library of music and turned it into
something so much more powerful and complimentary.

Q. Zak
Kilberg gives a truly awesome performance as Jacob. How much of what we see on
screen came from your script/direction, how much came from Zak?

A. It was all Zak. I really believe that if you
cast the right actor for a part, the need for ‘directing’ that actor will be
minimal. Also, if you take the time to write a good screenplay, everyone
knows their job. What I have found in my experience as a writer-director
is that the parts of your screenplay you didn’t take the time to make perfect,
or find the real truth, are almost always the scenes your cast and crew will
have questions about. I think the reason why some directors hate being asked
questions on the set is that it is glaring proof that something is wrong with
the story or characters, but now it’s too late. Shooting a film is about
collecting the pieces to tell the story. If you are on set trying to
figure out what pieces need to be collected, you simply have not done your
homework.

Q.
Without giving too much away – what’s your favourite scene and why?

A. I would say it would be the scene where Jacob
meets Marcus, a hospital orderly, for the first time. He has to trust
this shady character because he needs help. As an audience, we sense Marcus is
dangerous, but we also feel charmed by him. I feel it is one of the more
successful moments in the film because I think people feel that if they were
Jacob, they would probably do the same thing. His unhealthy choice is
eclipsed by their empathy. One of the most precarious moments in storytelling
is when you must show your main character make a questionable decision. If you
do it wrong, you will lose your audience. The fact that we got it right is a
real accomplishment.

Q.
Midnight Son – horror story, romance or something else?

A. It is a horrifying love story. I don’t know
how else to describe it. The last shot of the film captures this sentiment in a
single twisted image.

Q.
Given the chance, would you become a vampire?

A. If being a vampire means that I would have to
drink blood to survive, and I couldn’t be in direct sunlight, then no. If being
a vampire means that, PLUS I would have super-strength, the ability to fly, be
a sexual dynamo, and ‘live’ forever, then yes.

Q.
There’s a point in the film where Jacob says to Mary that everyone has their
“thing”. The secret thing they try to hide. What’s your thing?

A. I guess my ‘thing’ is filmmaking. I am
shamefully addicted to it.

Midnight
Son is released on DVD in time for Valentine’s Day on 11 February 2013.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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