Exclusive Interview with “Darkness Reigns” Director Andrew P. Jones

What other horror movie would Darkness Reigns director Andrew P. Jones program his own movie with, if he were in charge of booking films at a drive-in? find out below!

-PH: Thanks for chatting to us – or is it written in your contract you have to?

-Andrew: Ha!
(it’s an honor and pleasure!!)

-PH: How did this film come about?

-Andrew: With “Darkness Reigns” I wanted to create a new genre that I named “continuous footage.”  I occasionally find people referring to it as “found footage” and that’s 100% incorrect – there is no found footage.  It’s all seen through the unblinking eye of a documentarian’s camera.  So, the challenge, or gimmick, is that these horrific things happen before your eyes and without edits.  Also, if you notice there is no music during the “documentary” sections, which was a really scary decision to make.  I wanted it remain authentic and if we are watching a documentarian’s continuous footage, there wouldn’t be “score” so I made that bold decision early on.  The film is bookended, however, with traditional narrative style scenes.   But, I thought it was a film I could make with very little money because the long takes would allow us to shoot faster than normal, or, in fewer days.

-PH: Was it shot in your neck of the woods?

-Andrew: I live and work in Los Angeles, but I love to travel around the country looking for interesting locations to make movies in.  “Darkness” is the second movie I’ve shot in Jefferson City, Missouri.  I made life-long friends when I shot “Haunting of Cellblock 11” there, and I get so much support from the community that it makes it an easy decision to return.  In fact, we even got an official day – “Darkness Reigns Day,” proclaimed by the mayor!

-PH: What was it about the concept of a haunted house that appealed to you?

-Andrew: I find that nearly everyone has a “ghost story” so, it’s a genre that I find appealing.  It’s also good for logistics because the majority of the film takes place in one location, allowing us to shoot an entire movie in very few days.

-PH: And is it based on any personal events? Maybe a haunted set you’ve been on yourself?

-Andrew: “Darkness Reigns” was partly inspired by the film industry itself and all the things we have to deal with in order to make and distribute movies.  And the “what if” was based on what would happen if a young filmmaker sold his soul to the devil for fame and success but it came in a horrifying way that he didn’t see coming.
The script is definitely filled with little moments and lines that speak to my own experiences, good and bad, with the film industry.  Specifically the indie film business.  So, it’s a little cathartic for me as well.

-PH: Tell us about your cast – who was new to you, who have you worked with before…

-Andrew: My producing partner is Linara Washington and she is also a tremendously accomplished actor.  Being married to her means I get an amazing actor without all the negotiations!  But honestly, I tend to write a part for her in everything because I know I don’t need to find an actor who can do it, I have the best living at home.  I also wrote a part for Peter Mayer who is out of St. Louis.  I first cast him in “Haunting of Cellblock 11” and thought he was a tremendously talented actor, so I wrote the part of Sidney, the strange psychic, specifically for him.  The rest were new for me and most were cast out of St. Louis and Jefferson City.  The lead, Zachary Mooren was cast out of Los Angeles and is superb.  

-PH: There’s some genuine frights here. What do you think makes the film scary?

-Andrew: The intention was to have these horrible, gory things happening without edits.  And I thought that that, along with no music, might make the audience think this is a little more real that normal.  I wanted the audience to experience these things without the gimmicks of editing to give it a more visceral, and honest feel.

-PH: Is sound still as important as ever in the creation of a horror movie?

-Andrew: I edit my own movies and I can say that I spend more time on sound design than on editing.  It’s a big part of horror movies, actions movies – all movies really. And especially since I wasn’t relying on music to manipulate and guide the audience, sound design became even more important.

-PH: If the movie was playing as part of a double feature at the drive-in, what would you recommend the other movie be? 

-Andrew: Haunting of Cellblock 11 of course!

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