September 29, 2008

INTERVIEW - Quarantine Director John Erick Dowdle Tells His Half of the Story

The Dowdles are a team effort, and hopefully always will be. Drew and John Erick wrote, directed, and produced Quarantine (which opens October 10th) and The Poughkeepsie Tapes (to be released in '09 if all goes well with the former) and John's wife Stacy Chbosky stars in both. In this week's column at AMC, John told me about their collective leap from obscurity and their high hopes for continuing to make very upsetting movies together. Drew was unavailable for comment, as he was attending his high school reunion; having a feature film opening the following week is a way better strategy than merely claiming you invented Post-Its. Below are a few extra notes from John:

On casting Quarantine:

"We got very lucky with our casting. The style we’re shooting in is all from the camera's point of view, so it’s almost like filming a live play -- except the set has extra dimensions that we could move through. So we needed a great cast that could hold their own for five-minute-long takes and not blow it... You have children and animals and effects and stunts, and it’s all just happening live. We were blessed to get Jennifer Carpenter – she’s a phenomenal actor. I don't know if you saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but when she tears the lid off it, she’s crazy! It’s mind-blowing."

On the day the tide turned in the Dowdles' career:

"It was one of those overnight successes that happens after 15 years of working nonstop and saying, “This is going to pay off, Mom, I swear!” It had been a long time coming, and there had been some really dark days – dark YEARS – trying to make that happen. There was literally one week where it all clicked into place – The Poughkeepsie Tapes got sold, it made a splash and got some great reviews, and then we got Quarantine, all within about a week.

On that high school reunion situation:

"I skipped my ten year reunion, because what could I say? 'Yeah, I’m still in LA, still poor, nothing’s happening.' Drew’s cleaning up this year, I’m sure."

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