Director Rob Grant discusses new horror-comedy Harpoon

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Rob Grant’s reputation in the horror continues to grow with the release of his third feature Harpoon set to take Grimmfest horror film festival by storm next month.

We caught up with Rob to discuss the film and his love for the genre.

Where did the concept come from for Harpoon?

The ideas for my films usually float around my brain for a couple years before I figure out what I’m trying to say… then it comes out fast and furious. I just knew I had the opportunity to shoot a unique isolated location from living on the west coast and then realized I had more to say about the nature of friendship and betrayal.

Was it always your intention to blend horror and comedy together?

My natural impulse is to blend genres just because I believe its closer to ‘real-life’ in that anything should be able to happen. But I do find humor in tragedy and also knew this movie would be exhausting if it didn’t have breaks for comedy. Especially a movie about friendship, there’s either laughing or crying.

What has the reaction to the film been like so far?

Its been really great because we had no idea if what we were trying was going to work, and luckily we’ve gotten really positive reactions so far. We’ve of course had some negative, but I think that comes hand in hand with movies that follow the so-called ‘bad people’. People are either on board to look at and engage in the dark side of human nature or they don’t want to participate. And that’s fine, at least there’s a reaction. But the fact that we’ve gotten such support from the audiences and festivals and other filmmakers really help stave off the existential dread I feel when releasing a new film…

How is Harpoon different from Alive and Fake Blood?

Fake Blood is still my proudest film. We tried something REALLY different and personal there and it was before the conversations about ‘fake news’ came to the forefront and how easy it is to get lost in what’s real and what’s not. It breaks my heart that the movie didn’t do better.

Alive. was my ‘first director for hire’ and came with its own growing pains and difficulties in not writing my own material but I’m glad it’s landing with its audience.

Harpoon was the latest and was built out of a long growing frustration with the industry in general and how it might be my last opportunity at making a movie… so I really threw everything I could into it for better or worse. Everything I was scared to try or worried it wouldn’t work, it was the movie to just go for because I was, and am still worried it could be my last one.

This is your third film to feature at Grimmfest how does that feel?

It’s actually my 4th if we go all the way back to ‘Mon Ami’ haha! I’m super bummed I couldn’t make it to the fest last year and I’m really happy to come back. Sim and Rachel are awesome and have been super supportive over the years, especially because I experiment a lot. I also love how intimate it feels, the audiences are crazy loyal and it’s nice to mingle with people. And there’s lots of beer!

Harpoon looks gory, was it always your intention to use practical effects?

Yes. I have a firm philosophy that my violence isn’t meant to be dismissed. Its meant to be shocking and disturbing and always serves a purpose to the story rather than glossing over it in a ‘PG’ fashion. Its never meant to look ‘easy’. And practical was necessary for us because its cheaper and we had greater control over it.

Is it easier when working with a smaller cast on a film?

You can focus that’s for sure. Everyone gets attention, and there’s an arch to track. The harder part is making sure that it stays interesting because you can’t suddenly show the audience something different to wake them up a bit.

What was the casting process like for Harpoon?

360 Management helped us a lot as they brought us Emily, Christopher, and in the end Brett. Munro came through my producer Mike Peterson who cast him in his film Knuckleball which I edited. It always just came down to conversations with the actors and making sure everyone got what we were trying for and had the same interests in going for broke with me. I’m really proud of their performance.

Did you approach Munro Chambers or did he audition?

Mike tried to suggest Munro to me before but because I edited him in Knuckleball I had it in my head that he wasn’t right for the part at first… I was also holding onto the Jonah character too tight. Mike got Munro to film tape and sent it my way and that’s when I realized I had screwed up and that he was perfect for the role. It’s a testament to his range and ability.

What did you think of his role in Turbo Kid?

Again he was SO different in Turbo Kid compared to Knuckleball and compared to Harpoon. His range is ridiculous. He literally transforms his physical presence. He’s awesome.

After Harpoon what’s next on the agenda?

Well… I’m writing the next thing, a sort of hyper-violent crime story that deals with the opposite side of friendship. Kind of how far would you be willing to go to help your friends. But the reality is the market for indie films is in a really bad spot right now so I and my producer would have to talk about what are the right circumstances to do another one, so who knows.

Look out for Harpoon at Grimmfest 2019 and Celluloid Screams Film Festival.

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