Ahead of its European premiere at Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition, Bloody Flicks caught up with Caroline Williams and director Erik Bloomquist to discuss retro vampire feature Ten Minutes to Midnight.
What can you tell us about your first creative meeting for the film?
Erik – Myself and my brother Carson wrote it last April and we had Caroline by May and then shooting by June so it was a really quick turnaround. Caroline came a bit poetically after a recommendation from Barbara Crampton and it lined up perfectly. She just jumped as soon as she got the e-mail and it felt like, 5 minutes later there was a deal.
Caroline – One of the best things about that story is that Barbara and I had never really been friends as we both live quite far away from each other. Both us have that story where we had a long break from the business to raise families. She is back in, in a big way and once we started hanging out and meet other women in horror such as Chelsea Stardust and Brea Grant. We were all meeting and having drinks and talking and Barbara mentioned a project she couldn’t do as she was remaking Castle Freak, but she said it felt like it was written for me, given my music interests and background.
I read the script for Ten Minutes to Midnight and totally jumped and I just checked she wasn’t going to miss out before agreeing to do the film. The minute I read it I saw what I could do with it and that wasn’t a typical Caroline Williams performance.
How Much Creative Freedom Were You Given for the Role of Amy?
Caroline – I had total freedom but at the start I wasn’t 100% sure where to go with it. I wanted this character to be unique and interesting and find completely different spots on the map. Erik was with me every step of the way and he knew exactly how to direct me. I have to tell you it was very carefully constructed every step of the way and it was just a brilliant experience for me.
Erik – Caroline runs the emotional gambit in this film, so it was just about tracking those shifts and transitions and just making sure those all hit.
Was it a conscious choice not show to show Amy being bitten to open the film?
Erik – There is something really interesting about starting at the entrance of the radio station and having this contained story. There is someting claustrophobic and intimate and fun about that. We felt we were beginning at an intensity level of 4 out of 10 from the start.
Caroline saw the film for the first time recently and she leaned over and said ‘This thing moves!’.
Caroline – One of the things I love about the opening of the film was that you are there straight away and it established Nic Tucci’s character so beautifully for the audience. There is nothing that you expect in this movie. Everyone I know that has seen it has said, there is no way of guessing the next steps in the story.
Parts of the story have a Lynch-ian, Twin Peaks vibe, was that your intention? (Potential Spoilers)
Erik – I think some of the story is abjective reality followed by a potentially subjective experience for the character of Amy. We are trying to comment on the costumes we wear and the roles we play and move through a system that can sometimes be arbitrary.
One of the major themes of the film is old vs new clashing, how did you tackle this?
Erik – We talked a lot about this, with the ultimate horror of the movie being after investing 30 years of your life into something that you become inconsequencial. Radio has a culture of your hired until your fired, which is a line we decided to use in the film. You can also meta commentary about women in horror and how once you age out of a bubble you are no longer relevant. Our film is very much a middle finger to that notion.
Caroline – One of the other angles about that, that is so interesting is that as a horror film actress with an established career, the same as Barbara Crampton, Heather Langenkamp and so many other actresses, even though we did take time out of the industry, we found the fans waiting for us when we came back. Its a bit of a contradiction to what usually happens, where TV actors for example, find out about it in the newspaper or online. It has been very emotionally resonant to play a part, that contradicts that.
Tell us about working with Nicola Kang throughout the film?
Caroline – I met Nicole and she has this sense of command. When she walks into a room you are gonna know about her and she is such a highly skilled actress. Its one of those roles that can make a feminist uncomfortable as it illuminates the stark reality that women do compete with one another. Especially within show business community that has always been a constant. Because she is younger it is something you never really want to refer to and once again an odd contradiction to established tropes.
Erik – We talked a lot about this too, where both characters are wrong but they are both kind of right and they are not willing to compromise with each other. We talked about the characters clashing and ensure there is a build up to this exploding and things getting a bit crazy. This stems from them having different methodologies for the same goals. Amy has been a victim of the system, whereas Sienna is manipulating it to her own ends, which is interesting.
Caroline – There is also a subtext to it, where they say rock n roll is dead and how different music trends are today to when Amy started at the radio station all those years ago. Everything about Amy is a bit of a throwback, whereas a Nicole’s character is a recent graduate who is cutting edge and contemporary. The minute Amy meets her and listens to her and trying to talk to her and understand her, it becomes quite cleaer that Amy’s world and views are obselete.
How long did it take to find the location for the film?
Erik – I was very lucky as I had shot a short film at the location for Ten Minutes to Midnight about 9 years before we filmed there. I was interviewed at the station a few times over the years and we had been looking for a radio station in a certain area and we hadn’t been able to find one. I asked the Station Manager if we could film there and he agreed. One of my friend’s from high school was one of the operations managers at the station so it just worked out for us. We shot there from 6pm to 6am, making us feel like literal vampires.
Caroline, how many stunts did you perform in the film?
Caroline – You don’t have money for stunts on the film plus I enjoy that sort of work, so it was all me. I feel like my whole resume is running, jumping and screaming plus the fans maybe expect that sort of work from me.
This is one of Nicholas Tucci’s final roles, what was he like to work with?
Erik – He was very excited to do something completely different and go against type. Once he had shaved his head, he was telling me, ‘Wait ’til people see me like this!’, and he thought it was the funniest thing.
Caroline – I never really got to know Nic because he was a very method actor and he really took it all the way. Subsequently, during that week we never got to know each other or struck up a friendship. When we wrapped filming he was the first person to put me in a bear hug and tell me how wonderful I was.
If you are a DJ in real-life, what is the first track you play on your shift?
Caroline – I love Lost in the Shadows by Lou Gramm from the Lost Boys soundtrack. Another great choice would be Cemetery Gates by Pantera.
Erik – Those 80s movie anthems are really good, so a playlist of them for me.
Are there plans for a physical release in the next few months?
Erik – We are coming out on VOD and digital on 19th January 2021 and we will start rolling out to other countries after that. We are also prepping some special features for a physical release, which including a commentary track, behind the scenes interviews and some featurettes.
Ten Minutes to Midnight screens at Grimmfest Online Edition this October.