Marc Meyers interview We Summon The Darkness
The past week we got to speak to Marc Meyers the director of the indie smash My Friend Dahmer and the new horror comedy We Summon The Darkness
AJ: Hey, Marc. You have Aaron from Infamous Horrors?
Marc: Hi. Good. Nice to meet you, Aaron.
AJ: Nice to meet you, too, Marc. So you did such a fantastic job with My Friend Dahmer. How was it like going from an indie film like that to working with an A-list ensemble cast?
Marc: It’s the same. I had a great time working with this cast in the same way that I had a great time working with the cast of My Friend Dahmer. I mean, as long as actors are genuine, want to come to work every day, are ready to have a good time, come with a head full of their own ideas, then you know we’re ready to play. And that was totally the case here as well. [inaudible 00:00:57] just such a professional, a great leader for the actors on set. I think together we set a really nice tone, and we all just were fully committed to making this movie. It never occurred to me that this cast, in any way, was any different than any other cast prior. It’s just that these actors felt like the right actors for these roles.
AJ: Right. And especially having Johnny Knoxville in that cameo. How was it like having him on set doing that part?
Marc: Johnny Knoxville was the best, and that’s no surprise. I mean, he’s originally an actor, he cares about his work. He came, and we had a lot of scenes to film with him in the limited amount of time that he was with us, and we just rocked it. He was prepared, he was the guy. You know, we were just ready to roll. He’s also just a sweet gentlemen and very courteous and concerned for all the other actors and was probably more concerned than any other actor about the safety of things we might be doing, even though we weren’t doing too many things with him, he definitely was always making sure that the actors around him were also feeling comfortable with some of the action that they were involved in around him.
AJ: So did you give anything feedback on the script after you first read it, or were you all in as soon as you were done reading the script?
Marc: I was all in on the script when I first read it as a concept, but then as time goes on, you have time to start to refine it and make it more something that’s a reflection of how I wanted to tell the story. And then it takes a little bit of time to sort of get into that in detail. And there were various rounds that the writer and I spent together, working it out to sort of make it more in the way that I wanted to sort of handle these characters and just sort of distilling down some of the scenes to make them happen a little bit faster, to sort of play around with building up some of the tension, taking out some of the sort of myths that I didn’t think the script needed, at least through my approach, and maybe whittling out one or two extraneous fight sequences that I felt like, at a certain point, we didn’t need any more than the movie already had.
I think there was always … I was constantly working on it. And then once you have actors involved, you start to look at it through their eyes, too.
Marc: But that’s just the natural process though.
AJ: I like how you brought that up because I just finished Too Old To Die Young, the Amazon TV show, and there was a lot of stuff that easily could have been taken out of it because each episode was about 90 minutes to 85 minutes long, and it really felt like a 10 episode-long movie. So was there anything extra you wanted to add to the story but couldn’t, due to the budget?
Marc: I don’t really remember. I felt like that it was more that there were things I wanted to sort of just take out, than things I couldn’t get to. The story is very linear, right?
Marc: It’s very much like once it starts, and it kicks into gear, and then certain things just occur, it’s just shifting to another gear, and you just got to sort of just keep moving quickly through all the different quick events. And I just didn’t want to over … As a filmmaker,, you don’t want the movie to overstay its welcome, and I think it’s the right length, and I was able to accentuate things I knew would be fun.
I mean, there’s a couple shots that I didn’t anticipate, but I realized, while I was filming, that would be fun additions to that film, like that shot near the end of the driveway that shows the path. I don’t want to really give away what it is, but that’s something that once you’re deeper in filming, that was an idea that came to me that I made sure that the next day we filmed just to give it more visual color.
AJ: Do you remember much from the Satanic Panic that was actually happening around the 70s and the 80s? Because after the whole summer of 69 with the Manson family, it seemed to sky rocket, and it was on pretty much everybody’s mind around the 70s and 80s, and there was even like … I don’t know if you remember, there would be some PTA, like info commercial, which was parents trying to tell other parents what signs of satanic behavior with your children would be like.
Marc: I remember it very vividly. I was in high school at the time that heavy metal was at it’s Satanic Panic heyday, per se, in the early 90s, and I remember the sort of created fear that that was the devil’s music, and that was part of the charm I found in the original screenplay; was to be able to look at that moment in time in such a specific way that it was a backdrop to this really fun story was one of the original reasons of why I wanted to do this film. Because it was a way to return to this crazy moment in, I guess you could say, pop culture.
AJ: Right. So was it difficult to execute the mix of comedy and horror? Because if you don’t do it properly, it kind of turns off a lot of the audience because if you do too much of one thing, it kind of … Audience members are like, “Well, I wish it had a little bit more horror to it than all of that comedy leading up to it.”
Marc: Yes. I mean that’s the fun of making this film, is finding that balancing act between the sort of eeriness, the suspense, the sort of genre horror elements, and creating some real, genuine, authentic characters who allow for you to also laugh with them because you believe in what they’re doing. So for me, to find the humor that felt real to the moment. I’m not asking for a laugh, but really it’s funny because we all are a mix of emotions. We all can laugh adjacent to crying. I mean, you go to a funeral, and people are both hugging and sad and trying to cheer each other up, and that’s the balancing act. To me, that was the true challenge and the fun of making this movie.
AJ: Right. And one final question for you. What were some of your favorite horror movies growing up?
Marc: The horror movies I remember that I grew up with, I mean, I think I’ll always reference the one that stays with me the most, that I discovered when I was young, was clearly The Shining.
Marc: I think it’s because, personally, there are people that really, really love horror in the same way that people really love metal music, right? It’s like they’re loyal, and they want to take all of that in. For me, I love to sample all kinds of films and all kinds of music, but there’s certain genre films that I think transcend to people that aren’t even just loyalists to only that genre. And for me, a movie like The Shining is something that anybody and everybody should see. And there’s a huge long list of movies like that, but that clearly is the most memorable
AJ: And such a perfect movie to bring up during the quarantine, too, is The Shining.
Marc: Yeah, because we’re all about to lose our shit.
AJ: All right, Marc. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Marc: Thank you.
AJ: Have a good day, Marc.
Marc: Have a good one. You, too. Have a great day.