Seth A. Smith Interview for Tin Can

We got a chance to interview the filmmaker of the brilliant science fiction horror film ‘Tin Can’ Seth A. Smith, we discuss filmmaking influences such as Roger Corman, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch. His favorite science fiction and horror films growing up as well as advice he would give new filmmakers looking to make their first movie.

AJ: Friar: How did the concept come together for Tin Can?

Seth A. Smith: Yeah, I think the thought first came to me after my neighbour gave me this industrial barrel to catch rainwater for my garden. I spent some time inside it and started to generate a lot of ideas. So my co-writer, Darcy Spidle, and I started tossing around ideas about doing a small, single location, person-in-a barrel movie. We had also been looking into the horrors of factory farming, and thought it would be interesting to do a science fiction horror where we kinda played out that scenario with people in place of the animals.

AJ: When I was watching I got filmmaking vibes of the ‘70 and ‘80 style of Roger Corman along with THX 1138 and of course with David Cronenberg, I was curious if those played any inspiration in your filmmaking for Tin Can?

Seth A. Smith: Glad you found that. I’ve always admired Corman’s ability to do so much with such small budgets. 70’s and 80’s B-movies too for that matter. With Tin Can, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Black Hole were on my mind. I looked at THX too. I liked the minimalist, futuristic aesthetic there. And yeah a long time admirer of the Davids — Lynch and Cronenberg. At this point they’re just absorbed in my blood like microplastics.

AJ: With this being a science fiction horror film, there has to be so many elements and genres you have to balance all at the same making it believable, what was the most challenging aspect of that?

Seth: It was all challenging. But I kind of like to rebel against the idea of believability in movies. I feel like there’s this weird trend these days where films almost have to look like docs so they feel more real. It bugs me a little. I’m tired of real. I’ve always thought of movies like dreams. With this I was thinking a lot about what dreams might be like in a state of suspended animation. You know, like being trapped in a cryo-dream. Once I settled on this kind of dreamworld setting, it was easier to know what I could and couldn’t do.

AJ: How did the casting process come about for Tin Can, the cast was pitch perfect in what they had to deliver.

Seth: Yeah it was interesting to cast given that a lot of it was like a radio play. Voices were extra important. Simon Mutabazi is an immensely talented Nova Scotian actor that I had just wanted to work with on a feature. Tim Dunn and Amy Trefry had been in my previous films and I really enjoyed working with them. Michael Ironside maybe took a little convincing, but he loved the story and ended up really taking ownership of the character. I remember, in preproduction, we were struggling to find someone who could really embody how I saw Fret. And also someone who would be okay with all of the physical gags and the restrictions. Then we met Anna Hopkins, and she brought this potent energy that really changed my view of who the character could be.

AJ: Did you you grow up a horror fan? If so which movies or shows were some your favorites?

Seth: Yes. As a kid I grew up on a steady diet of films I wasn’t really old enough to rent but the store somehow let me anyway. I wore out VHS copies of Alien and The Fly. Nightmare of Elm Street too. Watched a lot of low-budget horror. There was just so much more exploration going on in genre films.

AJ: What advice would you give new filmmakers looking to start out? What should be the first steps they take?

Seth: First, just mess around with a camera. Experiment, allow yourself to fail, take small steps, don’t try to make your first film a feature like I did. Eventually, find your voice, your style. Make the movie only you can make. And don’t worry about what everyone else thinks of it. Make it for you. And treat your film like a living creature. Don’t force it to be a certain way. Sometimes ask it what it wants to be.

Written By: AJ Friar

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