Zev Berman, Writer/Director

November 16, 2007


Mychal: Hello Zev. I hope you are well. So, we grew up together on Capitol Hill, attended the same prep school together in D.C., and now live a block away from each other in Los Angeles. Small world? (LOL)

Zev: (LOL) Yes! And, I wont forget the moment we realized that we currently live a block away from each other in LA. After ten (10) plus years of having lost touch, now that’s a small world.

Mychal: So, your true crime thriller film titled “Borderland” opened last weekend at the 2007 After Dark HorrorFest. Can you please give us some background information about this festival?

Zev: HorrorFest is After Dark Film’s horror anthology comprised of eight (8) scary movies go out for a Limited Theatrical run and play in rotation. Four Hundred (400) screens. Thirty Nine (39) cites. Twelve Million ($12M) Prints and Advertising (P&A). Give or take on these figures. HorrorFest had it’s first run in 2006, and turned a tidy little profit.

Mychal: And, how did you conceive the story idea for “Borderland?”

Zev: The script is based on a true story that took place in 1989 on the US/Mexican border. I was there in 89’, traveling around the country with some friends of mine. We crossed the border into Matamoros, and ran into a manhunt that was going for a missing college student. The investigation turned up a drug cartel that had gotten involved with the occult. The boy had been abducted and ritually sacrificed to protect their drug operation. The story stayed with me over the years.

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Mychal: Wow! And, how long was the maturation process?

Zev: Three (3) years to get it on screen. Eighteen (18) years if you count the fact that I was there in 89’.

Mychal: Now, wasn’t this film originally slated for a Lions Gate release? If so, then what happened?

Zev: We had an upfront agreement with Lions Gate to distribute the film, though with no minimum guarantee. Lions Gate has a deal with After Dark Films, and all parties ended up agreeing that Borderland should go out as part of After Dark’s 2007 HorrorFest.

Mychal: Any advice to filmmakers who have a great project but face obstacles regarding distribution?

Zev: Keep an open mind regarding potential opportunities, get a lot of advice, stay grounded, and don’t sell yourself short.

Mychal: Personally, I really liked the casting choice of Sean Astin for the dark role of Randall. He is more known for his roles in films such as “Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings.” How did this choice evolve?

Zev: George Furla, one of our producers, had attended a celebrity basketball game and had run into Sean. In the course of their conversation, Sean expressed an interest in darker material. George suggested him to me. I thought it was a brilliant idea. I think it energized the character. Sean did a great job. I love casting against type.

Mychal: Cool, and what about the film’s great Latin talent?

Zev: Our Latin cast was comprised of some of the best actors in Mexico. Damian Alcazar, who plays Ulises, has won two Mexican academy awards for Best Actor. It was an honor to work with him. I can say the same for all of my actors. I think we got the right people to play the right parts.

Mychal: Since we know that named talent generally drives consumers to purchase the product, did any of these casting choices adversely affect the marketability of “Borderland” in the Amercian market?

Zev: Time will tell.

Mychal: The production value is great! Now, I have to annoy you and ask you the film’s budget. So, give up the tapes…what was the budget? (LOL)

Zev: (LOL) Under ten million ($10M).

Mychal: And, did your production team encounter any problems while shooting in Mexico?

Zev: Sure. Getting equipment back and forth across the Border was expensive, time consuming, and a major hassle. Locking locations was a chore. It was difficult to determine who owns certain properties and get the necessary permissions. The crews were top notch. I’d do it again in a heart beat.

Mychal: How long was your principal photography in Mexico?

Zev: Thirty (30) days.

Mychal: Did you have any shooting problems involving any of the technical aspects of the film?

Zev: The shoot was smooth. No major technical snafus.

Mychal: As the director, you made some very unique choices concerning the film’s blood and violence, can you tell us your motivation?

Zev: I’m interested in unconventional violence. I like it to be rooted in realism. I think if you tackle violent subjects, you should show consequences. I’m not a nihilist, but this is a dark world we live in. We’ve really made a mess of things. Hope is possible but hard won, and against a dark uncompromising backdrop, it stands out as a believable possibility.

Mychal: Great. And, what films and/or directors have influenced “Borderland?”

Zev: Tobe Hooper – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wes Craven – Last House on the Left, Francis Ford Coppola – Apocalypse Now, Danny Boyle – 28 Days Later, Gaspar Noe – Irreversible, Jonathan Demme – Silence of the Lambs

Mychal: What separates “Borderland” from other horror/suspense films?

Zev: It’s not traditional horror/suspense. It can provide a terrifying, visceral, emotional, spiritual and intellectual experience. Perhaps not in that order. The performances are believable and nuanced. The production values are excellent. There’s a strong unified tone. Aspects of realism were strongly adhered to. The effects are shockingly realistic. The action is unpredictable and harrowing.

Mychal: Excellent! Now…can you please give us a great anonymous Hollywood incident that you witnesses or participated in?

Zev: My mind is a blank. (LOL)

Mychal: (LOL) Any inspirational advice to writers/directors out there?

Zev: Me!

Mychal: OK….lets flip the question, any advice to producers concerning successful relationships with writers/directors?

Zev: Communicate openly. Make sure your involvement is about the work. Be passionate about the material. Make sure that everyone on the team is making the same movie. Never give up. Fight for the movie like a bulldog.

Mychal: Now – Last question. What is your next project that you are developing?

Zev: A heart warming musical for children of all ages.

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The End

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