Actor, director and screenwriter Matt Thompson is a man with the same quintessential questions we have about the supernatural forces that have been with us forever. Ten years after his initial idea for the Osiris Films horror movie Bloodline, the film is finally ready for a September 27, 2013 release. A true labor of love guided by gut instinct, providence and daring “just go for it” faith, Matt chatted over the phone with Cinelinx writer Kyra Dawson to tell us all about the experience of wearing 3 hats in the production of Bloodline. Juggling the filmmaker triad of roles -- screenwriter, actor and director -- is a daunting effort that only a daring few are willing or intrepid enough to attempt. Come inside and see what took place on set at Bloodline and find out if Matt believes in curses and possession.
Bloodline has a logline that reads, “Terror Has Awakened”. By the looks of the movie poster and the trailer it looks like we’re in for one scary thrill ride. It is a film that pulls its core from the great legends and folklore of Native American culture. Within the ancient stories of America’s First Peoples there is a veritable Mariana’s Trench of gold star source material to be inspired by.
There’s a certain esoteric and archaic quality to Native American legends that lends an air of possibility and believability to a film like Bloodline. That “What if?” factor just became, “Ancient Native American legend tells stories of…” and that is always cool. Check out the film synopsis for Bloodline (2013) and then read on to the very revealing interview into the mind of thespian screenwriting filmmaker Matt Thompson.
Official Synopsis: Seminary student Brett Ethos, (Matt Thompson) falls away from the church and his faith only to find out that his bloodline is sought after by a real evil. On a trip with friends and an old flame, he goes to explore a cabin left to him by the will of his family. There he discovers his true heritage. Temptation or redemption becomes his ultimatum. His friend's lives and his own hang in the balance.
Cinelinx: So, Matt, how would you describe this film?
Matt: Creepy thriller horror rollercoaster.
Cinelinx: Well the movie poster definitely looks like it’s on par with what audiences want out of their horror films these days. Esoteric, supernatural, and that element of what would you do if...? feel.
Matt: Thank you. We worked really hard to get it there and it’s just really crazy that all this supernatural stuff was buzzing when we were getting Bloodline ready for distribution, so it was a crazy coincidence.
Cinelinx: It must have seemed like providence.
Cinelinx: So can you tell us what turned you on to this whole project? What was that inception spark of creativity for this idea?
Matt: It was about 10 years ago. Seems sort of surreal now. I had just started getting involved in the movie and acting industry and as luck would have it I met up with a producer. As were talking shop he suggested I make my own movie since the technology today makes that totally possible now, and put myself in it. So I went out, I got a camera, learned all about story and arc and all that good stuff, and we went on to make a short film called Fallen Soldier and it was at that point that I actually realized, “Hey, I can actually do this!” What do audiences want that am I passionate about? I’m passionate about film, thrillers, Native American legends, and so ‘Lakeside, The Legend of Nah Ha Tik’ was born which is now known as Bloodline.
Cinelinx: Adding the Native American element gives Bloodline that indelible quality that audiences really want in films.
Matt: Exactly. And you get this great opportunity to not only play with all the great Native American legends, but you also have a chance to play with the arcs between the settlers' bloodlines and the Native American bloodlines and examine some of the animosity that still might be lying dormant between the two cultures. It’s just such a great subject to explore. So the title Bloodline was just such a fitting title, because that’s what it boiled down to and it just fit. It couldn’t have worked better.
Cinelinx: What was it like not only to be acting as Brett Ethos, the lead role in the film, but to also be at the helm of the project as the director?
Matt: It was challenging. But I had just done a movie with Cybill Shepherd and it was so great to work with such a professional and cool person, so fast forward to Bloodline I felt pretty good about the process. I felt like I had both the vision for the film and the ability to really move forward with my acting career at the same time. I knew I could both direct and act in the film. I knew I could make it happen. I was fortunate enough that I had a great producing partner who also came in as co-director to help watch me while I was in the scene. So it lifted some of the burden off my shoulders, but still you have to compartmentalize and be able to jump in and out of character. When I’m in the scene and when I’m out of the scene I focused on different things and two very different perspectives. You have to be very spatially aware. It’s a very 3rd person experience.
Cinelinx: Did one role help the other?
Matt: I think so. But again it was just really great to be able to rely on the co-director and to rely on the team around you to help create the best film you can. It’s definitely important to have that support, especially when you have so much responsibility. It’s definitely the team that makes everything possible.
Cinelinx:Bloodline sounds like it was a real labor of love for you. You also wrote the screenplay for the film. But it was an idea you had 10 years ago?
Matt: Yeah, it really was. I think writing and making films was always instinctual and intrinsic for me. But as I got older I honed my craft and really learned story structure and as time went on I could see where things could be worked on, tuned and improved and that only comes with experience. And I was blessed with parents that always said you can do whatever you want just be the best at it, so I was really lucky to have their support because I think they always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I don’t think I could have done it without that kind of support.
Cinelinx: So how was it working with Grainger Hines?
Matt: That dude is hard core. He’s so awesome. When he walked into the audition, we knew he was just old school, hard core Hollywood and he just got right into our faces and in character and made us so nervous in the audition, he became the Ranger. So when it was over I just knew he was the perfect guy for the role. There are just moments when you know that you have to strike and go in that direction.
Cinelinx: So tell me about your character, Brett Ethos. Did you leave a lot of yourself on the page with your performance?
Matt: Brett Ethos’ story arc was drawn from real life emotion and I really wrapped my experiences with the primal human struggles into this thriller. Just those basic universal human struggles that everyone goes through at one time or another that are relevant. I think audiences can relate and connect to that.
Cinelinx: So what’s your take on the supernatural? Do you have questions?
Matt: I think there are a lot of unanswered questions. And science raises a lot more questions than it answers and when it comes to the supernatural there is no scientific empirical evidence. There’s films like Angels & Demons that explore the God Particle (Higgs Boson), and Signs where there’s this guy who’s just trying to make sense of everything but he just can’t believe his own faith could be true, there’s that struggle, so I think that art should really speak to that. It should explore those questions and those struggles.
Cinelinx: So do you believe in possession and curses?
Matt: The idea of the supernatural, possession and curses is intriguing to me. And I think it is to a lot of people, and always has been. I definitely have questions and an interest in the unexplained and the supernatural, and the theory of curses and possession is very interesting film matter.
Cinelinx: What’s your favorite genre? Because you've done the romantic drama Listen To Your Heart with Cybill Shepherd, and now with Bloodline you’ve done a horror thriller which is like on the other end of the film spectrum. So is it drama? Is it horror?
Matt: I don’t want to get pigeon holed into one genre. I always say this, “You have your favorite bands. They have happy songs, they have sad songs, but it’s always done in their style.” So I feel that it’s the same thing when it comes to film genres. I have ideas for scifi movies, I have horror movies, I love thrillers because I feel like they can grip the audience in a way that no other movie can, and underground crime dramas which is one of my favorite film genres. So it was fun to able to work on all these different kinds of movies. There’s all kinds of fun stuff to get your hands on in this industry and I want a chance to get to work on all of them. I want to keep challenging myself and evolving. I really admire directors like Spielberg who’s done everything, and Scorsese who’s a great innovator in the industry, and of course there’s M. Night Shyamalan, his earlier work and the movie Devil was just brilliant.
Cinelinx: So what’s next for you?
Matt: I have a scifi flick lined up, and a crime drama. It’s a Blow meets The Departed undercover drug realm type film which is such a great realm for subject material.
Cinelinx: So I have to ask, did anything scary happen on set?
Matt: Shooting in the dark up in the Sacramento woods with a small group it was more about bears and mountain lions, (laughs). No just kidding. There was an abandoned 100 year old cabin in the deep woods and that was so creepy. It has this eerie basement, it’s two levels and it’s creaky. Sometimes I was out there surveying it late in the day and you just don’t know what you could be walking into. So yeah, that was definitely tense cause there were no doors so you don’t know what to expect.
Whether Matt Thompson is acting or directing or screenwriting, I’m sure there are great things to come from this talented up and coming creator of film. He’s a filmmaker and thespian who isn’t afraid to make it happen, dedicated to honing his screenwriting craft, and curious enough to ask all those questions we ask ourselves about exploring the realm of possibility. Stay tuned.
Bloodline will awaken your terror when it scares its way into theaters September 27, 2013.