Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Interview with Eric Bilodeau

I recently made a "chat-styled" interview with Eric Bilodeau, the director of Hunting Grounds, here is what it looks like:

HGI-Mr. Bilodeau, What Is exactly Hunting Grounds?

EB-Hunting Grounds is an Anticipation Sci-Fi film about a not-so-distant future where people are confined to City limits and the fact that Nature is forbidden has given rise to all sorts of Virtual equivalents.  We follow a hunter named Paul.  Paul is one of the best hunter in a virtual hunting game but he wants to get back to a real hunt.  With the help of a friend with Government connections, he will be able to go outside of the city for a real hunt with a few other people.  There is a military experiment near the place they planned to hunt and, well, as you may have figured, things will be a little more complicated that what they planned for.

HGI-What about the zombies we see in the first trailer?

EB-Zombies are a consequence of the military experiment, I guess you can figure the rest...

HGI-I'll have to play Devil's advocate here, doesn't this military experiment thing sound like "deja-vu"?

EB-We've seen some other I have to admit, but there is an angle here that's special, it's not the experiment that's so new, it's the entire setup, the way it is related to what goes on in the film, everything seems to have a reason somewhat in Hunting Grounds, there is the story we see as first degree, than there are the more intricate layers of signification. It's a lot of small drops in the bucket that ultimately leeds to this bucket being full.

HGI-Sounds like a complex story for a tipical SF/horror film

EB-I guess it's not that typical then.  The film was made to be interesting for people wanting simple entertainment without having to think too much as well as for people that like to be a little more challenged.  Hopefully this will work.  So far, a lot of people that have seen the film more than once have told us that it is even more interesting when they see it a second time.

HGI-Hunting Grounds is the first of a series right?

EB-Hunting Grounds is the first film of a series of four films.  All about Hunting, all related and in chronological order.  Mostly, we follow the trail of a hunter.  We are actually working on the scripts for part 2 and 3.  Some things in Hunting Grounds will take a whole new meaning with part 2.  There is also a scene after the end credits, it's likely a small taste of things to come storywise with the sequels.

HGI-The footage looks pretty good, is the film a professional project?

EB-Yes, definitely, though the budget was undoubtely very low, the film was done the way a professional film is made.   The film was aimed to be a direct-to-video release.  The film is just fresh "out of the oven" so we don't have distribution yet.  The film will be seen mainly in festivals for the next months.

HGI-So, it's an independant feature?

EB-No doubt about it, a lot of it was done by a few people, as it usualy is...  We put a lot of time and effort into it and we had a pretty good script as a basis, it definitely helps.  We also had an incredible core team of very motivated and available people, the film couldn't have been done without it.

HGI-How did you manage to make such effects as we see in the trailers without a decent budget?

EB-It's tricky, no doubt.  For the make-up FX, we had Olivier Xavier ( http://www.texafx.com/ ), a very talented make-up artist with us, he was helped by Jimmy Simard and Luc Larouche and the results looked vey good.  For the compositing and CGI it's a combination of my experience with SFX (about 12 years, the first where mostly trial and error or "trial errors" as I like to call them) and a lot of analysis.  Every FX was approached differently with the "whatever fits best" ideology.  I am not a fan of 3D for every FX, I like old school model making and props making.  I think that a lot of crappy effects in low budget comes from the "let's do it 3D" automatic thought pattern.  Sometimes it works great, but sometimes it totally wrecks the shot big time.  So we approached each case with it's own set of problematics and possible solutions, depending on the time we had and the means.  For the 3D work, we used Blender, an open source 3D program that we had already used in previous works, it's a flexible program, it's free, it's multiplatform (we work on both Mac and PC) and the result looks great.  ( http://www.blender.org/ ).  I made a few articles (very short) on our use of Blender in the film ( http://www.fictis.net/HGBlend1.htm , http://www.fictis.net/HGBlend2.htm ).  We also used scale models and lots of old tricks, jell-o and tomato juice on chroma key for the blood FX.  I also bought a few FX CD's of various explosions and fire bursts from Bob Forward of http://www.detonationfilms.com/ and http://www.detfilmshd.com/ those effects where incredibly useful in a great number of shots, and, though I just spoke by email a few times with Bob, he seems to be a very nice and independant friendly guy.

HGI-Well this sums it up!  Are there any festivals where the film can be seen?

EB-We just recently started sending the film to festivals, the first in line is Bare Bones In Oklahome on april 26th at http://barebones.bside.com/?_view=_filmdetails&filmId=61594748

HGI-Keep us updated on the various festivals and screenings and Good luck!

EB-Thanks, I will update you guys for sure!