Interview: V/H/S Co-Director, Joe Swanberg

PrintE-mail Written by Whitney Scott Bain

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Starburst caught up with actor, writer, producer and director Joe Swanberg, one of the madmen filmmakers responsible for the brilliant horror anthology V/H/S...

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Starburst: You were a web designer first; how did that lead into filmmaking?

Joe Swanberg: I went to film school; at the Southern University of Illinois, Carbondale. Film is my passion, but I thought I should learn something that would make me money to finance movies I wanted to make, so I studied web design. I spent two years doing web design for a really great company and it was here that I was able to finance my first and second film. I also was the travel coordinator at the Chicago International Film Festival. I never had any experience in doing this job, but I learned quick.

How did you get involved in V/H/S?

I owe a lot to Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard who championed me for the film. I really had no prior experience in horror movies, but they convinced the producers that I was the right choice for the segment I did.

Could you tell us a little what it's about?

Emily and her boyfriend are attending different colleges and communicate via Skype. She suspects that there's a ghost of a long dead boy in her room and she sets out prove that he exists. Emily is an interesting character. She's not afraid of him, but searches the ghost out wanting to talk to him trying to find out happened and who he is. There's kind of a romantic angle to it.

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Do you think that being an actor first helps you as a director, producer and cinematographer?

Yes. I learn more by how other directors work when I act. There's something different to see each time especially with camera set-ups, lighting, the entire on set production arm of it. Its a very visual position to learn from and how to treat actors when I'm behind the camera. 

Your dream project - what would it be?

I would say I just completed it and I'm very proud of the results. Very content. Its called Drinking Buddies and it's about two friends that start a micro brewery. I wanted to show how the whole process of beer making comes about. Hops, barley, the stainless steel drums, fermintation... it's an interesting process. Olivia Wilde plays the love interest and she was terrific to work with. There aren't too many films about beer out there, so I thought it would be fun to do. Plus I like beer.

V/H/S is available in the US now via VOD and will receive a theatrical run from October 5th. A UK release is scheduled for early next year.

Read our V/H/S interview HERE.


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