Interview: Scott Stewart, Director of DARK SKIES

PrintE-mail Written by Whitney Scott Bain

Scott Stewart began as a visual effects artist on such films as Mars Attacks!, Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Iron Man working his way up to directing Legion, Priest and his new science fiction thriller: Dark Skies.

Starburst: Were you always interested in sci-fi growing up?

Scott Stewart: Yes. I grew up in Northern California watching Night Gallery and the Bob Wilkins’ Creature Features on this huge 400lb. television. Bob Wilkins would show a lot of great films and sometimes have a guest actor or filmmaker on he’d interview after the movie. In 1979, my father owned an art gallery and we had an exhibit there featuring the talented Gahan Wilson’s work along with Bob Wilkins. My father told him that I was a fan of his and loved staying up late at night watching horror and science fiction movies, so he drew a picture for me with this little boy on a slide traveling down towards a giant frog’s open mouth signing it; “This is what happens to little boys who stay up too late watching movies.” Bob signed it saying, “Stay up late.” It’s one of my most prized possessions that hangs up in my office.

So, your family was very supportive of your dreams.

Definitely! When I was 13 years old, Industrial Light and Magic hosted a Brown Bag Day where they would invite people over, bring their bagged lunch and give them a tour. I would talk to all these great special effects people loving every minute of it. Years later, after studying writing and computers, I ended up getting a job at ILM working with the very same people that I talked to as a kid.

What inspired you to write Dark Skies?

I wanted to tell something more personal than my previous films. More nuts and bolts. A twist of the haunted house story. You read about these terrible stories about missing children and public opinion points towards the family or family member committing the crime, but what if it was more than that? What if it was a malevolent ghost or alien that actually did it and there was no concrete proof of the family’s innocence? The Grey’s in Dark Skies are like that. They are a force of nature creating chaos when they show up. They use our fears against us. I wanted to show that we are not in control.

The use of relatively unknown actors is key to the film’s believability, especially the UFO expert, Edwin Pollard played by J.K. Simmons.

Keri Russell, John Hamilton the whole cast was great to work with. With the Pollard role, I avoided casting the older British actors that are always so good in those parts. I wanted someone unusual, yet with a sense of authority. His character has this sense of menace about him combined with melancholy and resignation because he’s been through what the family has been through. His wall of newspaper clippings of missing persons shows that he’s not successful at trying to prevent the Grey’s from their mission. It’s futile to him.

The first time J.K. walked on the set he walked through it studying the room, the missing person clippings, the UFO stories, how the character lived so he got a great sense of how to play him right away. He is an amazing actor with so much range.

Jeff Higinbotham’s production design gives the picture a great Norman Rockwell/Americana look to it.

Joe’s the best! I’ve worked with Joe on several films and he found the right street so that it would look like Anywhere USA. We used 100% practical locations.

What do you have coming up?

I directed the pilot of Defiance on the Syfy channel. That got picked up for a second season. I also have a second show there and science based thriller that I’d like to do one day as a well as a TV pilot I’m writing.

So, with the ambiguous ending, is there a Dark Skies sequel in the works?

I’m not sure. We’ll see. The best thing about making a film like this, is that we can keep the budget on a low level. Certainly, there is more to tell and as Pollard says in the film, “Sometimes they come back.”

DARK SKIES is released on DVD/Blu-ray in the US on May 28th, and in the UK on August 12th.

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0 #25 MAKE ANOTHER F-ING S 2017-05-28 13:38
Please make another sequel, after I saw the movie I was already wanting more and now you say it's a maybe no Bitch that's gonna be a fucking yes!
+5 #24 Max Link 2017-02-17 07:19
Fuck you Scott Stewart if you won't fucking write another movie for the dark skies sequel well then I will write one and get all the credit your just sitting on your ass like I don't want to write anymore dark skies movies again because you're being a dick by not writing another dark skies sequel if you have a problem with me call me at 503-269-4080 or text me also hey Scott Stewart go and kiss someone's ass
0 #23 Max link 2017-01-23 07:03
Hey people forget Scott if one of you can write you're own movie of dark skies 2 that would be awesome as well and just bring me in as an actor and other people too and not have to wait for scott
0 #22 Max link 2017-01-23 06:57
I want the director of dark skies to put a dark skies 2 and then a dark skies 3 out there this year I would love to be in the next dark skies movie I want to be a movie actor in the next dark skies 2 movie
0 #21 Gloria 2016-11-13 06:41
I really want to watch dark skies second part I want to know what happens next pleaseee I need to know how they get Jesse back
+9 #20 amaranthe 2016-06-24 22:02
I am just gonna say it now, I don't like alien movies, they scare the crap out of me.. but I will watch them for the thrills. That being said I am dying for a Dark Skies 2! I also want to know how close the oldest boy is to his family because walkie-talkies like that don't work if they're to far apart...
+3 #19 Young Bru 2016-06-17 12:17
dear Sir I'm dying to watch da dark skies 2...n I'm eagerly waiting for dat...
+14 #18 Justin Hannam 2016-02-23 03:00
Please make a sequel this movie was a bomb alien movie and I wanna know what happens next please. You can't just leave us hanging on like this.
+15 #17 Michelle saunders 2015-12-08 02:07
I can't stop thinking about what happened after the show ended even months after seeing it!!! Sequel!!! Please!!!!
+9 #16 Donald Cooper 2015-07-25 05:38
This film is different from all others I have seen. It is disturbingly near to the truth. There are scenes I can relate to, and as a UFO investigator back in the late eighties and nineties, the portrayal of the Greys as black silhouettes re-called a particular case where the experiencer stated unequivally that figures lIke black silhouette dancing dolls on her bedroom wall, came off the wall and surrounded her bed. The late UFO investigator Tony Dodd was a colleague of mine and the black dolls case happened in Silsden, West Yorkshire.
+13 #15 slnjtnidc 2015-05-24 20:41
please finish this with a sequel!!!!!!!!! ! ive seen way too many good movies not end. they just stop, so please finish what u started scott!! its just and will make a lot of people happy. give the people what they want? (: pleeeeeeeasse! thank you
+2 #14 Ryan 2015-01-16 06:05
Hey guest/commenter #13 aka mom, whie I agree with you about a sequel to Dark Skies why in the hell would you bring up Frozen on this thread? Disney did not make the film being discussed here so it is ludicrous to even bring up that topic here, go and post that conversation elsewhere on a kiddie thread you may then get someone to reply and talk with you. FYI a frozen sequel is already in the works so get some movie knowledge out in cyberspace as well.
+1 #13 mom 2015-01-04 23:32
I really hope there will be a sequel because I never knew what ever happened to that little boy after he was taken by the aliens. and I am hoping Disney is making a frozen 2
+3 #12 Dave 2015-01-02 02:31
I hope a sequal is released. That movie was great. Reminds me of another movie i seen called Fire in the sky.
+13 #11 Troy 2014-12-28 08:19
Wow! So I just watched this movie for the first time ever and I have to be straight forward with you sir. There are very few movies that can stir me up enough to get me standing, yelling at the screen, this movie did just this. I was completely ensnared as soon as I saw the first supernatural encounter with the dishes in the kitchen and from there I became entranced in a plot I think we could all find ourselves relating too. We all have those fears of the unexplainable that haunt our imagination from time to time. What this film did was exploit those fears in a somewhat believable format. This is everything you could ask to achieve with a pych thriller/ horror movie. The thing is right when you think this movie has climaxed you meet the cliffhanger ending that immediately leaves you waiting to move to a further resolution. You can't end on a climax. This film MUST have a sequel made. So much left to tell. So much I NEED to know. So whats to think about? It's only the right thing to do
+11 #10 Natasha 2014-09-12 02:50
Please make number 2 this movie was the best movie I have seen there is a lot of ways to make the next movie but it should be where jess is and how he can get home it's not really had to make the movie my whole family wants to see the next one so please make a next one please it would mean a lot to everyone :)
+10 #9 Sally King 2014-07-30 22:26
There needs to be a part 2. Loved the show, please make a sequel.
+10 #8 Dillyn 2014-07-07 18:47
There really needs to be another dark skies I just watched it and it was amazing
+9 #7 AHnagneely 2014-06-24 03:53
It was such a great movie it should have another one made. I watched it with 17 of my friends and they all loved it. make another dark skies
+12 #6 kays dad 2014-05-10 23:33
They diff. Need a sequal to.
+13 #5 jacqueline 2014-04-05 04:52
Absolutely loved this movie there has to be a sequel please don't leave us hanging I agree there are a lot of sequel's to those movies whom don't deserve it LOVED IT big sci-fi fan I have been waiting forever to see this and it was awesome so please give us a sequel :).
+13 #4 nicky 2013-09-09 13:48
Now don't get me wrong I'm a fan of the book series the mortal instruments but the city if bones movie was TERRIBLE. If they can make a sequel to that (which I'm sure they will) Then there should definitely Be a sequel to dark skies. I personally think it is one of the best horror movies I have watched. And I like to consider myself a horror movie enthusiast. I'm really hoping for a sequel!
+20 #3 Halle Kayt 2013-07-23 11:07
Please make a sequel, this movie deserves it! I can tell a lot of effort went it to it, and it's far better than a lot the mega budget movies I've seen the last few years, which don't deserve sequels. Unbelievably creepy, awesome acting & effects. The story was awesome. Pleeeaaasseee!
+24 #2 mark 2013-07-16 18:35
really hope there is a sequel, about Jesse where he is and what they can do to get him back.
-19 #1 Zhang 2013-06-20 05:49
Scott is an interesting man, but sadly misguided, and quite unbalanced.

These "aliens" are drawn from mankind's chaos - they are NOT natural. Are these experiences "real" in any true physical sense? Only if you believe them to be.

Think on that. Dare to listen, and dare to be.

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