Exclusive Interview: Director Christopher Lawrence Chapman Talks New Horror Film INOPERABLE

Director Christopher Lawrence Chapman‘s new supernatural horror creeper INOPERABLE will be available on DVD and VOD on February 6th and it’s definitely a movie that you need to put on your radar. The film stars scream queen Danielle Harris and mashes up a mysterious supernatural element with a natural disaster that’s looming nearby. Simply put, it’s a unique concept and something new and exciting for horror fans. Chapman was kind enough to take a time out of his busy schedule and let me ask him some questions about this new ambitious horror outing.

Alien Bee – How’d you get into filmmaking?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – My stepfather when I was growing up, had, in the past, been a photographer in the Navy during the Korean War, then went on to work as a producer for NBC during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. So when he became my stepfather, he taught me how to use cameras, both still and video (along with some sound equipment), and I think I became interested in production. I have written a few novels, one has been published, and I love writing. Additionally, I used to act in theater when I was much younger. I’m also a lawyer and have managed some decent sized projects, so if you combine photography, writing, acting and project organization into one thought, you get film making.

Alien Bee – You produce, write, act and direct. How hard is it juggling these when your pulling double and triple duty on some of your projects?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Well, for the acting part, I definitely am not the lead in any way, so it’s not too bad. I used to act in theater when I was younger so I’m used to memorizing my lines way in advance of the shoot. Honestly, for the acting in films I am directing, I’m more in them as a cameo then as an actual character, and it’s become more of funny “signature” than any sort of critically acclaimed performance of acting on my part. I couldn’t imagine directing and being any sort of lead actor in a film together as I really don’t know how you would effectively do both.

As for the writing, I really like that part. And once I’ve written a story/script it makes it easier for me to direct what I have written because its engrained in my mind. I will say, the most difficult is to both produce and direct on the same film. The problem being is that when the production is being filmed, its hard for me to totally take off my producer hat and just focus on directing. Producing, and especially being on set as a producer is stressful, so if you combine the stress of directing and the stress of producing it can get a little crazy. Luckily, I surround myself with amazing crew members and spend a lot of time way before filming with them (and the cast) so that everyone is on the same page and any issues are mitigated.

Alien Bee – To me, Inoperable plays like a feature-length episode of “The Twilight Zone” or “The Outer Limits”. How would you describe it?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Yes! That’s a great description! I think you are correct and without really being inspired or guided by that sort of historic series, I’m sure it invades my sub-conscience and presents itself in film making. It’s hard to describe to people what it would feel like, but if I was pressed into thinking about what Inoperable reminds me of, after the fact, I might say Alien meets Silent Hill meets Twilight Zone?

Alien Bee – The fact that you blended a natural disaster with the supernatural was really unique and something that hasn’t been done before. How’d you come up with a concept like this?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Thanks for saying that, and I felt that I had never seen that before in a movie but I wasn’t really sure if that was indeed the case. I was trying to combine a series of events which would trap a character(s) inside of a scene/location which would make it very difficult or impossible to escape. I love natural disasters in films, especially when they are used in a more subtle way.

Jeff Miller, the other producer, and I spoke about a rough concept, but being from Florida, I really wanted to bring a hurricane into the film. It worked well, as it was an overriding force which kept “Amy” inside of the hospital and also added an extra layer of concern to the story as a whole. The hurricane also allowed us to have a reason, or at least the perception of a reason, for certain events unfolding inside of the story.

Alien Bee – Where did you film the movie because the setting/location was spot on for a story like this?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – The story was about a woman being trapped inside of a hospital, so finding something that could play for a hospital was absolutely critical. Ideally, we’d love to have shot inside of an actual hospital (a wing maybe where there were no patients/staff) but that usually isn’t the reality of film making.

It was actually an empty building and production design (Bobby Marinelli) and his team, turned it into a hospital. At one point, many years ago, the location had been a functioning hospital, but then was a government administration building, and then finally vacant. We resurrected it and with proper production design, turned it back into a “hospital”. After shooting, it was slated to be demolished.

It was fun shooting there. The building had character and one could feel the eeriness and loneliness in simply being inside. Personally, I felt really connected to the building since we were likely going to be the last real bit of “liveliness” and activity this old building would ever see again. The building, in my opinion, really helped sell the story.

I believe that location scouting and securing their use is very important in film making, especially at the non-big studio level. The proper location can really help sell the story and in our case, the location was such a critical part of the story.

Alien Bee – The special effects look great in the movie. Who did the SFX for you?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Thank you! Barry Aslinger, David Greathouse and Beki Ingram were my go to peeps for it. They are so amazing to work with and really did a wonderful job.

Alien Bee – How long did it take you to film Inoperable and were their any setbacks?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – After we did a decent bit of work inside of the location in pre-production, actual filming took twenty (20) days. We shot the whole film during that period and we didn’t require any additional filming, B-roll, or pick up shots. As for setbacks, I spend a whole lot of time, way in advance of filming, on pre-production planning. So, by the time of actually filming, most of the kinks had been worked out.

Alien Bee – How was it working with a horror icon like Danielle Harris?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Danielle Harris was a dream to work with. She knows this genre inside and out and has a very deep understanding of horror films. Danielle is a complete professional and I hope one day I get the chance to work with her again. I thoroughly enjoyed having her as the lead.

Alien Bee – What ended up being your favorite part of the movie?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – That’s a tough one! The ending is pretty fun, as it ties everything together and the viewers are rewarded. From a directing stand point, my favorite scene was where Katie Keene (Jen) and Danielle (Amy) are having a bit of a heart to heart during a point where Jen is a little bit of a psychological wreck. It’s a slower moment, and a little sad, and I love directing moments like that. However, as a producer and/or someone watching the film, I would say there are many “long shots” which just look rather freaky. One, in particular, is where Amy is fleeing and makes a wrong turn down a hallway. We can see the orderly running toward her while he passes a methodically walking doctor who is also heading straight for Amy. It just looks eerie and lends itself to the creepiness of the story.

Alien Bee – What’s up next for you?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Actually, as I engage with you on this interview, I am about half way through filming another horror film, this time as an EP/producer.

Alien Bee – P.S. I enjoyed ClownTown!

Christopher Lawrence Chapman – Thank you! Clowntown was a really fun project to work on. The Nagel Brothers (Tom and Brian) are so great, and we are good friends. Brian and I worked together on another feature I did too called The Accident, which is a bit of a love story. Brian played the lead and absolutely kicked ass as the lead character.

Also, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. You all are the unsung heroes of the film makers as you all tell our stories. I really appreciate what you all do, and love participating with you all in this adventure. We are all one huge family and I think that our collective love for films and appreciation for horror, and the art that we make together, is very special. So, I really mean it when I say…thank you, truly.

We love our fans! So, please, keep supporting this genre and our film making, because if it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t have movies. I think that the horror fan is so intelligent and thoughtful and some of the fans I’ve met are often in very successful and creative industries themselves. I’m in awe and envious of how knowledgeable they are of movies, concepts, and ideas. I would love, one day, to be at some sort of horror convention and have a round table talk with about ten to twenty fans of what they would love to see in a film, and somehow collaborate with them and make it happen. Bring those people along and with me on a project so they can see it all the way through to the end of post production and to a final finished product. That would be so awesome, and probably a pretty bad ass movie!

 

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