Exclusive Interview: Director Jesse Thomas Cook Talks New Zombie Chiller DEADSIGHT

RLJE Films is gearing up to release the new zombie chiller DEADSIGHT on DVD on Tuesday, July 2nd. Canada’s own Jesse Thomas Cook is a filmmaker who wears many hats in his field (producer, writer, director, etc.) and has been a part of fan favorite indie outings like Exit Humanity, Monster Brawl, Ejecta, The Hoard, and my personal favorite, Septic Man. Cook has taken the reigns for this latest project of his and the director was gracious enough to let me ask him some questions about his new survival thriller – Deadsight.

Alien Bee – First off, how’d you get into filmmaking?

Jesse Thomas Cook – I started by making small video projects in high school, and I always loved watching films and the DVD special features on how they were created. After being rejected to film school, I set out to make a couple of short films, and after a couple of years in the trenches, I was able to make my first feature film.

Alien Bee – This sounds weird but I’m a fan of Septic Man. That movie didn’t get pushed the way I wish it would’ve!

Jesse Thomas Cook – Hah! I appreciate the sentiment.

Alien Bee – You produce and direct (and I’ve watched just about all of them!) Which do you prefer doing the most and how hard is it when you’re wearing multiple hats?

Jesse Thomas Cook – I enjoy the craft and art of directing the most. The producing side is more of a necessity, although I do enjoy the organizational aspects of putting together a production.

Alien Bee – Okay, what made you decide to do a movie like this because the zombie genre is saturated? It’s definitely a more character based horror movie.

Jesse Thomas Cook – Zombies have always been my favourite horror sub-genre. And I had produced a zombie film in 2010 called Exit Humanity. But I always wanted to direct one, and to do something a little bit different with the genre by focusing on the dignity of the individuals.

Alien Bee – Liv Collins co-wrote it and stars in Deadsight. How did you end up getting involved?

Jesse Thomas Cook – Liv is my partner in business and in life. We have three boys and this is the third film we’ve done together. In fact, she was seven months pregnant with our youngest son Hollis when we filmed DeadSight.

Alien Bee – Deadsight has fast and slow moving zombies that divides the fan base. Personally, I like the raging berserkers myself. Did you plan on mixing it up or leave it up to the performers?

Jesse Thomas Cook – This was a decision that we did scene by scene, not a general zombie rule that guided the world we were creating. We actually set out to make a sort of Resident-Evil fan film with DeadSight. So some zombies are more aggressive, and some are just ambling along.

Alien Bee – The movie definitely had its intense moments with the protagonists fighting for their lives. Do you plan all of these kind of scenes ahead of time or do they sometimes pop up in the spur of the moment with the momentum of filming gets going?

Jesse Thomas Cook – We generally follow the script, but yes, on occasion a certain camera technique or note from a performer or crew member can certainly enhance or subdue the dread. The film showcased two characters who were weak and vulnerable but had to overcome that in order to survive.

Alien Bee – How was it working with your small cast because they did a great job with their characters? Especially Adam Seybold because he plays this mysterious blind character.

Jesse Thomas Cook – I’ve worked with Adam on four previous pictures that I produced. This was the first time I directed Seybold. He’s a smart guy who assisted us with the tone and story editing. I’ve known him for 15 years so it’s always great when we can have the shared experience of a film shoot. The rest of the cast was the same for the most part. People we had worked with or knew beforehand, or in the case of Liv Collins, someone I live with everyday.

Alien Bee – Where did you film Deadsight because the location was perfect for a horror movie like this?

Jesse Thomas Cook – It was filmed in a couple of decrepit houses near Owen Sound, Ontario, and in an abandoned grain terminal building in Collingwood, Ontario.

Alien Bee – Who did your makeup and special effects because it all looked killer?

Jesse Thomas Cook – Shaun Hunter, Hunter FX. Our fourth time collaborating with Shaun.

Alien Bee – Did you ever have any major issues while filmmaking or did production go pretty smooth for you?

Jesse Thomas Cook – It went smooth for the most part, but we actually lost a couple of media data cards and had to re-shoot a few scenes a few months after the main shoot, (which was in December 2017). We ended up going back in April 2018 to match the same look, and when the major snow drifts had thawed in Ontario. By that time, Liv had already given birth to our son, so she was now able to do more stunts and battle more zombies as a result.

Alien Bee – What’s up next for you?

Jesse Thomas Cook – I just finished editing Liv’s directorial debut, an indie road trip comedy called To Hell with Harvey.

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