The cast and crew of the taught ski lift thriller Frozen, gathered at the Sundance Film Festival to answer some questions about the enormous undertaking and rewards of making such a simple, yet inherently terrifying film. Frozen (read review here) is in theaters beginning February 5th. Check out what the filmmakers had to say, after the jump…
The conference began with an opportunity to speak with just the films stars, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore, and Emma Bell, with Green showing up shortly after the discussion began. To break the ice (get it?), the stars were asked if any of them were skiers. Ashmore said that he had been skiing since he was much younger, but has since made the switch to snowboarding. Neither Zegers nor Miss Bell had a great deal of experience skiiing, but luckily for them, it’s not a movie about skiing.
When asked how they became involved with the script, Zegers explained that he and director Adam Green had been friends for a long time, and were looking for a project to work on together. When presented with the script for Frozen, he leapt at the opportunity. Zegers was also friends with Lynch, and recruited him to the film with relative ease. Miss Bell came on in a bit more of a traditional way, in which she was given the script and read for the part:
“I was drawn to the script because it was really suspenseful in a way that’s never really been done before,” she said.
When asked if they were involved with the script, Zegers explained that Green was always very open to their input. “I love these kinds of films, and really pick them apart as a fan,” so if something felt unnatural or out of place with regard to their characters actions, they were completely comfortable raising their concerns to Adam.
With regard to budget constraints, Adam Green said that it was an issue from the very beginning. He told us that there were originally four different production companies who wanted to make the film, however they all balked at his plan to shoot the film practically. “They all wanted us to shoot on a stage, with a green screen,” but it was Peter Block, the producer of the Saw films and Crank, at Lionsgate understood the power of actually putting these characters in this setting.
However, the financiers and insurers still had their own issues.
“They said to us, ‘What if you get caught in a blizzard? The whole film takes place outside! I said ‘We want a blizzard! It’ll look great!’”
As things turned out, Green ended up rewriting a scene to take place in the ski lodge to placate the bond company with an opportunity to continue shooting even if inclement weather prevented them from being on the mountain.
All the actors agreed that they were attracted to the challenge of making the film. Ashmore explained that Green was up front about these challenges from the beginning. “He told us, ‘this will probably be the hardest film you ever make.’” But that only excited Zegers…
“I like the fact that making films is hard,” he said. He expressed that the more difficult the process, the bigger the payoff in the end. “We shot the film in 24 days, 19 of which were night shoots,” said Green. “The actors were stuck 50 feet up in the air, for six hours at a time. They couldn’t get anything to eat from craft service, or take any bathroom breaks. So my agreement with them, my act of solidarity, was that as long as they couldn’t eat or go to the bathroom, neither would I. ”
One of the films greatest strengths is that it sheds the convention of most dramas in which the film must endear the characters to the audience before putting them through hardship, in order to garner sympathy. However, in Frozen, the characters are less than likeable until things start getting bad.
“I needed to see ordinary people go through extraordinary circumstances. When writing the script, I started with the sacrifices they have to make, and moved backwards, so they would really be taken on a journey.”
When asked about where he thinks this film fits in to the canon of modern horror films, they seemed to take some mild exception to being lumped in with Hostel, High Tension, and the like.
“This not just a horror film, it’s really more of a thriller,” said Miss Bell.
Adam explained, “I think horror films generally have some kind of a monster or a killer, a villain to identify, and this is much more about human struggle.”
Green went on further to discuss the state of contemporary horror films:
“People like going to horror movies because they’re scary but safe at the same time. It’s the same reason we ride roller coasters. But where’s the fun in watching a young girl get murdered while suspended by a chain while some one masturbates in a pool of her blood (referring to Eli Roth’s Hostel 2). I mean, I love going to cons and discussing Hatchett, but when a 14-year-old kid asks me ‘do any bitches get raped in this movie?’ I get really uncomfortable.” He said “With horror, people seem to get sick of things every three years or so, and I hope this film will bring things back to a more story and character oriented style than just blood and gore for its own sake.”
So do we, Adam. So do we.