IFA #33: The Last Exorcism’s Daniel Stamm

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The Last Exorcism’s Daniel Stamm

Whenever I list my favorite horror movies of the last 10 years, The Last Exorcism is always front and center. When it came out, the idea of a faux documentary wasn’t new. Stamm himself had already made a fake documentary for his first film, A Necessary Death. Of course there are also the obvious landmark fake documentaries like Cannibal Holocaust, Man Bites Dog, The Blair Witch Project, Spinaltap and Paranormal Activity. But The Last Exorcism offered something unique. From the first second, the film engages the viewer with entertaining characters and an intriguing premise. I was extremely excited when Daniel agreed to come on the show and talk about his technique of improv with actors as well as his newest film 13 Sins.

Daniel’s 35 questions to ask before directing a scene.

  1. Scene number?
  2. Referring to draft (date)?
  3. Description of scene:
  4. Can the scene be broken down into several parts?
  5. Function / The scene is ‘as if’… / “Make this scene important to me.”?
  6. How is the scene reflecting the theme of the movie?
  7. What’s fun about the scene?
  8. Hitchcockian question mark(s) within the scene?
  9. Central image audience is going to remember / thumbnail for DVD?
  10. What are the crucial facts the audience needs to understand in this scene? What’s risky?
  11. What value is at stake in the scene, how is it charged at the beginning, how at the end?
  12. What are each character’s objectives in the scene?
  13. How can things be visualized / physicalized / externalized?
  14. Progressions in character arcs and relationships? From – to?
  15. Whose POV are we experiencing the scene from?
  16. Whose scene is it? Who or what are we told something about? (as opposed to POV)
  17. How are the location and production design a character in this scene?
  18. Is there a potential alternative location?
  19. How is the lighting a character in this scene? Practicals? Orbs of light?
  20. How is the sound a character in the scene?
  21. Possible activity for each character and what that tells us about them?
  22. How do you want the audience to feel at the end of the scene?
  23. Anything that needs to be researched?
  24. Experiences from your own life and/or references from other movies that could be helpful?
  25. What’s the overall tone/energy/rhythm of the scene?
  26. Add a surprise or secret?
  27. Obligatory and optional character movement?
  28. What’s the way to shoot this that reflects best what is felt?
  29. What are 2 possible other approaches to shooting this?
  30. What’s the fastest way to shoot this?
  31. What would it be like to shoot segments of this in one shot?
  32. Add an interesting idea or composition / camera movement?
  33. What is a possible transition into the next scene?
  34. Any other notes?
  35. Any rewrites that would help?

Daniel on IMDB
Follow Daniel on Twitter


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Showing 2 comments
  • heilman.ryan@gmail.com'/
    Ryan H

    This episode is AMAZING. All of your stuff in October was great too, but Daniel is a fantastic subject to listen to. Keep up the great interviews!

    • hello@indiefilmacademy.com'/
      Jason Buff

      Thanks Ryan, don’t forget to leave us a review!

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