On Monday, Nerdist will bring the low-budget horror film The Hive to theaters around the U.S. for a one-night event that will bring director David Yarovesky's high-concept summer camp horror movie to the masses.
At the height of summer, Adam and Katie find love for the first time. Fellow camp counselors Clark and Jess couldn’t care less about the kids they’re overseeing as long as they can hook up. But, when a plane crashes nearby, their investigation unleashes a mysterious plague, putting all campers in danger.
As Camp Yellow Jacket slips into chaos, Adam wakes in a boarded-up cabin with no memory of who or where he is. His only clues are the notes he’s scrawled for himself and memories that aren’t his own. As his friends turn into monsters around him, the key to surviving the apocalypse is locked in one infected counselor’s mind.
Yarovesky joined ComicBook.com to talk about the film, his friendship with Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn and why he thinks the one-night-stand model could be a revolutionary new approach for smaller movies.
You can see the film on Monday at 500 theaters nationwide through Nerdist and Fathom Events. Click here to see whether it's playing close to you and buy a ticket.
I wanted to start with Kathryn Prescott. How key was casting her and finding the right actress for that role to the success of the film? She has to sell a lot, in a wide variety of situations.
Well here's the thing, I was in a incredibly fortunate position. This is one of the perks of doing a film on such a low budget is you get to hear terms like the financing of the film and the green light of the film is not cast contingent, which means that I have go out and I don't have to chase stars. I don't have to make compromises.
I can go out, hold auditions, work with actors, find literally the best people who are totally right for the role, and cast them in it. I feel incredibly fortunate that I got Kat, that I got Gabe, that I got Gabby, that I got Jacob, that I got Sean Gunn and Elya Baskin. The truth is 100% of my decision was based on who channeled the character that I was writing and who gave the best performance.
It's definitely not a straight zombie film, which is kind of how it seems on the Fathom Events page...
Yeah. I think the plan is, in terms of that, look people like zombie movies. You know what I mean? If you like zombie movies you're probably going to like this movie. Without blowing all the surprises and the discovery of what's really happening in this movie just associate it with a zombie-like experience and be like if you like zombie stuff you're going to dig this movie. They're definitely not zombies, as far as they can talk. You see that in the trailer; they're manipulative. They talk to you. You know what I mean?
They are smart as shit. I tried to show a little of that in the trailer, that they're talking, but I think that was the thinking.
You've got the plane crash in the trailer. It certainly seems to me, and again you can fill in blanks for me here, that the phenomenon that is going on at the camp relates to what I assume would be the people who died in the crash.
Or is that something where you don't want to talk about what the actual thing is?
No, no, no. One of my favorite things to do is to read the comments under the trailer because everyone likes to make predictions about what's really going on in the trailer because I was so vague. I was lucky because Nerdist got behind me as a filmmaker and supported by version of not just a film, but how it was presented, and so they allowed me to cut my own trailer, which is really rare. I wanted to cut a trailer that evoked the tone, the themes, the concepts of the film, but not give anything away. I love reading everyone's theory on what's going on. Yeah, absolutely, that plane crash is completely integral to everything that's going on at the camp.
It's interesting. It's been a while since I saw a movie at a camp that took itself seriously and wasn't super genre-savvy or tongue-in-cheek.
Yeah, that's exactly it. It is played straight. You're right, to me, I said this is going to be an anti-camp film and I was going to work hard to break every trope of camp movies, so when you see it you just can't put your finger on what kind of movie you're watching because, yeah, camp movies have earned the concept that it's campy or super self-aware comedy, or it's like tongue-in-cheek, or it's like just violence for the sake of violence where people are just beheading each other and laughing about it, and things like that.
There's no scene in this movie where a guy and a girl go into the woods to make out and someone kills them. I definitely tried to break every camp trope imaginable and tell a straight ... It's hard to call it a straight story because it's so crazy, but a straight story, at least a story that took itself seriously.
Yeah, yeah. Part of the reason that occurred to me honestly I have a newborn and she's been teething and so I've been watching a lot of Netflix at odd hours. There was an episode of Psych that was a Friday the 13th send up, and it was like between Wet Hot American Summer and then watching them, and then getting the present materials for this film, I'm like there's a lot of camp in my life right now.
It's weird. When we started making the movie 2 years ago, it certainly didn't feel like there was a lot of camp stuff happening. It definitely felt unique and, to me, camp for people they have different experiences. Camp for me was deeply personal and a very integral time in my life. I have these reoccurring dreams and all of my dreams take place in 1 of 2 places. One of them is something else, but the other one is camp, so 50% of my dreams take place at my childhood camp. Probably 90% of my dreams are nightmares anyways, but camp it was just a magical thing for me as a kid. It's cool that I got to not only make a film that took place at camp, but I actually hired a production designer who was one of my camp counselors from way back who was building the bunks at the camp that I went to.
He reconstructed bunks from my childhood for us to film in. It was really cool. I definitely added my own kind of design, but the essence of those bunks are in there, so that I could really. It was personal to me.
It's funny. I had a similar experience. I was one of those kids who my parents sent me to camp one year because they were getting a divorce and they were like "we want the kids not to be here for this." Then from that point on, for the next seven years, I went to camp for four to six weeks every year and eventually ended up working there.
That's exactly my story. I was 13, my parents sent me away because they were having a divorce and then for the next, until I was 18, so five years I went to camp. I went nine weeks every year. What camp did you go to?
A small, Christian camp in Upstate New York called Camp Hunt.
Cool. I was at French Woods in Upstate New York. It's a performing arts camp. It was a crazy camp. There's all these kind of emerging stars from there. It was weird. A weird, crazy camp, but formative.
Now, I've seen your name in a bunch of places, but this is the first time I've seen any of your work. I assume it's because you know the Gunns and so we share that weird orbit. I don't know them, but I cover them often and have interviewed James.
Yeah. James is one of my best friends.
Would you ever want to do a big, crazy superhero film like James, or do you think that that's the kind of thing where you'd end up paralyzed because of the size of the budget and all the constraints?
No, I would go bananas for a big comic book franchise. I would love it so much. The truth is wondered about that. I had a cameo in Guardians and I remember watching James and work and his relationship with his director of photography and the camera operators.
Seeing how the pieces were moving, I was like our budget was probably 1/10 of their craft service budget, but the core mechanics are the same. They're the same. I think I would feel pretty comfortable, pretty fast at a bigger budget honestly.
Would you rather do an episode of The Flash or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or something and be like, "Oh, so that's what that's like," or would you rather jump into the deep end, kind of like James did where it was like he went from having a budget that was about $2 million to the most crazy movie ever.
Yeah, I know right, I'm so proud of him. The funny thing was I knew all along that he was going to be amazing. I knew all along that he was going to be amazing. I'd read articles that'd be like I don't know about this ... I've known James for so long. We sit and we talk about movies, I knew what he was capable of.
Speaking to that, yeah, I think that what I'm good at is creating ... I think one of the things I'm good at is creating a universe, creating a world, establishing visual aesthetics, building something from scratch. I would be way, way, way more interested in taking on a brand new universe or rebooting, or remaking a universe than jumping into someone else's world and just playing it to pieces a little bit.
The thing that I really enjoy is just exploring the visual unknown, really trying to create something new. I feel like my hands would be really tied if I do an episode of something.
What's the biggest thing you'd want people to know going into The Hive?
Yeah, I'm a fan, I've been a horror movie fan, a genre fan, for as long as I have memories. I made a movie for start-up. I hope that they get to see it and enjoy it. This wasn't I'm going to pull the band-aid of my first film off, this was I was really passionate about making the film and making the best possible film that I could possibly make under the obvious restraints of an incredibly tiny budget. I tried to make a big cinematic movie on a found-footage budget. I put a lot of my heart and a lot of myself into that movie. I hope people get to see it and I hope they enjoy it.
That is is actually a really interesting comment because, of course, those style of films continue to perform and continue to be profitable, but we're reaching that peak point where everybody complains about them. When you're putting together a film on a smaller budget is that something you just have to put out of your head because you sit here and go at a certain point people aren't backing up their whining. They're still going to the films. They're still supporting them.
I'll tell you, it's a two-part answer. A, I really have never made a decision based on money. I really haven't. Maybe that's smart for my pocketbook and maybe it isn't. I don't care that much. As long as I can eat and have a place to live. I made the movie I made because I was just deeply passionate about a making that kind of a movie. It's the kind of movie I wanted to make, which goes back to what I saying before, bringing my visual style and my aesthetic and building a universe is something that I love doing. In a found footage film, I think it's visually restrictive.
The other side of that answer is when we started showing the people involved in actual production, like the line producer, we started showing people the script and I started talking to them about what I'm intending to achieve on this movie they looked at me and they were like, "You are crazy. This is never gonna happen. You need 5 times the budget that we're talking about and then it'll be tight." I'm fortunate because I've shot 50 music videos, I have a team of people that I work with and we'd kill for each other. Knowing that and having that experience, and just knowing exactly what I wanted and how I wanted to achieve, and being able to write it in that way so I knew how I was going to achieve everything I was going to achieve, I could say to them with confidence I know how to do this, ask me a question, this is how we're going to do this, this is how we're going to do this, and work it out with them.
We were able to do it. I'm here talking to you about the movie that we made. You know?
For the type of film I was making it's a very stylish film and there's a lot of deliberate color choices, and lighting choices, and makeup choices. To get all those pieces working in harmony because if one of them is slightly wrong something about it doesn't work. It feels cheap. It feels off. It feels wrong. Make sure all those things are in harmony. It unfortunately takes some money, but I'll tell you we really didn't have much.
It's unfortunate when I hear about people who spend that kind of time on a movie and they only get to come out here or there, but that's why I'm proud of what we're doing with this movie in terms of potentially being a trendsetter and finding a new way for independent filmmakers to get their movie out there, partnering with a company like Fathom and doing a one-night event where it's just we're going to be in theaters across the country for one night and give people a real opportunity if they want to see it to go see it. It's potentially a huge vehicle for filmmakers. Who knows what's going to happen and if it's going to be adopted, and if it's going to work for us, but from moment one on this movie I made a promise to myself that I was going to err on the side of ambition and I think we're doing that straight through to the release.
Now, do you have any idea when it's going to be available in other formats? Once it's out of the Fathom system is it going to be something that people can get on demand soon or is there going to be a window?
I don't have anything to announce on that right now. Announcements will be coming in the future I'm solely focused on telling people to get out of their houses and go out for a Monday night and watch that movie because I think they'll have a good time if they do.