Interview: Justin Price Of Dark Moon Rising

dark moon rising - poster

Seems the Twilight franchise didn’t completely kill the werewolf movie. Justin Price salvages the subgenre with a ferocious new lycanthrope entry, Dark Moon Rising, and it hits DVD and VOD August 4th.

Here’s Yell! Magazine’s interview with the film’s writer/director, Justin Price:

I imagine it would have been hard to come up with a werewolf movie script that hadn’t already been told? Where did you start?
KHU, my producing partner, reels in my brain from going haywire and creating scripts every 10 minutes. Now I can’t say that every script is good, but I know that sometimes they are cohesive enough for people to follow it for a little while.

Dark Moon Rising started with Amber Noel sending me some premixed music followed by Nea Nova sending me songs in the techno-punk rock range. Once I started listening to the music it got me excited to see what script we could use to truly bring to life this energy and we found one of the scripts I had finished but never thought we would be able to pull off. The original title was Les Wolf, which probably gives you a little insight into why KHU’s job is the more important out of the both of us.

The script is more of a Japanese live-action anime, so the goal was to have kick-ass costumes and wardrobe and cool dialogue and characters we can give the audiences time to grow and evolve with. The problem stemmed with the idea we didn’t have 50-plus years of comic book history to fall on, so the film had to try and “Edutain.” Which essentially means entertain and educate all at the same time. That is where we started.

We started with characters and wanted to know how their arcs would stretch over three films. August 4, 2015, when it releases to iTunes and Vudu, and Netflix later in the year, we are anxious to see how the story held up with audiences.

dark moon rising - naked girl

And for the uninitiated, can you tell us a bit about the plot?
A group of shape-shifting werewolves descend upon a small town in search of a girl who is reborn once every 2,000 years. What this logline is meant to invoke is a sense of mystery as to why werewolves and why this story. We wanted to basically tell a tale of a species trying to survive by coming together and bringing the best of what was left of their individual packs in order to destroy the very thing that bred life into them.

In the movie, there is a scene where Sin [Justin Price] confronts Chace [Cameron White] and tells of how the moon was formed and why wolves howl at the moon. In true Japanese Anime form, this story took about 10 minutes to tell and was filled with fantasy cliffs and long pauses. It was essentially a fable heard around a campfire and it was one of those small details hearkening back to the anime we grew up watching as kids, where the fighting was the icing on the cake but the dialogue and character development was why we watched for hours and hours.

Is it a straight-up horror film?
Dark Moon Rising is a mixing of genres. The goal was to take sci-fi and mix it with horror and create a universe where these characters don’t belong to any particular place, but it makes sense in this small town. Audiences have such an affinity for the genre that it’s important for us to uphold certain elements while trying to push the envelope in other ways. In the beginning of the film we find Dawn [Anastasia Antonia] awakening from ravaging through the woods and then the wolf-pack of alpha werewolves chasing Danse’s [Timea Saghy] mother through the woods. The wolf-pack lead attack person, Kaio, played by KHU, uses her powers to trap Vasha [Mikki Padilla] with the roots of the trees. So our goal was to mix those sci-fi elements with the typical chase-in-the-woods followed by the unexplained animal attack.

How important is it that the audiences care about your characters?
The entire story centers on the audience caring enough about the characters to follow them throughout the franchise. We have Dark Moon Rising 2 and 3 slated to begin production in the winter and the success of Dark Moon Rising 1 is pivotal to the following films.

Each storyline in the film is meant to begin with an origin and slowly break down how we got to this town and what makes each character unique to the overall dynamic. In staying true to Japanese anime it was a deliberate effort to try and give each character a level of detail that was unique to his and her tribe and their personalities. Gecko [Matthew Simmons] was unique to a pack of werewolves that used gas and acid as a weapon. This gas and acid liquid could be weaponized in mist or liquid form and was formulated within their bodies as a defense mechanism. Having small touches integrated within the story allowed us chances to give unique fight sequences and add more altruistic ways to differentiate our werewolves from others. That was our main goal when creating this universe.

dark moon rising - bloody girl

How was the wolf created? Can you give us a little insight into what went into that?
We actually used the three different stage rule in the film. We had real wolves brought on set to represent betas. There is a scene where Eric Roberts is testing Chace’s resolve by forcing him to kill a beta before it fully transforms and it changes into a real wolf. The day of filming we had two trainers on set for that scene to ensure the wolf didn’t get too comfortable with people and decide to go The Grey on us.

That was the first phase, and the next phase was the brow and teeth facial prosthetic stages the wolf pack found themselves in throughout and this is where Heather D’anne and Erik Alamia really brought the wolves to life. This phase allowed for dialogue exchanges and unique character choices in wardrobe and make-up.

The final phase was total CGI and this was in the hands of the VFX companies we use for all of our films. The Lycan phase centered around a large wolf walking on two legs with ferocious muscles and long arms. This phase was truly animalistic and had no hint to its human counterpart. Working with Uncork’d Entertainment and being allowed the creative freedom really helped us bring all of the phases to the forefront.

After the jump, find out which is Justin’s favorite kill scene and what he’d do if he were a werewolf…

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