Peter Hurd’s The Control Group (Starring Brad Dourif) Interview

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The feature debut of writer-director Peter Hurd, The Control Group, features Academy Award Nominee Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Curse of Chucky) as a mad scientist working out of a locked-down insane asylum that harbors teenagers, who they plan to experiment on. The DVD is to include behind-the-scenes documentary and director’s commentary.

The Control Group Synopsis:

Trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, five college students and the rogue scientists who abducted them must band together when a supernatural threat appears.

The Control Group is available now on DVD and other media formats.

Tell us how The Control Group came about?
The film began when I saw an ad promoting the State Mental Hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, as a filming location. It’s an amazing, castle-like structure and I knew I had to film a horror movie there.

Are all the actors in the film buddies of yours?
They are now! But I didn’t know any of them before filming; I hired a casting director who set up the auditions.

Tell us how one lures Brad Dourif into a film? Is it about money for him or the role?
Both. He’s said in many interviews that if there’s a paycheck and a script he’ll show up, but he told me he was interested in this project because of the story; it certainly wasn’t a project he had to do by any means.

How long did it take to craft the storyline? And how much is conceived while the film is actually shooting?
I first saw the location in late December and started developing the story in January. We had agreed on a plot by the spring, had a few drafts by June, and started filming in August.

That’s a pretty quick development process, but we were constantly making changes during filming, either improving dialogue or clarifying the story and characters. We were also constantly finding cool new places to film within the asylum so we would rewrite scenes to take place in them.

Having said that, was improvisation encouraged?
Not improv exactly, but everyone was encouraged to bring anything to their performance that they thought would help their character or the film.

I would often begin blocking a scene by asking the actors what they thought their characters would be doing in that situation, then building a scene off that.

The actors really responded to that and began adding their own nuances and often new dialogue to their scenes. They added backstory to the characters that we hadn’t thought of, clarified plot points, and improved the film all around.

At any time were you yourself going to act in it?
Funny you should ask. When I was teaching myself filmmaking in college, I produced and directed a no-budget vampire film, and cast myself as the lead vampire.

After seeing the finished product, I decided I needed to cast professional actors for my next project, so I didn’t think of acting in The Control Group.

Any research you needed to do into this world?
Not really. We did some research on the history of the asylum, but this is a pretty fantastic, unrealistic film, so we weren’t basing it on anything historical.

Can you tell us about some of the DVD extras?
There’s a commentary from me, several different trailers for the film, a huge photo gallery from set, and a great behind-the-scenes doc. It’s over half an hour long, with lots of candid footage from production and on-set interviews with the entire cast.

Rock Hard \m/

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