Go behind the scenes of the epic battle “House of the Dragon”

Go behind the scenes of the epic battle “House of the Dragon”

Dead Whisper (2024) | Private

No Film School: Where Did the Inspiration for Dead Whisper Come From? Do I Smell Lovecraftian?

Conor Saucy: It’s interesting that you mentioned Lovecraft; while we never intentionally modeled our style on his, there’s definitely a similar feel to those works. Dead Whisper.

The film was inspired primarily by a nightmare I experienced. In a dream, I woke up on a completely empty ferry off the coast of Cape Cod, sailing toward an island. I sensed that the ship had no captain. Once on the island, I discovered that all the inhabitants spoke only in whispers. This dream occurred at a time when I was grieving the loss of a family member, which profoundly shaped the film’s central theme of the isolation of grief.

NFS: What was it like shooting on Cape Cod and what was the process like to get all those amazing shots of the ocean?

Conor Saucy: We filmed along the coast in autumn, winter and summer. Although the landscape was majestic, the conditions could be brutal – rain, snow, hail, whatever. Race Point Beach, suggested by our cinematographer Ben Grant, became the perfect backdrop for the island’s dunes. It’s a bit comical how we transformed such a familiar and beautiful location into a haunting backdrop for the film.

“Dead Whisper”Courtesy of Conor Saucy

NFS: Tell me about the process of creating a historical work.

Conor Saucy: We never set a specific time period for the film, but we adopted an aesthetic reminiscent of classic horror films. The result is a film that is ambiguous about the period with a distinct retro feel.

Naturally, this choice presented its own set of challenges. For example, the phone booth scenes at MacMillan Pier in Cape Cod required the entire pier to be closed. We transported the phone booth across Massachusetts, a three-hour journey (the same phone booth that appeared in Boston Strangler(Fun Fact) These extreme measures almost led us to compromise, but I’m glad we rose to the occasion. The imagery we created is completely unique to our film and would be hard to replicate elsewhere. That was the goal for Ben Grant and me: to create visuals that are uniquely connected to our story.

NFS: What was the process of creating the newspaper prop like?

Conor Saucy: West Coast Prop Master Anthony DeFeo created three prop newspapers for the film. My wife, Kennedy, a gifted researcher and writer, wrote detailed stories about the Reynolds case and the Cape Cod boat accident. If you pause the film during that scene and read the newspaper, you will find rich detail, including local accounts and perspectives from three different journalists.

While it’s unlikely anyone would do it, I think these kinds of details are crucial to enriching the world of the story. Anthony did a fantastic job of making the newspapers look authentic; he also provided police reports and other various things. I think Sam Dunning gives a phenomenal performance in this scene, and I like to think that part of its impact comes from the authentic and immersive atmosphere created by the set and props.

NFS: What was the festival like and how did you find and establish the rules for distribution?

Conor Saucy: The distribution process was very quick. I was in touch with Vertical Entertainment regarding Dead Whisper short film that piqued their interest.

Once the film was finished, they seemed like a natural fit for distribution. Our production team had realistic expectations for the film’s journey through festivals and into distribution. We premiered at Cinequest to coincide with the debut of another Sam Dunning film, Tim Travers and the Time Traveler’s Paradox. It was a fantastic experience for our team, underlining the importance of cinematic runtime. The film looks magnificent in cinemas, thanks to Nikhil Koparkar’s epic score and the impressive scale of Ben Grant’s imagery.

“Dead Whisper”Courtesy of Conor Saucy

NFS: What was the prosthetic process like? Dead Man’s Whispers otherworldly, multi-faceted villain?

Conor Saucy: Kelly Harris was responsible for the special effects makeup, and it was an intense process that often required Rob Evan to spend up to six hours in the makeup chair. Time is of the essence on set, so we were meticulous about scheduling.

At times, prosthetics can fail, but Kelly consistently delivered exceptional results. Rob Evan, one of the most professional and experienced actors I have had the pleasure of working with, masterfully used subtle changes in personality, stamina, and vocal control to portray aging, making the transitions seem seamless. Remarkably, he never complained about the extensive make-up process; instead, he embraced it and enjoyed it. You could feel the excitement when he first appeared on set as the fully aged Demon—everyone was visibly excited.

NFS: Were there any particularly challenging aspects of production that you didn’t expect?

Conor Saucy: This film really encompassed Massachusetts, and the amount of travel and location changes was overwhelming. We anticipated these challenges, but they still proved difficult to overcome. Most of our Cape Cod exteriors were done with a small crew to stay nimble. Sometimes I would catch Ben staring at the clouds, figuring we had five minutes to capture a shot with the best natural light. Traveling for hours and then hauling heavy equipment over the dunes was grueling, but we persevered.

NFS: And that Samuel Dunning — what a star.

Conor Saucy: Sam Dunning is one of the best actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s also a brilliant writer, and we’re already working on our next film, Fear the Tall Branches, which is set in Washington State. If he’s not a movie star yet, he definitely will be soon.NFS: Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Conor Saucy: My advice to aspiring filmmakers is to listen carefully. Sometimes the stories that need to be told aren’t the loudest; they’re the ones whispering quietly, waiting to be discovered.

Dead Whisper was not a film I initially envisioned making, especially since I never thought I would venture into the horror genre. However, when I shared the concept with friends and family, their emotional response was unlike any I had received with any other project I had spent years developing. Just a few months after those initial discussions, we were in production. The experience taught me the power of resonant ideas and the importance of being open to unexpected creative paths.

Dead Whisper is available on demand everywhere, including Amazon Prime and Apple TV.