INTERVIEW: ‘DEVOURED’ Director Greg Olliver

devoured1LEMMY director Greg Olliver’s debut psychological horror, DEVOURED was released on DVD & Blu-ray 16 September courtesy of Matchbox Films.   Recording with cold, clinical precision the gradual descent into madness, this slow-burning psychological thriller marks a change of pace for director Greg Olliver, previously best known for his documentary portrait of grizzled Motorhead front man Lemmy.

An intense, troubling film, boasting a spectacular lead performance from Marta Milans, DEVOURED calls to mind such bleak and visceral late 70s NY urban dramas as TAXI DRIVER and DRILLER KILLER in its expert depiction of alienation and escalating horror.

We sat down with Olliver to talk about DEVOURED, his move from documentary to narrative filmmaking and why he was lucky to get Marta Milans when he did…

Geek Syndicate: DEVOURED is a very different project from your previous films, which have predominately been documentary based.  What attracted you to the film? 

GREG OLLIVER: I’ve always wanted to direct narrative features but sort of stumbled into documentary filmmaking, which ended up being a great path to take for the last few years.  When a friend (writer/producer Marc Landau) asked if I wanted to direct DEVOURED, I jumped at the opportunity.

GS: Marta Milans gives a very powerful performance in the central role. Tell me more about the process you and her went through.

GO: Without Marta as our lead, I doubt you’d be interviewing me right now.  She is everything to DEVOURED, and we were really lucky to find her at that very moment in her career.  Now she’s blowing up and we probably couldn’t afford her anymore!!  The process was was a bit grueling for both of us since we had to shoot for 28 nights which takes a toll on your mind, body and soul.  The upside of that is I think we all fell apart enough for that to come across on screen… which is appropriate for a film like DEVOURED.  Marta was literally miserable and tired for a lot of the shoot due to the hours and NYC summer heat in the basement of the restaurant, and you can see that in her eyes.

GS: Being a documentray director previous, what were the biggest challenges in turning your head to a narrative film like DEVOURED?

GO:It wasn’t a challenge – it was a pleasure.  For the first time I had a script, a schedule and actors that were EAGER to be directed.  Making docs can be a meandering adventure of not knowing what you need to shoot, and not having any control of your subject. (I’ve said before that shooting Lemmy was like shooting wildlife, and I wasn’t joking.)  Sometimes gold just unfolds in front of you during a documentary shoot… while most of the time it does not and you go home empty handed.  You then have to hope it all falls together in the edit room.  I am also the entire crew on most of my documentary films so it can be a tough experience.  On the narrative side of things, a properly pre-produced feature film is the exact opposite of all that documentary stress.  Even though we were miserable and tired for most of the shoot on DEVOURED, it was a great experience.  (No more midnight shoots in restaurant basements though, and no more 5Hour Energy drink EVER!!)

GS: Who are your inspirations as a director/filmmaker? & Why?

GO:The Coen brothers because their filmmaking ability is flawless to me.  I can watch their films on mute and still enjoy every frame of every scene.  Tarantino.  (He’s not flawless, but he’ll always be one of my favorites.)  And Kubrik of course!  For DEVOURED I watched a lot of Korean horrors, and really came to enjoy filmmakers like Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil) and Park Chan-wook (Oldboy).  My current hero is Benh Zeitlin.

GS: Was it always your desire to move into narrative based filmmaking or was it just the case of right project, right time?

GO:My career has been a lot of randomly bumping into the next project as opposed to actively seeking them out.  I worked with a reggae artist on a music video a long time ago and he asked if I wanted to make a doc about him.  I said yes.  Next thing you know I was a documentary director.  Someone helping on that film knew Lemmy from Motorhead, and asked if I wanted to team up and make a Lemmy film.  I said yes. Then while shooting Lemmy I met someone in an airport who saw our film gear and told me about an old WWII hero who lived in the mountains of Wales and said I should make a film about him… so I did.  I recently randomly met someone who manages the boxer Jake LaMotta (Raging Bull) and said I should do a film on him…so I’m doing that now.  Life can be a fun adventure if you allow it to be… and one of my favorite parts of the adventure is not knowing what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be next.

GS: What’s your fav horror film and why?

GO:The Shining because it’s the Shining. (I’ll always prefer creepy and tense over bloody and gory.)  But also 28 Days Later because it goes from bad to worse, which I think is key in a good horror.  Sadly, other than the Korean ones mentioned above, I haven’t seen a great modern horror in a while.

GS: What’s up next?

GO:GHOST (the band), Johnny Winter (the blues musician), Jake LaMotta (the boxer), and zombies.   Marc Landau, the DEVOURED writer/producer, and I are working on a couple zombie/virus themed projects that I’m excited about.   Otherwise I’m just waiting to bump into the next adventure.

GS:Where can we find out more about DEVOURED?

DEVOURED is available now on DVD, BluRay & VOD from Matchbox Films

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

%d bloggers like this: