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Interview with Ben Browder, director
Philip Booth and producer Christopher Saint of "Dead
Still" on Syfy 9/29/14
This was a very strange call (given the subject matter,
perhaps it was jinxed or haunted!). For one thing, Ray Wise
was supposed to be on the call, too. For another, the call
was only 14 minutes long! That's very unusual, especially
for a call with 3 people. And at the end, they said there
were no more calls. Usually they tell us only to ask
one question and then maybe one follow-up question, and then
queue back up for another question. So I did that, and so
did at least one other journalist I know of, yet we didn't
get to ask another question, which is very strange since we
only had 14 minutes. And then lastly, the movie aired this
past Monday, yet they didn't send me the transcript until
today, two days later.
I was glad to speak with them, but I was a bit upset that
I didn't get to ask Ben Browder a question. He was going to
be my second question. If I'd known I wouldn't get a second
one, I would have asked him first! Since he's one of my
favorite actors, ever since Farscape! He was also great on
Stargate SG1 and a wonderful guest-starring role he did on
"Doctor Who". I wanted to ask him a seemingly-frivolous
question, how he keeps looking so young. Because right
before the call, as I was doing my research, I discovered
that he's only 1 year younger than me, making him 51! He
sure doesn't look it. I don't either. I guess it's the baby
I haven't seen this movie... they often send us a copy
before the call, but they didn't this time. It's not really
my kind of movie, but it did sound interesting... I love not
only Browder, but Ray Wise, who plays his ancestor in the
NBC UNIVERSAL Moderator: Gary Morgenstein
September 29, 2014 2:00 p.m. ET
Operator: Good afternoon, my name is Julie and I will be
your conference operator today. At this time, I would like
to welcome everyone to the Dead Still conference call.
All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background
noise. After the speakersí remarks, there will be a question
and answer session. If you would like to ask a question
during this time, simply press star then the number one on
your telephone keypad.
If you would like to ask the question during this time Ė
sorry, if you would like to withdraw your question, simply
press the pound key.
Thank you. Gary Morgenstein, you may begin your conference.
Gary Morgenstein: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the
original movie, Dead Still, which will premiere on Syfy
Monday, October 6 at 9 p.m.
Weíre delighted to have the star Ben Browder and producer
Philip Booth and director Christopher Saint Ė no, wait, I
got that wrong, didnít I? Itís reversed.
Philip Booth: Thatís always the way it is with twins.
Gary Morgenstein: Yeah, I mean, I canít even see you guys
and I got it wrong. So, weíre going to Ė so, welcome
everyone. Operator, would you put forward the first call,
Operator: The first caller is coming from Tony Tellado. Your
line is open.
Tony Tellado: Hi, gentlemen, itís great to talk to you,
especially Ben. We havenít talked in a few years and Iím so
glad youíre in this. This is going to be really cool.
How did the idea come for this movie? Like, if everybody
could comment on that, please.
Philip Booth: Well, I guess, originally, the idea came when
my wife showed me these images of these contraptions holding
up dead bodies.
And I looked and she said, ďYou got to see thisĒ, and I
looked at how the death portraits had been propped up by
unusual stands and they were bolted, like, to the back. And
it was this, oh my god, this would make an incredibly
gruesome movie. At the same time, that whole period of death
portrait photography was an amazing subject.
And I didnít think there had been a movie yet of anything
like that. So, that was the original idea Ė concept out of
the blue that came in there.
We started researching everything and we were just
flabbergasted just how much detail and how many secrets were
hidden back there Ė like, how they used to stitch their eyes
closed and paint on the top of their eyes. And they would
make smiles, you know, with stitches. And, you know, they
would pose them next to the living.
Oh, it just was incredible. And how mothers would hold the
babies dressed in black cloths. And they were called Hidden
Mothers. And now, honestly, if that doesnít make a good
spooky movie, what would?
So, thatís kind of how we started.
Tony Tellado: And Ben, this guyís a photographer. How did
you, kind of, prepare to play this guy?
Ben Browder: How did I prepare to play - well, basically I
read the script. I read the script Ė you know, I did my due
diligence about death photography. I knew that it had
existed, because I had actually seen these kind of
photographs, you know, particularly from, you know,
particularly from the Victorian period.
So, you know, I just thought, yeah thatís really creepy. So,
basically, you know, you read, you know, read the script and
then talk to Chris and Phil, and talk about their vision of
how they want to see it.
And thatís kind of the prep. I was actually Down Under. I
was Auckland, New Zealand when I got the call about it, and
I got on the phone and we talked about it and I thought, no,
this would be fun. This would be great.
And, you know, shooting down out in the cane fields of -
near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in this old house that, I
think, is probably haunted itself, the house that we shot
Just, you know, some really cool ambiance to it.
Tony Tellado: Sounds great. Iíll get back in line. Thank
Operator: Okay, the next caller is Jamie Ruby from the
scifivision.com. Your line is open.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for talking the call
today. So, can you just talk about, kind of, some of, more
of, what we can expect? I mean, I know itís about death
photography, but we havenít seen a screening yet.
So, can you, kind of, tell us about your characters and
things like that?
Ben Browder: Well, I guess, if weíre talking about
characters, you must be talking to me. This is Ben. Has Ray
joined us yet?
Okay. The character that Iím playing is a modern day
photographer whose father and grandfather were also
photographers. His grandfather was a very famous death
So, he has this lineage that he ends up following down
almost as though itís a family curse. And, father,
grandfather, great grandfather Ė so itís a kind of
generational story of how heís connected to this cursed and
haunted past. Through his camera, through his great
grandfatherís camera, and through the death photography.
Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Thank you so much.
Ben Browder: Youíre welcome.
Operator: Okay, your next caller is Suzanne Lanoue from The TV
MegaSite. Your line is open.
Suzanne Lanoue: It looks really creepy and spooky from the
trailer I saw. Can you tell us anything about what in particular
goes towards making this type of movie, as opposed to just a
Philip Booth: I guess Iíll jump in on that one. The thing
about making this film is, with all our films that weíve
done, we try to use real elements involved.
The camera itself, when we found the camera, it was actually
a death portrait camera from 1905. It actually still had the
plates in the back of actual death portraits.
And after seeing Ė going down and doing - to actual
recreations of death portrait and spirit photography, we
thought this would be an amazing journey to hook real facts,
true events, in with these characters and then push the
I mean, the bottom line is, when you journey inside the
camera, where the son - Benís son, whoís played by Gavin
Casalegno Ė who was in Noah Ė is, when he journeyís inside
the camera, we go into whatís called the negative world.
And that was going to add a Silent Hill-type element to a
regular Ė itís kind of like Saw meets Conjuring meets Silent
Hill. And those three movies together, to me, added a
classic new horror element.
To just not doing just, like, a slasher film, or just doing
a ghost story. But what about mixing Silent Hell, meets the
Saw, meets The Conjuring-type flavors. And thatís what I
think you see a little bit in the trailer.
And plus the visual effects to be over-the-top. The gore to
be really unique and fresh, and not just the same old
death-type scenes you see in movies.
So, thatís kind of just, you know, an example of what we
felt when we were making this film.
Suzanne Lanoue: Great, and does Ray Wise play Benís
grandfather or Ė I didnít really Ė in the movie?
Philip Booth: Ray plays Benís great grandfather, a famous
death portrait photographer from the late 1800s, that Ben,
as a photographer, always idolized, because, you know, seems
like an Ansel Adams, you know, a famous photographer.
Since Benís character is a photographer, he would idolize
this man, his light, his shadow. Nobody understood what he
did - his reasoning in posing these bodies. That all comes
to a shocking realization when he gets to meet his great
grandfather and finds out all about the secrets of the past
and the death portrait photography.
So, Ray, when we first met Ray, was on the set. And he
showed up in his wardrobe test, in a top hat and a cape. And
it was like watching Vincent Price walk into a set. And the
shivers we all got. You know, he had the grey goatee and
everything down pat.
So, I canít wait for people to see the way Ben and Ray
interact with each other. Because this film has got great
characters. Not just great visuals and great music and great
story and great performances. But the characters should be,
you know, little game figures, they should be little, you
And that was the whole thing. To take this thing
Suzanne Lanoue: All right, thanks very much.
Philip Booth: Youíre very welcome.
Operator: Our next caller is Heather McLatchy from TV
Goodness. Your line is open.
Heather McLatchy: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for taking the
time to talk to us today. Can you talk a little bit about
what it was like to shoot down in Baton Rouge?
Christopher Saint Booth: It was incredible because to Ė as
all our films, we like to shoot on location. We donít like
to use sound stages, so actually shooting in a haunted house
was a big part of it Ė actually was a plantation, which
actually had a slave quarters in the back.
Which no one dared go into because it actually had all the
stuff that was still in it from the, you know, the late 18th
But shooting Baton Rouge has always been, has always been Ė
besides the humidity, of course Ė but itís always been a
great thing. Actually bring in all the original Ė which they
really werenít props Ė it actually was a real camera or real
gurneys, real needles, real wardrobe, everything. It was
Baton Rouge is a great place to get that whole mystique of
spookiness going on.
Heather McLatchy: Great, thank you.
Operator: All right, Mr. Morgenstein, at this time, we donít
have any other callers.
Gary Morgenstein: Thank you. Thank you, very much. Thank
you, Ben. Philip. Christopher. Thank you, everyone, for
joining in the call.
Remember, Dead Still premieres only on Syfy Monday, October
6th, at 9pm Eastern. Take care, everyone. Thank you.
Gary Morgenstein: Bye-bye. Good-bye.
Operator: That concludes todayís conference call. You may
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