Director Chad Archibald and Actor Elma Begovic Talk All Things ‘Bite’ at Fan Expo CanadaSeptember 20, 2016
Fresh off a successful festival run, ‘Bite’ has now been released on DVD and Blu-ray in major retailers across Canada. Recently, we had a chance to talk with Chad and Elma while they were at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto about the movie and their experiences on set.
So where did the idea for Bite come from?
Chad: It originally came from my sister in law, she was in Guatemala doing some animal rescue stuff and at night she would have to sleep in this tent because there were so many insects, and she came back and she was just covered in bites, big ones, small ones and she didn’t even know what bit her. Some of them were getting better, some of them were getting worse so the idea was really born out of that.
What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Elma: I was excited about the project but keep in mind I hadn’t talked to Chad about what the finished product of Casey was going to look like, so reading the script I just got awesome ideas, particularly reading the sex scene, it was like ok,Photo credit: Brandon Marsh Photography what happened? There is this scene where I’m ‘re-connecting’ with my fiancé and everything is going well and then one of my bug bites just bursts so it was interesting to visualize that prior to actually being on set and seeing it, but I was up for the challenge.
Can you describe the biggest challenges the both of you faced while making this movie?
Chad: When we originally pitched the idea to the studio, because it was a tiny little budget, they’re biggest questions was how are you going to fill a place with eggs and make it a hive and make it look good, so that was a massive challenge. Every day it was like more goo, more goo, and our makeup people would have this room with all these buckets and they’d all be stirring this goo trying to make this concoction because every day, everything was covered. Just dealing with all of the liquid was a challenge, it was like filming in the rain, we had to cover the cameras because goo was always dripping everywhere.
Elma: The makeup process was obviously quite grueling, the final look took almost six hours of sitting in a chair, which was a lot of time and you feel exhausted by the end of it but I also believe suspending the belief of what Casey should do, how she should act, I really wanted to try and make it as authentic as possible. Chad and I kind up came up with our own rhythm which I felt made a much more authentic presentation for when I was in full bug mode.
The set of the movie seems to almost be a character itself. Was that the plan all along and what was it like walking onto that set for the first time?
Elma: For me, everything was an addition. Seeing that set was just another addition for me, to do my best in terms of performance for that character. It didn’t smell so good by day so that again just added to everything. But I was so impressed, the art department did such a great job turning Casey’s apartment into that crazy hive with all of those eggs.
Chad: Yeah, we wanted to give that room some life, we wanted it organic like it was alive. Before every take, everyone would run in and pile up all the eggs so they were always moving, always growing. There would be times where someone would yell ok, the eggs are moving, you’ve got to hurry, get the film rolling, and that’s how we’d capture those moments of the look on the walls and the goo dripping everywhere.
The movie really looks good. Do you both think this might push other indie filmmakers to go that extra mile to try and make their movies look that much better?
Elma: I hope from an actors perspective yeah, a hundred percent. I think budget is important but if you have creativity, you don’t need a lot for that. For this movie the production value looked so big but it was all because of the creativity and effort that so many put into it. I actually think it’s a terrible excuse when people say they didn’t have a big budget because we didn’t have a huge budget on this movie and we made it work.
Chad: It is important that you work around your budget but for this movie it was the effort of so many people. One day on set we had filmed all the apartment stuff and tore the apartment down and built the hallway and the hallway wasn’t ready the day we needed to film it. I was in the front of the building dealing with some scheduling things and whenever I popped in there everyone had come together and was painting, it was a sweet moment. Our art team had been up all night working on it and they were exhausted and everyone saw that and they all jumped in, it was really a special moment.
The horror genre has some very smart and dedicated fans. Do you find it’s getting harder to scare or impress your fans, or movie fans in general, these days?
Chad: There are just so many films out there right now, it’s really hard. There are people who just know how to do it, like the Insidious movies, this is how you do it and it’s always going to work. I think it’s still the same now as it always has been, that being it begins with the story. Some people think horror is just things that jump out at you but it’s about creating characters that you care enough about, that you want to invest time in and believe in.
What is it about the horror genre that the two of you find so appealing?
Elma: This is really one of my first horror projects and I was really up to the challenge of having such a strong female character to play with. At the same time, it wasn’t the typical pretty girl in a bra, screaming in fear, it was a total body transformation from a human being to something totally disgusting. I didn’t want to play the stereotypical female so that was a huge driving force for me.
Chad: We done so many horror films over the years, they’re just so much fun to make. Also, it’s all about the story so when someone goes to see it or buys the DVD or Blu-ray, it’s not about who’s in it but is it interesting or a cool concept. With this movie, with both a great story and concept it was so cool to do and why doing horror can be so much fun.
As an actor, what was the attraction for you in working for both Chad and Black Fawn?
Elma: I’d heard good things, I have friends who have worked with them previously and I went into this audition, I didn’t have an agent as I wasn’t really in the scene yet, we read and I just remember the feedback we got, it was great. We kind of clicked instantly, Chad is the type of person that would say, are you up for this? Any ideas I had he was up for collaboration and I like that in a director and a team in general. As actors we really appreciate when a director doesn’t just tell you what to do and is willing to collaborate and let you take scenes in a different direction. We also laughed and joked and really had a good time which makes for a great atmosphere on set and when you have a team behind you it helps inspire you, especially when you are in heavy makeup and covered in goo.
I want to thank Chad and Elma for taking the time to talk with us