Today, we’re sitting down with Eric Morgret, co-owner of Maelstrom Productions, a filmmaker of Lovecraftian adaptations out of Seattle:
IFP: Tell us about your current project. What is Strange Aeons about?
EM: I am currently editing our short film The Shunned House. We ran into some heavy post production problems but we are back on schedule.
Strange Aeons is a feature based on Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep”. The movie had a premiere at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland. It went on a world tour of festivals and cons for the next year. During that time, we signed a deal with Lurker Films to make SA the fifth DVD in the series and the first feature release from that label. The film is a very faithful adaptation of the original story. We did set it in modern times and added some other elements that were not in the original. We worked hard to keep the general feeling of Lovecraft, that strong feeling of dread that he created so well.
IFP: What was the inspiration for your project?
EM: Kelly and I have been big Lovecraft fans for years. We have done several shorts with a Lovecraft feel, including a short version of “The Thing on the Doorstep”. “Doorstep” is one if the few Lovecraft films to have a strong film-style story. It also has several strong characters to draw from and one of the few women in his writing. The initial inspiration came from wanting to do a Lovecraft film. We had already done it has a short, so we felt comfortable with the story and our ability to re-tell it in a new and more accurate way.
IFP: What do you want to tell the audience in your story?
EM: We really just hope they enjoy what we have done with this great Lovecraft story.
IFP: How do you feel your project fits into its genre?
EM: I think it fits into the Lovecraft canon. It does not really fit into horror or drama or any obvious genre.
IFP: What other projects have you done? Which was your favourite?
EM: Some of my favourite projects to work on have been music videos. I really enjoyed the actual shooting of SA, but the process of getting a movie seen and out into the world is really exhaustive. The latest short from Maelstrom Productions was a lot of fun to shoot. It’s “The Shunned House” and will be debuting at The HP Lovecraft Film Festival this year. The short was fun because the crew and cast were incredibly talented and very entertaining. The more we at Maelstrom understand story and filmmaking the more fun it gets to make the movies.
IFP: Why did you do a full-length version of your short-film adaptation of “The Thing on the Doorstep”? How do the two versions differ?
EM: I am not sure why at this point we did that. It seemed like a good idea at the time? We knew the story, and Kelly wanted to write a more accurate version of it. The short differed from the story in a few ways. It took place in a police interrogation room and after the deed had been done. We took some criticism for the feature because we had a “thing at the table” more than a “thing on the doorstep”. The short had a true “thing on the doorstep”. The short was more of a friend story than the feature. The feature was more about the mentoring relationship of Edward and Dan.
IFP: What are some of the challenges of adapting Lovecraft to film?
EM: He is very cerebral in his writing. Many of his stories take place as a retelling of events, or as a first-person account of strange events. He does not tell stories in a traditional sense. A lot of them run in a straight line until the climactic moment and end with that great sentence that hits you in the gut. That is part of what makes HP so much fun to read, but also why it is hard to make his stories into films. A film needs a little more going on cycling up and down as events change and move forward. Several stories contain great moments of unknown horror. That’s why they are so cool because you don’t know what they are. The general “rule” of film is “show don’t tell”. That leads to several problems in film. You can do it as shadowed creatures in the corner or as implied creatures, but that has not always been the approach. The downfall of several films has been showing the creature.
What it boils down to is: Lovecraft writes for the mind. He plays with the shadows of imagination and scratches the back of your brain with dark and unknown terrors. That just does not translate to film very easily. It can be done and some films have done it very well, but it is a challenge. Del Toro’s “At the Mountains of Madness“, maybe?
IFP: Name your favourite film and why.
EM: One of my favourite films is Fight Club. I love Chuck Palahniuk; his writing is amazing. The story is dark and very different than expected. In the hands of a master filmmaker like David Fincher, it comes alive as a dark and violent world of unfulfilled dreams and a sanitized existence that never evolves into anything new. I don’t know what that says about me, but it is a damned good film. Another favourite for years was, and is, Amadeus, a film that made me appreciate how good a movie can be.
IFP: Name your favourite filmmaker and why.
EM: This is a question that can change every day. Today, it is Peter Jackson. I started watching his films when Dead Alive came out. I found it at “Scarecrow” video in Seattle back when it was a little store off of Greenlake. After that, I hunted out some of his other films; at that time, he only had a couple other films out. Bad Taste and the truly disturbing Meet the Feebles: the Muppets from Hell film. A year or so later, he directed Heavenly Creatures, an Oscar-nominated and very unsettling film. Then, of course, he did the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think it is an amazing adaption and a marvelous series of films.
Guillermo del Toro. David Fincher, Kevin Smith, John Carpenter, Clive Barker and…
IFP: What artistic accomplishment are you the most proud of in your career so far?
EF: Hmm…got me on that one. The process of creating the films or the productions I have worked on stays with me the most. I love making them. The creative process is fantastic.
IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster, which one would you be? Why?
EF: Good lord? Most likely Yog-Sothoth because: “Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.” Seems like good ole’ YS has it going on.
IFP: Do you have a favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story? If so, which one is it?
EM: That is a hard one for me to nail down. It is sorry, but I am going to crap out on this one. Hmmm…maybe “At the Mountains of Madness”, maybe “From Beyond”, maybe “Cool Air”. Ah, hell, I am just not sure.
IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects, Sunset and Fear Itself.
EM: Sunset is in the process of a major re-write by K.L. Young, details to come soon. We are shopping Fear Itself around; hopefully, some good news will come out of that. Our website is in a transformation; we hope to have that up with an active news section.
IFP: What is your dream project?
EM: A decent budget project with my business partner, K.L. Young and some of the cast and crew I have worked with in the past, plus new and exciting crew and actors. Something that already has a distribution deal so I don’t have to worry about that. I know, not as cool as saying, “I want to do a movie about…” but that is the way it is. It would be great to be able to just work on a film. Oh, man, that would be a happy thing.
Bio: Eric Morgret is co-owner of Maelstrom Productions, LLC. He has directed several productions, including the award-winning feature, Strange Aeons, and the short film, The Shunned House. He has also directed/edited short films, documentaries, and music videos. Current projects include producing the film Tina Chop is God, about a rocker returning to Seattle, and Walk Right In, a documentary about an experimental school at Yale. He also programs for Crypticon Seattle, and the Maelstrom International Festival of Fantastic Films, a genre-based film festival. Eric is a graduate of TheFilmSchool and has spent several years presenting panels on filmmaking and film discussions. He can found on Twitter and Facebook and at Maelstrom Productions.