The film, which was based on true events, is about a ghost experiment gone wrong by a few college students. The movie features a few known actors such as Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton.
Latino-Review had the opportunity earlier this month to speak with “The Apparition” director Todd Lincoln via phone interview about his feature directorial debut. He discussed a lot on the background story, the actors and trying to make this movie as grounded as possible.
Read the full transcript of the interview below:
Latino Review: Tell us about your upcoming movie “The Apparition”
Todd Lincoln: “The Apparition” is about a group of university parapsychology students who set out to create a ghost during this experiment and they end up getting something or unleashing something. And we see how it affects that group involved in the experiment. As well as this young couple, played by Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan, to see what happened to this couple in their house and how it all evolved. We discover on how it all ties together.
We set out to make a serious, smart cinematic grounded horror film. It’s more about what you don’t see, don’t show, and don’t explain. It leaves a lot to the audiences’ imagination and let people to project their own fears into the darkness.
It’s really a fresh cool young cast. [We have] Ashley Greene from Twilight, Sebastian Stan from Captain America, and Tom Feldman who was known as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films. So it’s a young cool cast and this cool new concept of creating a ghost that was inspired by some of my research online.
This is stuff I do on my own time to always dig around paranormal, supernatural and conspiracy web sites and discovered in my readings that there were these experiments back in the 1970s. The first one was done was called the Phillip’s Experiment. There was this group of psychology professors set out to create a ghost, because they believed that paranormal events only happen as people believe that they do and believe that they will. So they tested that idea on the belief, power of belief, and the power of fear—they took to create a ghost. They came up to create a fictional name as Phillip. They talked about how he lived and died. They met up and focused on [the fictional background].
But, scary things began to happen. Things ramped up and something got more aggressive. They stopped the experiment, because they were so terrified.
In the following decade, people have done their own new version of this experiment. They got even more results with the new gear and technology.
I even brought a ghost consultant on this film who is this paranormal researcher and investigator named Joshua P. Warren. And he closely advised on the all the gear and tech involved on this experiment. We borrowed some stuff from his own lab.
That’s that stuff that was involved in the film and I just never seen that in a horror film. I’m excited for you to see.
Latino Review: Tell me Todd, do you personally believe in ghosts?
Todd Lincoln: The short answer is yes. But, that is my immediate gut answer without hesitation.
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I gew up in this haunted historic home in Tulsa near this lake called Swan Lake. It’s a place for pioneers, cowboys and Native Americans that used to go to this watering hole. It later became a public park called Swan Lake.
Anyways, my house was right next to it in this Swan Lake neighborhood. I lived in this really old, historic 1900 home. There was some history to it like someone in the past committed suicide in the guest bedroom. I grew up with all kinds of incidents and event happenings around me and to me in this house. I never saw anything visually, but I came across strange things, hear strange things and all kinds of crazy things. There were incidents like lights going on and off.
So I come by at it honestly, but my thinking has involved today that I don’t immediately say that—ghosts or not—could really be anything. It could come from your mind. It could come from inter-dimensional stuff. Who knows what this stuff is and what’s what. I believe that there is these unknowable and unidentifiable strange things that exist that are going on.
I’m not sure on what the right name for it is, but name for this film is “The Apparition.”
I’ve never fully seen it explored in a ghost film or haunted house film of the idea of the most terrifying thing of all—the idea of a full body apparition. The house is not the source of the haunting. It’s from the people of this experiment. And what we have is this dark, unknown malevolent entity that slowly gains its power from the belief and fear.
It also touched on other subjects like outer-body incidents, sleep paralysis, subtle signs of paranormal experiences or even when you see a mirror image of yourself.
We touch on the different aspects of supernatural paranormal feel. The main thing in this is this apparition.
There are a lot of these different types of ghosts movies out there already. How is “The Apparition” going to be much different from those types of movies already out there.
The most important thing to me that I’m excited about is that “The Apparition” is not a remake, not a reboot, not a sequel, not an adaptation, not found footage, not shot on digital, or not another micro-budget thing. It’s an original serious cinematic American horror film. It’s a fresh way into this type of film of people actually setting out to create a ghost and actually getting these terrifying experiences with that.
“The Apparition” is not another couple driving up some haunted house or mansion. It’s not about people discovering the dark secret or some household. It’s not an Indian burial ground. It’s not that somebody was killed in this house.
The house, in our film, is the primary location, but there are several other locations and set pieces. We’ve opened up the scope of the film. People just don’t stay in the house the whole film and put up with it. They don’t just conveniently keep staying in this horror setting just because they need a horror movie.
The actors and I try to treat these characters as if they are smart and logical as possible. Not just of characters in a horror movie on what they would do, but what if you really do in this situation. We try to come up as honest, grounded and logical as possible.
It’s also a contemporary setting. So many recent or upcoming horror films, they sort of go to grungy, gritty, rusty setting or set dressing kind of details. This is really kind of captures of what life for America looks like today. It sets in a desert suburban sprawl area with these standing foreclosed homes that are not too far away from big boxed stores, chains, restaurants and new construction going on.
It’s not overly designed or so precious. It’s getting away from that horror bubble or world of any department pulling out their horror kit and saying, “Oh, we’ve done this million times. Let me just pull out some rust, dust and some cobwebs and we’ll have a horror movie.”
It’s about trying to keep everything authentic as possible for movie fans and horror fans. We’re trying to move the horror genre forward a bit and break free of the conventional and traditional horror settings.
Latino Review: Could you talk about how you got the cast of Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton?
Todd Lincoln: It wasn’t planned to have these actors who have happened to be well known in their own pop culture franchises. That happened just completely accidentally and organically through the casting process.
Ashley came in while we were seeing all kinds of actors. She came in a really nailed it during the audition. She brought this likable and relatable factor that I thought that audiences would like. She didn’t bring any genre baggage with her and she was a fresh face that audiences could experience the horror through her. People can feel like it was happening to them. She made everything that much more believable.
And finally she was just a real trooper. She does her homework and goes all out.
Sebastian Stan is just awesome and definitely an actor to watch. He brought this weight, intensity and edge to another whole layer and level to it. He further elevated things on the processes, thoughts and performances. He’s very hands-on and asks a lot of great questions. A lot of times he would walk on these sets and locations and asked on what we would do in these situations.
Tom Felton was seen growing in those Harry Potter films. I never really thought the guy would be perfect for this role. In an earlier version of the script, this character was more like an older expert. I thought it would be fresher to have a young savvy guy rather than an older expert to be played by an older character actor. Tom was already a fan of this whole supernatural paranormal stuff, in which he grew up loving this stuff including the terms and technologies. He just did a killer, effortless natural audition.
So one at a time, these people came on board. And for Ashely and Sebastian, we did a chemistry read where they worked great together. So it all fell in place. Before I knew it, I had Alice Cullen, Draco Malfoy and Bucky Barnes, Winter’s Soldier, all facing off against the Apparition.
If you stick around after the credits, Nick Fury shows up and calls for a new Avengers initiative. [Laughter] It was the right cast and the right time.
Latino Review: Did any strange things happen on the set while filming?
Todd Lincoln: There were all kinds of strange things, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was paranormal. We shot a good portion at Studio Babelsberg in East Berlin. We shot for five weeks on a stage. We built this two-story house with all the interiors of the house and all these other locations. And we shot for three weeks in the Los Angeles, Palmdale and Santa Clarita regions.
When we were in Studio Babelsberg, the stage we were shooting on was where Fritz Lang shot “Metropolis” and [Quentin] Tarantino shot “Inglourious Basterds” there recently. There was a great smart German crew and they were awesome.
But, Studio Babelsberg is a historic place. This place, I believe, also the location for the shootings of the Nazi propaganda there. There are different houses and buildings there, where SS officers used to stay in. When you’re going around this very old, old building that goes back and predates Nazi Germany, you’re going through these different hallways and brick tunnels that connect these buildings. Sometimes when you’re walking alone or at night, you don’t really see anything, but you can feel this really heavy dark feeling of something from a certain time.
It helps when you’re shooting a horror film, because the feeling bleeds into the film in some ways. It puts you in a weird psychological place. There are quite a number of psychological scares in this film.
I actually have this thermal camera that was used in one of the scenes in the film. The prop guy gave it to me to test it out to see if I would like to use it in the movie. As I was walking around in the hallways of Studio Babelsberg, there were moments where I thought I could see something on the thermal imaging screen. Or even thought I’d heard something or something that just moved past me real quick.
I’m not a complete expert on how to read these things, but I did get a little better at that as we went on. But, there were definitely moments. And some people thought they saw something or felt stuff. By just working on the film, some of the actors just got freaked out. And it was also the hardest winter in Berlin in forty years. So we didn’t really see sunlight except for one day for the whole time we were there.
Latino Review: Could you discuss about “The Apparition” being your first feature film and what upcoming projects for yourself after this?
Todd Lincoln: It’s an amazing opportunity that I finally got to achieve the dream I’ve been aiming for since studying films in high school. It’s been a long journey since film school, the short films, music videos and developing other feature films at other studios that very close to being made—but for some unknown reason just didn’t happen.
It’s a dream, but at the same time by the saying, “Be careful of what you wish for.” You will learn it’s just not about cool ideas. There’s all this business, politics, publicity and all kinds of aspects that you have to do.
But, it’s awesome. And it’ll be exciting to move on to the new feature projects.
The next thing that’s most likely to happen, because the script is done and ready would be “The Nye Incidents.” It’s based on a graphic novel from Whitley Strieber. Whitley Strieber is a friend and a close consultant on this project. The story is inspired from these true incidents. It’s a new terrifying take on these alien abductions, mutilations and since everybody else got it wrong. I feel like we really haven’t knocked it out of the park scary alien film that feels possible—not the big ships or big white lights. The project is over at RKO Pictures, which I’m also a producer. So currently we’re going out for actresses and financiers for this project.
Over at Mandalay Pictures, I also have “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead,” which is an adaptation of a short story by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son. More importantly, he is a great new author and a voice in his own right. “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” is just a unique, awesome new kind of twist. It got a lot going on to it. And it’s not zombies and it’ll be in its own kind of things.
“The Apparition” will be in theaters this Friday, August 24.