Ryan Nicholson (Director - 'Live Feed')
'Let The Feeding Begin!'
Plotdigger Films is the combined effort of award-winning artist Ryan Nicholson and his father, Dr. Roy Nicholson. Ryan’s obsession with horror movies started with Roy taking him to the cinema at an early age to view films by directors such as David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven.
With the early 80’s home video boom, Ryan started renting movies by other directors whose films in Canada weren’t often screened in theatres, such as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and George A. Romero. Ryan didn’t have a Super 8 camera to play around with so instead he chose to mess around with clay and latex. His entry into the world of cinema was one of a monster maker, creating the special make-up effects for such blockbusters as “Final Destination” and “Scary Movie.”
In the summer of 2004, Ryan Nicholson wrote the ultra-violent first draft of the screenplay “Live Feed”. Roy Nicholson took on the task of a re-write and the duo shot the picture in a working porno theatre after hours in the Spring of 2005. MTI Home Video picked up the gruesome movie, described by Fangoria’s Editor Tony Timpone as “Not for the squeamish, the faint of heart and those easily offended” and have it slated for an October 2006 North American release. In a bold move, MTI is releasing both an Unrated and an R-rated version.
Chatting recently with director/creator Ryan Nicholson, I first wondered where 'Live Feed' had been primarily shot? "'Live Feed' was shot in the seediest, most crime ridden area of Vancouver. The area is full of prostitutes that frequent the porno theatre we shot in. We hired security to watch the trailers and crew park. All went good until the last night of shooting when our main security guy fell asleep in his truck. A couple of our crew members cars got broken into and items stolen. It was pretty sad, we almost made it out unscathed."
Do you or your father have cameo's, perhaps?! "Yes, we had cameos as derelicts fighting over a blanket at the end of the movie. When the camera pans up and you see the “Leaving Historic Chinatown” sign. It was planned that you start seeing all the white bums and hookers on the sidewalk, the twist is that is Chinatown not China. We cut it because we wanted to let the audience find out where the tourists actually are without spelling it out. Most reviews say “White tourists go to China and get into trouble”, actually it’s US tourists from Washington coming to Vancouver, Canada’s famous Chinatown. But getting back to the cameos, Roy had grown this unkempt beard and was really excited to do this scene, he was pretty bummed out when we cut it but it flows better and ends better in my opinion, without the cameos."
One minute it's a low budget slash bash, the next a soft porn event! Couldn't decide which way to go or always knew it was to contain both elements? "I wanted a good healthy mix of sex and violence but I didn’t want sexual violence, I had shot a rape scene in my first movie “Torched” and I didn’t feel like putting a rape in “Live Feed” just to make the movie “harder”. I decided the porno theatre would give us enough sex and the Asian mobsters enough violence. The outcome is pretty cool and no one was violated!"
As there was an awful amount of blood spurting scenes, I'm wondering just how many gallons were used? "We went throw tens of gallons of blood. Probably 50 gallons? Maybe more. It’s not the bloodiest movie ever made by far but it gets the job done."
What scene was the hardest to film and why? "The climax with “The Giant” grabbing “The Boss” and “Darren” with “Miles” and “Emily” drawing guns and “The Mobsters” doing the same. I wanted to do the scene in one “Brian De Palma” longshot but it just simply was too damned difficult. We were shooting this scene at five in the AM and everyone is exhausted, some falling asleep. My DOP and I were determined to make it stylish in some fashion and with awesome editing by Vince D’Amato, we succeeded."
There seemed to be at least two or three different types of film used to film this movie. Why was that? "The film was shot on digitally 24 frames per second giving it a film look but I threw in normal video to add a closed circuit look here and there. I also screwed around with the ratios when we mastered the movie. I wanted to give the impression that “The Boss” was watching the big screen in the porno theatre and the tv’s in the “VIP Rooms” had a “Live Feed” of the mayhem as well. It was tough because we had all this action going on and had to have it unfold “Live” on the closed circuit. It was a nightmare shooting this movie in such a tight schedule. 16 days. I really need twice the amount of days but simply couldn’t afford that luxery. The closed circuit idea brought about “The Whiteman” character and him being a projectionist. I had William Sanderson of “Blade Runner” lined up for that role but the union up here put the kibosh on that, saying that I would have to pay ALL of the local actors the same price as Sanderson. I then went to Micheal Moriarty who lives just outside of Vancouver. He was very interested and almost signed on, he loved the script but his agent pulled the plug saying the it was too much, too extreme for Michael. I turned to Ted Friend, who is a very busy local actor appearing in “Masters of Horror” and “X-Men III”. He was great and really went for the sleaziest approach possible to portray this creep."
My favorite character was the old man who ran the box office. Did he look like that in real life or was he made up beyond all recognition? "The old man was a make-up designed by myself and applied by Tracy Lai, the key make-up artist on the show. The actor who played “Shards” is Colin Foo, another very busy local actor who was Udo Keirs butler in “Cigarette Burns”, the John Carpenter ep. Of “Masters of Horror”. Colin told me that he showed a picture of himself made up as “Shards” to Carpenter and he loved it! That made my day."
<Coming across as a mix of 'Hostel' and 'Saw' were you influenced by these in making this film? And if so, how? "I had written “Live Feed” long before “Hostel” ever came about. I was bummed out when I found out about “Hostel” because I knew that everyone and their Grandmother would say I ripped “Hostel” off. And most reviewers have mentioned that in one way or another. But watching the two movies, they are very different. “Saw” on the other hand inspired me to do some creative kill scenes but I had previously killed off the cast of the first “Final Destination” by using very creative means with my make-up effects company “Flesh and Fantasy Make-up Effects Inc.”, so I’m no stranger to creative death scenes. I would say the classics influenced me more than modern horror, although I love Asian horror from the late 80’s, early 90’s. Not the Ring stuff but the balls out gorefests like “Story of Ricky” and “Untold Story”, also “Guinea Pig” was a big one for me."
Please explain these following possible oversights ...!
When the girl is in the police car driving away for @ 30 seconds, Darren suddenly jumps out of the porno place's side door and slams into the side of the now stationary car door! How could he have done that if the police car had been driving for @ 30 seconds as depicted a few moments earlier?! - "If you notice, the police car is driving really slow, I mean sloooooow. The porno theatre had two exits and he came from the one on the opposite side but only three words can really describe this scene; suspension of disbelief!"
When the Asian mobster talks for the most part it's in Asian, but then in the last third of the film he's all English ... why the change? - "I wanted to screw with audience, like if they’re in China, why are they speaking English? But they’re in Chinatown and Chinese there do speak in English now and again. 75 percent of my cast was Asian. Chinese Cantonese and Mandarin. Vietnamese and Japanese, Korean. It was a task to meld all these Asian actors into speaking the chosen language in the film which ended up being Cantonese which I assumed all Chinese people could speak . I was wrong, I learned alot making this movie. For instance, a couple of my Chinese actors couldn’t speak a word of Chinese! I had a dialogue coach giving everyone lessons. There’s certain accents that “give it away” if the actor isn’t really Cantonese, so it was tough to get it right."
No subtitles when the Asian's are talking makes it difficult to follow. Why did you decide not to add those as subtitles? - "There actually is a version with subtitles burned into the picture but I watched “Mute Witness” and found it more effective hearing the Russian language and seeing the actors expressions than if there had been subtitles. I think it works better and keeps the audience on their toes."
When the waiter - who brings the penis on a dish - gets killed the blood literally 'fountains up' out of him! Slight overkill (if you pardon the expression!), don't you think?! - "That scene was sooooo far out there with the “Tempura Dick” force feeding scene that I needed to take it to another level with the gore as well, so over the top that “Emily” just looses it and goes for it! She was covered in blood head to toe and it was sticky, she wasn’t a happy camper on those days with the blood. In the R-rated version I do cut out about 13 stabs to the neck of the waiter, so it’s not as gory but also in my opinion, not as effective as the balls-out Unrated version."
OK, back to the last of the regular questions ... and with regard the lack of subtitles, when the cook is talking about food in the kitchen to the other guy (waiter) I'm pretty sure that the joke 'It tastes like chicken' should have come out! Am I right, perhaps?! "You’re bang on the money! “The Butcher” really wants to get “The Waiter” to eat intestines and “The Waiter” just isn’t having that!! But he does try a “Deep Fried Thumbstick!"
What was the relevance of the name on the postcard? Does this lead us into 'Live Feed 2,' perhaps? "The word on the postcard is “soldier”. It’s a postcard from “Seiji” to his Brother “Miles”. It is symbolic of “Miles” name, the Cantonese translation. It’s something special from one Brother to another and because it means so much to “Miles” and he’s unsure if he’ll live or die, he gives it to “Emily” who he has a thing for. I think we will explore the two brothers in “Dead Feed” the prequel which also has the origins of “The Boss”, “Shards”, “The Butcher” and of course “The Whiteman” and his massive son, “The Giant”. I’ve started writing it and I must say, the first act is so brutal, the MPAA will have a field day with it, as they did with “Live Feed”, with the R-rated version being five minutes shy of the Unrated."
What's upcoming on the writing/directing front for you now? "I’ve been busy as hell promoting “Live Feed”, I’m eager to get busy on our next project which is TBD. We have scripts for a monster movie, a zombie movie and a giallo inspired slasher fest in a bowling alley called “Gutterballs”."
Finally, please describe 'Live Feed' in just three words! "Balls out horror!!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
'Live Feed: Unrated' DVD Purchase Link
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