Director Damien Power has made his feature lenght debut with the new horror/thriller Killing Ground, released in theaters and VOD on July 21st. Power built his career up via a series of short films, most of which he also wrote, and now has taken some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions from Below the Line.
Q:What was your impetus/inspiration to write and direct Killing Ground?
A: The idea first occurred as an image of an abandoned tent, very much like the one in the film. It led me to ask the question: what happened to the campers? This suggested a story.
I also drew on my experience camping – that feeling of being miles from civilization and help!
There’s a lot of my fears in there: Could I protect my family if we were threatened? As I wrote I constantly asked myself, what would I do? The film asks the viewer the same question.
What was the journey like, going from the conception of Killing Ground to getting it physically and financially produced?
It was eleven years from the germ of the idea to the shoot and almost another two years to release (with some festival play over the last year). It’s been a long, strange trip!
How did creating a feature length project differ from your previous experience creating short films?
It’s the same–except longer. No short can really prepare you for the marathon that is making a feature. I’ve never been so tired in my whole life.
What was your biggest challenge when creating this movie?
The weather. The rain nearly killed us.
What was your favorite part about creating Killing Ground?
My favourite scene to shoot was the scene between Chook and German in the pub toilets. There wasn’t much room to move but the mirror gave us some great angles and it felt great on the day. It was fun to watch two great actors going for it. And we didn’t have to worry about the weather!
My favourite part of the whole experience is watching the film in a packed cinema. You can feel the tension in the room. People get very vocal watching this film.
How do you see Killing Ground as part of your arc/trajectory as a creator? How much if it comes from what you’ve done before and how much of Killing Ground do you think will be with you going forward?
Killing Ground has been my big career break. The film’s success enabled me to quit my day job and focus on filmmaking. Making the film was also the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m optimistic the next film won’t be quite as hard! I learnt a lot and will take those lessons into the next shoot. And for better or worse, I’m the guy that made Killing Ground–so it’ll always be with me in some way.
What movies/filmmakers have had the biggest impact on you as a creative voice?
My favourite films are Psycho and The Shining. Growing up I loved Harold and Maude, Blue Velvet and Repo Man. Artistically I’m inspired by Stanley Kubrick, Gerhard Richter, Jonny Greenwood, Michael Haneke, Jim Thompson, Paul Thomas Anderson and Alfred Hitchcock.
What kind of projects do you hope to tackle next?
I’m working on a few film projects including a feature adaptation of my short Peekaboo, and a teen horror/thriller.