Writer-Director Dan Bush Takes Us Inside His Supernatural Film ‘The Vault’ In An Interview

 

 

You should recognize the name Dan Bush. He’s the man behind films like The Signal, The Blood Bond, Ghost of Old Highways, and The Reconstruction of William Zero.

I had the pleasure of talking with Bush who also directed the upcoming supernatural film The Vault which he co-wrote with Conal Byrne.

The Vault combines elements of a bank heist thriller with supernatural elements to create a fantastic film with an all-star cast that includes James Franco, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Scott Haze, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

 

In The Vault, in order to save their brother Michael’s life, the Dillon sisters, Leah (Francesca Eastwood) and Vee (Taryn Manning) have organized a bank robbery, but when the upstairs vault doesn’t have enough money to cover Michael’s debt, on the advice of Assistant Bank Manager Ed Maas (Franco), they drill into the downstairs vault. But the bank’s basement hides a terrible secret and before long, the Dillons have to choose whether to face the police outside or the terrible supernatural forces in the vault below.

 

 

Bush is also known for his feature films The Signal, The Blood Bond, The Reconstruction of William, and his short films Shut-Eye and Ghost of Old Highways.

 

 

Horror Fuel: “What inspired the script?”
Bush: “My co-writer, Conal Byrne, and I were watching a documentary about Warner Brother’s history. There was a segment on the period transitioning from the 70’s to the 80’s and the talked about Dog Day Afternoon and then The Shining. We thought – now there are two cards that have probably never been play together – heist and horror – bank robbers and ghosts. The image that hit me – the image where crime and terror intersect is the image of the hostage. I remember seeing images and reading about of hostage situations growing up – like the Munich Massacre in 72 and the Iran Hostage Crisis. Also images of bank heists that I recall. These images on old video cameras – pixilated – terrifying – That became the centerpiece on the table as we started writing.”
Horror Fuel: “I have to say, The Vault has a great story.”
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Horror Fuel: “The big twist with the supernatural aspects of the film was a great contrast to the
drama in the foreground. Did you plan on having that from the beginning?”
Bush: “I’m attracted to complex story structures and genre benders. In The Vault, I wanted to do a character-driven pressure cooker and simultaneously explore a setting that was it’s own haunted character – like The Overlook Hotel in The Shining. I wanted to explore characters trapped by real world forces outside, and supernatural forces inside, and create an impossible situation that would either drive these siblings together or apart immediately. That’s the heart of the movie for me.”
Horror Fuel: “I can see that.”
Horror Fuel: “The casting was perfect. Were any of the characters written with a specific actor
in mind?”
Bush: “I agree. We wrote the first draft years ago and, and actually, it was written as three brothers originally – all male leads. But as we got into casting the idea of making two of the sibling’s sisters quickly overtook the writing. I rarely see strong/complex/3- dimensional female characters in movies or TV these days. And when we changed the characters to women the story suddenly seemed charged. Also, I had seen Scott haze in other films – like Child of God, and I knew immediately he was the guy I needed to play
Michael.He is not only one of the strongest actors working today, but he immerses himself in his characters to create fantastically layered performances. Michael Dillon is a complex character. He is a broken/damaged soul. He is compelled to do good in the world despite the consequences, and that is why these siblings are in this mess. So the movie begins with the estranged sisters coming together to save him, but the outcome is way different. I also wanted the sisters, Leah and Vee, to be antagonistic forces to each other. One question is “will these siblings trust each other in order to survive?’ Taryn Manning was
almost too perfect for Vee – she is fantastic and brought the wild chaotic, unpredictable, trickster figure to Vee. But she also nailed this intense loyalty that Vee had to have. Francesca Eastwood nailed the volcanic, pent-up, military control freak that is Leah. Watching her struggle to maintain control and composure despite the relentless pressure is intense. We are waiting for her character to break at any second, and we know, because of Fran, that when she brings, that it’s not going to be pretty. With James Franco, I
wanted that big recognizable presence. A figure that makes you ask – why is he in a
supporting role?”
Franko & Bush
Horror Fuel: ” While Scott Haze’s character is a villain, he comes across so sympathetic and likable. Was his character written that way?”
Bush: “Adding to the above, yes. Michael was originally written as a savant. He is tuned into something the other’s can’t see. He also has a Jekyll and Hyde duality. Scott leaned more into the schizophrenic layer, which I loved.”
Horror Fuel: “Was The Vault filmed on location or on a set?”
Bush: “On Location. I originally wanted to set the movie up for a stage play and rehearse for a week before bringing in cameras. That would allow us to play out entire acts of the story without cutting. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that luxury, but I think it still has that feeling of being live.”
 
Horror Fuel: “It does.”
Horror Fuel: “The special effects were dead-on. How much of the film was practical and how
much of it was CGI?”
Bush: ” All of the FX were practical – except for one shot. Our Production designer, Jessee Clarkson, sculpted the “bag-heads” (as we call them) himself. They had to be breathable and the actors had to be able to see – not an easy task. Josh and Sierra Russell did all of our special FX along with Christine Ramirez, Tommy Pietch and Matt Green who did the FX and FX makeup.”
Horror Fuel: “It all looked great. Those “bag-heads” are creepy as hell.”
Eastwood, Haze, & Bush
Horror Fuel: “There is one scene that featured a lot of fire. How was it done in such a confined space?”
Bush: “With the fire shot’s we had to be extremely well planned and specific. Some shots involving fire were actually pickup shots we did with a breakaway set outside. We used CGI for one big set piece/shot and we were lucky to have such talented VFX people.”
Horror Fuel: “It looked very realistic. All of the effects people did a great job. That vault scene was brutal.”
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Horror Fuel: “If you had to describe ‘The Vault’ to viewers with 3 words, what would they be?
Bush: “Heist meets Horror? or two words: Haunted bank.”
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us about your other project, ‘Numb, at the Edge of the End’?”
Bush: ” I actually only did some script doctoring on that one. I do have another psychological thriller in the can though. It’s called The Dark Red and it’s about a woman who is committed to a psychiatric ward claiming that her baby was taken by a cult.”
Horror Fuel: “That sounds very interesting. Psychiatric hospitals and the possibility of wrongful commitment scares me.”
Horror Fuel: “Does it have a release date yet?”
Bush: “Not sure. The Dark Red is nearing completion now. Please stay tuned.”
Image from The Dark Red
The Vault will break into UK theaters and VOD on September 8, 2017. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it (expect our review soon)! Be sure to follow The Vault on Facebook for regular updates and screening information. As soon as a release date is announced for The Dark Red we will let you know.

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