Vito Dinatolo directs Face of Evil, now available on VOD and DVD from Gravitas Ventures.
On July 4th, private Jay Williams returns home from the Middle East, but a mysterious epidemic breaks out and infects his friends at his party. On the road to salvation, Jay is joined by his ex-sergeant, who reveals chilling secrets leading to a conspiracy. The night has just begun, as they embark on a survival quest for the ultimate truth.
Horror Fuel: “Tell us about yourself, Vito.”
Vito: “Since a tender age, I developed a strong film addiction, which I finally cured by going to LA to study Cinema and TV! I have made a bunch of short films, videos and TV segments, opened my indie company, V-Movie, and F.O.E. (Face Of Evil). That’s basically my resume.”
Horror Fuel: “Was filmmaking always the goal?”
Vito: “When I was a lil’ kid, I first wanted to be a sheriff in the far far west, then a scientist and astronaut in the far far space, I also like the garbage man job as I saw them surfing the back of the truck and jumping on and off, and I thought it would be fun. When I grew up (kinda) I wanted to be every character I watched in every single movie (I suffered from the Zelig syndrome!). At that point, since I could never make up my mind and I liked to fantasize, I thought perhaps filmmaking was what I really needed to do. But since a kid, I always watched a lot of movies. I often spaced out, imagined stories, characters, but you know, you are a kid… Growing up, I realized I was still living in la la land, plus, I was running out of movies to watch (nowadays that would be impossible), so I thought I should get real and learn the craft. I cautiously bought a few books on filmmaking, I enjoyed reading them like no other textbook before and realized with big surprise that I already knew most of the theory, just by watching so many movies in those years. I wrote a couple of shorts, shot them with my mini VHS camera, and won a couple of small awards in Italy. Encouraged by those little achievements, I carefully considered all my options and realized the necessary step up was to physically go, indeed, to la la land. In 1999 Vito goes to Hollywood to study Cinema! In LA I made a few more shorts, won a couple of awards, worked also in TV. Encouraged those little better achievements, I realized it was time for a feature film. After many drafts and brainstorms, Face Of Evil was born.”
Horror Fuel: “And where are you from initially?”
Vito: “I am from Naples, Italy.”
Horror Fuel: “Is Face of Evil your first major movie?”
Vito: “F.O.E. is my first feature.”
Horror Fuel: “Tell me about it?”
Vito: “I was always into horror movies, and horror movies can be placed in a realistic scenario, with causes justified by topical events. So my inspiration about the look of the infected came from a real nightmare I had when I was a kid, and that stuck to my mind. When I decided to make a horror movie, a few years ago, I adopted that look, but I thought it would be pointless to make just another genre movie about zombies… So I wrote the first draft in one month, a plain zombie action script, but it took me over one year to turn it into a psychological thriller that would make sense from the lead character’s point of view. And yes, there are a few topical messages. The movie touches contemporary issues like epidemics paranoia, vets PTSD, big brother conspiracy, any mass shooting rampage in recent history. Yet, it never loses focus on entertaining, which is why we really watch movies! It’s about the inner journey of a person on the run from his demons, real or not, from an unknown enemy, who may attack anywhere, anytime. Or perhaps it’s just the story of a victim, a scapegoat in a devious system. It’s a contemporary tale of realistic madness. And since we live in this world, we are somehow involved. It could read like the headline of any recent news: “Breaking News! Another war vet with post-traumatic stress goes on a shooting rampage among the crowd and then he shoots himself!” Maybe he saw the enemy, monsters, zombies, and whatnot… Maybe he was just fighting his demons… From a directorial standpoint, I think with horror or thriller you can express yourself better, show your style, leave your footprint on the product, while with comedy or action you heavily rely on actors, their charisma. You hear of horror movies directed by such or such, but for most genres, you need a star. Plus low budget horror is safer since it always sells.”
Horror Fuel: “How did you get the cast you did? Discover them all through auditions?”
Vito: “I viewed a couple of thousand people online and auditioned most of them in person, only to select a few good men and women of good will and plenty of talent, to enlist in this mission. Auditions took four months, but it was fun, especially finding the right face for all characters. it was great to see how the characters finally took shape and matched exactly the idea I had in my mind, and how I wrote it on the script. The cast is my best asset in this movie. That’s important especially when you write/option a character based script, with well-shaped personalities. I like character-based stories – if you notice, the most memorable movies are character based – once you know the story, it’s no big deal anymore, but if the story is based mostly on the characters and not just on their actions, we will never get bored of watching those scenes, because we are no longer interested in the story, but in their character, you want to meet them, hang out with them, say the same lines with them. Those movies are evergreen, some become cults. That’s why casting is so important.”
Horror Fuel: “Where did you shoot?”
Vito: “I wrote the script thinking about the shoot and the limited budget. So I divided the film into two separate productions, and you saw they are almost two different movies. The first half takes place in a house I found in the valley. It was perfect as the owner was a hoarder so all I had to do is re-arrange the mess in a way that made sense for the action of the story and the blocking of the actors. The second half was shot around LA, some permits, some guerrilla style. I also shot in skid row. One bridge was on the sixth street by the industrial area. The other by Chinatown. The hospital was in LACC, as they had a nursing department and I knew people in the school. Finally, the desert scene, an homage to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western, was just outside LA, I was driving the day of the shoot with the two actors and a couple of crew members, knowing LA is surrounded by the desert, but not knowing exactly what to find, I believe on the 14 freeway, at some point I saw a town which looked exactly like a destroyed Afghanistan town, even better than what I was expecting, so we stopped and we shot. Note that every single shoot, location etc, was exactly planned in details in advance. The more you plan in advance, the more you can improvise on set, but that’s true for any task in any business I guess. For example, the gas station scene was carefully rehearsed beforehand – since they didn’t let us shoot on the spot, we went through the blocking many times in another gas station, already knowing the map of the actual gas station which denied us. Then we went on location, to the actual gas station, and while one of us was in the market, buying something, acting as a decoy, we promptly parked, shot with the two actors, and left in five minutes! It came out great. The interior was instead shot in another market in the valley. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here, that’s enough behind the scene trivia I guess… “
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us where we can find the movie?”
Vito: “The film is available on VOD and DVD on the links listed on the film page – FOEmovie.com/shop. You can also find the great soundtrack there. Music by famous Gram Rabbit, Kid Hustle, Raven Hughes and, of course, filmmaker Vito Dinatolo, haha! Yes, me. It ranges from Electronica to Ambient, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop and whatnot.”
Be sure to pick up your copy of Face of Evil, now out on VOD and DVD, from Gravitas Ventures.