The genre has a new found footage horror film, The Outwaters, which sees the discovery of videos left behind by a couple exploring the desert. We sat down with the film’s writer-director and actor, Robbie Banfitch, to discuss the movie that opened in select theaters on the 9th.
In the film, “Memory cards unearthed in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert tell the story of four travelers who vanished during a sun-drenched camping trip. One night, everything changes when the foursome is sent on a mind-bending voyage of unrelenting terror into a world of darkness that no human was ever meant to see.”
The visceral film had an award-winning festival run — where it was hailed as one of the year’s scariest movies.
The Outwaters stars writer-director Robert Banfitch, Angela Basolis, Michelle May, Scott Schamell, and Leslie Ann Banfitch, featuring original Salem Belladonna music. It is produced by Beau J. Genot and Banfitch, with Robert Abramoff serving as executive producer.
Kelli: “Let’s talk about this film in yours. Um, how did it come to be?”
Robbie: “It came to be because I thought of a cool title for a film. Oh, I love your cat.”
Kelli: “Uh, sorry. She’s extremely clingy. She’s a kitten, so she’s still in that clingy faze. If I don’t hold her, she’ll claw the crap out of me till I do.”
Robbie: “So yeah, I came up with the title first and explored ideas from there, but really it was that I needed to get up off the couch and make a movie because I realized, you know, like, I’m getting older, need to get things done, need to make those, like, try to make the dreams come true. But really, I need to be out there filming stuff. So, um, yeah, it came from a need to do.”
Kelli: “Gotcha. Okay. All right. Why go the found footage route?”
Robbie: “It was a practical decision due to me not having any money <laugh>, but also because I’m a huge fan of the original Blair Witch Project and, I love that film so much, and I’ve always, ever since I saw it, I wanted to do a found footage movie.”
It took a while to come up with the idea that I liked. Well, I mean, it, it worked for the film. I mean, it’s appropriate.”
Kelli: “So, you know, some of the scenes have this really strange sound. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s an odd sound, like a, almost like a whining type sound. It set my dogs off on a freakout.”
Robbie: “I’ve heard that from my distributor, my <laugh>, um, one of my distributors at, at Santa Dime, which is releasing the film. His dogs freak out at a certain point. I believe that some kind of like whining sets the dogs off. So watching The Outwaters with your dogs is the key.”
Kelli: “<laugh>, right? Well, mine, my two just lost it.”
Robbie: “Um, what’d they do?”
Kelli: “They jumped up and started looking around and started like, kind of growling and barking and just went running around the house, checking windows, and they just freaked out.”
Robbie: “That’s awesome. So I’m glad you told me.”
Kelli: “You’re welcome. Tell me about how the casting went.”
Robbie: “Um, they, Michelle, Scott, and Andrew, are all close friends. Um, and they were available and down to go to the desert with me, and I knew I would have fun with them, and I knew I could put some fake blood on them, and they wouldn’t be babies about it. So that was all fun. And my mom, you know, is my mom, so I figured it might make sense to have her play my mom <laugh>. No, I just wanted people around me that, that I wanted to hang out with for long periods.”
Kelli: “So that, that’s a good thing. Where was it filmed?
Robbie: “It was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, uh, and various secret locations in the Mojave Desert. Um, some California, some other states, but a few different locations out in the Mojave.”
Kelli: “Okay. That explains a lot. This entity, I guess that’s what you would call it. Where did the inspiration come for that?”
Robbie: “Um, I had a very clear idea from the inception of the story of what the threat would be. Um, I don’t know it. I don’t know where it came from other than the title somehow led me to think of what this threat might be. I don’t have a clear answer for you, um, other than it popped in the noggin one day.”
Kelli: “Right, right. Well, that’s usually how movies come to life. Um, some of the filmed scenes, s, where it can only see what the flashlight is shining on. It was a great touch.”
Kelli: “So, what’s next?”
Robbie: “Next? I have a feature coming up called Tinman Road that will premiere at a festival next month. So, hopefully, people will get a chance to check that out as it moves around the festival circuit.”
Kelli: “Is it horror as well?”
Robbie: “Yeah, it’s horror a little bit more on the side of mystery, drama, and crime, but definitely, you’d find it in the horror section of the video store.”
Kelli: “Awesome. So it’s got a little bit of everything.”
Robbie: “No, no comedy really, but No, no comedy. But other than that, yeah.”
Kelli: “That’s great! Okay. Um, what do you hope the fans take away from the out waters?
Robbie: “I hope that they, the ideal hope is that they get a little scared, and my main hope is that people who are excited to see it, um, enjoyed watching it. That’s made it for people to enjoy.”
Kelli: “Tell me, what inspired you to become a filmmaker? Was it like a desire from childhood?
Robbie: “Luckily, I’ve always known what I wanted to do since I was little. There was never a question. I don’t know why. I know that I loved Jaws and Jurassic Park a lot, so.”
Kelli: “Yeah, they are two of my favorites.”
Robbie: “They’re the best.”
Kelli: “They are brilliant. I hope there’s never a reboot or remake.”
Robbie: “I’m, I’m always down for a remake cuz you always have the original. Um, even though most remakes I’m not a huge fan of most, but yeah, I mean, I kind, you know what I would be down for if they remade jaws, but they used an actual animatronic shark for the whole thing, but just done like the deep blue Sea animatronic sharks, so it actually looked real. And no CGI, I’d be down for that, but it definitely wouldn’t be as good as the original. There’s just no way.
Kelli: “There are so many remakes and reboots coming out that it’s insane. Mm-hmm. And now that, you know, they’re gone after The Exorcist now.”
Robbie: “Yeah. I can’t imagine them topping that, but I’m gonna be there for it. <laugh>.”
Kelli: “Right, right. So, um, tell us a little bit about your film White Light.”
Robbie: “Oh, it was a college thesis film. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, actually, um, my best friend from college, Bobby, shot it. That’s whose house I’m at right now, <laugh>. Um, so that was, uh, yeah, a college thesis project that we shot on a 16-millimeter. Um, it was about alien abduction and missing time, and it was based on the work, the writing of Bud Hopkins, who was kind of like a U f O researcher. Um, and you can read his books, uh, one of which is called Intruders, which is terrifying. So that’s, that’s a little bit about white light, but that was, yeah, my big like thesis film.”
Kelli: “Right. Are you a believer in UFOs?”
Kelli: “I definitely believe there’s alien life in the universe. Um, I tend to believe that there are probably UFOs, but I don’t pretend to be certain about it. Um, I’m very open to that idea for sure. I think it’s super interesting to think about, read about, and try to find evidence of, yeah.”
Kelli: “Right. That’s great. Okay, so when is The Outwaters coming out?”
Robbie: “Today. It’s out today in theaters in US and Canada. We’re in select cities. And then, depending on how many people see it, we may expand, but we’ll be on screen box streaming shortly, so standby for the streaming dates. But right now, you can check us out in theaters and in most states, including Hawaii.”
Kelli: “Wow, that’s awesome. That’s great. And it’s a very interesting film. It’s really worth watching, and I hope folks check it out.”
Robbie: “Thank you so much. I hope they check it out too.”
Watch The Outwaters now in select theaters. It will soon premiere on SCREAMBOX.