EXCL: Garth Ennis on His Directorial Debut Stitched

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From short film to comics to…feature film?

During Comic-Con 2011 in San Diego, Shock had some time to sit down with the director of the short film Stitched, Garth Ennis (“Preacher”), to discuss the short as well as the possibility of a longer movie coming from the renowned comic book writer.

In Stitched, three survivors of an American helicopter crash (played by actors Tank Jones, Lauren Alonzo, and Kate Kugler) struggle across the high mountains of Afghanistan. They’re injured, without food, water, or medicine, and moving through Taliban-controlled territory. Among the sun-bleached rocks, they discover something worse than enemy fighters: an ancient supernatural power murderous, unstoppable, and serving a twenty-first century evil.

Shock Till You Drop: I found it interesting that there will be a Stitched comic book after the first 15 minutes of the film is offered and presumably the rest of the film will come after that.

Garth Ennis: Let’s hope so. The point is to hopefully to raise enough budget to finish the story.

Shock: That’s very interesting compared to how the whole graphic novels or comic books to movies have been made or even movies to comic books have been made. In your mind is this how you wanted to do it from the beginning?

Ennis: From the beginning it was going to be a short film. And it came at some surprise that [Avatar Press] would want to do it as a comic and I didn’t have a problem with that. They have put a lot into this and so it is only fair they can get as much as they can. I have focused more on the film side.

Shock: Do you have an idea of what you would like to do with the entire film if it happens?

Ennis: We are adapting my full screen play from the comic, so it is all there and finished.

Shock: This is your first time directing. Talk me through that it has to be night and day compared to what you are normally doing.

Ennis: The writing aspect is very similar. The format is different but to be honest you could write one for the other. You could switch format and it wouldn’t make much difference. It is the directing part that is the big difference. In comics, you usually turn your script over to an artist and he turns it into a series of images. With film, you are there and the actors are going to act out the action and the director of photography is going to capture that and compose the shots. As director, you are there to bump people in just the right direction you want. You talk to the actors (who were really good). There wasn’t much more than saying a little bit more than that or a little bit less than that. It was putting together the shots was more challenging. We were working so hard and so fast and if I was nervous, I didn’t have time to be. I had to focus and learn and that really helped.

Shock: How meticulous were you in your direction?

Ennis: I have an eye for authenticity. So if it was something that was a little bit off or something should be there or whatever. For instance, if someone leaves a rifle barrel down, that’s a no-no. You don’t stick the barrel of the rifle in the dirt.

Shock: Did it seem to come natural to you?

Ennis: Especially talking to actors, yes it did, because I have a strong sense of character and how I want people to carry themselves.

Shock: Tell me about the comic, will it continue where the 15 minute short left off or will it be something different?

Ennis: Issue one will be the story from the short film but expanded a bit. You will see the helicopter crash instead of the aftermath. Issues two through six will adapt my screenplay for the rest of the story. So you will get a 120-page story roughly and that is what the screenplay will be.

Shock: Any indication if you are going to get the full film?

Ennis: We are at such an early stage and people are just starting to see the film. It is a toe dipped in the water and we’ll have to just hope that something will come of it.

Shock: These creatures that seem unstoppable and are akin to zombies is unlike anything else you have done with “Hellblazer” and “Preacher,” where did you get the idea?

Ennis: I knew early on that I wanted it to be an action story and for me that meant a war story. And I wanted horror to be involved to spice things up a bit. And I began thinking of the notion of war zombies and undead adapted for the battlefield. I began thinking of the notion of the zombie in as new a way as I could. I wanted to avoid the squishy gory zombie that you shoot and go. I wanted something that was almost unstoppable. That wouldn’t be a bag of blood that explodes everywhere but is composed of something different. Just do as many different things that I could.

Source: Peter Brown

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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