Exclusive: Director Michael A. Nickles Talks Playback Starring Christian Slater

Shock Till You Drop caught up with Michael A. Nickles and got his insight on his inspiration for his latest film Playback.

Nickles talked with us about the true events that inspired some of the film’s script, his previous entry in the horror genre XII, his biggest inspirations in the horror world, and his eventual plans to return to horror cinema.

You can check Playback out in theatres March 9th, or you can watch it now through its pre-release via VOD. 

How did your experience on XII compare to your experience making your new film Playback?

Michael A. Nickles: I think whatever film you make informs how you approach your next one. Things happen that make you think, “Ah…that’s something to remember for next time.”  Based on my previous experience, I knew going into Playback just how hard it was going to be to get all the shots I wanted.  Not just sufficient coverage–beyond that–shots that mattered to the overall feel and design of the film.  It’s always difficult–there’s never enough time, no matter what the budget is.  But I did try to write with that in mind.  And I storyboarded this one more than any other film I’ve done.

How did you come to cast Christian Slater?

Nickles: Christian brought a certain charisma to the role of Lyons that wasn’t in the script. On the surface he comes across as someone who seems normal, fits in to every day society. But underneath that there exists this perversion, this darkness. And he’s able to convey that with just the slightest raise of those magnificent eyebrows. He’s a creepy character but somehow Christian Slater makes him fun to watch.  He’s such a great actor.  It’s amazing what he does, really.

What inspired you to write the script?

Nickles: The producers of the film – Larry Robbins and John Bennett – wanted to make a film that somehow incorporated the work of Louis Le Prince, who is technically one of the first filmmakers in history. They had done quite a bit of research on him and were excited about the possibilities.  They also made it clear that they wanted to make a genre film.  The challenge I faced was how to meld those two interests into an intriguing, entertaining story.  I didn’t want to make a slasher film, so I looked at it more from a supernatural/thriller angle.  I also knew I wanted the film to have a sense of humor about itself, a kind of self-consciousness, like Scream or American Werewolf in London. I wanted to make a film that was aware of – and respectful of – its predecessors but also one that could have a bit of fun with that awareness.

Do you have plans to jump back in to the horror genre after Playback?

Nickles: Definitely. I love the visceral nature of the genre. I love how my heart rate will go up in the middle of watching a scene, as if my body somehow forgot I was watching a movie. For me, that’s a lot of fun. I strive to be able to create that in my own work. It’s a challenge. I finished a script recently that I hope to be working on with some of the same team that made this one.

Which horror filmmakers have served as inspiration for your entries in the horror genre?

Nickles: There are too many to mention them all, but to point out a few favorites: Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi, Alexander Aja, George Romero, David Lynch.

Which up and coming horror directors are you looking forward to seeing more from?

Nickles: Martyrs is one of my favorite films – horror or otherwise – so I’m really interested in seeing what Pascal Laugier does next.  I’m very much looking forward to The Tall Man.

You can learn more about Playback right here.


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