Comic-Con Exclusive Interview: Dave Parker, Ivan Djurovic, James Duval on Coldwater

At San Diego Comic-Con, Shock sat down for a group interview with three of the guys behind the upcoming slow-burn horror thriller, Coldwater.

Shock got the inside story on the film from Dave Parker, (writer/director/co-executive producer), Ivan Djurovic, (actor/writer/co-executive producer) and James Duval, (actor/co-producer).  This is Parker’s return to the director’s seat after The Hills Run Red.

The guys spoke with us about why you should watch the film more than once, shooting on location, the on set camaraderie, and more. We will keep you updated as distribution details become available.

Shock Till You Drop: Guys, tell us a little bit about Coldwater.

Ivan Djurovic: Basically, Coldwater is a very unique experimental film that started off as a small idea and goal. It really took speed and never stopped. It was a passion project for Dave [Parker] and myself. We met originally on Animal Planet. Dave was directing a show and they needed a creature suit performer. Someone that I had worked with in the past suggested me.

Dave Parker: Vincent Guastini, who did the special effects for Coldwater, suggested Ivan. That’s how Ivan and I met. We had a really great working experience together and then we started hanging out. I had pretty recently finished The Hills Run Red. I was doing a TV show and I was chomping at the bit to do something else. So, we started talking about doing a short. We wanted to test the waters, then it grew in to Coldwater. It has continued to build to the point where we are very happy and we are here at Comic-Con.

Ivan Djurovic: The great thing is that this is my first time stepping outside of the acting role. The thing that I’m most thankful for is that the collaborative process with Dave has been unique and amazing. Once the idea was there it was constant back and forth. Everything was building up. Every idea complimented every other idea. In the end, I am really thankful for being able to make the movie that we created and have everyone that worked on it involved.

Shock: What is the overall tone of the film?

James Duval: It’s sort of very dark and mysterious, even from the very beginning. I love that it’s set up that way. It starts off in the daytime. Without giving too much away, I think the tone really lends itself to Ivan’s character’s journey and his introduction to taking care of this house. There is this strangeness and eeriness to this house. You are right along with him the entire way for that ride. I thought he captured the eeriness very well. Maybe you got scared of being in a house alone when you were a child, or even as an adult. Watch this film; you will be that scared kid, again. That’s the kind of atmosphere I felt that it had.

Dave Parker: That’s the thing. The location that we had was this very unique house. It’s laid out very strangely. It’s weird. I’ve actually house-sat at this house before, by myself. It’s so big and multi-leveled that you hear all these weird noises at night. It’s really dark. The walls are painted dark. I remember one time, staying in the bedroom and I locked the door. The rest of the house was locked and I still locked the bedroom door. So, the house itself lent a lot of atmosphere. That’s why it really becomes a character. We really developed the story with this house in mind. We knew it had so much atmosphere. It was then just about subtly turning the screws and really trying to add that suspense and tension and the juxtaposition of day. We really wanted to focus more on suspense and tension, more so than the hacking and slashing – like I had done in The Hills Run Red.  So many modern movies are so fast paced that you don’t get that opportunity to build. I felt like Hills didn’t have as much of that as I would have liked to go along with the hacking and slashing. It was a really interesting conscious thing to me to make it all about tone and atmosphere.

Shock: Would you categorize ColdWater as straight horror, a psychological thriller, or a mixture of both?

Ivan Djurovic: Dave and I were talking about it after shooting. It’s very difficult to put an exact genre or category on it. It’s going to be interesting to see where people think it falls on the spectrum. It’s definitely got suspense thriller written all over it. However, it has horror elements to it. We definitely wanted to stay true to the horror community. We wanted to stay true to Dave’s background. Everyone likes a little bit of horror. There was one screening where I just sat back and watched people. The best part was seeing people slowly slouch in to their seats as the movie went on. The audience just got physically more and more tense as the film went on.

James Duval: It’s kind of like dropping them in to the head of horror but not letting them look out the eyeballs. It’s very psychological.

Dave Parker: That’s a really great way to put it, James. We embraced it all. We didn’t play by the conventional rules of any genre. But, we didn’t cheat. Some people will watch it and say “That’s bullshit. You cheated.” But, we didn’t cheat. What we want people to do, is watch the movie in the first place and just experience it. Hopefully, you will like it enough to watch it again. Things are going to reveal themselves that you didn’t notice the first time. It is really subtle and tricky.

Ivan Djurovic: Part of the fun when we were writing the film was taking the time to ask ourselves “Would I see this coming?” If the answer was yes, then we would figure out how to make it so that we wouldn’t see it coming. On top of that, we let a select handful of people read the script in the early stages. I would get phone calls the second day with the response that the person had already read it a second time and they would have picked up on multiple things that they didn’t get the first time. The same thing happens when people watch the film multiple times. It’s a learning process. There are things that are so subtly hidden that really play more to the story. The second time may even be more exciting and fun than the first time around. 

Shock: Was the whole film shot on location in the house?

Ivan Djurovic: The entire film, aside from the opening, takes place in that one location. Through and through, that’s it.

Dave Parker: Originally, it was all going to be shot at the house. Then, when we did our first edit, we felt like it was counterproductively too claustrophobic at first. We wanted to open it up a little bit, so we shot some driving footage, using a helicopter, to give it a grander scale. What’s great about it is that you start out with a wide helicopter shot and the movie continually gets smaller and smaller, until you are in the dark with this guy.

Shock: Do you gentleman have any word on distribution or a release date?

Dave Parker: Not yet. We are not pushing anything, yet. Comic-Con itself was a real windfall. It was a huge thing. Right now, we’re just enjoying the ride. We’re getting ready to screen it soon, and then we will see what opportunities we have. We aren’t putting pressure on ourselves, right now. Right now, everything that we have done with this movie has been unconventional. It’s been really carefully plotted out. That’s why it’s taken time to be finished. It’s all been for the benefit of the film. The last thing we are going to do now is play by conventional rules and give it to just anyone. Hopefully people see what we see in it. The fact that we are doing this panel in “Hall H” at Comic-Con is a huge compliment. It says that people seem to think that we’ve done something special. That’s what you hope for when you do a movie, but as we can all attest to, it’s rare. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen. I don’t even know how people are going to react. To me, that’s ok, because we are already successful.

Ivan Djurovic: I completely agree [with Dave]. We didn’t really set any kind of parameters for ourselves. That’s part of the excitement. The fact that we started the movie on the right terms and we finished it and are still talking to one another and haven’t killed each other; we’re good. Now is really the exciting part. We did the movie for many different reasons, but we want people to realize that if there is something that you want to do, you shouldn’t wait around. Find a way to pursue it, push, and don’t look back. It’s been an amazing experience.

James Duval: It was experimental. It was tonally dark. We didn’t always know where we were going but it was an absolute success in that we are so happy with the way that it ended up turning out. My only hope is that the audience and distributors have as good of a time watching it as we did making it.

Dave Parker: Certain parts of the way that we made the movie are becoming a part of the new way of approaching filmmaking. With all of the small companies that are popping up; Magnolia, Image, Dark Sky, there are more independent companies than there have been in over 20 years, and they are releasing films theatrically. With VOD and streaming and everything, it’s almost like the dawn of VHS. Things are changing. Studios may want to play the same game, but the rest of us are figuring out how to exploit this new era for all it’s worth. That way, you don’t have to wait six years to get to make another movie.

James Duval: People are changing the ways that they watch movies. That’s extremely important for us to know. It’s nice to have a lot of studio money to make what you want and make sure your movie gets out there. Unfortunately, the product isn’t always good.

Shock: With studio money, you don’t always get to make the film you want to make.

James Duval: Absolutely.

Ivan Djurovic: Since the beginning, it’s been Dave and I working on the project. We’ve had a lot of people that have contributed in many different ways, but we made the movie that we wanted to make.

Dave Parker: The nice thing about approaching a project like this is that the amount of compromising you have to do decreases hugely, compared to when you are working with a lot of other producers. Everyone on set got to contribute ideas. It was an open forum. I was the captain and I knew where we were going, but I always encouraged everyone to share their ideas. There are moments that we found, just by accident that benefited the movie so hugely. A lot of those were suggestions from our first AD or our camera operator.

Ivan Djurovic: One of our camera operators said to us “Guys, I’m going to be blunt with you right now. You have not compromised anything. You have not rushed anything. Don’t start rushing now. Take your time. Do what you’ve been doing because you’ve been doing it great. There’s no reason to rush. We’ll come back if we need to come back. We are going to be with you the whole way through.” To have that kind of freedom and to know that they were willing to help us no matter what was huge. We plan to continue working with everyone, but on a bigger scale.

Dave Parker: Hearing that was amazing. It was a very unconventional shoot. The hours were long. It was intense. So, to actually hear someone say that was the best compliment that we could have received.