Greg joined us via a zoom call and while battling some difficult internet connections, gave some great insight into his previous roles, his new films and The Room.
Your upcoming film Miracle Valley looks to be this intense atmospheric horror throwing back to some classics. Just from watching the trailer, it reminded me of The Hills Have Eyes, but I was wondering if there were any other films you specifically wanted to reference or pay homage to?
“So I studied a lot of 70s films like The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. Horror films that have a great setting and a great villain I think were the ones that spoke to me the most. I lived in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, and I wrote the script down there and scouted all the locations so I really wanted to have the feeling. I went down there because I wanted to try and capture that 70s genre of grindhouse while also adding bits of other movies like Hereditary and Midsommar to tie in what I love about the horror genre and make sure it is fun with audiences.”
You’ve had experience in acting in horror films before (The Haunting of Bly Manor, Cyst) was there anything in particular about acting in front of the screen on these horror projects that inspired your directorial choices for Miracle Valley?
"Yeah, so I got the chance to work on Bly Manor with Mike Flannagan so that was really fun. I got the chance to ask him a lot of questions about making films like Hush, and Occulus - just movies that you know, just try to scare you in the right way and also in a psychological way. So, that was a lot of fun working on Bly Manor, it was a great warm-up. Then another thing I like in the horror genre is the comedy that seeps in so I wanted to take it seriously, but also make sure that there were comedic moments. Yeah, I got the chance to work on Cyst, which was another crazy movie about a killer cyst. But I think Miracle Valley plays well to both sides really, it has a little bit of 70s and has a little bit of modern too"
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?'
"I think most importantly I want them to have a good time. It's one of those movies where when you show it to an audience, some part of it is an anticipation of the interaction and I think that's also something that's fun. I think we need more of that. So, I hope they just come in, have a good time, experience a few twists, and get a few laughs. Miracle Valley is based on a real-life cult. I’m fascinated by cults. Why do we join them? Why do they exist? And so the movie is also kind of tying into that."
The Room is an iconic bad film but has had some well-received content come from it like the A24 film The Disaster Artist, which was based on a book you wrote. How do you feel about the film, did it do The Room and your book justice? And how did you feel about Dave Franco’s portrayal of you?
“So yeah, when I wrote to book, I always envisioned it as a movie. You know, to me, the book told a darker tale of friendship and following your dreams and I think the movie adaptation is something very fun, inspiring and a lighter take on it. It’s just a different piece of the puzzle and I definitely enjoyed the film, I think it brought a lot of audiences to the room and my book. I enjoyed Dave’s performance, I thought it was a much more positive upbeat version of me. I didn’t want to make the film and Dave was playing it like a loyal friend who thinks it could do something. The movie is fun and you know, I enjoyed the whole process.”
Greg told us a little bit about his last time in Newcastle.
“I love Newcastle, I got to come here three years ago for my last film and I told the crowd at the time ‘If I make this film I’ll come back and visit and then the pandemic happened so it’s really awesome to be able to come back and hang with you guys."
Were there any particular places in Newcastle you enjoyed when you visited?
"I hung out downtown, and also by the river - Quayside, and St James Park.
You came to Tyneside Cinema to promote your 2019 film Best F(r)iends and you were nice enough to come back. What do you like so much about our little independent cinema?
“I’ve seen a lot of cities in England and I’ve been to Scotland and Ireland, and I liked the whole vibe from Tyneside. It’s got a mix of architecture that I really liked that I hadn’t seen yet; it has got charm. The cinema made a great impression and the audience made a great impression so I’m so happy to come back”
As the interview drew to a close, Greg asked us a question of his own…
Are you guys coming to the screening?
Referring to the double screening of Miracle Valley and The Room as well as a Q&A, script reading and signing session from Greg hosted by Tyneside on Thursday 28th April, we all eagerly said yes. It looks to be a fun night for all the die-hard fans of The Room and Greg’s excitement about Miracle Valley was catchy.
Be sure to come along yourself and be in with a chance of saying hi to Mark…