Living Space – Q & A with director Steven Spiel

Director Steven Spiel on the set of Living Space

Interview by Eddie on 9/03/2018

The Movie Guys were lucky enough to catch an advance screening of new Australian horror film Living Space recently.

A tightly paced and atmospheric local production, I had the pleasure of getting to pick the mind of Living Space director and rising star Steven Spiel , who dissects the influences and inspirations of Living Space in the Q and A below.

Happy reading and happy watching!

Things don’t go to well for Living Space’s Ashley, played by Georgia Chara

Q – Steven, could you please tell our reader’s a bit about yourself and how you came to be involved in the movie industry?

I have been in the film industry for over 10 years now. I started off as an actor and after a few years, quickly realised my strengths laid behind the camera rather than in front. My first time on a large film set was in 2009 when I played a vampire soldier on the film “Daybreakers”. I was instantly drawn into the industry and knew from that point I wanted to dedicate myself to creating film. It’s crazy to look back and know that SFX artist Steve Boyle was the lead artist on “Daybreakers” and to now have had him work on “Living Space” is a huge honour.

Q – Starting out your career in the industry as an actor, how did the change to the other side of the camera take place?

I acted in small roles on shorts and features from 2009 and I first started writing back in 2013 when I wrote my first short titled “Addiction” starring Vicky Juedy (Orange Is The New Black). The film went on to be made in New York, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and won a Black Reel Award. It was at that point I knew I should take my career more seriously and continued to write and then direct further short films. In 2015 I started writing “Living Space” and now to see it be theatrically released in Australia and gain international distribution is something I am really proud of.

Q – How did the idea for Living Space first come about? It’s quite a unique concept, specifically its basing on a real Nazi idealism.

To be honest, I sat down one night in late 2015 and wrote the entire concept on one piece of paper. I knew I wanted to write and direct a horror as my first feature and the concept started off small and then grew each day over the following weeks. I had always seen a Nazi SS Officer as one of the most fearful antagonists possible. I decided then at that point this was going to be a film based around Nazisim but definitely not rooted in reality. I knew I wanted to give the film depth by adding a psychological aspect to the film which would then in return create further twists and turns. I still didn’t want to lose the uniqueness of the film but in saying this wanted to keep a classical horror vibe.

Living Space makes great use of its Nazi infused set-ups

Q – What would you say were some of the filmmakers or films that inspired the mood and atmosphere of Living Space? Both important components to the psychological aspects of the film.

I tried to create a unique horror by creating a very unique mood and atmosphere, I wanted to shoot it in a comic book style creating this amusement ride atmosphere. I definitely feel I was influenced when writing the characters by classic late 1990’s films like “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.

 Q – Making an independent film throws in a number of challenges from logistics to the ever important budget line, were there any specific challenges you had to overcome in either bringing Living Space to life or during the making of the film?

With all independent films, budgets are always an issue. This film was completely funded through private investment which gave me more creative freedom than government funded films, but this also meant that we had a smaller budget to work with. I always said that if I was going to make a feature that the film needed to feel and look as high budget as possible to compete alongside studio and government funded films. I personally feel we were able to execute this considering the small amount of money we had. I would have loved to include further locations and even further more in depth VFX in the film but with limited funds I feel we still were able to achieve the desired outcome.

Q – How much research did you undertake to capture the feel and gain a further understanding of the Nazi mindset? Were there any particular sources either books/films that really made an impact on you when writing the films script?

I researched Nazisim and learnt specifically about the mindset and living arrangements of Officers in particular. Andy McPhee (The Officer) did his own further research into his character and we were able to workshop this together. As the The Officer character is completely fictional and has a strong supernatural element his character is so different from any real person. The performance of Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds definitely influenced me when deciding on having my antagonist as a Nazi Officer. Although the characters are so different it was the fear I felt when watching his performance that highly influenced me.

Not the type of body carving that suggests a good time

Q – What’s next for you, any upcoming project information you can share with our readers?

I am currently working on two scripts at present “Trapped” an exciting intelligent psychological horror and also developing the sequel to “Living Space”. The sequel definitely will reveal a lot more about the backstories of all the characters and I hope to get this into development as soon as possible. I am also considering other scripts to be attached to as a director.

Q – Lastly, what advice would you give to budding local filmmaker’s looking to break into the film industry or to get their concepts off the ground?

It takes so much work and constant belief in yourself. Look to connect with like-minded people and surround yourself within a positive creative environment. It’s definitely a hard slog and funding opportunities are limited here in Australia but it’s not impossible and if you have the drive and determination you can and will succeed. Just keep in mind that things don’t happen overnight and you really do have to make it happen for yourself. People will constantly tell you it can’t be done, but it can. The sacrifices you will make are tough, you may even go hungry at times, but it’s all worth it in the end!

Living Space has its world premiere tomorrow, March 10th at Event Cinema George Street as part of the Monster Fest Traveling Road Show, with a cinema release to follow soon after.

To keep up with the latest Living Space news CLICK HERE

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