Joseph Wartnerchaney has a fun little flick out soon called Decay, which is in theaters and On Demand April 8. The movie, focuses on a middle-aged grounds keeper at a local theme park that suffers from a debilitating case of OCD. One day, his daily routine is disrupted by a surprise visitor in his basement: a beautiful young woman who, through a jarring turn of events, ends up dead. Jonathan panics and chooses not to report the dead girl. Instead, he invites her to dinner. Jonathan is happy to have a friend, until the police start closing in, and his mind, and the body of the girl, begins to decay. Yes, it’s bloody disgusting.. but oh so good.
Because they don’t just cover any old film, when a horror film hits Fangoria, as I see Decay did yesterday, it seems to me a clear indication that you’ve got something unique. Do you think audiences will be surprised by this film and just how original it is?
Hi- Thanks for interviewing me! I was THRILLED when Fangoria gave us a shout out!! I have read that magazine since I was a kid and it tickled me to death to see our stills with their stamp on them.
I’m very curious how audiences will receive this film. It’s not a typical or straightforward genre movie. I think they might find that the movie demands a more from them.
Is this the film you originally set out to write? Were any new ideas injected into subsequent drafts?
When I learned of the real story that this movie is based on I couldn’t shake it. It kept rattling around in my head and I kept wondering what kind of a situation would a person need to be in for all of this to happen. The entire process began to be all about exploring loneliness and how to portray that with little to no dialog, few characters and essentially two locations.
I was also fascinated with trying to get people to empathize with Jonathan even though he's doing something really gross. That took a lot of writing pre-camera and a lot of finessing in the edit process. We kept exploring new ideas not only in drafts but on the set while we were shooting and throughout the post process. It really was an incredible and exciting environment to be surrounded by.
I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have Rob Zabrecky in this film. He brings such a genuine and captivating presence to the role. I don’t know who else could have delivered the depth of character that he did and created that empathy that I was chasing. Every time he comes on screen I’m just memorized by what he’s doing.
Did you always intend to direct it?
I did. This project has always been very close to my heart and I had many ideas of how I wanted to accomplish much of the storytelling. Also it’s such a weird little project I don’t know if anyone else would know what to do with it.
You have a background in effects. Was directing always the next logical step for you?
Since as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a director but I was always aware of the old joke that everyone on the set wants to be the director. Whenever I was on set I would watch and study what the directors did and how they did it. I always called it my poor mans school. Being in effects we got to be close to the creative team and it was fascinating to see them work. I started a journal of things I liked and things I didn’t.
What did you learn from studying filmmakers like McG on Charlie’s Angels and F. Gary Gray on The Italian Job?
It is remarkable to be on such a huge set and watch that machine do its thing. It’s really exciting to see how the choices are made and what the process is on something where so many jobs are dependent on the decisions you make. And although I loved witnessing that process and I think I’m a better director for being around it I truly love watching some of the directors from the smaller commercials I’ve worked on. There is one director in particular Jeanne Kopeck who I pull constant inspiration from. Her work is always inspired and original. That pushes me to keep trying to find original difficult choices in my work.
Have you shown the film to any of your previous employers?
No one yet. However I was lucky enough to show it to Dan Hanley Ron Howard’s long time editor and he provided me with some amazing insight. He was very generous with his time and we exchanged many conversations about the film throughout the postproduction process.
When was the first time you screened the film to an audience?
We first screened it in Denver at the Denver Film Festival. I’ve seen the movie so many times that I couldn’t stand to sit through it again, so I positioned myself in the walkway by the door of the theatre. Where I couldn’t see the picture but I could hear the audience reactions. I did it for two of the screenings and it was incredible! Being able to audibly hear things land was such a special moment that I’ll never forget.
How important do you believe film festivals are? Did it help your film?
I think film festivals are incredibly essential! The support, love and conversations that come out of them is very valuable.