Aaron’s Blood is the story of a devoted single father, Aaron, and his hemophiliac son, Tate. After a scuffle with a bully at school, Tate is rushed to the hospital where he has to receive a blood transfusion. Though some good comes out of it – Tate is healed – it isn’t long before he starts exhibiting disturbing, vampire-like symptoms. Now Aaron must go to extreme lengths to save his son from the grips of a new, even deadlier disease.

ScreenPicks spoke with director Tommy Stovall about his new horror-thriller centered on the bond between a parent and child, and what it was like to work with his own son on the project.

ScreenPicks: This is your third time working with your son, Trevor. (Trevor plays the part of Tate, the teenage vampire.) What is that like?

Stovall: The first time, he was 3 years old and we decided to write a line for him in the film. He got upset and became very difficult. He gave up acting after that one experience! Later on, he decided he wanted to give it another shot.

It works well directing him. I know him so well that I know what to say to get him to do something. When he gets on set, he becomes a professional which is nice, but he also has fun. He enjoys it.

ScreenPicks: Does he have any aspirations to act long-term now?

Stovall: Yeah, he does. Not sure what he wants to do yet because he’s still a teenager and thinking about his future, but he wants acting to be a part of his life. He enjoys a lot of different things and acting is one of them.

ScreenPicks: When you wrote the film, did you find that your relationship with your son informed the story?

Stovall: Yeah, it did. I think it was just a natural thing to write about the father-son relationship. What a parent goes through if their child becomes a vampire – what they’ll go through to save the child and the fear that goes along with that – I kind of used my own experience as a father. Luckily we got an excellent actor to play the father. It was almost better than I expected. I’m very happy with it.

ScreenPicks: Are there any horror movies, specifically in the vampire genre, that inspired you?

Stovall: I actually went back and watched a lot of vampire films just to get re-familiarized with some of them that I’d seen in the past. Just kind of thinking about what has been done and trying to take them and do something different – take some of the elements of different vampire movies and put them together. But really the vampire part of the movie is secondary to the story. It’s really a father-son relationship and it just happens to have vampires.

ScreenPicks: Right. It’s really about the idea that a parent will do anything for his/her child.

Stovall: Yeah, and I’ve found that parents really identify with that.

ScreenPicks: On that note, can you speak to the dream sequences in the film and the anxiety around losing a child?

Stovall: I wanted to show Aaron’s biggest fear in life and that is losing his son. He has this recurring nightmare where he is in a certain situation and can’t find his son. That parallels with the film in “reality” where Tate gets the virus. He begins literally losing his son and trying to prevent that from happening. I just thought it was an interesting way to show that fear a parent has.

ScreenPicks: It was interesting to look as vampirism as something that is curable/reversible. Why go that route?

Stovall: Well, I wanted there to be a goal for Aaron, the father: to save his son and give a normal life back to him. I had seen it I think in Near Dark, one of the films I remember from my childhood—I think they did the cure thing – but yeah, I thought it was interesting.

ScreenPicks: Where did the idea of Tate being a hemophiliac come from?

Stovall: The first concept that came up was Tate in school being bullied. He’s smaller than a lot of his peers. Then I thought if he had this hemophilia disease not only did he have to deal with the bullies, but he had to be really careful with his body and whatever he did.

Then, I actually made his father Aaron a phlebotomist. The backstory of that is that he became one because his son was a hemophiliac, and he felt it was an important job.

ScreenPicks: Now that you mention backstory, how much do you create a world/backstory for your characters? Or is it really just straight-forward, get-to-the-plot for you?

Stovall: You know, it’s a little bit of both. I don’t spend a lot of time with backstory. I just want it to make sense in some way and what I’ve found, it’s really interesting working with actors, because often times I write something and we start filming it, and then the actor comes up with their own backstory.

ScreenPicks: So filming for you is collaborative. The actors are deciding their motivation and how they’ll play their role.

Stovall: Right. Exactly. And it’s really interesting because they come up with stuff that I hadn’t even thought of!

Watch father and son go on a dark journey together and find out if blood is really thicker than water. Aaron’s Blood opens in theaters Friday, June 2nd, and is available via On Demand and Digital HD June 6th.