Inoperable is an intriguing new entry into the horror/thriller genre. The film focuses on Amy Barrett (Danielle Harris), who is trapped and trying to flee a largely deserted hospital as a Category 5 hurricane approaches. The storm damaged a nearby military research center, which may have caused strange disruptions to the normal progression of time. This complicates Amy’s ability to escape the facility. Adding to the surreal atmosphere, Amy must escape the hospital before the storm passes, or she will be trapped in the building forever.

Screenpicks recently sent some questions to director/co-writer Christopher Lawrence Chapman and co-writer Jeff Miller (ClownTown) about their new  movie.  Here’s what they had to say:

What inspired the story for Inoperable? Are there any particular thematic ideas that you are exploring in the film?

Christopher Lawrence Chapman: The story was loosely inspired by an experience I had years ago when I had to go to the emergency room at a hospital in Florida while a hurricane was heading toward the general area.  It was a very eerie feeling, being in a hospital, with a bad storm brewing outside.  My mind wandered and I imagined a situation where a psychotic killer was on the loose inside and the hurricane trapped the patients from being able to escape or from help being sent.

As for thematic ideas, we were going for a more thought provoking story, and a little more thriller/psychological, as opposed to a more mainstream horror film.  I wanted to give the viewers more to latch on to, and a film where watching it a second time reveals more of the depth and underlying creepiness.

Jeff Miller: I think Chris and I first talked about it while on the set of ClownTown (which we both produced) in 2015. Chris had said he had access to medical/hospital locations, and I said I’d wanted to do a hospital movie and had a title I liked, Inoperable. Everyone knows hospitals are creepy. I didn’t have a full story line yet, just some ideas. Chris developed much of his own story line, and I helped him with the script, introducing a few scenes and suggestions as well. He wanted it to be more thought-provoking than your typical slasher-type film, and I think we succeeded in that.

Do you particularly like the horror genre, or are there other genres that interest you equally?

CLC: I am not the biggest fan of the horror genre (I do like it though), although in recent years I have liked it more, mainly due to better stories being told and less focus on standard scare scenes which have been over played. I really like the sci-fi genre with films like Moon, Serenity, and series like the newer Battlestar Galactica, Stranger Things, and The OA.  I also really like the mixed genre films like Solaris, The Others, The Village – films which mix horror with drama, or sci-fi with drama.  However, some of my favorite movies are The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Blazing Saddles.

JM: Most of my films have been horror, and I do like the genre. I loved the original Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, and many more of the “classics” of my generation, as well as Scream and Session 9 and more recent works like Get Out. I also like action films and have done a couple of those, the most recent being Kill ‘Em All, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, which came out this year. I’m a sucker for a good mystery or thriller and even whodunnits.

Are there any other directors and screenwriters that you particularly admire?

CLC: I think, over all, my favorite is George Lucas, because of what he created. I mean, who doesn’t know Star Wars and the Indiana Jones stories? I’m sure that critically there are better directors and writers out there, but he created entire universes… how cool is that?

JM: John Carpenter, of course. More recently, I look forward to anything Mike Flanagan does. I’d love to work with him. And I also just watched a couple of movies from Osgood Perkins and really enjoyed those, very moody and atmospheric.

What was it like to work with Danielle Harris who has of course appeared in a number of other prominent horror films?

CLC: Danielle Harris was incredible to work with. She knows this genre backward and forwards. She is very professional, and amazingly talented. I loved her in this film, because her character was able to grow within the story itself. Plus, she is a very nice person, and easy to get along with.

JM: Danielle was great, a consummate professional. She always knew her lines and hit her marks and has obviously done this for a long time. Had fun stories, too!

What advice would you give to those who are trying to break into the film business as either writers or directors?

CLC: I would say, just make something, but make it a good story that can be shot on a budget you can achieve. Of course, it should be well thought out and remember that writing and re-writing, talking and refining scripts usually doesn’t cost a dime, so your time is very well spent there. Also, make sure and really understand what it means to produce. Do your legwork and homework, and get out there and really find those great locations, get people excited about working on your project (and really mean it), and be a professional and understand all of the intricacies that most newer film makers don’t want to understand or work on, like insurance, paperwork, permits, contracts, etc.

JM: Like Chris said, just make something. Everybody and his brother is making a movie these days, so don’t wait for someone to hand you a check for a million dollars. If nothing else, write something small that you can accomplish with the resources you have. I started out wanting to be a professional screenwriter but got into producing because my other scripts weren’t getting made otherwise. Now I enjoy producing much more than writing full time. Also, do your research and homework on the business end of filmmaking. Too many people think it’s just about “art” when it’s really all about economics and being able to sell what you make.

Is there anything in general that you would like to tell audiences about Inoperable?

CLC: Pay attention to the details, the lines that might seem a little strange at times, for you will be rewarded in the reveal. Also, sit back and keep an open mind, because I don’t think this is your typical non-studio horror film. Really try to watch the film as if you were following Amy around, and going through the strange things she experiences throughout the hospital and scenes. Remember that this film was shot entirely in Florida, in a small town, and that is sort of unique. Enjoy some of the camera movements and be on the lookout for a decent bit of Long-Shots/Oners, and how we pull off a few “illusions” that you may not have noticed.

JM: Go see it. It takes you on a wild and twisting journey that’s definitely different from many formulaic films out there. ITN Distribution has done a good job with the artwork and sales and getting the film out there and positioned for the right audience over the next few months.

Would you like to share with us what your future projects are?

CLC: We are in pre-production on another interesting horror film which will be shot in Florida, early next year. It’s going to seem like a standard horror type film on its surface, but there is something deeper going on underneath.

JM: I’ve been fortunate to have had a great year, my best and busiest ever. I have five movies now in post-production, three of which I was a principal producer on and the other two where I’m an executive producer. The Toybox, starring Denise Richards and Mischa Barton and directed by Clowntown’s Tom Nagel, is a supernatural thriller about a possessed RV and will be intense. It’s like Christine on steroids.

The Russian Bride, starring Corbin Bernsen, Oksana Orlan, and Kristina Pimenova, is written and directed by Michael S. Ojeda, who got a lot of acclaim for his last feature, Avenged (aka Savaged). The Russian Bride looks big and feels a lot like The Shining.

Ouija House, starring Tara Reid, Mischa Barton, and Dee Wallace and directed by my talented friend Ben Demaree, also looks exciting and fun. Justin Hawkins and I crafted a fairly unique story out of the somewhat-tired Ouija subgenre.

Mandy the Doll and Angels Fallen are the two other movies in post, where I was an executive producer and didn’t play as big a role. Strange Nature, directed by my friend Jim Ojala and produced by his wife, Beth, is a cool eco-thriller that’s completed and should be out next year. I was an EP on that one too. Bug, my first drama, about racial relations in a Southern town, will also be out next April or May. I’m currently developing another script or two that I hope to get made over the next few months. So trying to keep the momentum going!

 

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