Interview: Chris Shadley, director of Nine Dead

Horror movie Nine Dead (Image Entertainment, DVD $27.97, released March 9, 2010) is a thriller about a group of nine strangers (amongst them, Melissa Joan Hart, who also produced) who have been snatched by a masked killer, handcuffed to poles in a large room and told that one of them will die every ten minutes until they discover how they are all connected. And you can bet that over the course of the film’s tight 98 minute running time, a good number of them do indeed die!

“We figured that as actors began to die off, the film would get cheaper, and that didn’t hurt our bottom line,” Nine Dead director Chris Shadley (pictured, left, with actor/producer Hart) told Disc Dish in a recent interview, referring to the independent film’s 11-day shoot, wherein the production completed an average of seven pages every day.

A veteran production assistant and video assist operator, first-time director Shadley credits the handful of “good directors” he’s worked with over the past decade for giving him the experience he needed to direct his first film. But it wasn’t just the good ones who were helpful.

“I learn a lot from really good directors and nearly as much from some not-so-good directors,” Shadley said. “It also helps idea to get an idea of what not to do when you’re on the set.”

Some of the films Shadley has worked on over the past several years include Rendition, The Reaping, Red Eye, Bewitched, Cloverfield, XXX: State of the Union and, for director William Friedkin, Bug and The Hunted, which Shadley describes as “very influential.”

According to Shadley, his work with Friedkin exemplified for him how a film set “should be like a family environment.”

“During production, when you’re frequently going 12 hours a day, you’re spending more time on the set than with your actual family,” Shadley laughed. “So you’d better give everyone respect and courtesy and be sure to thank them for their help at the end of the day!”

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.