A reclusive video arcade repairman (Chase Williamson) experiences bizarre biomechanical mutations and Cronenbergian hallucinations when a mysterious new arcade machine appears in his shop. Reality itself threatens to fracture as the young man works to solve its mystery – and overcome the new chaos that has entered his life. Welcome to SEQUENCE BREAK
Written and directed by Graham Skipper, who is known for his acting work in such celebrated genre films as The Mind’s Eye, Almost Human, and Beyond the Gates, SEQUENCE BREAK stars Chase Williamson (The Guest), Fabianne Therese (Southbound), Lyle Kanouse (HBO’s “Big Love”), and Audrey Wasilewski (AMC’s “Mad Men”) and is available exclusively on Shudder starting May 25th.
To celebrate this Welsh Demoness grilled Graham on making the movie and much more in our interview below:
What was it like transitioning from acting in front of the camera to undertaking the role of director with your debut feature, ‘Space Clown’ and famously, ‘Sequence Break’?
Graham Skipper: I think the biggest challenge is adjusting your focus from being so specific and inward – which you have to be when performing a role – to having a mindset where every aspect of the production requires that specificity, and a holistic attitude to the story. Being in front of the camera, your job is really to make sure that your personal arc tracks throughout the film, that the moment on screen lands with specificity and that you know your intentions and objectives moment to moment. You really don’t have to worry about anything else, and in fact you shouldn’t. Being the director, however, you have to learn to look at the film more holistically. You are the steward of the entire world, not just the characters, although you still have to have a sense of their inner life so you can guide them if something feels off. It’s a challenge for sure, but a fun one. You really get to know the world inside and out.
Sequence Break as well as the films you have starred in,’Almost Human’ and ‘Beyond the Gates’ have a distinctive retro aesthetic and essence to them, what do you think it is about this style that still appeals to genre fans?
Graham Skipper: I think that’s for a few reasons. First, a lot of us grew up on films from the 70s and 80s, so we’re automatically drawn to movies with that aesthetic – or about that time period. I think also that the 70s and 80s were such an important time in the horror genre, when directors were taking big risks and doing some truly wild stuff that hadn’t been seen before, that it makes sense it would be a huge influence on the filmmakers who were inspired by them. Artists create based on inspiration, and in horror – especially with the filmmakers who are working in the indie world right now – we were all inspired by that era of films, and the renegade filmmakers that made them.
Sequence Break is comparable to the works of Cronenberg, was he a specific influence on the film?
Graham Skipper: Oh yes, completely! I’ve always been fascinated by Cronenberg. He’s such a singular filmmaker, and his movies – especially his run of body horror films of the 70s and 80s – are unlike anything else in the genre. More than just the body horror elements, however, what fascinates me about him is that he is truly unique in his ability to make a metaphor real. What I mean is, a movie is basically just taking an idea, a metaphor, a thought, a hypothesis, something intangible, and then creating a captivating story that gets that across. Whereas most filmmakers would maybe take that idea and then thread it throughout subtext and action, Cronenberg is able to literally make it flesh. To talk about change with literal, goopy, bubbling, bodily changes. So when I was setting out to make a movie about a guy going through major changes in his life, Cronenberg was a clear place to start to draw inspiration.
What are the key challenges of directing a movie?
Graham Skipper: I really think the key to making a movie is building a great team around you. Jodorowsky calls his crew his “army,” and that word is so perfect. When you make a film, you have to get in the trenches with your team and work together to overcome every obstacle and challenge, but with a good group of people beside you, anything is possible. I was blessed with an incredible team of producers, actors, and people in every department that were willing to be in the trenches with me and it resulted in a film I’m insanely proud of.
What has been your favorite role to play in a horror/genre movie?
Graham Skipper: Well, it’s not in a movie but I have to say getting to play Herbert West in RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL has been absolutely the highlight of my career. Stuart Gordon directed me in the stage adaptation of his own film (of which I was a huge fan – as well as being a gigantic fan of Stuart’s), so getting to work with him as well as getting to channel one of horror cinema’s all-time great characters was an honor I can’t even describe. I love that show and all the people that helped make it dearly. Plus it introduced me to Joe Begos and that’s how I transitioned into making movies! All roads lead back to Stuart Gordon.
Despite it’s overt sci-fi/body horror elements, Sequence Break conveys a very human story at it’s core within the character relationships, how do you feel you achieved that balance when writing the film?
Graham Skipper: Thank you! That was really important to me. I feel at the heart of every good horror film are characters that you can root for, and a human story that you can latch onto and care about. For me, Sequence Break is at its core a love story, and the horror elements come into play when Oz can’t figure out how to deal with that love story. So a lot of time was spent on that aspect of the story, and rooting it firmly, and then threading in the genre elements when they made sense in relation to what was happening between Oz and Tess.
What was it like to have the film played at one of the UK’s leading horror festivals, Frightfest back in summer 2017.
Graham Skipper: It was an honor! FrightFest is one of my favorite festivals in the world, run by the absolute kindest gents in the horror business, so I was hoping and praying and making all kinds of blood sacrifices to ensure we would get to play there. And we got to! Every film I make I hope plays there. They can’t keep me away from Leicester Square!
Finally, whats next for you?
Graham Skipper: I’ve got a few films that I’m an actor in that are either playing the film festival circuit right now or have just come out – DOWNRANGE just came out on Shudder, which I was lucky enough to have a small role in – and then there’s ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING and DEMENTIA PART 2, both of which are super fun. I’m also in the awesome Monster Squad documentary WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS so check that out! As a director, it’s a long process finding the right next project, but I hope to get behind the camera again soon and start creating some more weirdness to put out into the world!
SEQUENCE BREAK is available exclusively on Shudder starting may 25th and you can read our review HERE