Emmanuel Itier: Where does this movie come from — from what side of your brain and inspiration?
Paul Solet: On a personal level, when I was about 19, my mother told me that I had had a twin that didn’t make it, so the subject matter became extremely compelling to me on a very basic, cellular level. The creative genesis of the movie came from a conversation about the actual medical science involved. I was talking to someone, and they told me that when your pregnant and you lose a child, if you don’t induce labor, you can actually carry a baby to term, and that this is a decision women make more frequently than is discussed around the dinner table. To me, that was just such an intriguing kernel of horror, it was a wonderful jumping-off place for the film.
EI: What were the themes you wanted to explore with this film?
PS: The core theme that Grace is exploring is the uncanny bond between a mother and a child. We’ve all heard stories about mothers going to extraordinary lengths to preserve the health of their children. The idea was to pull this theme into the genre and blow it open. The genre provides an opportunity to take an idea and explore it on an exponential level. There are no limitations, except your own imagination and your responsibility as a storyteller, to create a consistent universe. But even beneath that idea of the maternal bond is the idea of wanting something you cannot have. This is a universal experience that, sadly, we can all relate to on one level or another. That’s how I connected with the material on a personal level, and that’s how all the characters in the film are interlinked.
EI: How difficult was it to get the financing together?
PS: Grace isn’t your average genre film, and it’s difficult for any director to find financing for his first feature. I had a lot of offers to option or buy the script outright, but no one wanted to guarantee that I would be directing it. I don’t have pride of authorship issues — if they had showed me a director that had a real vision for the movie, I would have said “Let’s rock,” but the people I met with just weren’t going to do a good film, so I walked. Believe me, I could have used the money, but when you believe in a project, your allegiance is to seeing it done right. When Adam Green and Ariescope Pictures optioned the script, I knew we were going to make the movie. It took us another year to find the right home, but I had absolute faith in Adam [Green] and Cory [Neil]. I knew they were guys that didn’t just sit around talking about making movies, and I saw how passionate they were about the script. They’re the real deal.
EI: During the shooting, what was the biggest challenge making this picture?
PS: Time. We shot the 192 scenes with a cat, a baby, and a car crash in 17 nine-and-a-half-hour days. It was a wonderful challenge. We were essentially shooting one to three takes, but I come from a school of film-making that emphasizes preparation, and that’s how we were able to make it work. By the time we stepped onto set, we knew exactly what we wanted and just went and got it. I prepare a very thorough shot-list with sketches, fine art references, photographic references, and video references for my team, so you have a shorthand with every department head weeks before you show up.
EI: What do you hope the audience will get from your film?
PS: Entertainment, a little catharsis, and maybe some gratitude about the lack of this caliber of horror in their own lives.
EI: Are you a fan of the horror genre, and if so, who are the filmmakers you love and why?
PS: I came out of the womb toting a Fangoria magazine. I’m a huge horror fan. The filmmakers I grew up on are Polanski and Cronenberg. Those are the guys I most admire, but there are dozens more, and there are filmmakers working today that I find extremely inspiring. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Michael Heneke, Chan-wook Park — these guys are making such bold choices; they’re making the pictures they want to make.
EI: Do you consider yourself now as a Horror director? Will we see more films like this one, or what else do you want to direct?
PS: I’m a story guy. I just want to tell amazing stories. I’m not dogmatic about genre. I love it because it’s such a fertile playground, and it’s a wonderful space for a director to play in cinematically, but if a non-genre story gets me excited in that place in my gut where you know something is right, I’ll do it.
EI: How do you see the state of our Independent industry?
PS: It’s tough to get movies made, but we haven’t been hit nearly as hard as others. I know there are a couple projects I’ve sent out into the world that would certainly have been made five years ago, but things could be a lot worse. People are always scared for their jobs here. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s the people who take chances that seem to rise to the top, though.
EI: Grace is having a very limited release. What are your hopes, beyond this limited release, in term of distribution?
PS: Grace will live on DVD and Blu-ray. We’ve gone to great lengths to make a disc that is absolutely amazing. We have so many extra features on this thing, it’s unbelievable, and they’re all amazing. I hired real directors to do our behind-the-scenes docs, so they’re beautiful, and they’re utterly comprehensive, and they’re entertaining as hell. Frankly, these will be the best Blu-ray and DVD releases I’ve ever scene. My hope is that people will appreciate all the work that’s gone into the film, when they see these things, and that they’ll appreciate the DVD and Blu-ray itself, as an unprecedented achievement.
EI: The movie was invited to many film festivals, like Sundance. Tell us about your best experience at one of these festivals, and the worst one so far.
PS: I’ve had nothing but good experiences at these festivals, with very few exceptions. People are so gracious and grateful to have the movie and to host the filmmaker. It’s really just a wonderful ride around the world. I’ve seen the movie with dozens of audiences, from Utah to France to Scotland to Korea, and I learned a little something from each of them. The best experience has to have been our Sundance premiere. When that volunteer walked up the aisle and told us the ambulance had arrived and had to take two men away after they lost consciousness in the lobby and out in front of the theater, that was a Sundance first.
EI: What scares you in life, and how do you deal with it?
PS: Lack of forward motion puts me in a state of terror, so I keep on moving forward.