How 'A Quiet Place' Duo Faced Real-Life Fears for '50 States of Fright'
Somewhere along the climb up a 300-ft wind turbine, the human hand will reach its limits. It will begin to cramp, and you'll start to lose your grip. You'll desperately hook your elbow around the rungs of the ladder and you will hold on for dear life.
These are the frightening realities of human physiology that filmmakers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods learned firsthand when they climbed up a wind turbine in preparation for their latest project, a chapter of Quibi's of 50 States of Fright set in their home state of Iowa.
Heat Vision breakdown
"For anyone who is scared of heights, it's one of the worst things ever. Your hands start releasing and you feel like you could fall that entire distance," Beck tells The Hollywood Reporter by phone Louisiana, where he and Woods are scouting for their mysterious Adam Driver sci-fi film 65.
The duo, who rose to prominence as the writers of A Quiet Place, were invited to direct an installment of Quibi's 50 States of Fright by creator Sam Rami, whom they were meeting with about a different project. Beck and Woods drew inspiration from a tale they'd heard growing up in Iowa about a mother who murdered her children, only one of whom survived.
"We always were haunted by, 'What would that be like for that one survivor?'" Woods recalls of hearing the possibly apocryphal story growing up. "Especially in an Amish community, which is very prevalent in the state of Iowa."
Soon, they'd crafted a story about an electrical engineer (Taissa Farmiga) who survived a childhood massacre while living in an Amish community. Years later, she is called upon late at night by a maintenance worker (Ron Livingston) to repair a turbine, and along the 300-foot climb up, the engineer is haunted by visions from her past.
Beck and Woods re-created part of Iowa up in Canada and developed a shorthand with Livingston, who like them, grew up in Iowa.
"Our mantra was, 'Take the extraordinary and place it in the ordinary.' You want to put it in your own back yard, and for us, this episode gave us this opportunity," Beck says of juxtaposing strange elements with Midwestern landscapes.
The Quibi experience also bonded them with Raimi, whose Evil Dead movies they grew up watching and who is now producing their Sony film 65. There is not yet a production start date, but the shoot will have extra challenges in the era of COVID-19.
"Part of your shooting time is eaten up by COVID protections. Every step of the way it's just safety, safety, safety, first and foremost," says Beck.
The duo may have to tweak certain scenes to adhere to safety guidelines, but they note those types of challenges always crop up when making a film, and that's part of the fun.
"Sam always reminds us of the problems of making a movie when you are a kid and you just have a VHS camera and your friends," says Woods. "It's amazing how the kind of problem-solving techniques you develop in your childhood is almost the exact same as adults doing it with a team of professionals."
Though their 65 star Adam Driver is known for playing Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars trilogy, he has distinguished himself outside of the genre space in roles like Marriage Story, which Beck and Woods count as one of their favorite films of 2019. The filmmakers pitched the role to the actor and found a kindred spirit.
"It's a similar running theme in A Quiet Place, where we knew that script could not just exist as a film that's only horror-centric. It had to have some sort of emotional character undercurrent to it," says Beck. "We are applying that philosophy to everything we are writing."
"Iowa, Almost There," the duo's installment f 50 States of Fright, is out now.
by Jackie Strause
by Rania Aniftos, Billboard