We sat down with up and coming filmmaker Jimmy Loweree, director of the indie-horror film Abesnce, which follows the lives of one couple who experience a mysterious fetal abduction of their unborn child. Lowree talks with Press Pass LA for the first time since audiences have experienced his film about his inspiration behind this story and why the extraterrestrial has always fascinated and frightened him.
The film opened this Friday with a limited national release in time for the Fourth of July weekend and is currently available on VOD.
PPLA: How did you come up with the concept behind Absence?
JL: The first idea was really the concept of a woman dealing with loss from a fetal abduction in the middle of the night with absolutely no explanation. It was so disturbing and I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I knew there was a story there.
PPLA: How did you first come upon the idea of fetal abduction, it’s not really a mainstream topic?
JL: I had this wealth of completely useless information about UFOs and alien abduction. It came from a childhood obsession/terror of being abducted. So I dove into this world and read every book, watched every TV show. Despite the fact that it absolutely terrified me. The concept of alien abduction being focused on pregnant women and possibly genetic testing is all through this world so I was aware of this as concept. Couple that with the fact that I thought the emotional fall out of this circumstance was so terrible, I knew it had to make its way into a movie.
PPLA: Your film Absence does delve into the fallout of this loss both for the main character and thorugh her husband and brother. Without giving away whether or not the supernatural comes into play or if it just the fear of this possibility, I will say the film strikes a nice balance between horror, thriller, and true emotional tale.
JL: Thank you, I think this movie fits in this nice world between horror and indie dramedy, which I’m pretty proud of. I want people to connect with the characters and then be scared out there heads! As for aliens or alien abduction, there are some really good movies on the topic, but not a lot of them hit the mainstream. This film isn’t too heavy handed on FX or shock value – it’s about the people and how they deal with the real life problems they have, while around them the world goes completely insane. I really wanted to try to recreate what this might be like – yes the horror version of it, because that’s what I was terrified of for my whole youth.
PPLA: What made you decide to shoot the film in the documentary/found footage style as opposed to tradition narrative? There haven’t been many successful films in this style since The Blair Witch Project. Do you think Absence can fill that void?
JL: I really hope Absence can bring something to the table in this space. There really are only two of these movies that have changed the game, the aforementioned one and Paranormal Activity. Both of these movies rely on really getting into the heads of their audience and making them scare themselves. I hope we are able to do a bit of that with our movie as well. Also, as I mentioned before, this is really an indie movie at it’s core. It’s a heartfelt character driven film that is also scary. That’s what the best horror movies of all time are. We wanted to take something from those. The Exorcist, Jaws, 28 Days Later and the movies I mentioned aren’t about straight scares, they’re about people in really scary and relatable situation and how they deal with it. We’ve got some pretty tiny feet to fill those shoes, but we’ll stand in them for a little while if we can!
PPLA: In casting your leads, what were you looking for and how do you feel they delivered on their roles?
JL: Hiring these actors was the single best decision I made in making this movie. So, yeah, I’m happy with how they delivered. They were all very professional and wanted to really live inside these people and were absolutely willing to work with me in figuring out who they were. It was a real collaboration between me and them. The most important thing for me in casting them was their ability to just be the characters, without having to think too much on it. I auditioned them with mostly questions about themselves as the characters and once cast, we spent a bit of time just having them live and interact together. Once we were shooting it was a joy to watch them banter and have fun like they really were related by blood or close ties.
PPLA: Where did you shoot this film?
JL: We shot in a small town outside Los Angeles – Wrightwood CA, holed up in a couple of cabins we got on loan from another friend.
PPLA: We heard you staged an alien abduction/UFO sighting in a California town to creat buzz for this film and to see how people’s fears play out in real time? Tell us about that and how the town reacted?
JL: This was a total blast! We did put together a pretty wild scheme just to see what we could make of it. It involved staging, as real as we could, a UFO sighting over Wrightwood and seeing what happened. The best part is that we heard from multiple people that this wasn’t the first time they’d seen something strange in the sky over Wrightwood. In fact there are several sightings noted in UFO blogs over Wrightwood and surrounding areas. But having 20-30 people outside pointing at the sky was freaking awesome!
PPLA: What do you hope audiences think at the end of this film?
JL: Hmmm…I’d really hope that people who see this movie connect with the characters and are invested enough to care what happened. And maybe feel like they’re caught in the same circumstances with them for a little bit. I’ve gotten some feedback from people who were pretty scared. I love it. I’d love for someone to have to sleep with the lights on when they go home.
PPLA: What are your personal feelings about alien abduction? Are we alone in the universe?
JL: It scared the crap out of me for the better part of a decade. Honest. I could probably talk about the theories and lore around it for far longer than I’m comfortable admitting. Oh it’s real (even if it’s not how it’s portrayed in media). And nope. We’re definitely not alone.
PPLA: What’s next for the film and for you as a filmmaker?
JL: We’re doing a special screening in Los Angeles on the 27th! It’s free and people are welcome to come! Then it’s releasing in NYC and we’re hoping to reach as wide an audience as we can. As for me – I’ve spent so much time focusing on this movie that I’m really looking forward to turning it over to the audience and hearing what they get from it. I’ve got a couple projects written that I’m working on with producers and I’d like to be in production on my next film by the end of Summer!
Whether you believe in aliens or not, Absence is sure to touch your heart and frighten your core. To find out whether or not this is a thriller of the mind or an act of true abduction, be sure to watch Absence on VOD, available this August!
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