By Hogan Short
VANCOUVER – Peter Ricq is a multifaceted artist living in Vancouver who, according to his level of output, never sleeps or slows down. As one half of the electronic duo Humans and frontperson for the dark and brooding new wave project Gang Signs, his musical chops are very frequently exercised. But in addition to performing, Ricq is also about to make his first directorial debut at the Vancouver International Film Festival for his live action horror comedy feature, Dead Shack. He’s been travelling around the world for various premieres since June, but we caught up with him for a quick chat about his wild ride before Dead Shack bludgeons its hometown audience with one impaling swoop.
BeatRoute: Hi, how are you?
Peter Ricq: I’m good! Thanks!
BR: What are your feelings on premiering your directorial debut at VIFF this year?
PR: It’s nice, feels great. I’m really happy to finally see it with the people who have worked on the film. We haven’t had the time or finance to do a cast and crew screening so this will be the first time everyone gets to see the film. I can’t wait.
BR: Dead Shack has kids swearing and killing (undead) adults, which has never really been done, even though it makes perfect sense. What gave you and the rest of the writing team — Phil Ivanusic and Davila LeBlanc — the initial idea for this story?
PR: I wrote the outline to the film after watching the Fright Night remake about 5 years ago. That film just reminded me of how much I like fun horrors starring a young cast like Monster Squad, Goonies and Stand by Me. I wanted to make a film of that style for our generation. As a kid, I always wanted the gore to be pushed further and the swearing to be more like how I expressed myself with my friends at that age. It was just a natural thing to do and go into that direction. When I presented the film to Phil and Dav, we had some arguments on some story elements but never about the tone or direction of the film. I think we all felt like kids swearing and killing people was 100 per cent going to be part of the film.
BR: The original score was done by your own band, Humans. How did that creative process differ from what you are musically accustomed to?
PR: I had a good idea from the start and had a bunch references from films I liked — ALIENS, The Thing, Tron (Daft Punk), Assault on Precinct 13 (Carpenter), Fargo (TV show) and so on. Wrote about 40 tracks in 10 days then in January I would edit the film with the editor in the morning then go see Jason Corbett at Jacknife Sound and re-record with him the samples we thought could sound better, then go back to the editing room at night.
I wanted real strings in the film and asked Dougal Bain McLean if he was interested in contributing to the score and he agreed. I sent him 40 tracks and he sent me multiple strings for every track! He really helped in turning this into what it became.
BR: How has the festival circuit treated you and your movie?
PR: The response has been very positive. We even won the Silver prize for best Canadian film at this year’s FANTASIA film festival in Montreal. I just got back from London Fright Fest and many people have come up to me telling me it was one of their favourite films at the fest. The day after its UK premiere, which we had 900 people attend and watch it on an IMAX screen (SOOOO BIIIG!), I woke up to so many positive tweets about how much the audience enjoyed Dead Shack.
BR: Have there been more screams or more laughs from the audience? Are you trying to get both evenly?
PR: The movie has a few scares but it’s more of a gore zombie film with a lot of comedy. Think of films like Evil Dead 2 and Gremlins, more in that vein.
BR: What do you hope to hear people say as they walk out of the theatre after seeing Dead Shack?
PR: I want my art to entertain people. That’s what I try to do with my music, my illustrations and my films. I want people to come out and say “I had a great time, that was fun!”
BR: Has filmmaking always been something that appealed to you? Are there any other scripts in the works?
PR: Yeah, that was always the goal. I started doing comics because I knew it would help me with my storytelling, then moved from that to animated films, then that to live action music videos and then movies! So the goal was always to be a filmmaker in the end. I have several films in the script stage; a vampire film that I’m writing with a local Vancouverite, Zlatina Pacheva. The film is somewhat like Superbad meets Fright Night. I’m working on turning my graphic novel, Once Our Land, into an animated feature film with Philippe Ivanusic. Phil, Dav and I are working on another live action film that is a marriage of Dazed and Confuzed and The Thing.
BR: What is a film you saw lately that really spoke to you as a filmmaker and maybe even inspired you in some way?
PR: I really enjoyed It Comes at Night; it’s an amazing film. Anything A24 does is simply brilliant. A24 also did one of the best westerns I’ve ever seen called Slow West starring Michael Fassbender, who also produced the film. Super recently, I thought the new Spiderman was highly entertaining. I also loved the Fargo television series and I adored Preacher Season 2. I’m obviously really excited about Stranger Things Season Two.
HUMANS is performing at Thrive AIDS Walk Sept. 16 at the Malkin Bowl,
Gang Signs is performing at Westward Fest on Sept 14 and Rifflandia (Victoria) Sept 15. Dead Shack will be screening as part of VIFF. Visit www.viff.org for dates and times.