A Conversation With Director Jourdan McClure

“Rogue River” is director Jourdan McClure’s first feature film. A movie that will be released in the US on June 5th and a thrill-ride that horror fans will find both visually appealing and emotionally disturbing.

As a fan of the horror genre himself since the age of nine when he first saw the movie Poltergeist, Jourdan had a vision that eventually led him to film school to study the mechanics of story telling and would ultimately allow him to begin weaving his own tales of terror.

Grabbing your attention from the opening scene where a distraught, battered and bloodied Mara (Michelle Page) wanders aimlessly about in a white dress while carrying nothing but a cross and a loaded firearm, we’re left to wonder just how she wound up in such a predicament.

With tears streaming, she places the barrel of the gun to her head in a final act of desperation. The screen goes black and a single shot is fired. It’s a teaser moment of what’s to come and a fitting prelude to the horrific events we’re about to witness as the story is told.

Following the recent death of her father, a tearful Mara says farewell to her brother Andrew (Chris Coy) and embarks on a trip to the Rogue River, a place she fondly remembers her father taking her on camping trips to when she was younger. Her plan is to scatter her father’s ashes in the tranquil location where the family had often spent time together.

While preparing to release her father’s cremains into the river Mara is greeted by a seemingly nice enough gentleman named Jon (Bill Moseley). After striking up a conversation, Jon offers to walk Mara back to her car where she discovers it has been towed away by authorities.

Concerned about the possibility of being stranded out in the deep woods alone at night with no cell phone reception, Mara decides to take Jon up on his offer of a ride back to town. A decision she will forever regret.

“Rogue River” won the Audience Choice Award and Best of Festival Award for Feature Film at the 2010 Sacramento Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the 2010 ScreamFest Horror Film Festival.

Jourdan is slated to direct the supernatural thriller, “The Sum of 9: The Chosen Ones” as well as the television series: “Hell Hunters”, based on the comic book. In 2013, Jourdan will be directing “Ancient Face” and also has numerous other film projects that are currently in various stages of development… Stay tuned.

In this interview with Jourdan we’ll find out more about the making of “Rogue River” and what’s next for horror’s newest story teller.

goJimmygo (gJg): Hey Jourdan, how are you doing?

Jourdan McClure (JM): I’m doing excellent. I appreciate your time.

gJg: “Rogue River” is your first feature-length film. Tell me a little bit about how you started making movies?

JM: You know it’s kind of the same old story only I wasn’t the kid with the Super-8 camera.  I was the kid with the mini DV camera. While growing up I was always shooting little short films and wanted to go to film school to learn how to make movies.

While there I started filming metal and rap music videos and began to understand how to visually put stories together. Music videos are a great format to play around with ideas because they won’t hurt what minimal story is already there. It was a great proving ground for me and I also got to work with a lot of really talented people.

Director Jourdan McClure

gJg: How did the idea for “Rogue River” come about?

JM:  I had an idea for a story and took it to Kevin Haskin who was also a filmmaker. I was already familiar with his work from a bunch of local festivals we both attended.

I had the idea, I just needed someone to help me write it. That was the only component I was missing. So I pitched Kevin the story and at first he thought it was a little dark. <laughs>, but then we brought in Ryan Finnerty who brought another great element to the story.

Ryan was a little bit more into the horror element than Kevin was so they were able to work well off of each other. One creating more of the drama and one creating more of the horror. So while they were busy putting pieces of  it together I’d come in and offer suggestions. The whole process was very collaborative and very cool. Collaboration is my favorite way of working.

gJg: Was Bill (Moseley) one of the first people you had in mind for the role of Jon?

JM: I’ve always been a fan of horror and everyone knew those were the types of movies I wanted to make. After we had gone through a bunch of actors I finally just said “You know, I really want to get Bill Moseley.”

gJg: I thought he was the ideal man for the role. Much different than the other characters he’s portrayed. You know he’s creepy and you know something is going to happen. You just don’t know when.

JM: Exactly! I told everyone that I didn’t want to do the big, scary, crazy “Bill”. I wanted to do more of a subdued “Bill”. I wanted someone who looks like a wealthy man but who’s also scary.

And of course having someone like Bill Moseley in your film, or a Michael Cudlitz (Sheriff Boyd) for that matter, it really helps.

gJg: Was Michelle Page another actor you had in mind for the role of Mara?

JM: Michelle actually knew Kevin and Jo Haskin (Producer) from working with them on their first film. Michelle had a very small role in that film but had a huge interest in doing this one so we checked her out.

I was very fortunate to have Michelle. Especially in the scenes down by the river where temperatures were between 9 and 15 degrees. She’s an actress who really gives herself to a film. Every time I think of the movie my hat just goes off to her.

Oh, and also because I’ve never seen someone shed so many tears. <laughs>

gJg: You know, I was actually going to ask you about that. She was great! I enjoyed watching her in this role because she’s very believable. Can she actually start crying like that on cue?

TM: Oh absolutely. Sometimes the tears can be too much but in this role her character was really in a state of shock and disarray. For me it really worked.

gJg: And then you have the amazing Lucinda Jenny as Jon’s terminally ill, deranged wife Lea.

JM: We had gone through quite a few Lea’s and that’s when my manager, Judy Fox recommended her. Lucinda and Bill are a couple in real life. So we met Lucinda and thought she and Bill together would be the ideal fit. It added another interesting familial aspect to it.

gJg: Lucinda has an extensive resume of films. Have you seen her from her previous roles?

JM: I did see her in “Thinner” but for some reason couldn’t remember her name. I know that she’s never really done horror like this before. I was really lucky to have both she and Bill together for my first feature film.

Bill Moseley, Jourdan McClure & Michelle Page

gJg: The cinematography in the movie is amazing. Especially the natural surroundings and fog on the river.

JM: During that time of year all of those things are natural and it really adds an element to the film that is real. When you combine those natural elements with the dark comedy that’s infused in small parts through out the movie you wind up with something that feels a little bit different but yet still familiar with the genre. I call those “efforts”.

The thing I was concentrating on most was just making a beautiful looking horror film. Something where really terrible content exists amongst this gorgeous landscape. In a beautiful cabin next to a river that’s known for its serenity and the protection of land management. Just a gorgeous, natural organic thing.

gJg: Were there any funny stories or situations to share while you were filming?

JM: I think one of the funniest things that happened was while we were filming Michelle down by the river. There were a bunch of wild turkeys roaming around nearby, making all kinds of racket. And every time Michelle would scream into the sky it would be followed by a response from these turkeys gobbling. <laughs>

gJg: What other film projects do you have coming up now?

JM: “Children of Sorrow” is a movie I directed that’s in post production right now. It a story that was also written by Ryan Finnerty.

gJg: What’s the premise of this film?

JM: After the mysterious death of a young woman’s sister, the woman embeds herself into the cult her sister was a member of to find out exactly what happened. There she finds something terrifying about both the cult and about herself.

It’s a POV horror film but not in the traditional sense where someone has found footage and now we’re watching it. We know where this footage came from. It was put together by this self-help guru, a man who’s known to have bad intentions. He’s taken all of this footage from the cult and the woman’s stay and puts it out to be shown to the world. That’s that’s what we’re watching. The footage shot by the cult members, the cult leader and the woman.

With this project we wanted to do something that was off kilter a bit. Extremely dark but at the same time psychological and freeing. It’s very much a passion project. I think people who like a slow-burning or character driven film will appreciate it. It’s a slice of life inside of a cult… but it’s not a hack and slash movie..it’s a docu-horror.

gJg: Finally, when will “Rogue River” be released in the US and will there be any extra features?

JM: The DVD will be released on June 5th. It will be available on demand on DirecTV and Dish and you’ll also be able to obtain it from Amazon, i-Tunes and Red Box.  – There’s my simple PSA about it… <laughs>

As far as extras go, I just recently finished filmed the commentary on the film with a lot of the cast. That was fun to do because we all got to watch and discuss the art that we had made. Just being honest and genuine about it. There will also be a few minutes of additional footage on the DVD as well. 

gJg: I loved the movie and think fans of the genre really will too.
Article first published as A Conversation with Director Jourdan McClure on Technorati.

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