Michael Taverna

Writer & Director

Michael Taverna
Q:

How did you become involved in making the English remake of the Japanese Apartment 1303 film?

In 2006 MonteCristo International produced the original Apartment 1303 in Japan. The film was directed by Ataru Oikawa and based on a novel by Kei Oishi that we had purchased a few months before. I was an Executive producer on it. So, for me the idea of doing a US remake was always there from inception if you will, and when Mischa Barton and Rebecca De Mornay committed to the film, it made sense to go ahead and do it.

Q:

This is your third time as both writer and director on a feature film, how did you find the process?

The process is always different and interesting; on the writing side in this case it was a remake, not an original story, nonetheless, it was a pleasure to write the screen play and adapt the story to a western sensitivity. Directing a Film is always a privilege no matter the constrains of either budget or shooting days.

Q:

What are the difficulties of writing a remake further based on a book? Did you have limitations? Or did you find it liberating?

Neither. You know, writing a remake is always a bit of a problem in that you are constrained by the original story and your work is more of an adaptation. Clearly, this was a Japanese book and a Japanese film and to re-set it in the US, especially when we decided to re-set it in Detroit, brought about a different approach if you will, but the idea is to respect the soul of the original story, and I think we did that.

Q:

What were the challenges of shooting the picture in 3D?

3D is a wonderful technology that offers great opportunities. The trade off is you can’t move as fast, the cameras are still very heavy, you cannot do as many set-ups per day, you have to frame differently, and often the Film ends up looking more like 1950’s blocking because what is most important in 3D is the depth of field and having many different layers. The film was shot in full stereoscopic 3D with Film Magic, our fantastic partners from Hong Kong, and I think it does greatly enhance the genre film experience.

Q:

How did you go about the casting process?

We were looking for an actress to play the lead role of Lara, in the Japanese film it was played by Noriko Nakagoshi who is a fantastic actress, and we felt that Mischa Barton was the right US actress to play the role. Indeed we offered this role only to her and then waited for her to be available to do it. Also, and at the same time, we offered the role of Maddie to Rebecca De Mornay who plays the mother to both Mischa and Julianne Michelle, and you can see in the film itself that these three skilled actresses create a seriously real and dysfunctional family.

Q:

Which scene did you enjoy writing the most? And directing?

It’s hard for me to say, you really don’t want to have a great scene and then some others that are just throw away scenes, you want to have the best script you can have so I really don’t focus on making one specific scene “good.” You try to make the story good and the overall quality of the dialogue and story line that supports the film. Clearly, writing thriller/ horror for me is a new experience and luckily Japanese horror is psychological horror and is not the blood, guts and gore type of some American horror which I really have an issue with. I find Japanese horror much more interesting because it’s psychological. I am a fan of The Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water and have had the pleasure of meeting those directors in the past.

Most of the film was shot on a large set in Montreal and in the apartment itself so it was important to figure out how to work in a confined apartment but make it interesting all the time, and that was really a primary focus.

Q:

Do you prefer writing or directing?

It’s two different experiences. I am happy to direct other peoples work and in that case I want to do justice to the writer and to the script they wrote and get as much coverage and performances out of the actors as I can. My focus becomes to capture not only the story but the soul of the writer into the film. As a writer/director, I get to do that for myself if you will but reserve the right to change my mind and explore with the actors where the story would take us.

Q:

What is your next film project?

We are in pre-production on a picture called Resilient which is a sci-fi/disaster movie that stars Robert Beltran, Joanna Pacula and many others- it’s a fantastic cast. As a company we are doing three 3D films, one thriller/horror which is Apartment 1303-3D Resilient, a sci-fi disaster movie with a soul, and eventually early 2014 we will produce Princess Aisha which is an action film to be shot in Europe and North Africa. After that we will figure out what else we want to do!

Q:

How do you want the audience to view the film?

Well I like the audience to look at this film as a J-horror remake which basically means there is not a lot of gore, there is no torture nor pornography or violence which I am against and the Company is against, so don’t expect that. Do expect a quality film, and to understand how horrific your mind can get when your relationship with your mother and siblings is not as good as it should be.