Director Chris Sivertson on I Know Who Killed Me

I was fortunate enough to meet Chris Sivertson last year when he brought his film The Lost to SXSW. He's part of one of Hollywood's up-and-coming groups of directors right now, having gone to college and worked with his fellow filmmakers Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Lucky McKee (May, The Woods) and Kevin Ford (Three Days, as well as the guy kind enough to be my cameraman at SXSW).

Now the four of these guys are pretty much interchangeable on one another's productions, each showing up in the others work in cameos or as editors, producers or filming DVD materials for one another. They've been known to share actors, actresses, and if you pay close attention during the film Roman (a film written by Lucky and shot by Kevin) you can see Chris in a role as one of Roman's fellow steel workers. If you spend a few moments sifting through their bodies of work, you'll soon find that this is far from an isolated incident.

Chris was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule this week to talk to me about his new film, I Know Who Killed Me.

So Chris, in a nutshell, what is I Know Who Killed Me about?

Chris: It's about a girl named Aubrey who gets abducted by a serial killer and manages to escape after being brutalized. When she wakes up in the hospital she claims to be a completely different person - a girl named Dakota. At first her family and the authorities think she's suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, but as things progress some of them start to wonder. Dakota insists that Aubrey is still in the killer's clutches and that they better do something soon or she will die.

What was your approach to making the film?

Chris: I was happy as hell to get my hands on the script. It's exactly the kind of thing I'm into. Stylistically I guess you could say the influence is Hitchcock filtered through De Palma and Lynch. There were echoes of some of my favorite movies in the script - stuff like Vertigo, Dressed to Kill, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet. I wanted the movie to play both as a dark psychological thriller and as a surreal fairy tale. I went for a very bright poppy look with saturated colors, particularly blues and reds. And as wild as the plot gets sometimes, I always wanted to maintain believable performances. I was blessed with a fantastic cast and all of them delivered.

What type of problems, if any, did you have getting your rating with the MPAA?

Chris: We submitted the film right after the MPAA had viewed Hostel: Part II so we really had no problem at all. I think they were still traumatized by Eli's movie so we skated right through.

What do you make of the all the talk about the decline of interest in hard "R" horror?

Chris: The genre has always gone through ups and downs as far as making cash goes so it's not surprising to me. But at the same time, everyone is so eager these days to shout and scream about a "decline" as soon as a couple films come in below expectations. Everyone considers themselves a box office analyst now. The talk on the internet is usually more about how much money movies are making than about the movies themselves. It's filmmaking, not sports. It's not a competition. At least not to me.

Okay, so you knew this would have to come up. It was during the shooting of IKWKM that Lindsay Lohan had her worst and most public of problems. What problems did all this very public spectacle cause for you and your process as the director? Were there delays or any real hiccups caused by all this?

Chris: We did have to take a break from filming after the first week of production because Lindsay got her appendix taken out. Then her incision got infected so that delayed things more. We were waiting for the doctor to approve her to go back to work. At that same time she entered rehab for the first time. The rehab was an outpatient facility so that never actually cost us any days. It was all the appendix problems that made us miss days. All the drama made the paparazzi go even more crazy and they were a problem. Just trying to get Lindsay from her trailer to the set without being photographed turned into a big ordeal. Sometimes they would get into the background of our shots. Obviously, the Lindsay soap opera has yet to end. Most of the media seems to love it. It gives them something very easy to talk about.

I hear that you finally secured distribution for your previous horror film, the Jack Ketchum adaptation The Lost. When can we finally see this and what's the release plan for it?

Chris: The Lost will get a very limited theatrical release in the fall, followed by DVD. It's coming out unrated, which I'm very happy about.

What would be a win for you this weekend?

Chris: Of course I want the movie to do as well as possible. But really just the fact that this movie is coming out - and being released in the middle of a very crowded summer - is a win for me. It was an eye-opening experience to go through the four-year endeavor of getting The Lost made and then switching to I Know Who Killed Me. We wrapped in March and now it's coming out. That's very creatively satisfying to have that sense of closure so quickly. Love it or hate it, it's stuff that I wanted to see on the big screen and now I can. That makes me happy.

I Know Who Killed Me opens on screens today.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me

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Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.