We caught up with the filmmaking collective known as Radio Silence to talk about their found footage horror hit, Devil’s Due. Radio Silence is comprised of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella, and they first made their mark on the world with the films V/H/S and V/H/S 2. Given the independent nature of those first two films, it is fantastic to see the quartet hit the big time with Devil’s Due and a big studio release, courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Bettinelli-Olpin, Gillett, Martinez and Villella begin our phone call by showing their wicked sense of humor. “You’re the guy who ordered the pepperoni and extra cheese?” they ask. Have to say, after a thousand interviews in the last 12 years, never had one begin quite that way!
As teased in the Devil’s Due trailer, this found footage horror flick chronicles what happens to a happy couple who return from their Dominican Republic honeymoon and the bride is pregnant. Only thing… there is nothing normal about this pregnancy.
Movie Fanatic: As filmmakers, I would think that using the found footage point of shooting in some ways would be creatively freeing. Do you guys find that to be the case?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: One hundred percent! We get to do a lot of improv and of trying the scene a bunch of different ways on a very tight schedule and that lent itself to that.
Tyler Gillett: One of the cool things about it is that you have to really think about how you chose your location and doing everything as practically as possible. It also saves you a ton of time and adds a real sense of realism to things. Also, one of the things we bumped into on this movie and whenever we’ve done found footage movies, you’re in these amazing locations that you wish you could shoot conventionally. You wish you could shoot a wide shot and a cutaway [laughs]. You want to use all these cinematic styles, but in this genre, you really can’t. You have to live with the characters at all time, so it’s about creating an environment that feels like the world you have these characters living in. We had a blast doing that.
Movie Fanatic: You touched on it with how important it is to be from the character’s perspective. A lot of times, these movies forget to build their characters. You have that greatly in Devil’s Due. One, how aware are you of that when you’re writing it, and two, why were your leads your people to bring those characters to life?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Casting Zach and Allison, we were looking for people that we were naturally drawn to and were charming by who they were. They both had that. When we saw them, we felt they had known each other forever. As far as writing, we focus with Lindsay the writer, making it always about the two of them and their love story. They are as happy a couple as you can get. You hope that that is something that you aspire to and we wanted that to last through the movie.
Chad Villella: Also, Zach and Allison had an incredible ability to improvise, which is so important with these films. We had it written as we wanted, but could let them go out and have fun with it.
Tyler Gillett: Another part of it was letting the movie have its own sense of humor. One of the quickest ways we connect to people is when we watch them laugh as opposed to creating a movie that is a highlight reel of scares. One of the things we sought to do from the beginning was to impart a real sense of humor in these characters’ lives. That allows us to make the arc of this darkness of their story feel more amplified and profound, but it allows you to become more personal with their journey. Also, it gives you a chance to enjoy the movie in another way. So often, horror films are a barrage of scary and loud moments. For us, Devil’s Due was a chance to strike a fun balance.
Chad Villella: And it is important for us to do that across the board, the humor, the love story and the scares.
Movie Fanatic: Talked to a lot of directors over the years and most often, it is a single director. Sometimes it’s a pair, like the Coen brothers. But what does being part of a quartet of helmers provide for you all?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: We just get to sit around and do it the same way since it was the four of us with $100 to drive to Big Bear to shoot in snow for a night by ourselves. To have a support system is so good. It is so nice and makes the process so much easier for us. But it has been nice to work with Fox. They never forced us to do something we didn’t want to and we were surrounded with people who were much more talented than we are.
Justin Martinez: Yeah, and that is not usually the way the door swings. You hear stories about them applying pressure to the creative process that has the filmmakers starting to bend. That was not the case for us. Every chance we had to be heard, we were really heard and our opinions were respected. We couldn’t have asked for a better team over here.
Tyler Gillett: Everyone felt like they became a part of our group instead of the other way around.