Interview: Director Jeff Renfroe from "The Colony"
The new science-fiction thriller “The Colony” hits theaters this Friday September 20th and stars big names including: Kevin Zegers, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton, and Charlotte Sullivan. Director Jeff Renfroe sits down with us here at Movie Room Reviews and tells us all about making this film come to life.
Nick Leyland from Movie Room Reviews: Hi Jeff, I recently watched your new film, "The Colony" which is out on VOD but It comes out now on September 20th in theaters.
Jeff Renfroe: It is. Yeah. It's the brand new release strategy from hell.
Jeff Renfroe: It's gotta make some kind of financial sense, but I've questioned it, but the numbers have been pretty good and I think it's all about creating awareness and then drawing people to a limited theatrical run, after. It's kind of interesting. We'll see. The proof is gonna be in the pudding, right?
MRR: Well, it's actually one of those films that might be a lot cooler on the big screen.
Jeff Renfroe: It certainly will.
MRR: Yeah. Some films, for me, it's not that much difference, especially if it's a piece mainly about the characters, but this has so much scenery and stuff to it in terms of the ice age kind of thing going on. But, the film stars Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton and a few others and I just saw it, and I think it's a great film. And why did you end up doing a film about doomsday?
Jeff Renfroe: I'm just attracted to those kind of movies. I think growing up on post-apocalyptic movies. Personally, I don't get scared a lot by slasher films or supernatural films. I just, I don't know, there's some kind of sense of dread, I guess, out there with one day we could be faced with some pretty dire circumstances on this planet. And to me, that's scary. And I wanted to explore that fear, essentially.
MRR: Well, from what I could gather, I don't know if you had said this directly in the film, I couldn't remember what, it's actually based on a somewhat of a theory, if all the ice caps melt, the global warming will lead to an ice age. Is that kind of what it was?
Jeff Renfroe: Yeah. Exactly. I mean, really, the idea of cloud seeding, as I started doing research, cloud seeding's been around I think since the late '60s. They were using it since Vietnam the Chinese spend millions and millions of dollars on weather modification, essentially. And so, digging into it is like, "Well, really, what are we doing?" We're messing with mother nature. So, I just sort of extrapolated from there and pictured a scenario where it just went out of control and created this next ice age. But essentially, yeah, global warming and our answer to that is well, we can fix mother nature, but of course, we can't control it. So, it spins horribly out of control.
MRR: Now as you filmed it did you guys do mainly CG or did you guys brave the cold?
Jeff Renfroe: A little bit of both. We were up on North Bay, Ontario, which is in the winter, in Northern Canada.
MRR: I've been there, North Bay. Yeah.
Jeff Renfroe: Yeah. You've been to North Bay?
MRR: Lake Nipissing is up there, right?
Jeff Renfroe: Yeah, it is. Yeah. Right there.
MRR: Yeah. I used to go there all the time.
Jeff Renfroe: Yeah. Ice fishing.
Jeff Renfroe: So, we shoveled snow in to a big airplane hangar and then we hung three walls of green screen and lit though the open door of the forest. So we were in the elements. But the only catch was, we could basically come in and turn the lights and start shooting and we didn't have to worry about an actual snow storm or what if the sun comes out or anything like that.
And then it was also just really freeing and creative to come up with those environments. After we cut the film together, we'd done a lot of previews, but you can do so much today with visual effects, and it's so fun to sit down with the CG team and really come up with how to build this world, and come up with, what does a weather modification tower look like? And so it was really cool.
MRR: One thing I've wanted to ask a director, after watching this film, too, is that you had a good a budget for this film, but if you had an extremely large budget, do you think you would have done anything different?
Jeff Renfroe: Well, we would have had a lot more days of shooting. We shot for 28 days. So, for a film like this, I would have liked 40 or 50, or even 60. And it was very ambitious for our budget and there were a lot of compromises on the script as we got closer to production. But, we always kind of kept our eye on the ball of, "Let's make a really tight science fiction thriller in this setting, with great themes and great characters", and thankfully, we were blessed with a great cast who delivered some cool performances. And we put ourselves into hilariously bad, disgusting locations that just looked amazing. I think it really helps bring a lot of atmosphere to the film.
MRR: Let's talk about the character for a second. What's the inspiration behind the look of the cannibals which are the main evil of this film?
Jeff Renfroe: Sure. I always wanted to make a monster movie that wasn't about like a supernatural creature. It wasn't some far-fetched alien, vampire, something that you can't really relate to. So, when this script kind of crossed my desk, originally, there was more emphasis on a virus that no one knew what it was. And we pulled back from that. We've seen that before and really, isn't it scarier just to think of what would happen if colonies of people started running out of food? They would turn on each other. And ultimately, you might do that, I might do that, anybody could go feral. There's something a little more authentic about that and a little more frightening.
MRR: Well what kind of movie goer do you think is gonna enjoy this film, Jeff?
Jeff Renfroe: I mean, I hope fans of science fiction, fans of horror, fans of action films, and anybody who wants to take a trip to another world. Part of the reason that I wanted to do it was, that's what film does. It allows your audience to travel, to be immersed into this different world, something that they've never seen before. Not all of us get to go to the Arctic and experience what it's like to be in these sort of icy landscapes. And as a filmmaker, we get to create this world and take you there. I think that's really special and cool.
MRR: Well, thanks to you so much for talking with me. I appreciate it. I'm sure its been a long day for you so, I appreciate the time. And I hope the film does great. It comes out this Friday, September 20th and hopefully, our audience will go out and check it out.
Jeff Renfroe: Great, man. Thank you for your time and I appreciate your interest.