Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to interview director Bruce Wemple and the cast of Boston Sci-Fi Festival premiere film Lake Artifact. We discussed the film’s blend of science fiction and horror, sci-fi inspirations, and renting out an AirBNB to shoot the movie.
Boston Hassle: Let’s talk about Lake Artifact. I want to go over the movie, but I don’t want to spoil things since it’s not technically out yet. I watched it this morning and it was a lot of fun. The different filming styles blended well together. All the different elements came together. Where did you come up with the idea for the movie; what was your inspiration?
Bruce Wemple: In terms of the actual idea for the movie, I was focused on time travel-heavy movies like Primer and Predestination, stuff that’s a little darker and aren’t the most fun movies. I wanted to see if I could make that more accessible, try sort of a Cabin in the Woods scenario. I want the audience to feel comfortable, then take the film down a weird time travel rabbit hole.
For the premise itself, it started when I was on a music video shoot with Cat Daddario and Dylan Grunn. We were just at this cabin, and one of us said “how weird would it be if we found a photo and it was just of us?” Things snowballed from there, so we brought things together and started the script for Lake Artifact.
BH: What were your experiences filming? Where did you film?
Dylan Grunn: We filmed it in Gloversville, New York. Upstate, everyone has a different name for it. We just rented an AirBNB. The funny thing about filming with Bruce is that it’s always just a party. You don’t even notice and then you’ve got a film. We just ended up being friends. We spent every day filming around 14-16 hours a day, trying to do 30 pages a day or something ridiculous like that. It was a crazy and awesome experience.
BH: Time flies when you’re having fun. Or goes in a loop.
DG: Yeah, our experience filming was a lot like the movie itself. It was like we were filming and resetting over and over. Did you guys enjoy it?
Chris Cimperman: It was like being on vacation. The house itself had a pretty unique feel. It had its own character. It really set a tone.
BW: It was a dream come true. There was nothing around.
Grant Schumacher: My experience shooting was a little different because Bruce brought me, Dylan and Delil Baran out into a field.
BW: We shot at the cabin for the three days. We shot the Vernon stuff after in New Paltz.
GS: It was more guerilla-like. We took whatever shots we could get. We made it happen in a really quick format. Bruce set up this scenario for us to commit to the role, play the parts. Shooting with Bruce takes no time at all. There’s no time to overthink it. You’re just there in the moment. He lays out the foundation of how the scene works. He lets you get weird with it, which is always fun.
BH: So much of the strength comes from everyone’s reactions. Understanding the genre doesn’t help them. They’re trapped.
BW: That was the goal. You expect certain tropes to play out. Tommy knows what’s going on, but no one believes him. And he can’t do anything about it. He’s the comic relief.
BH: This question is for everyone: do you tend to like sci-fi or horror more, or a blend of the genres?
Cat Daddarrio: I like working on anything, of course. But science fiction is where my heart lives. I was reading all the classic 1950s sci-fi books all through my youth. I have pretty specific taste when it comes to horror. I’m happy Bruce makes stuff I like, since it’s such a weird crossover between genres. I like the lines the film can cross. It toes the line between genres that I really need.
CC: I grew up loving stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek. With horror, if it just becomes about the event and not the characters, I lose the connection. Bruce’s movie is totally about the friends, which i think is way more essential. We moved around in a couple genres, which is what makes it fun for me.
DG: You can really bend your imagination and create sub-genres within the genres. With sci-fi and horror, you can do anything. Any word, and concept, you can work around with it.
GS: I grew up reading the classics as well. The most important thing sci-fi had me do was ask “what if?” and use my imagination. As an actor, you say “what if?” and you live in those choices, and the imagination takes care of the rest.
CD: Dylan reminded me that the genres push reality, or create a new reality, or focus on a subsection of society that doesn’t feel real. Sci-fi can feel just as unnerving as horror just because it’s foreign to us.
BW: For me it’s a sci-fi movie dressed up as a horror film. It’s a friendship drama-comedy, and the sci-fi genre is what you place it in.
BH: If you had one sentence to sell Lake Artifact to people, what would you say?
DG: A scary, time-travelling party with plenty of manipulation.
BW: It’s always weird, but it never stops being fun. Five friends go to a cabin, drink some beers, and shit hits the fan.
CD: And KEEPS hitting the fan.
GS: Ya pop a beer tab, you take a swing, and your worst nightmares happen.
BW: I’m just so excited for people to see it. We see the movie one way, but I’m excited to see how others take it.
Lake Artifact will arrive in theaters later this year.