Filmmaker & Star Noah Segan Talks BLOOD RELATIVES
Noah Segan is without a doubt a familiar face to audiences, having stared in high profile Hollywood films like KNIVES OUT to genre features such as STARRY EYES but recently he’s become a triple threat, as he’s moved behind-the-camera also to write and direct.
Segan’s debut directorial feature, BLOOD RELATIVES, has recently wrapped its festival journey that included Fantastic Fest & Beyond Fest and will premiere on SHUDDER from November 22.
Monster Fest’s Jarret Gahan caught up with Segan to discuss the film, his background in genre cinema and the challenges he faced being behind-the-camera as he appeared in front of it also.
First off I have to say congratulations on the film. I loved it. From its genre roots, it becomes a tale of a father and daughter’s bond, a coming-of-age story and road movie. It works on so many levels. It’s honestly a beautiful hybrid and it’s surprisingly a feel good film at the same time.
Oh, well thank you. I appreciate all of it, but especially that last sentiment because it always feels like and I’m sure you feel this way every movie is sort of asking you for something. It’s asking you to please be scared or please laugh, or it’s making a request of the viewer and this movie does all of those things. It asks a lot of its viewer, but especially for that sort of sincerity and are you okay with some silly dad jokes and all of that? And I think if you are, then you’ll be pleased.
Absolutely. I think SHUDDER audiences are going love it.
You’ve got a history with the horror genre, from early on in your acting career to since writing and directing a story in the SCARE PACKAGE anthology and now with this your debut feature BLOOD RELATIVES. Is a horror a genre you’ve had a personal affinity with?
Oh, absolutely. I think I’m one of those people who thinks every movie is a genre movie. And in the sort of Cohen Brothers sense, right? In that every movie is about something, but it’s sort of wrapped up in a package and that gives us a path. It gives us a kind of sandbox to play in. And I have been very lucky to work on many different genres, but I think the horror genre and horror viewers and filmmakers have always been very generous to me. And some of the first movies I could remember watching and choosing to watch, not movies that my older siblings made me watch, but the stuff that when they let me go to the video store on my own and they would drop me off, they’d pick me up 20 minutes later. It was horror films that I was obsessed with because it felt like they were serialised. It felt like there were so many FRIDAY THE 13TH films, there were so many ELM STREET movies, there were so many DRACULA films that you could just immerse yourself. And that kind of continuation of the experience is something that I hold very dear. And so yeah, that’s what I associate horror movies with. It’s funny, now that I’m talking, I realise it’s like I don’t even associate being terribly scared. I’m often more terrified by dramas than I am by horror.
Definitely. Horror film are often like comfort food with familiar characters, settings and tropes, you can lean into and enjoy.
Have you stayed in touch with many of the genre filmmakers you’ve worked with over the years? Like Joe Begos or Ti West?
Yeah, I saw Joe not too long ago. We both have films coming out. he’s got a movie that’s coming out and our movies have been playing at a few festivals together.
CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS, it’s actually the Opening Night Film at our MONSTER FEST film festivals here in Australia.
Wow, that’s great. It’s a terrific film.
I’m also very close with Trent Haaga. He’s my neighbour, he lives down the road and he’ll come and knock on the door and he’s been a great mentor as a filmmaker and also as a parent because he’s a lovely, incredible father. And as I sort started going down my road into parenthood and also trying to keep making films he’s been very supportive in that.
On that note, was becoming a father yourself part of the genesis of BLOOD RELATIVES?
Absolutely, yeah. It was really sort of looking at my life with a baby, being up at three in the morning, burping her and rocking her and feeding her and changing her. And then thinking, oh my gosh, six months ago I was up at three in the morning and I was having my seventh drink and wondering where the next party was. Maybe it wasn’t six months, but it was definitely an era that I remembered. And I sort started to look at that duality and have this realization that the person that I am today is a different person than the person that I was before. And it’s neither good nor bad. It’s sometimes good, it’s sometimes bad, it’s sometimes really funny. It’s sometimes scary. And I feel like the vampire and here I go, I’ll just start typing all this out.
Aside from fatherhood, was there any other influences you drew upon when you were writing the film? There’s an element of Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, both in themes and even wardrobing with your character Francis’s suave fashion sense.
Yeah, the leather jacket. There’s some sort of Wayfarer style Ray-Ban shades that pop up. Definitely some influence from NEAR DARK. I would say the number one influence was PAPER MOON, which is if not my favourite movie, one of my favourite movies, right up there with another one of my favourites, RAISING ARIZONA.
Both movies are about how parenthood is maddening and how it can coexist in this sort of heightened state of reality. And obviously PAPER MOON is sort of this tight movie and RAISING ARIZONA as a sort of madcap crime comedy, and yet they’re both about family and parenthood. And so I thought a lot about that. And then as far as vampire movies went, obviously you hit it right on the nose. NEAR DARK was a big one because there’s a lot of family stuff in NEAR DARK as well. But then also movies like George Romero’s MARTIN George Romero’s Martin and GANJA AND HESS, which is an incredible movie about the black experience from the perspective of a vampire. And Spike Lee remade it as a movie called DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. That was also big inspiration as a New Yorker, I hold Spike Lee very near and dear to my heart. And so those were sort of deeper cuts but heavy influences.
The chemistry you share with Victoria Moroles as Jane is off the charts. How did you go about casting her and building that relationship with her so as to transfer it to screen?
I wish I could take credit, but it was all Victoria and before Victoria it was all Josh Ruben who is our producer, great filmmaker in his own, he made SCARE ME and WEREWOLVES WITHIN. And he has a really great role in BLOOD RELATIVES. He sort of plays this kind of Renfield character. And Josh had worked as an actor for a day on PLAN B, which was a comedy that Victoria had made a couple years ago. Very, very funny movie. And when he and I were talking as producers, who do we cast in this role, he brought her up and he said, I know you’re gonna think I’m crazy, but there’s something, there’s some reason that I think that this is gonna work. I only spent a day on this set, but not only is this actor incredible, but I really think there’s some connection here. I can feel it. And Vic and I met over Zoom because of the pandemic and I had already watched her movies and I had realised, oh my gosh, yes, absolutely she’s incredibly talented. But we had a connection. That’s all I could say is sometimes you meet people and you wanna be friends and you wanna hang out with them. And I was very lucky that even over screen to screen, that was an energy that was there because she really carries a whole film.
It really comes through onscreen, the bond was genuine and you’re left wanting to see more, how that relationship will develop over time, particularly as both characters adjust to their new stations in life as a partnership but also individuals. While BLOOD RELATIVES as a film is self-contained, it also works as a pilot that could launch a series.
I’ll be happy to give you and your audience the home address and number of Sam Zimmerman, who is our executive over at SHUDDER. I’m sure you could call him at any time of the day or night.
I actually have his direct email address on hand. I’m emailing right now as you speak.
In terms of directing a film in which you are actually playing one of the leads, what sort of challenges do you face having to be behind and in front of the camera simultaneously?
It just gave me so much empathy for all these poor directors who I’d worked with over the last couple decades. I really feel for them, what I put them through. No, I was very lucky that the vast majority of my work was with actors who were better than I am. So even though we didn’t have a lot of time and resources for me to always walk the scene, play back or do a zillion takes or anything like that, I was able to turn to Victoria or Tracy, Toms or Josh and sort of say, How we doing? We doing right? Did I? Yep, we got it. All right, thank you very much. That as long as what I’m doing doesn’t make you look worse, we can move on. Right. And so that was the level I was trying to reach for was just not embarrassing the other actors who had shown up to work that day.
What’s next for you? I know you’re in Rian Johnson’s KNIVES OUT sequel, GLASS ONION, that’s due out in cinemas at the end of the month. But is there another Noah Segan helmed feature in development?
There is, and I don’t mean to be shady but I can’t be too specific about it just yet. What I can say is that what we’re trying to do is another project with friends. We’re trying to keep the teams together because it’s really hard to find people who you work with and you also love. And when you can do that you wanna stay close by them.
In fact it feel like there’s a shift right now, a renaissance of sorts, happening in film right now and genre cinema in particular. Where filmmakers are banding together to drive projects rather just studios assembling them. It’s comforting to know as it brings promise of fresh projects like BLOOD RELATIVES making their way to screen and out to festivals and directly into homes of the intended audience through new distribution methods like SHUDDER.
Absolutely. And I’ll say as maddening and frustrating as social media can be, it’s also incredible to be able to talk to people directly and sort spread the word. But I think what is so important about, at least the relationships that I have that I’ve formed over the last nearly 20 years working in the business, is this realisation amongst all of these filmmakers that even though someone may write the script and we all may agree, the script is good, it is a team sport, it’s very much about collaboration and the sort of sense that it’s never gonna get done all on your own. The idea of the auteur is very nice and the idea of the benevolent dictator is very nice, but the reality of it is that you’re nothing if not for the person next to you. And so I think that that’s a sentiment that a lot of filmmakers, whether you’re Josh or Rian, you are projecting. And that’s something that I definitely could not have made a film without that philosophy.
That’s amazing. Well thank you so much for your time, Noah. I really appreciate. I love the movie and I have no doubt SHUDDER audiences will too when it premieres from November 22.
Oh, thank you Jarret. It’s been a pleasure talking to you down there. Take care.