Back at the start of November, I reviewed Triggered. If you haven’t seen the film or read the review, I’d recommend you do that first as this post may contain spoilers. After reviewing the film, David D. Jones, the writer of the film, and Cameron Scott, one of the stars of the film, both reached out to see if I was interested in an interview. I jumped at the chance and spoke with both of them. Life got a bit away from me, so I didn’t get the interviews transcribed as quickly as I wanted to… but I think that’s ok because now I can release this review at the same time as the DVD release of the film. This is one where I actually want to pick up the DVD just to add it to my collection.
As a quick refresher to the film, it is a horror/thriller about a group of millennials who are reuniting for the first time in a few years when things don’t go as planned. They wake up, strapped into bomb vests and must kill each other because only one of them can survive. On top of the horror/thriller aspect, the film has a lot of comedy and provides a great millennial satire. It also had heart and soul and I was really exited to talk to David and Cameron because I suspect a lot of that heart and soul came from the script and it was Cameron’s character, PJ, that had the most heart in the film.
I decided to start with asking David about writing the script.
Some very vague requests came through InkTip that there was a producer looking for a script that was a combination of two different genres. I had a script that was a really messed up horror movie, really out there as far as the comedy goes. It makes Triggered look tame. It was just sitting there, so I sent it to them. A few weeks later the producer got in touch with me and they optioned it, but we couldn’t get enough financing for it. They had this idea for doing something that was a bit lower budget, so we wrote to the budget with Triggered.
David D. Jones, writer
David also mentioned that the other script was 80% comedy and 20% horror and that they tried to do the inverse of that with Triggered. I was also very intrigued by the timeline. The concept was first brought up in April, 2018 with the outline finalized a month later in May and the first draft completed in July. Principal photography started in February, 2019. Knowing how David became involved with the project, it was nice to be able to compare that to Cameron’s thoughts
I think it all goes back to when I first got the script. I was in LA and Alastair messaged me. It’s crazy that you had this convo with David. He’s someone out of this entire thing that I haven’t met. I know that eventually I will and I’d actually also love to have a conversation with him. When Al sent me the script, I started paging through it. There’s this hesitation for me for horror/thriller genres, it’s not normally the thing that I’d really enjoy. The script kinda just grabbed me and I really enjoyed the humour of it and the quirky millennial chats. I was asked to audition for Ezra or PJ and what really attracted me to PJ was the character arc with tragedy. There was limited room to play with the depth of character in this situation, especially with 9 other main characters. You don’t have that much time to flesh out your arc. I think the only thing that I, in terms of internally me, would have disagreed with was when he went back to get Erin. Which is a crazy thing obviously, but it just felt like that was who he was. He’s just one of those dudes that’s so good in their heart, but almost foolishly so… detrimental to their health. But playing that was really really fun.
Cameron Scott, actor
I have to say that I really enjoyed both conversations with these two, but for very different reasons. Movie reviews are a hobby for me, I don’t get paid and there aren’t even ads on the site. If anything, it’s an expense… but I love films and I love the indie films that I’ve been introduced to doing this. I also love meeting and speaking to the individuals involved with the film. To me, that’s the payment and David and Cameron are two of the nicest guys I’ve met. With David, there was a shared passion for music and my desire to one day write a script, and with Cameron it was just such a geeky conversation… our video backgrounds were filled with very similarly themed items. So, I want to take a moment to publicly thank both of them for their time, the conversations were an absolute joy.
One thing that I noticed was the mutual love and respect that everyone seemed to have for each other. When I asked David if the final product represented his vision when writing the film, here’s what he had to say.
I have not done a lot of stuff that’s been produced, but I know films often don’t turn out how the writer envisioned them for a myriad of reasons. In this case, I’m incredibly lucky because Triggered came out eerily similar to how I imagined it. Especially the tone. The tone is such a tricky thing to balance just in the writing stage alone, and then for it to be filtered through the director and the actors who have to actually bring this crazy mix of humor and horror and heart to life… I did not expect the tone that was in my head to match the final product as much as it did. That’s a testament to the actors and probably a result of Alastair having the same twisted sense of humor that I do. He did a rewrite of the script, and I couldn’t tell which jokes were his and which were mine, so we operate on a similar wavelength, which is probably not a healthy one. I was very thrilled with how it turned out in general, but the tone in particular I felt like everyone nailed it.
David D. Jones, writer
When I asked Cameron what it was like to film at night, in the rain and to have to shoot both horror and comedy elements fused with emotion, he had a lot to say.
Shooting a film in the short space of time that we shot a film in, in the conditions that we filmed in was an immaculately awesome, powerful, and explosive experience. It demanded so much energy from both the crew and the cast, that I think that in itself was just a feat. Everyone was there for the same reason: to make this film and make it well.
Alastair as a director is pretty intuitive. He has such good banter with the cast on set. One of the first days, we did a scene where I have a marshmallow in my mouth and I approach Ezra as he’s cutting up wood. We had to shoot that scene like 8 times, after that I was called “8-Take Cam” by Alastair for a while. Holistically, I think this film was an extremely unique experience.
Reine, the actress who plays Rian, is absolutely phenomenal. I knew from the first day just playing opposite her was going to be such a treat. She’s a really, really talented actress and a damn fine human being.
Filming was pretty heavy – back to back night shoots. The rooms that we slept in close to location were extremely hot and obviously we’re sleeping in daylight as well. So, there wasn’t blackout darkness, so you didn’t get that much sleep. Because of the rain and the wet, I had started developing a bit of a cold. My energy just started to dip, and I remember having to give it my one hundred percent through those last few days, with all of production doign the same.
Cameron Scott, actor
As you can see, they both spoke very fondly of other members of the cast and crew. Alastair, who was mentioned frequently by both David and Cameron, is the film’s director.
Of course, I couldn’t speak to both of them about all of the same things, as they worked on different parts of the film. David is in the United States and the film was shot in South Africa, something I only discovered in the final scene of the film when the steering wheel of a truck is on the wrong side. David pointed out that Alastair did a final rewrite of the script and that there were changes due to available budget and that he expected there were changes due to the fact that nearly 1/3 of their shooting schedule was rained out, which made the job they did that much more incredible. Since David wrote the script and then saw the final product without experiencing any of the shooting in between, I asked him if the actors fit his vision of the characters.
That’s a really good question. I’ve thought about this. I don’t know if any of the actors really matched who I was envisioning in my head when I saw them initially. Then after 5 minutes of seeing the cast breathe life into the characters, I completely forgot “my” version of the characters, and now, you know, Cameron is PJ, Liesl is Erin, Reine is Rian, and so on. They completely supplanted whatever version of these characters I had in my head. I guess that’s what great actors do.
I remember early on Alastair saying that he really thought they had nailed the casting, which was crucial. The tension and suspense mixed with the comedy. It’s hard enough to be a good actor and then to try and do comedy is really hard and to balance all of that while acting like you’re terrified. They knocked it out of the park for sure.
David D. Jones, writer
With Cameron, I asked what I can only call a “typical con question.” If you’ve ever been to a comic con or fan expo, you’ll have heard someone ask if there were any funny stories or incidents that the person on stage could share. I couldn’t resist asking Cameron this question and it sounds like the cast and crew had a great time.
There was one part in the movie where my character, PJ, picks up a hammer and from that moment on, some of my castmates were like, “Hey, Look, it’s Thor!” So, whenever I wasn’t on set and it was raining down, I was like, “Feel my wrath.”
One of my favourite activities was after we’d wrap, we’d come back into the world in sunlight. They’d be like, “Ok Cam, clean up, let’s go home.” I’d be like, “No. Don’t clean me up” and I’d go to a fast food drive-thru and order food looking like I’d just had the most wild night. Or I’d be driving home as everyone’s getting up and they’re still daisy-eyed and they’ve got their coffee, they’re on their way to work and I’m going home. I just hope someone saw me and thought, ‘Oh man, whatever day I have, it’s going to be better than that guys.”
I’m a big believer in connecting with your cast and the crew as much as possible. So, I roped everybody together and we went to play laser tag and, ironically, Kato won. It was just a great time and we ended up going and having a bit of a party afterwards. We did that several times after the shoots, which was really cool.
Cameron Scott, actor
For me, talking to these two, it was a reminder of the heart and soul that goes into making indie films. I’m sure that there’s a lot it in big budget Hollywood blockbusters, but I’m not sure that it is the same, I’ve never seen a big name celebrity interview that has the joy or intensity that those involved with indie filmmaking exhibit. I tried to capture a few quotes that conveyed that, because it is definitely what I experienced while talking to them. Watching these interviews back to transcribe them reminded me of my more recent interview with Scott and Julia from One Good Reason. The passion of those making indie films is undeniable.
Once again, a huge thank you to both David and Cameron for taking the time to speak with me. If you haven’t seen Triggered, you should definitely check it out.