Following his review of APP, the latest Nederhorror, James Simpson was lucky enough to talk to its director Bobby Boermans. In an English language exclusive UK Horror Scene interview James spoke to Bobby about the film, his experiences making it and the upcoming English subtitled release.
How did you come about the idea of APP?
My producer, the screenwriter and I did another movie before this (Claustrofobia, 2011). After that we just wanted to make something new for a younger audience. Something that was cool and refreshing. So we started brainstorming about what young people do these days. They are all attached to their phones, even inside a cinema.
So we thought instead of fighting against that problem why don’t we make use of it and develop a storyline around it. That’s how we came up with the idea of making a movie about an APP that ‘goes evil’ against you. We started researching possible technology’s to implement as a second screen technique inside the cinema. We found the right technology partners to do this with too so we greenlit the project.
Is it a social message on people’s over reliance of smartphones/tablets?
Underneath it all throughout the movie there is this subliminal message, indeed. More in the lines of the fact that we have to be a little bit aware of what we do with technology these days. What about all that info we put inside our phones? Nobody actually knows exactly where all of our data goes. It’s distributed throughout all these different servers and different countries and companies that can do whatever they want with that data. For good or for bad, that’s a little bit scary if you ask me.
Only I didn’t want to preach a message right in the face of the viewer. I just wanted people to have a good time inside the theatre and watch an entertaining piece of cinema. But hopefully after seeing APP the audience will think about the subject matter for a while.
It was very challenging because we had to design all the IRIS reactions shots upfront by our VFX house (Storm Postproduction). They did a great job of creating all the designs right on time. Sometimes even on the day of shooting itself they were confronted with last-minute adjustments. I really wanted most of the IRIS shots to be done beforehand so we could shoot them for real on set playing out on the phone itself. That way Hannah (who plays Anna) had something physically to play with. In the end we luckily ended up doing very little green screen work.
It was complicated because we had to be able to control all the different phones wirelessly so we could start them at any moment the rolled camera. This turned out to be a real challenge because a lot of our locations had robust concrete walls so the Wifi signal struggled to get through. Luckily we had one guy who was responsible for all of this, we called him our “digital screen operator”. He controlled all the screens and phones in the whole movie. He had the hardest job on set because there were so many phone shots that had to be coordinated upfront.
What is your favourite scene in APP?
I really like the way the swimming pool sequence turned out, it was this intercut sequence where we had to switch perspectives between characters. You see Anna racing her motorcycle while Sophie is taking a dive, Sim is walking out of the building at the same time and in the meanwhile IRIS is infecting several computers. We had to build tension by intercutting all these scenes together. My editor (Brian Ent) and I puzzled over it for a while. How long should this sequence need? Originally it was going to be a bit longer, but we trimmed it down, to get to the point quicker.
Yeah, for Hannah APP was her first big part in a more commercial movie. She was mainly considered as this young art-house queen in the Netherlands and I had seen her in some of those movies. There was something about her that I couldn’t get out of my head when I first noticed her picture on a casting sheet. She had something attractive and very powerful, but at the same time she embodied this harder boyish quality that I was looking for. Comparable to Kirsten Stewart for instance. I knew that when I had to throw a leather jacket on her she would wear it well and that it would be believable to her character. She performed an amazing screentest and I had to fight for her to get her attached to the movie but I’m very happy I did. She is utterly good in subconsciously knowing what a camera does and what a director needs in order to tell the story.
Isis I was already a fan of before she entered the casting room. I knew her from some other movie work she did. I was looking for this very open and eccentric counter balance to Anna. In real life Isis is this very happy, sunny, funny playful person that constantly makes jokes. You constantly want to be around her because she’s so funny and sweet. I didn’t have to think long after she did the screentest.
The movie has been released in several countries, are you happy with APP’s success?
It’s been this amazing ride. We sold the movie to a lot of countries and several remake options are playing out on the table in different parts of the world. Part of the success I think is that people are very curious to see how the ‘second screen element’ plays out inside a movie theatre and how this technique exactly works.
The film gave me a lot of new opportunities and it took me to places that otherwise I would’ve never get a chance to see.
Could you tell us some more about the planned English subtitled release?
I’m not sure when this is coming out but I think it’s going to be released sometime in early 2014. Film Movement in the US will be handling its US distribution. I just finished my commentary track for the US Blu-ray/DVD market version of APP.
I’m currently preparing a new TV drama series called New Neighbours for Dutch broadcaster RTL which will air in September 2014. It’s based on a famous Dutch thriller novel by Saskia Noort. It’s this weird mix of thriller, sex & comedy all in one. It is about a young couple that start to date their neighbours. I think it’s going to be a refreshing, new series.
After that I’m doing a new movie probably after the summer. And currently our production company 2CFILM is putting the final touches on a new romantic comedy we filmed called Street of Harts that will be released theatrically in The Netherlands on March 10th 2014.
After all of that I hope to be able to get a break and travel to LA and work on developing some projects for the US.
Visit Bobby’s website here – http://www.bobbyboermans.com/www.bobbyboermans.com/WELCOME.html
UKHS review of APP: http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dutch-horror-spotlight-6-app-2013-by-james-simpson/