Jean-Baptiste Andrea was involved in the theatre before
his move into film making with his debut film Dead End.
Though he received no formal training in cinema (he graduated
in economics and political science), he funded his passion
for writing and directing by translating books. He co-wrote
and directed his first movie, Dead End, with Fabrice
Canepa. Darren Rea spoke to him as Dead End was due
to be released on DVD
Rea: Can you tell us how the script for Dead End came
about and why you and Fabrice Canepa decided to write a horror
movie over other genres?
Andrea: We knew that we wouldn't have much money, because
we had failed financing a lot of other projects in the past
six years. We love horror movies and I think that it is a
genre that allows you to express a lot of spectacular and
emotional things with very little money. The idea was to make
a very effective movie - something that would work and something
where we would have the audience physically react. And how
could we do that with a small budget? We decided to try our
hand at horror. It's so much fun. We love that genre. It also
allowed us to play with the conventions. How could we prove
that we could write and direct, and have a finished project
that worked, with almost no money?
Just about every cliché has been used in the horror
genre. When you started writing how did you go about ensuring
that Dead End stood out from other movies?
The paradox is that we just used all of those clichés
in Dead End and then tried to bring something else
through humour. We didn't try to do a spoof movie, or to make
those clichés look ridiculous.
example, if you take the baby carriage scene, the cliché
is that the guy gets swallowed by the baby carriage, which
he finds on the road, and he dies. That's the traditional
cliché. So, when the guy gets swallowed and there is
a monster roar, everyone jumps in their seats and you think
he's dead. But, he's not. He's playing with the cliché.
that's what we tried to do everywhere in the movie - bringing
humour when you least expected it. When
we began writing the movie we just asked ourselves "What's
the point of writing just another horror movie? What will
make the difference?"
How difficult was it getting the dynamics of the casting right?
If the actors didn't come across as a believable family the
whole movie would have failed.
I guess we've been lucky. Alexandra Holden - we loved her
immediately, so she was easy to find.
son, Mick Cain, at first we saw his picture and we thought
that he was much too old. He's 25 and we were looking for
a teenager. But he was a friend of someone who was probably
going to work on the movie, so we were talked into seeing
him. He came dressed like the part and just nailed it.
didn't have a father for the movie up until two weeks before
we started shooting. We couldn't find anybody who could be
reassuring, like a father figure, and yet creepy at the same
time. The casting director got desperate and said: "Who
the Hell do you want?" And we said: "Somebody like
Ray Wise." So she said: "Okay, let's send him the
sent him the script and he read it over night and he called
on the next morning and said: "I want to do it. I was
looking for something like this." That was amazing.
Lin Shaye, it was basically the same process. We had an actress
that dropped us at the last moment and Lin came in and said
she loved the script and wanted to be in it. And you've seen
the end result. She's very funny and interesting and she isn't
afraid of playing with her image. She came in and as soon
as we put all those people together, they began to look like
a family. They behaved like a family off camera. That was
Did you originally have Marilyn Manson in mind for the part
of The Man in Black? I only ask because Steve Valentine, who
played that part, has the same hair style and looks a little
like Manson without his make-up...
That's funny. No one has ever asked about that. No, we didn't
try to make him look like Marilyn Manson, or to get Marilyn
Manson to play that part... which would have been a great
idea, actually. Now that I think of it... sh*t! That would
have worked really well.
Marilyn Manson thing was just a joke at the beginning because
I really like the guy. I think he is intelligent. He's in
America and he is doing what he does against the system -
against the culture. If you heard him talking in Bowling
For Columbine then you can see that he is not a dumb guy.
And so we placed a reference to him in the movie because I
like him. But it is funny, you're right Steve Valentine does
look a lot like him.
For you, what is the most enjoyable process of movie making?
Is it the writing, the directing, or seeing the whole thing
For me it is the directing. I started doing theatre and stage
work and directed some crazy things when I was 15. I have
to write because I want to direct. I would love it if someone
could give me an original, fantastic script so that I would
only have to direct a movie. At the same time though, writing
is like giving birth - not that I know what giving birth is
really like - but it is painful. The whole process is a pain
in the ass, but you are very happy with the results.
Do you share the same view as a lot of British directors,
that it is a shame that you have to go to America to get the
funding to make your movies instead of being able to raise
the capital in your own country?
Yes, absolutely. In France if you don't write about suicide
or unemployment - if you don't do Ken Loach movies then you
won't get your work financed. It has changed a bit though
in recent times. Now you have to do comedies, stupid comedies
- the more stupid the better [laughs].
End was written in English because I though that if we
couldn't get the money in France then at least we could show
it to other producers abroad. The financing of Dead End
don't want to work in France even if I can now. I want to
work in England and America, they are very different than
France. If you go to France everyone is doing nothing - just
enjoying life. Which is good, but in this business you need
energy from the people you work with. That's not what happens
used to say that French cinema was slowly dying and I don't
know what is going to happen to it. We used to be, along with
England, one of the biggest European movie producers. But
now every time a movie comes from abroad, especially America,
people say: "Oh my God! Another American movie. We are
not going to see that!" We are heavily prejudice, except
when it comes to the huge blockbusters, against English speaking
How has Dead End been received in France?
By the audience, fantastically. But, by the business... we
are still having problems finding a distributor. We've sold
this movie everywhere but France. But, at French festivals
the movie is very well received, which is very rewarding.
talked to some French actors at festivals who have said: "Why
didn't you shoot the movie in France, with French actors?"
Now that the movie is completed everyone in France is questioning
why we didn't do it in France.
There's one stand out scene in the movie that everyone will
talk about - the biting of the lip. The scene didn't go as
planned and looks a lot more shocking than was originally
scripted. At the time were you disappointed that it hadn't
gone as planned? And looking at it now do you thing it was
a happy accident that gives the scene more impact?
I'm okay with the scene, but we only had one take for it.
I would have done it again if we had the time. The actress
is supposed to bite the lip off, but she dropped the lip by
mistake so that it was hanging, and she had the instinct to
come back and tear it up completely.
think it looks pretty good. But that was a very stressful
day. The producers had chosen that day to come to the set,
which was maybe not the best day because everyone was stressed
that that shot wouldn't work. The actors were very stressed.
But in the end I think it works.
It seems more shocking, the fact that she goes back to chew
up his lip...
Yeah, I think so too. But we didn't have that many angles
and we had to edit that scene with the very few angles that
we did have. But you're right, it works best when she comes
back. I think we were lucky on that one.
Apart from that scene there is very little gore. Was that
down to financial constraints as you mentioned earlier, or
had you originally planned to play with the audiences imagination
because it is more scary if you let the audiences imagination
fill in the blanks?
There was even less gore in the script and in the end we thought
we'd better give something to the audience.
only thing that was in the script, gore wise, was the rubbing
of the brain. This is not only gore, it's a really funny scene
- having an orgasm, masturbating her brain.
idea for this came from a TV show I saw where a surgeon performed
surgery on a woman who couldn't stand anaesthesia. She was
only hypnotised and part of her skull was open and you could
see the brain. The doctor stimulated the brain with the tip
of a pen and he said: "Do you feel anything?" And
she said: "My foot is itching". And I was like:
"My God! That's horrible." That means that you can
actually generate physical reactions by touching the brain.
you're right. That was the idea from the beginning. The less
you see, the more scary it is. We wanted to leave as much
as we could to the imagination of the audience. The mind is
a powerful thing. When we are watching things are imagination
gears up and we begin to imagine all kinds of crazy things.
That is much more efficient than showing something - which
would limit your imagination.
Did you pay homage to any other movies? There is a scene where
the mysterious car drives past and in the back is the first
victim, which reminded me of a similar scene in Jacob's
That was not intentional. Jacob's Ladder is one of
my favourite horror movies ever. It is very intelligent, there's
no gore and it's very creepy.
car comes from Phantasm - but I didn't realise that
until I met Don Coscarelli [Phantasm's writer/director]
at a festival in Brussels. I met him and I remembered that
I had seen this movie fifteen years ago, and I remember being
impressed by the black car and the tall man. And I think that
subconsciously the black man and the car in Dead End
come from Phantasm.
that was completely unintentional and when we were writing
Dead End we didn't mean to give any reference to existing
films, although we didn't try to hide the baby carriage -
which is a reference to Rosemary's Baby.
If you weren't in this industry, what would you be doing?
That's interesting. I would be a music conductor... or pilot
of a jet plane [laughs].
What about future projects? Is there anything you are working
on at the moment that you can talk about?
Fabrice and I have a number of different projects on the go
at the moment - also we have a number of separate projects.
Unfortunately, at this stage I can't say any more.
What comes next won't, I think, be a horror movie. It is too
easy to get pigeonholed into doing horror movies. I want to
get some experience in other genres and maybe come back to
horror movies later.
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Nina Criswick at DSA
End is out to buy on DVD
and rent on DVD & VHS from Pathé Distribution Ltd on 17 May
your copy on DVD for £11.99 (RRP: £15.99) by clicking