DreadWorld Exclusive: 8 Questions with The Upper Footage Writer/Director Justin Cole!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of DreadWorlds soon to be world famous "8 Questions." Why 8? Because it's my interview that's why - stop asking stupid questions. The first victim esteemed interviewee is none other than Justin Cole! Justin is the writer/director of the film that set the interwebs on fire over the last couple years - The Upper Footage. Justins viral marketing tactics for the film garnered coverage from everyone from Disney stars to Access Hollywood. The film that followed the buzzworthy groundwork was one of the most talked about independent films of the last decade. I've been dry humping the hell out of the film for the last 6 months or so. You can check out the full DreadWorld review of The Upper Footage HERE.

1. Tell us about your journey. What was the inspiration that led you to start making films?

Justin Cole: "I have had a bit of unique journey into film. Hockey-> ->Acting-> Filmmaking.
To be as brief as possible, I grew up an extremely creative kid.  Ever since I could remember I have been drawing, writing, creating worlds in my mind. I was the kid who would draw and write violent stories that would have my parents worrying that I had to "see someone". As I got older my focus shifted to hockey but I was still a closet creative. As injuries piled up I needed a transition out of hockey and figured I would get back to my creative roots and give acting a try. I was offered a role in a film so I jumped into acting school to hone the craft. A year later it became clear that the film was not going to come to fruition, but I was in too deep so I kept going. I knew I eventually wanted to be a filmmaker but thought it was best to act for a while learn the ins and outs then jump behind the camera. I started doing gigs here and there, didn't really like it, and then I had a shoot where I had to dress up like a pirate and run around like an idiot. That was the final straw. After that I decided to go to film school and go for what I really wanted to do.

I went to film school for a month and was gearing up to go to a 4-year program. After looking at how much that would cost I figured I would just make my own film and learn from that experience."

2. The viral marketing for 'The Upper Footage' started years before the actual release of the film. Can you talk a little about the process behind the viral marketing campaign? 

Justin: "It all stemmed from my admiration of what the Blair Witch Project did nearly 2 decades ago, and my wonder why no one had gone for it since. For me film at its best is when you forget that what you are watching is fiction, and there is no better vehicle for that than found footage, if done correctly. The problem is nobody does it correctly in my opinion.  Cannibal Holocaust did it right in 1985, then it took 19 years for Blair Witch to do it, and not until we did this has anyone went for it. I feel like the magic of film is being able to lose yourself in it and forget what you are watching is fictional. It’s hard for me to say a movie about a girl overdosing in a toilet and getting her body disposed of is magical but you get the point.

I knew to do what they both did in 2014 I was going to have to do a lot more than what they did. I knew that the film’s back story would have to hold up to the scrutiny of a Google search. We had a plan to first have the media pick up the story of the events of the night then transition into the characters.

We started by releasing the clip of the overdose scene from the film with all the faces blurred, and posed it as a blackmail plot where all the identities would be released if a financial agreement was not reached. The response was insane, we got nearly a million views over several video hosting sites. Websites picked it up and bought that it was actually real. From there I figured we would be able to push this a lot further so we did the same thing with some of the drug use scenes. Celebrity media went crazy trying to guess who was in the video, assuming a celebrity was involved. At this point we started releasing information on a character from the film, Blake Pennington, as if he were a real person.

3. Were you surprised by the amount of mainstream buzz the film received?

Justin: "Yes and no. That was always my intention with it but when it actually started to happen I was a mixture of shocked and relived. I went through years of people telling me that I would never be able to do a lot of the things I winded up accomplishing with it. As I was successful I just wanted to push it further and further."
Justin Cole - Yes that's his real face

4. What was the biggest challenge you faced while filming the movie?

Justin: "The biggest challenge was making sure everything looked realistic. I was obsessive making sure that every little detail made sense and that nothing came off as scripted. Before I started shooting I actually took a trip with a friend of mine who was a minor celebrity in Sweden. He invited me out and promised that it would be a wild time, so I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to test out my concept in the real world in the safest way possible. If I were to start recording things around people I knew in NYC they would become paranoid and it wouldn't work, in a foreign country I had the ability to be gone before anyone even realized what happened.

For 2 weeks we traveled throughout the country and I got pretty much everything you could imagine on camera and people were far more receptive then I thought. When first seeing the camera people were a bit put off but it became an extension of me relatively quickly. I filmed several relative strangers doing coke, and no one seemed to mind. I went back and watched the footage over and over and studied not only other people’s behavior but my behavior as I filmed everywhere from completely sober to barely standing intoxicated."

5. Your film reads as a scathing indictment of the rich upper crust lifestyle, have you received any backlash from that group or anyone associated with them?

Justin: Not as of yet, but I guess I will see how hard it is to finalize funding on my next film. The negative about making a film about this demographic of people is that it just so happens to be the same demographic that funds films. With that being said I think there may be some crowd funding in my future.

6. Movie Association Time! We name a film. You tell us the first thing that comes to mind.

   a. The Blair Witch Project: "Amazing"
   b. Paranormal Activity: "Shit"
   c. American Psycho: "Amazing"
   d. Halloween: "Amazing"
   e. She's Having A Baby: "Huh?"

7. If you could go back, what is one thing you would change about the film or the process of making 'The Upper Footage'?

Justin: "My only regret was not figuring out a way to get arrested for it. I wanted to make the most realistic found footage film of all time, but Cannibal Holocaust will always have the fact that the director was actually brought to court because people were that convinced it was real. We had a couple close calls with the theater shutdown, and sites stated that the police were contacted when there were sightings of Blake Pennington but nothing that was taken to completion." 

and finally...

8. What's next for you?

Justin: "I am working on my next screenplay now entitled "Abadi" it is far outside of the Horror and Found Footage genre so I am really excited to see how far I can take something completely new."

So what did we learn? Hockey players can be sensitive artists. Swedes love cocaine and apparently being filmed while doing it. Getting arrested in New York is harder than anyone thought and the John Hughes film She's Having A Baby is not as popular as I'd like it to be. A big thanks to The Upper Footage Director Justin Cole for taking the time to play along. You can thank him by renting The Upper Footage Here.

The Upper Footage on Twitter
Justin Cole on Twitter

Thanks for reading. If you would like to use any part of the interview please be sure to give credit to DreadWorld. Thanks in advance. If you are interested in participating in a future edition of "8 Questions" please use the contact form found at the top of the page. Thank You.

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