Ahead of the release of BEYOND PARANORMAL, we had the chance to speak with director Matteo Ribaudo, who gave us the lowdown on production. Did you know that Patricia Rae - who is Ribaudo's partner in life, and also plays Angela in the film - helped with the story, since the director is, admittedly, a "scaredy cat" when it comes to horror? Read on below for more fun details from the director of BEYOND PARANORMAL. Then be sure to watch the exclusive clip, below.
BEYOND PARANORMAL has a lot of lore relating to Indigenous cultures. Where did that inspiration come from?
MATTEO RIBAUDO: As far as the Indigenous stuff, I used, I would say multi-cultures from different time periods as an influence. I just find that the folklore, the stories, are really interesting. I also kind of played on the conspiracy theories that are out there. One of the interesting conspiracy theories, you know, they talk about ancient civilizations being influenced by an alien civilization. They have these hieroglyphs that were, you know, legit back in the day, and some of them were falling apart. So they invited another artist to, I guess, salvage the glyphs, and then also add some of their own artistic creativity to it. One of them is a man in a spacesuit. So a lot of conspiracy theory people out there think, “See? It's right there in the hieroglyphs!" Some of that stuff was actually really created in 1995 or somewhere in there, but, you know, I just thought it would be fun to incorporate some of that. I really love indigenous culture, so I wanted to incorporate it. We did make our own language, because we didn’t want to insult anyone.
Conspiracy theories definitely feel like kind of a hot topic right now - especially with everything being so crazy in the world. I feel like so many more conversations are happening about different conspiracy theories and things like that.
MATTEO RIBAUDO: Some of the stuff makes you really have a light bulb turn on in your head, and you’re like, “hmm.” And then some of them, if you just do a little bit of research, you’re like, "Oh, someone’s really pulling your leg."
It was also interesting watching this, because the main character is an influencer, who will do anything to get the viewers or followers. The film has an interesting commentary on influencer culture itself, and how it seems like you have to sell your soul to make it big.
MATTEO RIBAUDO: Absolutely. Yeah, the whole social influencer thing - like we have some TikTok-ers coming to the red carpet and premiere, because Anthony Cruz (who plays the lead warrior), he’s got some friends, and they’ve got millions of followers. I look at some of the content, and you can see how much these people want either fame or recognition. There’s this whole culture, and so I wanted to incorporate some of those things within that social influencer character.
I think that Cortney Palm (who plays Lily), she really nailed the role, and that whole, kind of vibe. ‘Cause it could have come across fake, and I thought that she really was genuine... It's like the behind-the-scenes of what these influences’ world is like, and their need for perfection.
Could you talk about the effects in BEYOND PARANORMAL, since they are trying to summon spirits and demons, etc.?
MATTEO RIBAUDO: You know, Kevin VanHook, he's a filmmaker, but he's a visual artist. He's the head of my effects team, and it was great to have him on set because, he could bring my vision to light in a lot of ways, and he's worked on really big films. He was such an asset to have working on the film, and we tried to do practical as well as VFX. And, you know, I want it to be as organic as possible, even though it's crazy. I still wanted it to be somewhat realistic.
What are some of your film or horror inspirations?
MATTEO RIBAUDO: Stanley Kubrick is an influence on me as a filmmaker, and Alfred Hitchcock. The birds scene was kind of a throwback to a Hitchcock kind of vibe.
That was a great, spooky scene. Visually, it was really cool, and I'm a Hitchcock fan, too, so it definitely made me think of The Birds.
MATTEO RIBAUDO: I think I've said this before, but Stanley Kubrick, and this is kind of how I approach filmmaking, they would interview him, and say, like, "Why do you do so many takes?” And he's like, “I’m not looking for the perfect take, I'm looking for the more interesting take.” And so when I make movies, I'm trying to find more interesting stuff than something that's perfect - and, you know, something that's unique in nature. I think that Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick in their time with us, that's what they were looking for. And that's what I was trying to emulate with the effects as well.
It's also interesting that you say that because then it kind of comes full circle, because when you are talking about influencer culture, I feel like the ones who are often at the forefront, are the ones who are really authentic, where it's not something you've seen a million times.
MATTEO RIBAUDO: Yeah, when we were editing the movie, there was a moment where we could have taken out the alien indigenous culture footage, and I pushed back, because I'm like, "I don't want this to be just a 'spooky Tiki doll' kind of horror movie. That's been done to death. And so that's why I really wanted to have that uniqueness with that culture - and then also how it weaves into the influencer culture as well. I just thought it was kind of important to stay unique, and not be so formulaic.
What do you hope viewers get out of watching BEYOND PARANORMAL?
MATTEO RIBAUDO: I want, like, in all my movies, I want to invoke thought. I don't want every question to be answered. I want them to have their own interpretation. I don't like to really spoon-feed everything to an audience. They’re creative in their own right. And - I want them to be scared, and I want them to be intrigued, and cerebrally moved - and have a great time! Movies are for entertainment, you know, and I hope that they'll see it more than once. At first glance, yeah, you're going to see a lot of stuff. You’re going to be entertained, but at second glance, you’re going to see some nuances, and you’re going to see, "Oh, there’s a red herring there," or maybe a plot point you missed the first time around. I think that's a goal for any filmmaker, that you want [audiences] to see it more than once.
Watch an exclusive clip from BEYOND PARANORMAL below!
Uh oh, Lily seems... not like herself.
Box Girl Lily, an influencer wannabe, will risk anything for fans - including her boyfriend's sanity. Promoting her next project, she receives a mysterious statue. Desperate for likes, she recruits him to capture her own possession. The social media-crazed couple gets more than they can bargained for when she calls upon powers that are beyond paranormal.
Cast: Ryan Donowho, Cortney Palm, Oliver Cooper and Patricia Rae
Make It Happen Films will release BEYOND PARANORMAL digitally on September 28, 2021!