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Nature's Grip: Unraveling THE SEEDING with Director Barnaby Clay

A woman looking disapprovingly at a man
Scott Haze and Kate Lyn Sheil in THE SEEDING, a Magnet release | Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

By Shannon McGrew

In writer/director Barnaby Clay's debut feature film, THE SEEDING, a hiker (Scott Haze) lost in the desert takes refuge with a woman (Kate Lyn Sheil) living alone, and soon discovers that she might not be there willingly.

For the release of THE SEEDING, Creepy Kingdom's Shannon McGrew spoke with writer/director Barnaby Clay. During their interview, they discussed everything from how tarot cards helped in making a casting decision to locating the perfect canyon.

Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Barnaby. What was the inspiration behind the story for THE SEEDING?

Barnaby Clay: It was my first feature so I wanted something which was contained so I could shoot it for low budget and retain some level of control when I was making it. It was very important to me to have that artistic freedom that I was seeking, which doesn't happen easily. When I was playing around with ideas, I was very inspired by "The Woman in the Dunes," which is a Japanese novel by Kōbō Abe, which also has a man confined in a sand pit. My film goes in a very different direction, it starts there and then goes into a different place. The different place sort of came from, this is quite bizarre, but it came from walking with my pregnant wife through the desert and having this expecting of a child coming my way. Whenever I'm in the desert I have this feeling of, you know, I love being there, but at the same time there is this feeling of vulnerability. Everywhere you walk you're like, what am I stepping on? You're constantly reminded of nature, so it was a combination of those things that launched me into this story.

One of my favorite things about the film is the location. The cavern featured is nothing short of breathtaking and in and of itself is a character. How did you end up finding this place?

Barnaby Clay: We searched worldwide. We had scouts looking all over the place to try and find something. From an extinct volcano in Romania, to Northern Mexico, Canada, all over the place we were looking. Then somebody sent a picture through of this canyon in Southern Utah that was maybe half an hour from Zion Canyon and not far from the Grand Canyon. It's actually not a big hole in the ground [like it appears to be], there's actually a bend in the canyon and we would seal it up in post-production. You could drive in and out but it was still like, if you're in there, you're in there. It very much felt enclosed within it. It was hard working in there but there was something about the textures and the wall and the coloring which just felt like a right fit for this.

A man walking through the desert
A scene from THE SEEDING, a Magnet release | Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I was very impressed with the performances given by Kate Lyn Sheil ("Alina") and Scott Haze ("Wyndham"). What was the casting process like and what characteristics were you looking for?

Barnaby Clay: It was very last minute. We'd gone through so many different people. I knew about some of Kate's work but for whatever reason didn't get around to reaching out to her [at that time]. I didn't know Scott but somebody suggested him to me. I knew that his character had to go from "every day person" to the most primal recesses of himself. I think on a physical level not all actors can get there and I wanted somebody who really could get there. I watched Child of God and you could see an actor who was ready to push himself out there.

I'll tell you a funny story, I was down to the wire deciding between him and someone else. I asked my wife what she thought I should do because my casting director and producer were like, you have to make a decision in 20 minutes. My wife was like, let's get out the tarot deck [Laughs]. We pulled some cards and Scott's represented fire which meant it was going to be tough [for him], but that also something strong would come from [his performance].

The score really adds to the film in such a unique and stylish way with sounds that aren't often heard. That being said, how involved were you with the music?

Barnaby Clay: The composer, Tristan Bechet, is my cousin [Laughs]. We've obviously known each other all our lives and have grown up together and I never thought of anybody else doing the music. It was always him. He was living in Paris at the time and I think from the first draft of the script or pretty early on he started sending me stuff. By the time we actually started shooting, we had maybe 30 cues? Though, not all of them made it in. Then there were others that we had to actually score later on to the picture. Once I told Scott and Kate they were in the film, I played them some of the music to give them an idea of this world which was very helpful for them.

Once Tristan and I were editing, I spent a lot of time with him in his little studio scoring and it was a lot of fun. He comes from an industrial music background and immediately went to a couple of artists who were uncompromising industrial Avant Garde artists and roped them into this. He went and recorded a session in Germany with this guy who used to be in this band called Neubauten, a very famous industrial German noise band who are famous for using power tools on stage. You know those giant springs they have in suspension trucks? That's one of the sounds on the soundtrack. So, its got some really interesting stuff going on.

THE SEEDING is a film that you can enjoy on the surface or deep dive into the multitude of themes. For you, is there anything you hope people take away from it?

Barnaby Clay: I've been pleased that people have picked up on themes, which I was going for because I'm not trying to ram them down your throat but they're in there. I was really interested in exploring these themes of motherhood, and fatherhood, and the cyclical nature of life and boiling things down to the basics. That's what this film was about, it's birth, life, death, birth. It just goes round and round. This character is put in a position where he has no option. That's it. Though, he has to accept it and begin to understand it and become a little bit more in synch with it. As brutal as the film is, there is some kind of simplicity where I always thought of it like a termite mound where there is the queen and she has her different hierarchies.

THE SEEDING is now in theaters and on VOD. For more on the film, check out our review.


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