Director's Statement for Living Among Us
LIVING AMONG US is a contemporary horror film that takes the traditional vampire mythos and fuses it with modern day science and technology.
It takes certain aspects of traditional filmmaking and mixes it with aspects of the French New Wave movement and American New Wave. While newer audiences will connect this film with found-footage, I do not consider this to be in that genre. Recognizable and well-trained actors are key for me to tell a proper story which is normally not the case for found-footage. Other new wave influences include trying to always make you aware of the filmmaking process while at the same time not taking you out of the film. Longtakes are also important to me to make it feel as real as possible. French New Wave films was always shot documentary style.
Since the footage of the film crew and the story necessitates it, replacing the studio lighting with natural and available lighting is necessary to keep the authenticity of this film while not falling into the trappings of making the footage so dark, you can’t see what’s happening. At the same time, through the use of handheld cameras, it allows the viewer to be right in the action, much in the same way Spielberg did for Schindler’s List or Alejandro Iñárritu did for Birdman.
In today’s era with modern camera equipment and high-resolution 4k iPhone cameras, one wonders why many of the found-footage films have such poor quality video resolution, high amounts of camera shake that you get dizzy from the entire experience.
When I was given the opportunity to make this film many years later, the premise had changed multiple times. The initial idea came about when I first watched the film Fright Night as a child and wondered what it would be like to be Charlie Brewster watching his vampire neighbor across the street and imagining getting permission to see what life is like as a vampire. The idea went through numerous iterations until I came across
an article on a true virus called Porphyria or Vampire's Disease. Porphyria is from a rare genetic disorder that causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight which can result in damage as serious as third degree burns and abrasions. Teeth can become more prominent, which can give the appearance of fangs. Other symptoms can include extreme depression and can cause strange behavior. Garlic actually can cause the symptoms to become worse. The use of drinking blood would actually relieve the symptoms and today transfusion is still a common treatment for this disease.
I thought what if I subverted the vampire mythos with real science. And that's exactly what the plot asks. What would happen if vampires made themselves known in today's age? Their blood donation facilities have been discovered forcing them to come out into the limelight.
So now that vampires have been exposed, it is up to their sectional or sect leader, Samuel (William Sadler) to come forward and release a statement about how they are not supernatural creatures that Hollywood myth wants them to believe in but only infected with a disease that how modern science can explain. Samuel is a modern day politician who uses the media to spin stories to his advantage. He arranges to have a film crew come and document the experience of life for a typical vampire family in the United States so the general public won’t go into hysterics.