Actor Frank Krueger wrote and starred in Darkness Descends, which The Spread reviews this month. I caught up with Frank to shed some light on the darkness.
What was your inspiration to write this feature?
It started as a project for a screenwriting class ten years ago. I was inspired by the urban legends surrounding the homeless population living in the subway tunnels below New York City. It’s a hidden world just below the street that really fascinated me. Over the years the script has evolved as I learned more about things that are just below the surface of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. I’m very interested in things that we look past as we go about our lives.
It feels like Darkness Descends is set in a dystopic, urban world. How do you think this setting compares with reality?
The story itself is very much fiction but the world it’s set in is very real. The more I learned about the tunnels and some of the very real struggles facing the homeless the more fascinated I became. Many of the things I put in the script that I thought were fictional turned out to actually be closer to reality than I would have thought.
How conscious were you of including an underrepresented community like the homeless?
It was a very conscious decision. I wanted to try to base an archetypal hero’s journey into the underworld against the backdrop of some of the real life problems and issues facing the homeless. The more I researched and learned about homelessness the more I realised how misunderstood or forgotten that community is.
So many people, myself included, have very stereotypical views of the homeless, sometimes in a dehumanising way, but I discovered that there is a very rich humanity that we don’t get to see.
It’s something that we often don’t want to look at.
We meet Jake as an embittered and jaded character. How did you prepare for the role?
The script came out of my struggle with the loss of my parents. I think there are times in anyone’s life that are pivotal to shaping the people they become. Everyone has a story. I think it’s at those times when we can either break or find a way through. That’s what Jake’s struggle is about. Trying to rediscover his way back from the darkness.
Do you think Jake and Angel share similar outlooks, if so, what do you think sets the characters apart?
I think Angel and Jake are two sides of a coin. Angel represents the choice of fighting against the world, railing against the injustice of the world around him. He is the ultimate representation of rage and cynicism. It’s the path Jake is on at the beginning and in the end the struggle for Jake is whether he will continue to be dragged down by his past or find a better way. I think it’s something a lot of people face when they are in tough times.
Could you tell us about any challenges you faced with production?
With many independent films the biggest struggle is finding a way to finish the film with a budget that is always less than what you want or need. What that does lead to though is a necessity to finding creative solutions to problems that come up. We had an amazing cast and crew that went above and beyond to make this film happen. It was only possible thanks to their incredible dedication in not the easiest of shoots.
Could you tell us about any highlights of production?
The biggest highlight for me was getting the chance to work with Danny Trejo. Not only is he a film icon, he also has an incredibly deep and rich personal history.
Getting to talk with him about his life and hearing his incredible stories was a real gift. He is great.
What are your expectations of the project?
I’m just thrilled that the movie has gotten released and people have a chance to see it. It was a long time coming and to see it out has already gone past my expectations.
How do you think viewers will receive Darkness Descends in light of current social and cultural struggles?
I think the undercurrent of social and cultural struggle is only getting more intense. I hope that people receive it with an open mind and maybe take a second look at the world around us. Everyone has a story, a struggle, and hopefully we can find a better way. We’re all in this together.
Finally, can you tell us about any upcoming projects for us to expect next?
I’m currently working on a new action comedy feature film that we are hoping to develop and shoot internationally called The Last Dance. I am also working on a digital adaptation of Hamlet for YouTube as well as an original superhero series.
Catch up with Frank on Twitter: @REDEMPTIONFILM