Interview with Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, Directors of Resolution

moorhead_benson_directorsI recently wrote a review of Resolution, an Indie Movie that totally blew my mind. I have watched it again since and can honestly say it is one of my favorite movie of recent years.

After my review was live, I exchanged a couple of emails with Aaron and both him and Justin agreed to answer a few questions about the movie, their inspiration and what’s in store for them next.

It’s not everyday that you will read about Before Midnight, V/H/S 3, Breaking Bad, End of Watch, Preacher and ScaryMovie 2 in the same article, so enjoy!

First of all, How did you guys meet?

JUSTIN: We were extremely lowly interns at RSA, Ridely Scott’s commercial production company. We were barely interns, like a step or two below that. There’s actually no word for how unimportant our stations were. But we were two dudes making more films on our own, DIY, as anyone getting paid 100,000 times more than us.

AARON: There was an instant mutual respect for each others’ work ethic, which is the pretentious way of saying that we both work so often that we don’t get to go out and meet girls. But yeah, when we met he said he was a writer/director, I said I wanted to be a director/cinematographer, and we’re both producers by horrible, horrible necessity. Slowly a partnership was borne from the depths of hell.

What are the movies/directors that inspired you to become filmmakers?

JUSTIN: We make sure it doesn’t bleed into our work, but, Peter Jackson, Richard Linklater, Zack Snyder, Haneke, Alfonso Cuaron, Danny Boyle…

AARON: I have hilariously big-budget tastes that a lot of people don’t expect, although I think it’s clear from the movies we make that I’m into a ton of eclectic movies. I don’t like any one kind of movie or director, I just like good movies. Verbinski, Spielberg, Cuaron, Jackson, that kind of stuff. Star Wars. Jurassic Park. I had absolutely no scope or depth of experience with movies when I was 14 and decided to become a director. It was more about how fun it was to make stop-action action figure movies than how much I liked watching The Matrix.

Where did the idea for Resolution come from?

Resolution-reviewJUSTIN: Where I grew up in San Diego the only reason people went into the woods was to shoot guns, do drugs and avoid paying their taxes. Also, a fascination with fringe supernatural phenomenon like thoughtography and Tesla’s dabbling in it.

AARON: Justin wrote it, but I was attracted to the insane, fascinating concept behind the way we shoot the whole thing that is derived from the story itself (that you find out at the end). Also, a character component that I hadn’t seen before. Those things combined and I was onboard.

Resolution is the perfect example of a well-made low budget Indie movie with a smart script and excellent casting choices. But would you have done anything differently if you had a bigger budget?

JUSTIN: Would have wrote a different script at page 1 probably, only in the sense that the budget always informs the storytelling when I write. I realized real quick that no one gives you money to go make unique movies until way, way down the line. It takes a long time to become the Coen Bros., and if you want to do quality shit, hedging your bets, you better write stuff that you believe in that worst case scenario you and your best buddies can just go make it.

AARON: Paid our crew more? We can say with confidence that we made exactly the movie we wanted to make. All our cast and crew members were our first picks somehow, and we just made sure we were making a movie that didn’t overreach our grasp. We have a big problem with movies that look like they’re wearing their dad’s shoes and jacket. If you can’t hit it out of the park 100%, scale back. There’s a reason JJ Abrams’ movies cost a lot of money. That money ends up onscreen.

I really loved the chemistry between Peter and Vinny. Did you put any of your own personality traits in their characters?

JUSTIN: Nope. None. Only personal thing in there is I have thought about forced intervention on friends with substance abuse problems, but doesn’t everyone do that? But if you knew Aaron in real life he’s an EXACT composite of that golden retriever and the wankster junkie friends.

AARON: You find the relatable thing in everyone you direct, or it would be hard to get onboard with them, and the audience would have the same trouble. I see myself a bit in Michael’s self-righteousness sometimes.  And I see Justin a lot when I look at terrifying stoic Native American landlords.

Vinny Curran and Pete Cilella
Anthology movies are back in force now and with the success of movies like V/H/S 2 would you consider being a part of V/H/S 3 (after all, Resolution could be considered as the ultimate found footage movie)

JUSTIN: Dude we would LOVE to do a segment for V/H/S III. We spend a lot of time coming up with segment ideas just for fun. We’re up to 357 concepts I think. Those movies are just so cool. They remind me of like a rap song posse cuts because genre fans will sit around and argue who had the best segment. And thank you for getting the RESOLUTION found footage thing!

AARON: What an awesome idea. YES, we talk about doing anthology stuff all the damn time.

What movies have impressed you the most, recently?

JUSTIN: Before Midnight, and you know what I saw The Dark Knight Rises on a plane recently and loved the hell out of it. Thought it was ballsy. Dug End Of Watch. And the storytelling in Breaking Bad blows my mind.


AARON: I just saw Before Sunrise for the first time and oh god I love bring in love so much. A movie with such an untraditional structure and leaning so hard on CHEMISTRY and knocking it out of the park. Incredible.  Thank God movies like that exist. To everyone that makes movies: make more movies that are untraditional.

Is there a movie that you would have love to make/re-make

JUSTIN: Batman.

AARON: Nope.

What about a book/comics adaptation?

preacher comicsJUSTIN: PREACHER!!!! It’s our bible. Aaron and I would make a profound HBO mini-series out of that. I’m man enough to admit the Jesse/Cassidy stuff in the final book, capped off with the way the Tulip romance is resolved, well, it made me…

AARON: It made us both cry. I called him when I read “the part” that makes people cry. We went and got some scotch together then went hunting. We’re men.

To the studios/rights holders/Garth Ennis/CAA/whoever: GIVE US PREACHER, PLEASE! We will do SO much right by it.

Tell us more about your next project(s)? Are you planning another movie together?

JUSTIN: A whole bunch. There’s 3 written that originated with us and several in development. SPRING is next, but Showdown at the Cataclysm is starting to get some heat. And Strata is always on the verge.

AARON: Whereas RESOLUTION was a bromance, SPRING is a romance. Naturally with plenty of new mythological ideas and genre elements, but the character connection is front and center again. It’s about a man who flees the US for Italy where he sparks up a really natural romance with a girl who we come to realize has something really…really wrong with her.

Last but not least, what’s your favorite Scary Movie?

JUSTIN: The Exorcist.

AARON: Probably the second one.

I’d like to thank Aaron and Jason again for their time and awesome answers. If you wanna keep an eye on these guys, you can follow them on twitter: @AaronMoorhead and @JustinHBenson

If you want to check out Resolution (and you should) you can buy the DVD or watch it on instant video here.