TOM SHANKLAND (THE CHILDREN)

TOM SHANKLAND (THE CHILDREN) 5

-What is the message “The Children” is meant to convey?
TOM SHANKLAND-  Well, I think what interested me was kind of the contradictions of modern parenting.  People would ask me about kids or about the fear of children but what really got me interested was seeing all my friends being parents and having kids and watching how modern middle class parents have a hard time dealing with their children.  Do they spoil them, or do they let them run wild?  I kinda thought it would be an interesting thing to take characters that are familiar and put them in this horrible situation to see how they deal with how violent these kids can be.  To try to get into the zeitgeist thing about parenthood.

-Why are children so damned evil?
TS-  In life, or in the movie?  (laughs) I think there’s something profoundly mysterious about children, and they exist in a way where they haven’t been civilized yet.  If they feel like being aggressive, they’ll be aggressive, if they are scared they’ll scream.  I think there’s something quite scary about something that’s not self aware or has no self control.  Because they’re so tiny, they seem to be very vulnerable, but because of this complex, they can be the dominant force in a family.  A child can reduce the family to tears.  It tends to be hugely disturbing to raise and try to civilize a child during the moments before they become socialized beings- it’s a little scary.  It’s a situation filled with unruly, forces.  That’s part of why the idea of a kid in a horror movie can push buttons in an audience, because people say that’s not what we wanna think about. I think its preoccupied civilization for centuries.  I think about this shit too much, I need to do romantic comedies

-Did you find yourself trying to avoid the clichés of killer child movies?
TS-  I always trusted my instincts about this, because I wanted to make the kids like kids I knew, so I based them on kids in my life.  Obviously, I love those kids, but I wanted the characters to be ordinary, have a sort of truth about them, to be plausible.  I knew going into the horror area, they weren’t going to be super powered or zombies, or possessed.  I always knew they would be ordinary kids who have become completely violent towards their parents.  Another thing is when it goes into horror, you don’t see much of the kids onscreen.  We don’t explore their psychology too much.  Also, I watched loads and loads of killer children movies, and I figured with the DP what kind of attitudes we should use.  “The Innocents” is one of my favorites, and the kids in that are very ambiguous, you never know if their evil or ordinary.

-What was the production’s relationship with Ghost House?
TS-  It completely happened without me even knowing.  We took it to AFM sometime this year, it wasn’t even a finished print, and the distributors were desperate to get it into the market, and the guys at Ghost House really loved it.  They were very passionate and I’m very excited about that.

-What’s your next project?
TS-  I’m kinda working on a few things.  Probably another genre film.  I went straight from my first film into “The Children,“ so I’m taking a breather.  Maybe in my next movie one less person will die until I make a movie where people start coming back to life.  It will be a great film of truth and beauty!

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