20 Questions With…’Silently Within Your Shadow’ Director Scott Lyus

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You might remember that we loved Scott Lyus’ new short Silently Within Your ShadowScott’s been touring the short around the UK for the last couple of months, and the film returns to its original home at The Royal George, Soho on July 9th for its next screening. Ahead of that, Scott joined us to answer some rapid-fire questions…

1.       Well hello there. What’s your name? 

Hi, my name is Scott Lyus.

2.       What do you do? 

For a living I shoot and edit promo videos and music videos, but what I really do, and what I love to do is create films. Within that field, I write, direct, edit and produce, but I’m mainly known as a film director.

3.       Is there a particular current project of yours you’d like to tell us about, and if so, what is it?

My current project, and my third short film, which is currently touring the festival circuit, is a little horror titled Silently Within Your Shadow.

4.       Okay, you’ve got us curious, now give us your best sales pitch – what’s it all about, and why should people check it out? 

Silently Within Your Shadow is a story of love, obsession and jealousy. As their relationship grows, Lucette’s obsession for ventriloquism and her dummy Hugo starts to strain her relationship with Jace. To Lucette, Hugo is more than just a dummy: he’s her best friend and represents her ambition as an artist. To her, he’s very much real. But to Jace, Hugo is just a puppet. Or is he? The film stars Sophie Tergeist, Byron Fernandes and horror legend Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects) as the voice of Hugo.

Why should people check it out? It’s an old school horror film, that in my opinion, and I hope others, is different to all the recent horror doll films we’ve seen such as Annabelle and The Boy. Our horror comes from Lucette and Jace’s relationship, or break down of that relationship as we look at where jealousy, obsession and love leads them.

5.       If you can, map out for us how the project came to be: what gave you the idea, how you developed it, any especially important support you received etc.?

The idea for the screenplay was born from two areas: my personal life, and my fascination with the dying art of ventriloquism, as well as the ventriloquists themselves. The core of our film is Lucette’s undying passion for her art and how that affects her relationship with her boyfriend, and that’s a struggle that I’ve faced in my own life. When you put all of yourself into your art, it can leave very little room or time for other aspects of your life, and when you’re in a romantic relationship that can be very difficult. Sometimes you feel you’re being pulled in two different directions, and you’re not sure which to take. So I wanted to ask the question: in a worse case scenario, what breaks first, the relationship or your passion for your art?
For a while I’ve been toying with the idea of making a film about a ventriloquist due to this fascination, but I wanted to avoid making just another “creepy doll” film. Instead, I wanted it to be about the artist and her mental state. What drove her towards her career choice and what does that career choice really say about who she is?
With regard to support, I had the most amazing backing on this film from my cast and crew. Sophie especially put so much work into her performance and we spoke for hours and hours about the character. Without Sophie, this film wouldn’t be what it is – not by a long stretch. The same can be said about my Director of Photography, Sharad Patel. This was our second film together and we really wanted to go above and beyond what we had previously created with Order of the Ram. A lot of planning and discussion went into the way we shot the film, and when it came to the way Sharad lit each scene, he brought his A game every single day.
However, a statement about support wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our Indiegogo supporters. It’s no secret that we didn’t reach our target, in fact we only made a quarter of our goal, but those guys and girls that did back us have simply been amazing. Everyone of them has backed this film from the very beginning and continue to do so now. It means more to me then I can ever express, because without them this film would not be a reality.
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6.       Do you have any people that you’ve particularly enjoyed working with on any of your projects, and anyone you felt like you learned from?

For the most part I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone that’s worked on my pictures, which I guess is why the crew has pretty much been the same on all my films. However, one of my favorite people to work with from that group is Sharad. We have a great working relationship and always push each other to achieve the best possible with what we have. I’ve learned so much from Sharad, and we’ve both grown hugely from Order of the Ram to now. The same can be said about my relationship with my composer Ed Harris, who’s been with me since (the 2012 short film) Supernova. I always have grand ideas of how I want the music to play out in my films, and Ed somehow delivers above and beyond every time.
And of course, this conversation would not be complete without talking about Sophie Tergeist, the lead in Silently Within Your Shadow. Me and Sophie are about to make our third film together in just over a year and there’s a very good reason for that. Sophie pushes me and inspires me to create the most amazing characters I can. She takes those characters and brings them to life in a way I could never have imagined. I’m such a huge fan of hers and can honestly say I’m a better director because of her.

7.       Can you identify a single piece of work (be it a film, short, book, TV show, anything) that you’ve seen that you remember as being your first step towards becoming a horror-lover?

Horror became a love affair for me at a very young age, but the film I remember as being a real jump off point was Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To this day it’s in my top three horror films of all time and really helped mould me into the horror lover I am today. The rawness of that film really appealed to me: it’s so cinematic but the horror is very, very real.

8.       What was the last thing you saw that you genuinely loved?

The last horror films that really blew my mind were It Follows and The Witch. It Follows was such a fresh take on the slasher genre, with a great idea as it’s core. The Witch I honestly fell in love with. It takes you places I only dream of taking an audience with my films. It perfectly balances retro horror, while still presenting its story in a way modern audiences can engage with. It’s genius. Outside of horror, Whiplash was the last film that stole my heart. I must have watched that picture three or four times in two weeks.

9.       Who or what would you consider your biggest influences or inspirations?

With regard to filmmakers, I would consider Spielberg my greatest influence. Not only is he responsible for starting my love affair with cinema with Jurassic Park, but his range is such a huge inspiration to me. To be able to create Jaws, Close Encounters, ET, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List to name just five; five perfect films in different genres, is magic to me. What I would consider the magic of cinema, that is Steven Spielberg.
Outside of film other influences include music, classic, blues, rock, southern gothic, and human emotion. I’m very much an observer of the world. I can easily sit in a coffee shop and watch the world go by for hours. Human emotion or reaction is the core of all my films. Exploring the human mind, and why we do what we do is so fascinating to me.

10.   What, so far, would you view as your favourite moment of your horror career?

By far my favorite moment to date is getting out there, screening Silently Within Your Shadow and meeting so many amazing people I now genuinely call friends. I’m extremely lucky to have met so many talented and incredible people this last year and have them support the film. It amazes me, these are guys and girls I look up to and truly admire, and to have them back my film truly blows my mind.

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11.   Can you identify any ways that you feel like you’ve progressed or matured as a filmmaker since you started out?

The improvements are endless, as are the mistakes. I’m constantly learning and improving my craft as I always will. The day I make a perfect film and stop learning, is the day I have nothing left to say, and that’s the day I’ll stop making films. When I started this journey with Supernova, that was a very basic shoot with an extremely low budget. I had never worked with a proper cast and crew before, and now after four films, (counting Holding Back, my dark drama which is in post production), I feel I’m finally putting together that working relationship with a great team. Looking back on my films I always feel they are incomplete and are missing key members of the process and with each picture I make I feel they’re becoming more and more complete with added dimensions and layers.

12.   Where can people go to learn more about you, your work, and your upcoming projects?

The best place to find all my work is my YouTube Channel. You’ll find the full versions of Supernova and Order of the Ram, as well as trailers for those pictures, Silently Within Your Shadow and Holding Back, and some Silently Within Your Shadow bonus content. Once we’ve completed our festival run, Silently will also be released in full on the channel, and the same goes for Holding Back.
And to keep up to date with my upcoming projects you can follow me on Twitter, @scottlyus or @Crossroad_Pics, as well as searching for me or Crossroad Pictures on Facebook.

13.   What’s next for you?

Next up I’m directly a short horror film with a screenplay from Tony Sands of UK Horror Scene. It will be my first film working from a screenplay by another writer, but the story is fantastic – it’s an incredible character piece that I can’t wait to bring to life, and I’m truly honored Tony asked me to direct it.
Then of course comes the debut feature. I’m currently working on the screenplay with my producer, and we’re aiming to shoot by the end of the year. So hopefully there’s a lot more news to follow on that front.

14.   Hectic times! Now, let’s get off-topic! Where do your interests lie outside of filmmaking?

Outside of film, comics and music are my biggest interests. I’m a huge comic book fan, and spend far too much time buying and reading comics for my own good. Obviously story is important to me, but my real comic love lies in the artwork. Right now my favorite artist is Andrea Sorrentino, who’s doing some amazing work on Old Man Logan.
Music is also very important in my life. Unfortunately I don’t play, but I take a lot of inspiration from music and spend a lot of my free time listening to it. The Southern Gothic genre was a big inspiration when writing and editing Silently Within Your Shadow, and classical music worked in the same way when I was making Supernova.

15.   What’s in your CD player/on your iPod right now?

JJ Grey & Mofro – This River

16.   Drink of choice? (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)

Non-alcoholic has to be a latte as I start every day off with one. My favorite alcoholic drink in the world is an ice cold Lynchburg Lemonade.

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17.   As a genre fan, what are you looking forward to this year in horror, and from film in general?

The horror film I was most excited about this year was The Witch, and it did not disappoint. I’m not sure anything can top that this year for me. The only other horrors I’m looking forward to are Rob Zombie’s 31, which I’m hoping will be a real return to form for Zombie, and James Wan’s return to the genre with The Conjuring 2. I think James Wan is a very talented director and I’m always looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Outside of horror, I’m really looking forward to seeing what David Ayer does with Suicide Squad. Every trailer has looked incredible, and I’m a big fan of his, so him taking on a comic book movie is very exciting to me. The same can be said for Gareth Edwards and Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. I’ve been following Gareth Edwards since Monsters – which is a picture I adore – and Rogue One looks fantastic.

18.   Is there anything else we should know?

The real key to my heart is pizza.

19.   Good to know! Are there any filmmakers whose work you would like to let people know about before you go?

Right now on the indie horror scene I’m in love with two filmmakers that for me, should be playing at the very top: Paddy Murphy and Katie Bonham. I’ve mentioned these guys a few times recently and for very good reason. Both Katie and Paddy are producing the films they want to see, they don’t simply make what everyone else is making and have a very unique vision and style to their films. I recently had the pleasure of watching Katie’s latest film Mindless, and the first thing I said to her was “it’s so you”. To me, that’s the mark of a great filmmaker – to have the ability to imprint your style on whatever subject you tackle is such a rare and special talent to have.

20.   And finally, sign off with a quote of your choosing. Whether it’s from a real person or a fictional character is up to you…

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

Silently Within Your Shadow returns to Soho’s Royal George on July 9th at 7pm. For more information on the lineup as it develops, check out Crossroad Pictures on Facebook, or follow Scott on Twitter. Check out Scott’s previous work on the Crossroad Pictures YouTube channel.

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