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Dec 24, 2020

Justin Dyck is a Canadian director who just released Anything for Jackson, now streaming on Shudder. Anything for Jackson is definitely one of my favorite horror films of the year - it really delivers the goods. It’s scary, funny, emotionally poignant, and an extremely unique and different take on ghosts and demons. All in all, it’s a hell of a time and I highly recommend it.

Ironically enough, Justin made Anything for Jackson after making a large number of commercial family films in Canada, which despite the genre really paved the way for his technical abilities as a director. We talk more about Justin’s backstory, the making of Anything for Jackson, and how he pulled off the movie’s fantastic creature effects in today’s episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show. Now, without further ado here is Justin Dyck. 

Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Justin Dyck. 

  • Tap into the economy of experience. This is a common theme among indie filmmakers but it bears repeating. One of the keys to achieving high production value on a low budget movie is to tap into people’s yearning for experience. Justin was able to get a killer DP for Anything for Jackson for less than his usual fee because he wanted more diverse IMDB credits. This rule also can apply to actors; Justin cast a bunch of very experienced TV actors, whose experience on very big shows tended to get and boring while his indie horror movie offered them a fun and fresh experience so they signed on for substantially less than their usual fee. The movie also offered them an opportunity for more focused screen time which is important for actors as well. Doing this effectively all boils down to the experience you can provide to your cast and crew. If you can’t pay a lot, you have to make it worth their while by going out of your way to make the experience valuable and enjoyable. So find resourceful ways for your movie to provide high-value people opportunities to learn, to do something different, get more exposure, or just to have fun. 
  • There’s humor in realism. There are a number of humorous moments in Anything for Jackson, and they were so natural that they seemed unintentional. The way Justin described the movie’s funny moments was by comparing them to Cohen Brothers movies, where you have ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances which is really on display in Fargo. Observing how real, every-day people respond to crazy scenarios creates a juxtaposition that’s naturally humorous. Justin also cited Blue Ruin as a prime example of this, which I highly recommend. So, if you’re looking to raise the levity of your horror film by using humor, it can be as simple as adding a dose of realism by being truthful. This will let the laughs shine through in very natural but unexpected ways. 
  • Don't turn down any opportunities. Justin entered the industry wanting to make horror movies but was instead, offered the opportunity to direct a family film. Instead of thumbing his nose at the opportunity, he took it because he knew that the experience would be valuable for him as a director. Justin did such a great job on that movie that he ended up being asked to direct multiple other family movies. Despite the fact that these were not necessarily the movies he wanted to be directing, making them became his day job, where he was able to learn countless lessons about working with actors, the pace of the set, camera equipment, and the technical sides of directing. He also built a killer network of crew members, producers, and actors. As far as day jobs go, this is a dream come true for any aspiring filmmaker, because when it came time to direct Anything for Jackson, Justin was able to draw from years of very hands-on experience and executed a great movie with very smooth production. This is a serious reason to consider saying yes to opportunities that are not exactly what you’re looking for at the time because they can make you a better filmmaker.  

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe, and follow the show on Instagram at @IMNickTaylor and on Twitter at the same handle. 

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