Scream Horror Magazine

LANDMINE GOES CLICK: An Interview with Levan Bakhia

Posted on: September 13th, 2015

pic_landminegoesclick02Landmine Goes Click is the latest shocker from Georgia native filmmaker Levan Bakhia the director of 257 F. Telling the shocking story of Chris, Alicia and Daniel, three American tourists crossing a desolated landscape of European Georgia, one of them steps on an armed landmine and a psychopath takes advantage of the tourist’s immobility. Following Landmine’s screening at Film4 FrightFest, I was given the opportunity to sit down with Bakhia to discuss his second situational thriller.

SCREAM: Hi Levan. Your feature debut 247°F shares similarities with your latest project Landmine Goes Click. Both rely on people thrust into what appears to be desperate circumstances. What is it about this scenario that interests you?

Levan Bakhia: The budget that my producers can allow for now, and genre that we can risk. Nothing else. We know we have to make thrillers and preferably with the least possible locations. Then I try to come up with a high concept idea, that makes audience intrigued, and only after that do I approach the project as a medium to put across my personal message. So nothing magical, just business.

I understand that you came up with the story for Landmine Goes Click with Adrian Colussi and Lloyd S. Wagner. May I ask what inspired the story?

Just the simple act of brainstorming for high concept ideas. We call high concept a story where a character is put in front of a very specific puzzle to solve, but at the same time there is a reason why this puzzle cannot be solved. And it has to be unique or with something that has a unique flavour. In the case of Landmine Goes Click we have Chris (played by Sterling Knight) standing on the landmine, and his love interest is abused in front of him. But if he moves they all die.

How long was the shoot?

22 days.

Was it difficult shooting for the majority of the film in one location? If so, what difficulties did this bring and what did you do to overcome them?

In terms of the production process it is easy to be in one location, but as a film director you are challenged not to bore the audience. So that’s somewhat why I chose to have long live shots of what was happening instead of framing every shot. If I framed everything with the best angles, I would run out of frames very quickly – hence the floating camera, which I call audience observation. It’s almost like breaking the 4th wall because you feel you are there.

Tell me about your cast… When did Sterling Knight, Spencer Lock and Dean Geyer join the cast? How did you find them?

I was lucky to have such a great cast. I had to do auditions over Skype. I met them on Skype and didn’t meet them in person until they arrived in Georgia. We found them through our casting managers. To be honest there is no big story for me to tell here. It was more of a technical process. The first person in the role of Chris was Mitchel Musso. We were about to shoot and he just quit but it turned out well because Sterling is so talented. He really is.

I have so much to say about Spencer. I think the character that she had to be was very hard to play. She is abused and you think it’s just a game, it’s just a movie, but I remember when we were shooting those scenes, I was standing there on the set, and the whole crew was terrified as if it was real. We were witnessing the assault and she was screaming and it felt real and horrible. I can’t imagine what it felt like for her. I appreciate so much that she was so dedicated and never complained, even when it hurt her.

Dean was very flexible, he is a great actor. He never asks for much. He is just there. He’s quick and can adjust to whatever is needed. Again, I was so lucky with them.

I also have to mention Kote Tolordava, the Georgian guy. I think he did a terrific job as well. We worked on his character for 3 months. Kote passed away about a year later. It’s so sad. He will always stay in my heart and I’m sure that he will stay in the hearts of Sterling, Dean and Spencer.

For me they all my friends, they are characters and part of my life forever. If they read this I’d love for them to come back to Georgia, any time. I want them to be not only friends and characters but also my guests.

During the scenes where the two characters are trying to deactivate the landmine what tricks did you do on set to keep everyone in the correct frame of mind to deliver the emotions needed for the scene?

During the film the music did the trick to create the tension. There is the theme of Alicia and Chris that plays when they become personal throughout the film. On set it was of course the actors who do the job. I was just filming.

There are some incredibly intense scenes in the film. Were there any moments during the film where you thought this is too far?

No. I was very confident that too far was what was needed for the film. I wanted those intense scenes to feel uncomfortable for the audience. You see, I think when they make films of this type, they make the assault scenes somewhat erotic and I find it unhealthy. So I wanted the audience to want to quit but not able to quit. That was my balance.

What was your most memorable moment on set?

The very last scene. When I say how Sterling performed his last scene – It was everything for me. I knew that film was there. For me that one last moment was important, that performance that lasted not even one second told the whole story I wanted to tell. I was so happy. I knew that no matter what, no matter how good the rest of the scenes were, the film was done. He got exactly there. Sterling is great.

Are there any scenes that you wanted to put in the film that did not make the final cut?

There were some scenes that I had to delete because of the length. But nothing that I cry for.

Your film is similar in style to such films as BURIED and 127 HOURS. What is your opinion on this?

I don’t have an opinion on that. I think nothing wrong if it is, and I think nothing special if it is not. I think 127 Hours is a great film. Buried is better at the concept, and I understand that all three films share the “single location thriller” status.

Landmine has one of the most shocking endings to a film that I have seen in quite some time. Did you always intend to have the film finish this way?

Absolutely. That was my intention. Right before we started pre-production, the whole crew read the script together and I told them that we were only making this movie because of the ending. It really did not matter what the beginning was – the goal of that beginning was to take us to the point where this ending would make sense. If we could have the audience feel that without the beginning, I think we would not have needed the rest of the movie.

What’s next for you?

My upcoming film is going to be me releasing my anxiety onto the audience.  Beware.

We would like to thank Levan Bakhia for his time to discuss Landmine Goes Click. To read our Film4 Frightfest review of the film click here.

Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)

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