I recently had the pleasure of talking to the filmmakers behind the new film Union Furnace. We talk about how the film came to be, the making of the film, and what’s ahead. Let’s jump in and learn more about the film available on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 15th.
– When did you first come up with the idea for Union Furnace?
Nicholas Bushman: Around the time that we were finishing up the lengthy postproduction
process on our first film, “Sandbar”. Both of us were chomping at the bit to
make a new movie and fast! It was all about finding an idea that not only excited us, but
could also be done cheaply enough that we would be able to start shooting right away.
And this definitely met those requirements – even if it did end up costing a little more
than we had initially thought.
– This is an intricate world of the games we get dropped into. How much world
building was in the initial writing process?
Nicholas Bushman: Well we tried to build this world as much as possible in the two
weeks it took us to write it. But somehow the idea felt fully formed from the get-go,
otherwise we couldn’t have done it that fast. And we had the inherent mystery of these
underground games on our side. Sometimes you’re just trusting that the weirdest, most
random thing you can think of will somehow make sense within the film’s whole fuckedup
scheme of things.
– The film feels like a riff on a Most Dangerous Game type of story line. Did you
have any favorite films or books in this subgenre you looked to for inspiration?
Nicholas Bushman: Yeah, that is such a great, classic archetype that we both love but it
most certainly has been done to death. We would never have considered making a film
like this unless we at least thought we could bring something a little different to the
genre. A lot our inspirations actually came from less likely sources, like Pasolini’s “Salo”
or “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”, which is kind of like “The Most Dangerous Game”
with a dance competition.
– Each character in the film really gets time for their own story. What was the
character developing process like for this film?
Mike Dwyer: It was great because I could act out my scenes while we were writing it.
Actually, Nick and I would take turns playing all of the characters during that process.
And because we had worked with a lot of the actors before, that made it feel like we
already knew their characters well.
– How was it working with the great Keith David?
Nicholas Bushman: Just as awesome as you think it would be! One of the first movies
that Mike and I bonded over when we were kids was Carpenter’s “The Thing” – Way
back in the mid-90’s before that film had been fully reappraised as the masterpiece
everybody now considers it to be. As you might imagine, it was a tad surreal for us to
be filming with Keith those first few days. But he is a super cool dude, and wonderful to
work with, so it was easy for me to start bossing him around pretty quickly.
– Mike, was it hard for you to wear both the writer and the lead role hats during
the making of the film?
Mike Dwyer: Not so much the writing part for me because the script felt pretty solid. It
was much harder managing my producing duties on set while trying to stay in character
at the same. Especially for some of the darker places where my character has to go.
– The film has a bit of a dark streak of humor throughout despite the unnerving
tension of the games being played. Was it important for you guys to have this
levity in the film?
Mike Dwyer: Yeah, I think we’d both agree that every film needs a little humor,
regardless of how dark the material may be. I think that was especially important for
this film. Hell, even “Schindler’s List” has some jokes!
– After everything these characters go through, you still give us a somewhat
positive ending. Was that always the intention or was there ever a darker, more
Nicholas Bushman: The ending just evolved naturally as we were writing it. And we
liked that finishing things on a somewhat happier note could be the most shocking
ending of all! But, while it’s a nice moment, I would argue just how positive things are
actually going to be in the long run.
– When did you guys shoot the film?
Mike Dwyer: Several years ago now, filming all over the great state of Ohio in sub-zero
temperatures. The irony is how fast we made this film versus the time it’s taken to
actually get it out. I still don’t think there’s anything quite like it out there though.
Hopefully it was worth the wait!
– Your first film together Sandbar sounds like quite the different project from the
horrors of Union Furnace. Was it fun stepping into the genre for this film?
Mike Dwyer: Absolutely, because this was a total 180 from “Sandbar”. And challenging
yourself is often the most fun.
– Were you fans of horror movies in general before making this film?
Nicholas Bushman: Oh definitely, and in particular all of the great Italian giallo films
from 70’s. More than anything, I wanted this film to be a “white trash giallo”.
– How was then making the jump to supernatural sci-fi territory for your next film,
Stranger in the Dunes?
Mike Dwyer: A lot of fun! And if you think “Union Furnace” is crazy, you ain’t seen
– What’s next for you guys? What are you working on now?
Nicholas Bushman: We start shooting our new film in October, back in good old Ohio
again. It’s a big, sci-fi-action extravaganza but I can’t say much more…
Thanks to Mike and Nicholas for taking time to talk to us about the new film.