‘Director’s Cut’ Ends the Season with Horror Film ‘The Field’ July 23
July 20, 2021 Leave a Comment
In the mood for some summertime horror? If so, please join me for a special encore performance of last fall’s Director’s Cut Halloween special at 10 p.m. Friday, July 23. My guest is director Tate Bunker, who discusses his macabre film, The Field. Stick around to see the feature film at 10:30 p.m. on Director’s Cut Presents.
The Field delivers classic Halloween creepiness. Set on a farm in Manitowoc County, the story follows a young couple, Ben and Lydia, who leave the Chicago rat race for a fresh start. Soon after arriving on the remote farm, Ben — an aspiring photographer — notices figures lurking in the photographs he takes, figures that were not there when he took the actual photos! According to Bunker, this is an original and unique mechanism in film. This technique sets the tone as this mysterious flick unravels.
As Ben and Lydia interact with the townspeople, they soon discover that a young girl disappeared on the farm decades ago. Personally, that would be enough for me to set a record for shortest farm ownership in history. I would put it up for sale faster than you can say “John Deere.”
The older version of the young girl is played by Veronica Cartwright, who is no stranger to the horror genre. In her 70s now, Cartwright appeared in such cult classics as Alien and The Witches of Eastwick. But she got her start as Cathy Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. For those of you reading this who are not film buffs, Alfred Hitchcock is commonly known in the film industry as just “Hitchcock” and is well worth a Google. One of the questions I was most excited to ask Bunker about was what it was like directing someone who was directed by Hitchcock and in the same genre.
Rounding out this impressive ensemble is Mark Metcalf (Animal House, Seinfeld), Barry Bostwick (Spin City, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Wisconsin’s own indie film darling Mark Borchardt (American Movie, The Godfather of Green Bay). I rarely get to mention my own films in an actor’s credits, and let me say — it feels glorious! Playing the young couple are Tim Higgins, who plays a great everyman, and Kara Mulrooney, who pulls off one of the best Hollywood screams I’ve ever witnessed. She puts it to great use in one particular scene as she watches her husband walk with a strobe light through a field of ghosts. It is one of the eeriest and intense scenes I’ve ever watched.
I’ve wanted to interview Bunker for several years. I’ve gotten to know him personally over the years by crossing paths with him at film festivals. His insights into this genre are authentic as he’s directed horror before. A few years ago, Bunker wrote and directed the creepy Little Red, which also featured Mark Metcalf.
In addition to his filmmaking career, Bunker teaches film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It was interesting to hear his take on the challenges that come from shooting scenes that involve an actor sitting and looking at his computer or talking on the phone, and the hurdles directors face to keep such scenes engaging, if not necessarily cinematic. I also asked him what it was like directing his wife (he is married to Kara Mulrooney). His answer did not include platitudes and was not canned in any way as he exuded true respect for Kara’s dedication to her craft.
The biggest challenge interviewing Bunker (or any director in our current times) was not having him sitting two feet away from me due to the actual horror of the COVID-19 pandemic which was spiking locally at the time of shooting this episode. Bunker and I discussed his film on the set via video monitors in different studios. Yes, be it the big or little screen, shooting always presents challenges even if you aren’t dealing with a pandemic! I suppose to look at this as glass half full, the coronavirus added another very real layer of ‘eerie’ for this truly creepy film.
Please join me Friday, July 23 beginning at 10 p.m. for Director’s Cut and Director’s Cut Presents. We promise an evening of spooky Halloween/mid-summer fun on PBS Wisconsin, your home for independent film!