Interview: Writer/Director Billy Lewis Talks ‘The Terrible Two!’

Billy Lewis, Terrible Two

(Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment)

Villain Media has an exclusive interview with writer/director Billy Lewis, who dishes on the paranormal scares within his haunted house in the supernatural thriller from Uncork’d Entertainment, The Terrible Two. Albert (Reid Doyle) and Rose Poe (Cari Moskow) will soon make new discoveries about their possessed home.

The Terrible Two centers around Albert and Rose Poe as they approach the one year anniversary of the deaths of their two daughters. As the anniversary comes closer, Rose continues to struggle with the loss of her girls, while Albert is about more than ready to move on. As the days go by, Rose begins to hear her girls talking to her and things turn dark in the Poe house very quickly.

Before the supernatural thriller arrives on Video On Demand, filmmaker Billy Lewis discusses the premise, the challenges of low budget horror, and how the experience of making the movie changed him.

Villain Media: Tell me how the premise came about.

Billy Lewis: The premise came about a couple of years ago. My wife and I were looking into a new house to buy here in North Carolina. We looked at many, many houses. We came across the house we actually filmed in.

First thing I noticed was how much room I could put the equipment and gear; yadda yadda yadda. I told my wife, “We’ll trade off. We’ll buy the house. You’ll allow me to do a movie in here.” She’s like, “Okay. Whatever!”

A year later, I’m kicking her and my girls out of the house for a few weeks. We’re shooting a horror movie! It’s my second film that I’ve done.  And there was a gap between The Jailhouse and The Terrible Two. I’ve been itching to do one for so long and the opportunity presented itself. We were able to do it for a super-super low budget.

Villain Media: You did a lot with a low budget. I’m guessing it was like the first Halloween, around $325,000?

BL: Actually $35,000! We shot in less than 10 days. We were able to keep it one location. We had a full crew, like 20 to 30 people. Our grip and electric guys, lighting guys, were really good! They had worked on The Conjuring, which was shot here in Wilmington. They were familiar with horror. They knew how to light it. They moved very fast. We had a great crew, great producers! We were able to do it for peanuts!

It had everything; from pre-production to post-production. We had editing, music, and everything in between. We’re not going to win any Academy awards but I’m very proud with what we accomplished in the amount of time and money we had.  My other movie had six times the budget and I feel I made a better movie now with less money.

VM: Tell me bout the challenges of shooting in one location, the haunted house.

BL: The challenges of shooting in one location is keeping the story interesting and not boring your audience. Looking back at the movie now, I’m super critical of it. I should have done this differently. We could of had a bit more action and not let it get stale.

At this point, you have to build the story. You have to devise the plot. There’s going to be moments where not everything has to be action-packed and moving. Me personally, I feel like that’s the biggest challenge; keeping the story moving. We used a longhouse and I tried to use a lot. We used everything, from the back porch to the attic, bathroom and bedroom. We tried to utilize the whole house.

The house itself is a character in the movie. There’s a history to the house that the couple didn’t know about. They get trapped in by the real estate agent, who knows about the history of the house. He brings them in to this monster of a house that has its own demons living in there.

Billy Lewis, Terrible Two
Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment

VM: Tell me about building the onscreen chemistry between Reid Doyle (Albert) and Cari Moskow (Rose).

BL: It’s a delicate subject we tried to tackle. We see them in the beginning during happy times. They’re about to have their first kid. Cut to, fast forward to when they lost their kids. It was very tough. They both did a very good job under the circumstances.

Tell me about Cari Moskow, who plays a grieving mother.

BL: Cari did a phenomenal job presenting  the emotions of a grieving mother. She knocked it out of the park! At a screening about a year ago or so, one for the cast and crew, and one for the public, we had people crying. And she was crying! She was so emotional in some of the scenes. I think anyone who lost someone can relate to the film.

VM: You mentioned the children that Albert and Rose have. Tell me about directing child actors.

BL: Directing kids is difficult, especially on a horror film and the material we were tackling. The parents were on set and they were very open to our suggestions and what we wanted from them. They did a very good job with that.  They knew the material going in. It wasn’t a surprise. Once they saw the feature film strung together, they understood exactly what we were doing. Most kid actors are professional and they know what they’re doing. They’ve been on set before. We were really proud of what they brought to the table.

VM: Without spoiling a lot, I noticed a major part of the climax is done in one unedited, single take.

BL: That was pretty ambitious to do that! We had to light the whole house, and choreograph that. They had to run through that. I’m really proud how that turned out and how we were able to bring the tension along through that.  

Billy Lewis, terrible Two
Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment

VM: How did this experience change you as a storyteller?

BL: Well, it didn’t change me as a storyteller. It made me want to become a better storyteller. With everything that I do, I try to tell a story, whether it’s a thirty second commercial, or a music video, or a marketing video. Especially with a horror film, I don’t really want to depend on blood and gore to carry one of my stories. I always want the story to be focus. I want the audience to remember the story, the beginning, middle and end, and not just killing people. With every project you do, you learn from it. You learn and grow to become a better storyteller. And that’s all I want to do. I have learned a lot and I’m going to bring that on to my next project.

VM: Tell me how audiences can find your film?

BL: You can find more information on our film’s Facebook page and our website, TheTerribleTwoMovie.com. On March 6th, it’ll be out on Video On Demand, iTunes, Amazon, Google, DirecTV, Dish Network, On Demand, Time Warner. That’s just the start. Hopefully, we’ll get in Rebox and other streaming networks. With the amount of money we had, we’re very proud of the movie we made. We hope this little independent film can make a lot of noise. [Note: Link in bold]

[Note: Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.]

The Terrible Two can be seen on VOD March 6th, 2018.

– By Jorge Solis

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