A team of mercenaries out to retrieve a priceless artifact but meet their match in the home sitter hired to watch the house in director Chris Rakotomamonjy’s French actioner “Home-Sitters”. To coincide with the film’s release on digital platforms locally, we spoke to the action and horror fan about bringing the film to life.
How long had you been looking at bringing Home-Sitters to the screen?
I first started working on “Home-Sitters” while working on distribution for my previous film “An Horror Anthology” in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. At that time, I had a rough idea of what it would be about.
When it became a little bit more precise, I launched auditions, it was during a curfew, so it went all digital.
In the meantime, I was scouting for a location, a beautiful house with no neighbors, ideally in the woods, so I wouldn’t scare anybody with the SWAT guys and their machine-guns. When everybody was fine, it was about time to shoot. I secured a window between two curfews, and I shot in 10 days.
After struggling with post-production guys and changing them many times, it was about time to think about distribution, which I always consider seriously. I didn’t plan on working with the same distributor I worked with before, so I started from zero, did some research, sent tons of emails. And I’m very satisfied with the ones I am working with.
From “I want to make a new film” to “Oh my, it’s now on Amazon Prime Video”, it took about one year and a half.
And it was written by yourself? over how long?
Yes, it was. Honestly, I don’t know any screenwriter who has the same sensibility than I have, who knows the movies that dance in my mind. If somewhere there is a screenwriter who loves “The Big Combo”, “Winners & Sinners” and “Take Shelter”, he can reach out to me (laughs).
But for now, I write my own films, because they’re very personal and I tend to be a control-freak. So, I wrote “Home-Sitters” in 6 days. As the director also, I allowed myself to write things like “Mexican stand-off” without any more details because I knew what it was about.
Also, for the fighting parts, I just wrote “FIGHT!” because I knew I could rely on Jorge Lorca for the choreographies. It was very convenient (laughs).
What was the initial germ of the idea?
For budget reasons, I knew I couldn’t afford to shoot in multiple locations, in different countries across continents (laughs). So, it would have to take place in one location. And, oh surprise, one of my favorite films of all-time is John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13”. There are many films that I can watch again and again like for example “An Officer and A Gentleman” or “Italian for Beginners” (laughs). But “Assault” resonates specially to me, and I view it as the perfect film. In too many films, there is too much explanation. Hey man, we’re not stupid. Do you remember the last five minutes of “Psycho”? They’re pointless. In “Assault”, you don’t really know who the gang members are, what are their motivation. We don’t care, the film focuses on action, and we don’t need to know more.
Moreover, we’re not disturbed about some heavy backstory of the heroes. In some film, we would have seen Austin Stoker being on booze because of some trauma he encountered years ago and that is supposed to explain why he absolutely wants to be on duty. No such thing in “Assaut”. Though the characters are solid and iconic.
So, to keep it simple, without thinking of making a clone, that would be totally useless, I was inspired by this masterpiece. One location and an army of opponents with machine-guns. Period.
And I wanted to add a Cynthia Rothrock vibe and that’s about it (laughs).
Did you have your lead in mind for the role during the writing process or did that come later?
No, I knew no actress who would’ve been a good fit, so I went typical ads and audition.
She’s a relative unknown – where did she come from? What a discovery!
She just replied to the ads I posted. It’s funny because she replied very late and was not supposed to audition but when I was forwarded her cover letter, somebody else cancelled her participation.
She went thru all the process, and she smashed all her rivals. It is funny again because I organized one face-to-face audition and the actress I had considered for the role was not available.
When somebody is made for the part, there is nothing that can go against it.
Being an independent production, I’d think you probably ended up wearing more hats on it than credited. Was that the case?
Oh my, absolutely. In addition to producer, screenwriter, director, cinematographer, cast director and some other things, I was location scout, cook and kindergartner (laughs).
If an awards ceremony were going to show a moment from the film, what moment would you ask them to play?
Probably when the mercenary who is after June ravages the kitchen with his machine gun.
Considering the year, we’ve had, most of us are appreciate film and other forms of entertainment more than ever. How have you been distracting yourself from outside worries during the past year?
I have been very busy the last two years because as I explained, after the release of “An Horror Anthology” I immediately step into “Home-Sitters” and I had to do a lot of things and I keep doing, for example promoting. So, lately, my main worries have been film-related.
I decided to have a one-film-a-year pace but when I manage to have some spare time, I remain quite simple: watching films and reading books, whether they are novels or comic-books. Typical pandemic hobbies!
Right now, I’m reading Don Winslow’s “The Cartel”. The Art Keller saga is definitely a license I would love to adapt.
“Home-Sitters” is now available on digital.