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Interview with Sin-Jin Smyth director Ethan Dettenmaier

By Dag (2005-06-20)

We've talked to Los Angeles based script doctor turned director, Ethan Dettenmaier.

The upcoming film SIN-JIN SMYTH (www.sin-jinsmyth.com) starts with the TITLE: EVERY HALLOWEEN at MIDNIGHT, The Devil simultaneously appears in two places,…the high plains of India and…a quiet cemetery in Kansas.

Los Angeles based script doctor turned director, Ethan Dettenmaier (this will be his first feature although he is currently directing a TV show in Las Vegas, Nevada) is with us from the SIN-JIN SMYTH Production Offices located on the Warner Hollywood Lot in sunny Hollywood California…

Ethan: Hello Dag, I’m a big fan of your work so I’m stoked to talk with you…

Dag: Tell us about the film?

Ethan: SIN-JIN SMYTH is about two Federal Marshals who report to a small town (Moments after a tornado warning) to transport a prisoner with no identity. He is known simply as…Sin-jin Smyth!

Dag: What makes it stand out compared to other ‘Hollywood’ movies?

Ethan: Even though we are based on the Warner Hollywood Lot this is far from a Hollywood movie where you have a bunch of young TV stars waiting around to get killed and some Paris Hilton type over powers an insane maniac to save herself in the end…

We don’t have recycled surprises that seem vaguely familiar when you see it…Right now I have two hundred story panels where the film is mapped out shot-by-shot and we’re constantly trying to make it more dark and inventive!!!

Dag: Can you compare it to anything?

Ethan: No, but it was influenced by the (original) Exorcist, The Omen, The Thing, early work of John Carpenter, Ridley Scott, Tobe Hooper, James Whale.

Dag: How has the process of putting the film together from cast, crew and story been?

Ethan: Long, because I refused to start production until we had the best possible script. If it wasn’t right on the page, it wasn’t right to make and I didn’t want to figure everything out on the fly. I like to plan every detail and put time with the actors and designers…

I felt that my first draft (written over a period of just a few days) wasn’t strong enough. I loved the concept but the actual execution from a page by page stand point wasn’t as strong as it could have been and I hold my work (and the work of the production team) to the highest possible standard. I’m very hard on myself where an audience is involved because I’ve been ripped off at the box office so many times, I didn’t want to do it to anyone else.

Dag: Ripped off?

Ethan: Yes, I paid to see Phantom Menace. And most recently I asked for my money back half way through the new Amityville Horror re-make. Can you believe they did THAT to THAT BOOK?

Dag: How is this movie going to be different?

Ethan: Here, the horror doesn’t come from the effects, it’s not in the blood, it’s in the audience members head, which I think, is the best way to execute fear, by letting the audience fill in the blanks about that ‘dark hallway’ in a way that scares them the most…

Dag: Anything else?

Ethan: That and the fact that we don’t have a ‘Hollywood ending’ based around someone who can’t act…

Dag: Any secrets you can reveal at this time? Word is that there is a top secret...

Ethan: (smiling) -I’m not allowed to talk about any of that.

Dag: How about the cast?

Ethan: This cast is great! I needed some bulletproof players ‘cause this was gonna be a tough shoot. Richard (Tyson) and Jason (Hildebrandt) shot Black Hawk Down in the deserts of Morocco. And (Lee) Ving survived the punk music scene. Not only did I need tough personalities but I wanted to make the film without household names, I feel it’s scarier with people you don’t really know, people who don’t bring the memories of other movies and TV appearances with them…

Dag: When do you think we’ll see it?

Ethan: The current release date is June 2006. I hope to see you there, Dag!



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