On March 16th I had a brief chat with Oren Shai, writer/director of The Frontier, and three of the film’s stars: Jocelin Donahue, Izabella Miko, and AJ Bowen. For those of you keeping track, this was the my second interview ever. I was a little more prepared, and a little less terrified, but this article will be about as informal as the last. Unlike the last, this one is going to have huge spoilers, so read at your own risk.
Now, without any further ado, the topics:
Shooting in an old style.
When I watched The Frontier, I thought the director was intentionally trying to match noir films from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Turns out, aside from 1952’s Kansas City Confidential, Shai was working more with the 70s in mind. However, he was thinking of 70s noir (or, neo-noir, as I’ve heard in referred to) like the Robert Mitchum version of The Big Sleep; also, the works of Robert Altman (especially 3 Women), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (which he claims has never been properly adapted). Working with the past in mind also helped influence his decision to shoot The Frontier on film.
In the film, we only get little tidbits of information about the characters’ lives up until their time in the film. Shai talked about writing biographies for each of them. The actors said this knowledge helped them understand their respective character’s motives and develop little things like mannerisms and triggers. They all agreed though, this backstory doesn’t need to explicitly exist in the film; it’s there in a spiritual manner. Bowen also mentioned that shooting on film helped with the discovery of the characters. The actors weren’t afforded the many takes that digital provides, so they had to commit to something much sooner.
Character deaths (told you there’d be spoilers).
Shai considered the death of Miko’s character, Gloria to be the most tragic. While none of the characters had any honor, Gloria was the only one of them who cared about other people (e.g. her little brother). And though she was pretty childish, she was also the most innocent of the characters – she always made her intentions clear.