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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



MINE GAMES (2012); Interview with Richard Gray


















Six months ago, I flew out from Toronto to LA to screen the first ever cut of the film Mine Games (2012). There were four of us in the room, one of them being one of the industry’s most important icons of the psychological-thriller/horror genre. The film left us stimulated and full of adrenaline, wishing that more films of this genre could come close to the kind of depth that Mine Games reaches. Not only does it portray a Ground Hog Day like series of endless maze-like events, but it so bravely taps into the complicated and fascinating condition of multiple personalities and... quantum physics. I will save my elaboration on this reading for an upcoming glowing review for this mysterious labyrinthian psychological-thriller that is sure to leave its viewer hungry for more.

Read more for my interview with Aussie director Richard Gray below!


ME: What was the experience like making this thriller Mine Games and filming in caves?

RG: Mine Games was such a wonderful shoot to work on. The locations were stunning and we had a great team. Filming in North Bend, Washington was a treat - the same place Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure was filmed. We had a relatively small cast and crew but we all lived together and it was a real family atmosphere and we made a lot of great local friends. The Mines were real and challenging. Actual 1930's coal mines and lava tubes under mountains. It was incredibly scary and surreal. The real locations certainly contributed to the claustrophobic feel. It was seriously cold and creepy.

ME: How hard was it to find your cast?

RG: Casting was very straight forward. We were just looking for the perfect personalities that would connect and sometimes clash. I sat down with about 20 or 30 actors and just tried to piece together a group of friends that would compliment each other. These guys had all worked a great deal, so there was never a question of talent - just finding the right mix.

ME: What for you does the 'cycle' mean?

RG: The cycle is an event that's happening down at the mine. The mine is our haunted house in a way. There's a curse. The curse turns our friends against each other and their insecurities and ignorance of a mental disease get the better of them. But the cycle itself is a 24-hour loop, a little like a Bermuda triangle-effect.

ME: Why do you think people respond so hungrily to psychological thrillers and horror films today more than any other genre?

RG: That's a hard one, I'm not a huge horror fan, although I really respect the genre, but I adore smart thrillers and if the suspense can be handled just right, it's almost the best experience you can have in the cinema, and I guess audiences just love been scared!

ME: You filmed this all within a summer from script to post. How do you work so efficiently and so quickly when it takes most people years to make a film?

RG: When you don't have a lot of money you tend to become really efficient. Also, coming from Australia our budgets are always lower so our training has always taught us to work fast. But we never sacrifice what goes on screen. Shooting for six weeks was a great schedule for us and we also tried to shoot chronologically to allow the actors to warm into the situation and really connect as friends before the shit starts going down.

ME: Do you have any anecdotes from the shoot? Scary or funny?

RG: Shooting under Mount St Helen's was an absolute ball. The lava tubes of the volcano eruption became our mine. It was freezing down there and beautiful but bloody scary too. There were a lot of practical jokes played and there was so little light there was a lot of screaming going on!

ME: Your film traveled to MIFF. What was it like to show your film to your home before any other audience?

RG: We were so excited about MIFF. Coming from Melbourne I've been attending the festival for over ten years. It's such a huge part of Winter in the city in Melbourne and the vibe and atmosphere is just brilliant.

ME: What's your next project? Can you say anything yet?

RG: Our next film is a crime-thriller called The Lookalike shooting New Orleans this fall. It's got a True Romance-type feel to it. It's the work of my talented wife Michele Gray (who's also producing). This one's a long time coming and we can't wait to get shooting!

ME: Ace! Thanks Richie! Looking forward to see The Lookalike

MINE GAMES stars: Briana Evigan (Lyla), Julianna Guill (Claire), Rafi Gavron (Lex), Joseph Cross (Michael), Ethan Peck (Guy), Alex Meraz (TJ), Rebecca Da Costa (Rose).

-Written by Vanessa McMahon. September 06, 2012 


Director Richard Gray 

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