Horror Factoid: In The Orphanage (2007) Laura's necklace, a St. Anthony medallion, makes a clever reference to her plight. In Catholic religion, St. Anthony is a doctor and patron saint of lost items.






« Interview with the Writer/Director/Co-Editor of DAWNING Gregg Holtgrewe »


Did you find it difficult to edit something you directed?

Gregg Holtgrewe- Personally I don’t have a hard time cutting anything that doesn’t work. I’ve made enough films over the last 16 years that I’ve been able to understand the importance of cutting what doesn’t work, no matter how attached I may have grown to it while shooting, etc…Eventually you learn that a scene may have worked incredibly well while shooting but once it’s in the film it doesn’t “fit” and you have to accept that and move on. “Dawning” probably has a half-hour to fourty-five minutes of cut footage.


Was Dawning difficult to cast?

GH- It was tricky and it took a while but when the right actors showed up, it was obvious. I had worked with Danny Salmen on a previous film and he Produced the film with me and knew some local actors that might work. We cast the two female parts outside Minnesota, it just so happens they both came out of Los Angeles. We had over 7,500 submissions for the film so, if anything, the hardest part was weeding through all of those ridiculous head-shots which all look the same.


Did you film Dawning all at one location or were there more locations?

GH- There was one primary location and various forest locations. We actually started the film in the city but that changed as we got into editing…regardless, 80% of the shoot was planned for that one location. In fact, the location was the primary basis for the way the script was written. I knew I had that location and my budget didn’t allow for much else.


How long did it take to shoot Dawning?

GH- I started shooting in 2007 and went back in 2008 and 2009 to do additional shoots. Now if you count the 2006 shoot which I completely scrapped than it would be a total of 4 years. I shot a B/W version for $800 in 2004, so depending on how you’re counting, maybe 6 or 7 years.


Many of the shots in Dawning look handheld, did you primarily shoot handheld or did you just make it look handheld?

GH- I wanted to try and stay away from anything hand-held until the man shows up, at which we drastically switch to hand-held throughout the rest of the film…the only time we didn’t live up to that idea is when Chris and Aurora are on the side of the cabin talking and Chris was smoking a joint, we were on a glide-cam…my mistake!


What was the budget for Dawning?

GH- We came in around $110,000 for all of the shoots from 2006 – 2009.


The monster in this film is never seen, what kind of monster did you picture it to be?

GH- You know, to be completely honest, I never pictured any sort of monster at all for this version. I had a monster in 2004 and a monster in 2006 but I realized very quickly in 2006 it was a drastic mistake to have an actual creature or show it. In fact, while shooting in 2006, we showed the cast the creature and suddenly the tension was lost on both the cast and the crew…the creature took away the believability and it created a tangible antagonist. In an ultimate filmmaking world, which maybe I can do on another film, I didn’t want there to be anything at all as I wanted to leave it up to the audience whether anything existed or not…but that became far too difficult to pull off with our limited resources (mostly time) so I needed it to be “something”, but I still didn’t want to say what it was…for the whole film none of us knew what was out there and I think that kept the performers in the right place.


What are you currently working on?

GH- I’ve written a handful of scripts in various genres. Right now I’m trying to focus on an apocalyptic-western titled “Elephant Burial”. I’m collaborating on the script with Joe Maddrey, the author of the books ‘Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film’ (as well as the producer of the doc) and an upcoming book on Westerns. We’ll have to see where the path leads.


Interview by: Melanie Kester

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