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 Writer/Director of Clemency Joseph Albanese  »

What challenges did you have as writer/director?

Joseph Albanese - As one of the writer’s on this film, I would say one of the most difficult things was to make sure the twist at the end came as a surprise and that it wasn’t made obvious by the clues we offered for the end throughout the film. We wanted to give subtle oral and visual nuances that would give the audience just the right amount of insight so that when the twist was revealed they would recall all those clues and imagery that lead up to that moment and it would all make sense and leave no questions unanswered. Another challenge we had in the writing process was making sure everything was believable enough to keep the viewer entertained. There are a number of instances in this film that rely heavily on the audience to be engaged enough in the story that they are willing to utilize their suspension of disbelief. The editing helped a lot with this but I think it was the amount of time and thought we put into the writing that really made it so we were able to pull this off the most part. I think the biggest challenge I had as the director was making the correct decisions when presented with inevitable, and unforeseen obstacles. During production various hurdles arise on a daily basis, and as the director, in most cases, it is your responsibility to make many difficult, quick decisions in order to overcome those hurdles and do what is best for the production. Many of these important decisions could easily make or break your film and I think on this particular film that was my biggest challenge. 


How did you cast for the serial killer? What were you looking for?

JA - We interviewed many casting directors and found that Richard De Lancy had the resources to bring us the best talent. He was also very excited about the script and we knew he would gather great talent for a very reasonable price. Many of the actors we auditioned had creepy, scary looks to them, but Cris D’Annunzio was different in that he has the ability to be scary but it isn’t the first thing that stands out about him. I was looking for an actor that could bring that out in their performance rather than just with their look. Cris is a very talented actor and I knew pretty much instantly he was exactly what I was looking for in Poe.


What was the budget for Clemency?

JA - About $30,000.00


How did you get the funding for Clemency?

JA - We were fortunate to get grants for some of the equipment we needed and Kodak gave us a very generous deal on the film we used. In addition, Chapman University gave us a certain amount of funding and equipment to help with the production. Other than that, myself and the producer Doug Thagard, matched each other with our savings to pick up the remainder of what was needed for the budget.


How big was your crew?

JA - We had around 50 people working on the film at various capacities throughout the production.  Not everyone was there everyday, but there was around fifty crewmembers all together.


How long did it take to shoot this film?

JA - The principle photography was about 10 days and then we had a couple of half days to do some pickups that we thought we needed to make the film better.


What, if anything, would you do differently?

JA - I would have initially set aside more money for marketing the film after it was complete.


What was the most challenging aspect of Clemency?

JA - I think the most challenging thing was that this being a student film we were in some instances forced into the position of working with students who didn’t have the same drive and motivation to make the film the very best it could be like the majority of the rest of the crew did. For the most part everyone was very professional, and we did have the freedom to pick and choose who would work on the film, but there were still a couple of instances where some individuals just didn’t have the drive that we would have liked, and it was a challenge for not just myself but many other people on the production that had to pick up their slack. In the end it all worked out but it was definitely a big challenge at times.


Did you have any difficulty securing locations?

JA - We didn’t have trouble securing locations, but it was difficult to find locations in Southern California that could look like Virginia. The film takes place in Virginia and we have a couple of outdoor scenes where we had to secure locations where the landscape could pass for the Virginia wilderness. We were fortunate enough to find several locations that I think worked just fine.


What did you learn from this experience?

JA - I learned that no matter how much preparation and thought you put into the production, there will always be obstacles and challenges, sometimes in the most unlikely of places, and the best thing you can do to prepare is to expect these challenges to arise and to embrace them and not let them effect you or the crew negatively when they do.


Where do/did you attend school?

JA - I attended Chapman University for a three-year film production program, with an emphasis in directing.  I graduated with an M.F.A. in the spring of 2009.


Was the school of assistance in the making of Clemency? If so, how?

JA - The expertise of the faculty was a tremendous help throughout the entire process.  Their experience and guidance for each key position was a huge asset.  In addition, the school helped us financially, they gave us the use of one of their wonderful sound stages, we got the majority of our equipment through the school, and they provided us with state of the art facilities and equipment for all of our post-production needs.  They also selected our film along with four others to be a part of their annual First Cut Showcase where they set up a screening for industry professionals at the DGA in both Los Angeles and New York City.  In addition, the school arranged for our film to have two 35mm prints made. Needless to say, Chapman was a huge help in getting Clemency made.   


How old were you when you directed this film?

JA - 31


What projects are you working on currently?

JA - I am writing the feature length script for Clemency. I also have five other feature scripts that are near ready for production and I am currently writing another short that we hope to start production on in the very near future. 

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