SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is the result of the work of JUSTIN BENSON & AARON MOORHEAD Co-Directors, co-producers, co-editors, actors, Writer: Justin Benson Cinematographer: Aaron Moorhead Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, known as Moorhead & Benson, are the co-directing team behind the 2018 sci-ficult hit THE ENDLESS, as well as the horror-romance SPRING, SYNCHRONIC starring Anthony Mackie, and the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival sleeper success RESOLUTION. With a do-it-yourself approach to film making, they often wear as many hats as possible on their films: writing, directing,acting, producing, cinematography, editing, and visual effects. Along with their producing partner David Lawson, they run the boutique indie production company Rustic Films (SHE DIES TOMORROW). They have most recently directed episodes of the Netflix series ARCHIVE 81, and MOON KNIGHT for Marvel Studios. SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is their fifth feature film.
Strange and haunting, the film spins the story of two very flawed but appealing characters. We meet Levi exploring his no-lease apartment sight unseen in the Hollywood Hills where he wants to stay temporarily, while he ties up loose ends for his departure from Los Angeles. He chats with his new neighbor John, and very soon, they are sharing stories like old friends under the glowing, smoke-filled skies of Los Angeles. John offers to help Levy by giving him some old furniture for the apartment for a few days. As they examine the apartment, something other-worldly takes place. Although they are initially shocked and terrified, the consider a way to improve their lives with this phenomenon. Hoping their plan will result in financial gain, they agree to attempt to prove the supernatural. Making their Sundance Film Festival debut, Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have many roles: co-directors, co-stars, co-editors, writer (Benson) and cinematographer (Moorhead) of this twisted, sci-fi talkie. I found a compelling push-pull in watching Benson and Moorhead develop and execute their strange ideas.
Los Angeles was a perfect backdrop for the action that took place. The landscape had unique characteristics leading one to ponder what was below, what was above, what exactly was in the dirt. The paranormal activity of rocks floating and couches levitating asks the question, “What is in the dirt?” The music was exquisite and enhanced the action, while engaging the viewer into the scene. The camera angles built the intensity of the story and suspense while revealing the character’s individuality.
Our composer over four movies now Jimmy LaValle is probably the best illustration of working together toward something so specific. Our approach with Jimmy on this one was more than ever about character and creating a feeling of unraveling a sinister mystery. Levi and John are tragically flawed people, and we wanted the audience’s sympathies to constantly shift with each new revelation. Much of the score is about tracking their transformations in and out of the audience’s goodgraces, while giving levity the space it needs to coexist with the darkness. Like our producer David Lawson, production designer Ariel Vida,our editor Michael Felker and our VFX supervisor Alban Kasikci, Jimmy makes dread,melancholy,unease,humor and heartbreak gel into one thing.
Photos are courtesy of “Something in the Dirt”.
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