Tears of God: Interview with Director Robert Hillyer Barnett


I recently interviewed director/writer Robert Hillyer Barnett about his upcoming movie Tears of God. He seems to have a revolutionary and incredibly fascinating outlook on the horror genre. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing his movies at a theater near you in the near future.

You directed this film and co-wrote it with Diamondo Proimos, how was the experience of being in charge of both the script and direction for your first feature length film?

Diamando and I have been writing this film for two and a half years. We actually shot a short film HOLY GOD HOLY MIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL HAVE MERCY UPON US as an offshoot of the film to see how it would work. We premiered it on the Kentucker Audley curated indie film site NoBudge.com where you can watch it for free, which is where almost all of the people we’ve met and the ability to make the feature came from. The process of creating the film to us is kind of a reflection of our experiences of the mid 20’s, which I think is an important time in life. As your body starts to degrade and death becomes more tangible/a real fear, you begin to cling to things to keep you alive – whether that be marriage, a political position, a job, religion, whatever. We are both fascinated and terrified by the way people submit to these ideas or beliefs. At the same time, we got into European horror films of the 70’s and 80’s, and fell in love with the style. The freeing destabilization of Zulawski, the discontinuity and emotional overload lighting of Argento, the perverted design of Rollin, and the wild performances of Herzog were all influences we wanted to bring back to life with this film.

Tell us a little about the premise of the film, it’s set in an alternate universe right?

I have always found explanation in films to be mostly a grueling waste of the film and audience’s time. This film pushes no backstory or description of the setting. The audience will be placed in a world that is run on a lurking principle of disorder. Almost like a myth, where the story is told, and the audience is left to translate it themselves.

What’s the gore level?

Going into this film, Marcus Koch (our incredibly talented SFX guy) and I talked about the importance of gore in the film. We wanted the film to be abrupt with it’s violence, to destabilize the viewers but showing full frontal death rather than skirting away. I would say the gore level is high – you will see people eat their own entrails.

I know the movie is still in progress, but when can we hope to see it?

We hope to get it out as soon as possible, possibly a year from now. Right now we are running a Kickstarter to obtain the rest of the funds needed to finish principal photography in February, and one of the perks is a secret online screening of the film months before release. So if you are interested in the film and cannot wait to see it, I think that might be your best bet!

Just looking at pictures of the cast, they look great, how have they been to work with?

Thanks! One of our actors, Samuel Herring, is about to go on a tour for like half a year with the release of his band Future Island’s new album, so we had to go ahead and shoot all of his scenes during the first weekend of January. Samuel Herring plays a preacher addicted to smoking ergot, who brings a manic compassion and histrionic fury to his sermons. His performance was incredible right out of the gate, and it lead to several chairs being ripped in half and him almost freezing to death (we shot in an abandoned, heatless old movie theater during a blizzard). It has been surreal working with Sam, and I think people will be both disorientated and captivated by his work.

Wow that sounds grueling! It’s refreshing to hear about that level of dedication from an actor.  So where can our readers keep up to date on the movie?

We will be posting updates with photos and videos (teaser coming next week…) on both our Kickstarter and Facebook. If you are a backer on our Kickstarter, you will also receive special updates outside of the public page.