1428 Elm spoke with Motherly director Craig David Wallace and film star Lora Burke about the Horror Collective‘s compelling new thriller this week on digital and on-demand. Lora stars as Kate in the movie while Wallace also co-wrote the script alongside Ian Malone, in addition to directing it.
How far would you go to protect your children? That’s the question posed by Motherly, a nail-biting home invasion thriller starring Lora Burke, Tessa Kozma, Kristen MacCulloch, Nick Smyth and Colin Paradine.
Speaking with Wallace and Burke, we learned about how Motherly came to fruition, what the future holds for this story, what the experience was like on-set and more about making the movie!
Motherly interview with director Craig David Wallace and star Lora Burke
1428 ELM: Craig, not only did you direct this, but you also co-write the script with Ian Malone. How did the idea for this story come about?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: The project was eight years in the making. It took us a very long time to get the film off the ground. When we started, we started with a really small nugget that we wanted to make a horror-thriller. We started with the idea of someone being stalked, and why were they being stalked? What was the story here?
That’s how it all started. We started pulling from a lot of different true crime things that we had been interested in, and this whole story just started to develop, and it changed a lot over the years. We had different budget aspirations at different times. By the time we made it we were making a very small, intimate film and I think it was all the better for it.
1428 ELM: Did you always plan to direct the movie, or did you come on board to direct after writing the script?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: It was always something that I was planning on directing. I’ve been directing for, gosh, I guess around 15 years now? I had a television ages ago called Todd & the Book of Pure Evil, which I directed as well. This was always going to be like the next project, and eight years later, we got it made, and there was a lot of television in between there.
1428 ELM: Lora, how did you get involved in this film?
LORA BURKE: I’m out auditioning and whatnot, so the audition came to my inbox, and of course, I saw Avi Federgreen and Laura Tremblay, our producers on this, so anything with either of them, I’m in. I sent in my self-tape as I would with any audition. Thankfully Craig liked it and came in did a callback session with Tessa, our lovely young star.
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: I will say that when Avi first read the script, he said, “I know who is going to play Kate.” It took a year for me—not that it was any real persuasion, obviously, I was going to cast Lora—but he said that the minute he read the script, and it took us about a year to finance it once you came on-board. And he was right.
1428 ELM: Both of you have done your fair share of horror and thriller films now. Do you consider yourselves fans of the genre?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: Yeah, absolutely 100 percent. In fact, I used to think I had a much broader perspective on filmmaking and storytelling, but now it’s just horror. I’ve gotten so much more limited in my time and my interests. All horror, all the time.
LORA BURKE: No, like I’ve said this so many times, when I first started getting these roles, I hated—well, I didn’t hate horror, I was just scared! I would not watch them because I was petrified of these films, but now, over time, I’ve actually started embracing it, and I’ve started watching more films and I’m like, oh, there’s actually, you know it’s not just gory horror, there are so many elements within the genre. So I’ve been lucky to do a lot of the dramatic, kind of thriller, horrors. I’ve definitely grown into a love of it.
1428 ELM: What was it like working with Tessa Kozma on this? She’s a great little actress!
LORA BURKE: She’s one of the best actors I’ve worked with. She was just great. She just got up, did it, there were no complaints. We’d run stuff just a couple of times, the two of us, but we weren’t planning anything out. For a kid her age to be able to do that and just play with it in the moment is just amazing.
1428 ELM: Craig, when you’re making a thriller movie, how do you maintain that palpable sense of tension throughout from a director’s perspective?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: I think you go in with the best intentions. You go in with a script that you hope is going to maintain that tension all the way through, and then from there, it’s really, at least for me, it’s just the process of making sure every scene works and hoping that they’ll all work when they’re all together. I wish I had a more magical thing to say than that, but a lot of it is fingers crossed and hope for the best.
1428 ELM: Similarly, Lora, what was it like for you to make Motherly? Is it hard to maintain that level of heightened emotion scene after scene?
LORA BURKE: Yes, and you know, I think maybe Craig and I had a chat about this as well, especially in the limited space that we had. We’re a small budget film, and we didn’t have a circus of trailers where I could go and find my own headspace.
So that was definitely a challenge because, you know, you don’t want to be the actor in the corner doing weird stuff while the crew is there. That was definitely a challenge and always has been for me in these smaller productions. But then, you know what? It also lends itself because you get into this frustration that often actually if you embrace that helps what you’re doing.
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: It helps that low-budget horror films are often about people who are in frustration and are in real agony, so it all works together in that.
LORA BURKE: Right!? [Laughs]
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: I do have to say that one of the things I loved about making this film with Lora is that we would talk very much about where Kate’s arc was in every scene, and even though it was a small production, we still weren’t always able to shoot it entirely in chronological order, we were always talking about, okay, where is she in this scene?
Where is she right before this? And always being able to map it out and be able to make sure there was a journey and she was realistically going from one scene to the next scene without it being a completely different swing to where her character was, and that was a really great part of the process.
1428 ELM: Is it exciting for you guys to see Motherly release to a broader audience after its initial festival premiere?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: Oh absolutely, I can’t wait for people to see it. You know I’ve been talking about this film for years, so it’s really great to be able to get it out in front of people.
1428 ELM: What do you hope audiences ultimately take away from Motherly?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: I hope they really enjoy watching it. I hope they squirm a lot. I hope they feel like their heart’s been ripped out by the end of it. This is a weird thing to say as a father of three, but I hope they kind of watch their kids a little closer to a certain extent.
LORA BURKE: People should enjoy watching films, there should be joy to it whether you enjoy sitting on the edge of your seat. I think it’s okay for films to be about entertainment, they don’t always have to have a deep meaning, and I think this is just a really cool journey to go on.
1428 ELM: Wrapping up, I don’t want to spoil the ending but Craig, do you think there is potential for a sequel down the line?
CRAIG DAVID WALLACE: It’s funny, Ian, my co-writer and I, we’ve been throwing around different ideas on what that could be, and yeah, there are some possibilities. We’ve even—well, I don’t want to give away too much, but there’s a role for Lora in it! So that’s pretty awesome.
Motherly will be available on digital and on-demand tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16.