Chatting with X executive producer Peter Phok

X (L-R) ) Owen Campbell, Brittany Snow, Mia Goth, Scott Mescudi, Jenna Ortega - Photo Credit: Christopher Moss
X (L-R) ) Owen Campbell, Brittany Snow, Mia Goth, Scott Mescudi, Jenna Ortega - Photo Credit: Christopher Moss /

Ti West’s latest movie, X, has finally arrived to rent via digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon! We had the honor to speak with the movie’s executive producer, Peter Phok. Phok has worked with West multiple times in the past on projects like In the Valley of Violence, The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil.

The pair first started working together on short films while attending School of Visual Arts before later transitioning to work on features after graduation. X has received critical acclaim and is already being hailed as one of the best horror movies of the last decade. West and many of the same crew members from the movie also went on to create the secret prequel film, Pearl, which is going to release in the near future.

Read our interview with Peter below to find out what it was like to create X, what you can expect from Pearl and more!

Chatting with X executive producer Peter Phok

X – Courtesy A24 /

1428 Elm: As an executive producer, what kind of things did you do on X, specifically?

Peter Phok: X was made during the pandemic, so it was a little different from the previous films we worked on together. The production was able to move forward by shooting the movie in New Zealand. On this particular movie, and on previous films, I have serviced the production or worked on production as a post-production supervisor.

Because of the pandemic, the work was done remotely and my duties consisted of helping production, the team that was shooting the movie in New Zealand, come up with the workflow for footage to make it to an editor based in Los Angeles, which is where I’m based. We did that through the embracement of some new technology in Avid Edit on Demand and it was something that came about because of the nature of this remote production and the circumstances of the pandemic.

1428 Elm: X really lends itself to the remote circumstances. The pandemic wasn’t ideal, obviously, but the movie is contained and has a relatively small cast.

Peter: That’s right, I think the big part about moving the production—the movie is set in Texas—was finding a location that could double for Texas, rural Texas, in the late ’70s. That was a big important thing to look for and once location department was able to provide Ti with some suitable options it started to make sense. But then you still have the sheer nature of, “how do we get this movie through post-production?”

One of the exciting elements that came about from working in New Zealand is also working with one of Peter Jackson’s various companies including Park Road Post Production, who hosted editorial for our assistant editor as well as for Ti. Once production had wrapped, he was able to then work on the movie alongside David Kashevaroff, our editor in L.A. and collaborate on the edit.

1428 Elm: I’m sure you’re not allowed to say much, but are you able to talk about Pearl at all and what it was like to film those two films back-to-back?

Peter: It was very exciting to have the opportunity to work on Pearl while X was still underway. Our partners at A24 loved the script as much as we all did and this continuation of this world Ti has built. I think the benefit of shooting Pearl relatively back-to-back with the production of X is the short-hand and a lot of the crew rolling over into the new production. We were able to sustain a workflow, certainly a look workflow from production into post.

1428 Elm: I know one thing people really liked was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe and the gritty feel. Was that something you guys talked about beforehand?

Peter: I think Ti is certainly influenced by movies in that era. I don’t think you go into that, especially in Texas, without bumping into that.

I think Ti’s aesthetic of feeling authentic and grounded and real to that time period, I think something that he and Eliot Rockett, our cinematographer, did, was to work with equipment from that time and not necessarily rely on more modern lighting equipment, which has changed, as all technology has changed, in the last 45-50 years now. He wanted that sort of authenticity even in lighting. While we did shoot it on digital format a lot of work went into making the film feel like a lost film.

1428 Elm: As someone who has worked with Ti West several times in the past, how do you feel the approach to X differs the most from past films?

Peter: It had been some time since we made a feature together. In that time, Ti has been invited to direct on a lot of series work and he feels in doing so, he’s gotten a lot of reps in, like directing is a muscle and the more you work it the stronger get.

Going into X, he really wanted to take advantage of all the skillsets he has strengthened in directing series work and bring it into his own filmmaking. I think that’s what we’re getting to see in X is the maturity and confidence he has behind the camera and orchestrating this world and how he brings the audience in on it. Every camera move and direction is so deliberate.

X is now out to rent on VOD.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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