Interview with Dark Nature director/writer Berkley Brady

Dark Nature - Courtesy Epic Pictures/Dread
Dark Nature - Courtesy Epic Pictures/Dread /

Berkley Brady is relatively new as a filmmaker, but there is nothing wrong with that. We wanted to ask Brady about the new film, Dark Nature (distributed by Epic Pictures/Dread and now available on VOD), about a therapeutic nature hike gone awry. What was it like writing and directing this horror movie? Read below to find out!

Interview of Berkley Brady, director of Dark Nature

1428 ELM: What inspired you to make a horror movie about a group of women being stalked in a wildlife retreat?

BERKLEY BRADY: Growing up near the Rocky Mountains, here in Treaty 7 territory aka Alberta, meant I grew up spending a ton of time outdoors. I loved going camping and hearing ghost stories, though they kept me up at night in fear while I tried figuring out the logistics of how the characters in the stories could exist. For example, Deer Man… was supposedly once a climber who fell off a mountain face and had to sew the legs of a deer onto himself to survive…and this drove him to become a crazy murderer in the forests.

I loved these kinds of stories, and always wanted to shoot something fun and scary here. I also think there’s a great contrast between what the women are there to do—to face their past traumas—and what happens. Lastly, I’m fascinated by stories of friendship and think buddy films are my favorite type of love story. Filming Dark Nature was a chance for me to incorporate all things of interest.

1428 ELM: How did you approach creating tension and suspense throughout the film?

BERKLEY BRADY: I think of tension as a conversation with the audience, so I tried to make sure there were always hints of what was happening mixed with what “might” be happening. I also think the film feels more tense when we are more invested in the characters, which is why I tried to stay close to Joy’s character and her subjectivity—if we care about what happens to her and see ourselves in her, then we feel tense when she’s in danger.

The casting of Dark Nature

Dark Nature
Dark Nature – Courtesy Epic Pictures/Exile PR /

1428 ELM: Can you tell us about the casting process for the film, and how you selected the actors for the main roles?

BERKLEY BRADY: I was lucky enough to work with Madison Walsh, who plays Carmen, on a television show I directed, where she played a key role. I’d also worked with Helen Belay (Tara) on a short horror film and thought she was a real talent. I wanted to give her a shot at a feature role since I believed in her.

Roseanne Supernault (Shaina) was recommended to me by a good friend and actor, Michelle Thrush, and I found Hannah Emily Anderson (Joy) and Kyra Harper (Dr. Dunnley) via our casting agent. One of our creature designers, Kyra Mcpherson, introduced me to Luke Moore (the creature). Everyone was so talented, and I couldn’t be happier with their performances.

1428 ELM: What challenges did you face during the filming of Dark Nature, and how did you overcome them?

BERKLEY BRADY: Regardless of budget, there’s always going to be challenges in making any film, and even more when the film is shot in remote locations. Basic things, like getting cell reception and access to bathrooms and/or running water, become luxuries. The night before we shot the water scenes, our incredible focus puller, Soloman, discovered that the waterproof casing for our camera had a hole in it. There was no way to get another one in time, so he spent the night patching it.

Working in the water itself was freezing, so the actors really had to dunk their heads in freezing water and only had so many takes of that in them. Communication between departments also breaks down when there isn’t reliable cell service, because walks only have so much range.

These little hardships add up and just make it physically grueling for the cast and crew. Luckily,
the crews out here are tough, and they made it happen.

1428 ELM: What was your favorite scene to film, and why?

BERKLEY BRADY: My favorite scene to film was when Joy was sticking up Carmen’s leg in the tent. I love the emotion the actors brought to the scene, and I was just so impressed by the makeup and wounds created by Kyra and her team. My mom is a doctor, so I grew up around weird textbooks of injuries and I thought it was just so fun to watch that.

The cinematography of Dark Nature

1428 ELM: How did you work with the cinematographer to create the film’s visual style and

BERKLEY BRADY: Working with our cinematographer, Jaryl Lim, was probably the highlight of the shoot for me. I’m obsessed with creating beautiful, striking imagery, and so is he. He also has an extensive background in lighting and a very strong grasp of how lighting affects the story, so we worked a lot together on how to create looks for different parts of the film. For example, we wanted Joy’s flashback, which starts the movie, to have an almost big-budget-movie feel… the total opposite of where things go in the woods.

1428 ELM: Were there any specific horror movies or directors that influenced your approach to
Dark Nature?

BERKLEY BRADY: Well of course The Descent was a touchstone, in particular how they kept it lit. Caves are dark places and there needs to be a logic to how the lighting works there. I also watched Eden Lake and Backcountry, and those helped me feel emboldened to really create fear and an antagonist that can’t be stopped.

1428 ELM: Can you talk about the soundtrack/score and how it contributes to the overall mood of the film?

BERKLEY BRADY: The soundtrack was composed by Ghostkeeper, who are a phenomenal band based out of Calgary. We talked a lot about keeping the feeling primal, drums for heartbeats, and about how to use the whispers of the dead and human voices to create layers of eeriness.

Dark Nature and you

1428 ELM: Without giving away any spoilers, what do you hope audiences take away from Dark

BERKLEY BRADY: I hope it makes people feel transported, like they went on this trip. I also hope it makes them feel emboldened to talk in a real way about what’s going on in their lives, for better and worse. And heck, if it gets more people talking about therapy, that’s a good thing too.

1428 ELM: What’s next for you as a director, and do you have any upcoming projects that you’re
excited about?

BERKLEY BRADY: I’m adapting two books right now—The Summer of Bitter and Sweet and Halfbreed, and developing them with some incredible producers at Banger Films. I have a feeling those will keep me busy for the next few years. Keep an eye out 🙂

Next. Matching 50 mythical creatures to each state. dark

We’d like to thank Berkley Brady again and remind you that  Dark Nature is now available on VOD.