The film stars Jason Mac, Elliott Armstrong, Ana Shaw, and is a film that is meant to do more than just entertain the audience, it wants to start a dialogue about things often swept under the rug, and it does it in a pretty damn dark, entertaining way. Infliction is the type of film that can get under your skin, exposing brutal realities of the world that we may not always want to confront. The film may outrage some, sadden others and some viewers are even finding it very empowering in a strange and satisfying way, but one things is for sure across the board those who watch are left with the film lingering on their lips, so when approached with the opportunity to speak with Jack T Smith, the man behind all of this I jumped at it! Without further ado, here's what Jack had to say about the film Infliction!
For those who haven't been following the buzz around your film Infliction can you tell us a little about the film?
“Infliction” is an assembled footage film that documents a murder spree committed by two brothers in North Carolina in 2011... And the disturbing truth behind their actions. It’s dark and gritty. The subject matter is brutal. But as you watch “Infliction”, you’ll find yourself asking who are the criminals and who are the true victims.
Where did you find inspiration for this controversial story line?
Certain parts of “Infliction” are based on true events that involved someone I once knew. I don’t want to disclose the name of that person... But there are definitely elements of truth in this film. Honestly, when you watch “Infliction”, there are parts of this film that have happened to way too many people in our country.
How long did it take you to bring all the pieces together from idea to finished film?
I currently have four years of my life invested in “Infliction.” But that’s very common when it comes to independent film making. I started writing “Infliction” in 2010 and finished in early 2011. I was able to secure financing very quickly and began Pre-Production in July of 2011. We started shooting in October of 2011 and wrapped in November of that year. It then took us about 14 months in Post-Production and we ultimately completed the film in early 2013. It then took most of 2013 to shop the film around before I was able to secure a distribution deal with Virgil Films & Entertainment, which is the same company that distributed “Supersize Me.” In 2014, we began promoting “Infliction” obsessively on Twitter and have had a number theatrical screenings with more to come to help promote the DVD release earlier this month in the U.S. and Canada. It’s been an awesome ride... And it’s crazy to look back and see the path this film has taken from a basic idea in my head to a nationwide distribution release.
More personally why did you feel compelled to give this story life?
Unfortunately, there’s way too many people who have experienced similar situations. I’ve seen, as I’m sure we all have, the long-term effects of people’s actions toward others, good or bad. “Infliction” reveals the long-term effects not only on the individual but on society as a whole when people brutalize others. And it also shows the failure of the system to protect the innocent. The underlying theme of “Infliction” is the failure of government.
This is your second full length feature with the first "DISORDER" being a traditionally shot film, while Infliction is shot as a "found footage" film, what made you decide to go the "found footage" route in telling this story?
When I started writing “Infliction”, I didn’t set out to do a “found footage” film. The story dictated that it should be shot that way. In other words, there’s a reason why the brothers are documenting everything. The cameras tie into the actual story and are behind what motivates them. One thing I can’t stand when watching some “found footage” films is that there’s no way these people would still be filming if they’re being chased by a creature trying to kill them. When you watch these films you want them to drop the damn camera and run. Lol. I didn’t want to do that with “Infliction.” The cameras are part of the story and serve a purpose.
What were are some of the unique difficulties that filming in this particular style created for you and your team?
The biggest difficulty was coordinating the camera movement between the actors and the Director of Photography. In other words, on film, you’ll see the actors filming each other with little video cameras that you can buy at any electronic store. But we did not shoot the film with those cameras. We actually shot with a Sony F3, which is a pretty high-end camera. So this required the DP (Joseph Craig White) to coordinate his movements with the two brothers, who were played by Jason Mac and Elliott Armstrong. It was a challenge because not only were we trying to nail down performances and the story of “Infliction”, but we also had to make sure that the camera movements were perfectly in sync so that the film maintained the camera perspective feel. You don’t want to lose your audience because of a technical issue.
How did you over come them?
We rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. The DP essentially became part of the cast. In Pre-Production, I wrote down every shot and detailed the exact camera movements. I rehearsed the camera movements with the actors so that it was second nature on set and they could focus on performances. As we set up for each shot, I walked the DP through the exact camera movements with the actors... It took a few times but then everyone would get in sync. There were more complex scenes that took 15 or 20 takes to get it right... It was always the struggle to not only nail down the camera movements, but to also make sure we were happy with the performances and the shots. To everyone’s credit, we stuck with each shot until we got it right. When you shoot, it’s forever.
It really seems that way. We’ve had Q & A sessions after most of the screenings and the discussions have been pretty passionate. “Infliction” seems to be striking a nerve with women... Especially with moms... The disturbing story that drives the brothers’ actions seems to be connecting with people in general.
If so, in your eyes, does that make what you did with this film successful for you on a personal level?
Absolutely! I love to see everyone’s reactions during and after the film. We’ve been receiving great reviews as well. And I love hearing from people on social media and getting their feedback. Unfortunately, the subject matter of “Infliction” has happened to way too many people and it seems to be connecting on a personal level with people. Some people have emailed me that “Infliction” stirred up old feelings and memories from their own lives... But the film also gives empowerment to its victims.
Speaking of the screenings I know you did many Q&A's with the audiences, can you tell us what was the one thing you found audiences coming back to time and time again in way of questions?
There seems to be a lot of discussion about the brothers’ older sister Andrea. She’s a very complex character. I can’t give away too much... And the discussions we’ve had have also focused on the supporting characters... Were these people truly bad or evil (with the exception of a couple characters in particular)... Or did they just make bad decisions not fully understanding how their actions or inactions effect others... It’s all about perspective...
Was there a "Best of" and/or "Worst of" moment in those audience participation opportunities that you can share with us today?
There’s not really one moment that I would say is the best. Every time I stand in front of the audience and discuss the film is amazing... It’s a rush to listen to the audience discuss your film and understand everything I was trying to say. That’s what it’s all about for me. In regard to the worst part... I don’t want to say this is the “worst” part of the audience participation... It’s more like the most heart-wrenching... A lady disclosed during a Q & A session that she had had a life experience along the line of “Infliction”... She connected with the film immensely and connected with the empowerment of its victims, which was something she said she could never gain for herself...
As an artist doing Q&A with an audience is a very vulnerable spot to be in, so what prompted you to expose yourself like that?
I love the interaction with the audience. And I’m very proud of “Infliction.” I really appreciate the audience feedback and their opinions. If someone were to say they didn’t like the film... That’s perfectly fine. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and not everyone is going to like the film... Thank God that hasn’t happened yet... As a filmmaker, you want people to like your film and there is a certain vulnerability to putting yourself out there artistically... But I also don’t have an ego and I’m certainly not a fragile person (I’m from Jersey, lol), so I welcome all opinions and discussions.
Looking back at that experience what do you feel that you learned, that maybe you didn't expect going in?
Every film presents new learning experiences. You grow with each project, not only with the filmmaking process... But with your interaction with people. The one thing that is a surprise is the way people are connecting with “Infliction” on a personal level. I didn’t expect to hear people at the Q & A sessions and via email discuss their similar experiences... And also to hear from these viewers that the film was satisfying because of the empowerment of the victims. I truly did not expect that going in. And I welcome any thoughts or experiences that people are willing to share.
With the release of Infliction literally right around the corner can you fill the fans in on where they can get their hands on a copy of this film that seems to be on the lips of so many!?
Absolutely. “Infliction” is available in FYE stores, inflictiontapes.com, walmart.com, iTunes, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, CD Universe, & Family Video to name a few. It’s available for digital download on Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Cinema Now, and Vimeo on Demand. We’re asking people to queue “Infliction” on Netflix so that it determines the deal we receive when the time comes to release on Netflix.
What can we expect next from the mind of Jack T Smith?
I’m in the process of developing my next film “In The Dark”, which is an action/horror film set on a small island in Michigan. I’ve already completed the script and I’m planning to direct and produce as well. Right now, I’m meeting with investors for this project. I’ll definitely keep you posted as this develops!
In closing is there anything you would like to add that we haven't covered today?
“Infliction” is now available in the U.S. and Canada on DVD, VOD, and Digital HD. We’re now starting the foreign sales process. I hope to have “Infliction” distributed world-wide when all is said and done.
On a personal note, thank-you very much for all of your support! You’ve been amazing and have helped us get the word out almost right from the beginning. I can’t thank you enough, Horror Nation!
And we at The Horror Nation can't thank Jack enough for allowing us to ride shotgun with him the last several months as he did special screenings, giving us the opportunity to help inform the fiends of The Horror Nation that Infliction was coming, forwarding a copy of the film and finally sharing his time with us so that I could pick his very talented mind a bit! Thank you Jack! Keep us posted and I am already eagerly awaiting your next feature!