J.L. Congratulations on your win! We were thoroughly impressed by ‘Rorrim‘, continuously on the edge of our seats. How would you describe your project in a single sentence?
Murdock: It’s a story about ambition and perseverance disguised as a supernatural thriller.
J.L. How difficult is it to make a film that almost exclusively relies on a single actor or actress?
Murdock: The challenging part of having a single actor or actress is creating a compelling and entertaining story that has a natural progression despite the lack of big dialogue scenes throughout the movie. Another factor to consider when working with a minimal cast is that your film will be dependent on that single performance. If the actor doesn’t work, the movie won’t work either; there are no other characters or performances to elevate it.
J.L. And, with that idea in mind, how happy were you with the performance of Teressa Liane?
Murdock: I think the result speaks for itself, Teressa was great, her talent was clear from the very beginning during the audition. Sometimes actors rely too much on heavy dialogues or constant actions/body movements. Teressa was not afraid to play with subtleties, and this project was all about nuances and details.
J.L. You picked up the award for Best Screenwriter – congrats! What is your secret behind writing a great script?
Murdock: For thrillers and stories like Rorrim, I think there are two vital aspects needed to succeed. One is all about finding the right balance between mystery and clues. Rise questions and give answers regularly without revealing too much of what’s going on until the right moment. If the story is too cryptic for too long, people will lose interest, but if it’s predictable, there will be no reason to keep watching. The second, and most essential for me, is deceiving the audience by making them think they solved the mystery only to prove them wrong later. But in my book there is a rule, NEVER lie to the viewer! Often writers are so afraid spectators will see the final twist coming that they make a character do something that he would never do, with the sole purpose of tricking them. Characters can lie (and they do it all the time), but the movie itself (director/writer/editor) should never lie to the people watching the film. Stay faithful to your characters’ objectives and if you have a scene that requires your protagonist to act in a way that could spoil the story, rewrite it and find another way to hide your true intents.
J.L. What has been the biggest takeaway for you as a filmmaker, as a result of finishing this project?
Murdock: This was the first project I’ve done since I moved to the U.S. from Switzerland, and it’s been a great experience to learn more about the industry here. Not having an established crew was definitely the biggest obstacle, but along the way, I’ve met extremely talented people, and I’m looking forward to working with them again.
J.L. Any other film you currently have in the works?
Murdock: I’m currently working on a feature film titled RATTLED. It’s an exciting and thrilling story of a Ukrainian ballerina, and war orphan, who comes to Los Angeles to seek revenge on the photojournalist who photographed her parents’ murder. The story starts in Donbass, Ukraine in 2015, a war-torn region and follows Katerina’s journey to L.A. that ultimately leads to the Mojave Desert, where she can finally confront the reporter and their shared past, surrounded by the majestic and picturesque landscape.