Home-Sitters, now available on digital platforms, is best described as “Assault on Precinct 13 meets Home Alone”, as director Chris Rakotomamonjy explains.
Home-Sitters Director Chris Rakotomamonjy Interview
Home-Sitters. Tell us about it, sir.
CR: “Home-Sitters” is my directorial debut feature. After making a batch of horror shorts, now packaged in an anthology simply entitled “A Horror Anthology”, I felt confident enough to make my first feature film.
I didn’t contemplate making horror again and as action is my favorite genre, I naturally turned to it without thinking too much.
Because of some budgetary constraints, I could only work on very few locations. And I thought about a film that had marked me when I was in my teens: John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13”. You know, one location, some characters stuck in a place and an army of invaders.
I absolutely never planned on making a clone, just being inspired by it without falling in the trap of the fan film, with lots of easter eggs and nods and so on. My shorts have enough of these (laughs)
So, I wrote this story of a house-sitter stuck in a mansion lost in the woods. I could have pictured her being threatened by a killer and a big knife, but despite restrictions, I wanted her to face an army.
That’s how “Home-Sitters” came to life. I wanted to make something like “13 Hours” meets “Panic Room”, with some flavors of the good old Cynthia Rothrock’s feats.
If the goals are reached, it’s not up to me to say! People will need to check out on Amazon Prime Video.
And who plays the lead? She’s lethal as heck!
CR: Yeah, because I’m a great talent scout (laughs). She is a young aspiring actress. I posted ads and she just replied.
She replied very late and was not supposed to audition but when I was forwarded her cover letter, somebody else canceled her participation.
She went thru all the process, and she smashed all her rivals. She demonstrated great enthusiasm and showed she was pretty fun to work with. Also, I organized one face-to-face audition and the actress I had considered for the role was not available.
When somebody is made for the part, fate is the best player in the game!
She did a lot of action films before, it sure looks like she knows what she’s doing!
CR: No, she hadn’t had much experience. She comes from community theaters and acting schools.
She sure is sporty!
The fight choreographer auditioned all the candidates to evaluate their abilities. As I couldn’t afford to hire stunt people, so, we had to make sure the lead would be capable of running, kicking, punching, and jumping on the long run without being breathless.
She was very easy to direct and to work with. She enjoyed kicking asses for 10 days in a row. It would have been a big problem, otherwise.
What fighting style do you do in the film?
CR: June is not supposed to be an expert fighter. So, even though I’m an absolute fan of the vintage Kung-fus of the 70s, like Ho-Meng-Hua’s and Chang Cheh’s, I didn’t expect a fighting style that would look too staged. I wanted something more urban and rawer.
So, I sent to Jorge Lorca, the fight choreographer, a veteran who has worked in many productions, some videos of what I had had in mind. These were clips and excerpts from Jeff Imada, Tak Sakaguchi and Chang-Hyeon Jeong, who I think are the best choreographers in activity.
We studied these quite a lot and Jorge had to calm me down, because I wanted actors to jump from balconies, go thru windows and funny stuff like that, and he managed to keep a certain amount of wisdom, to avoid severe injuries even though I told him that’s what insurance is for!
So, the fighting style is a combination of my expectations, Jorge’s wisdom and budget!
Was the film shot during covid?
CR: Absolutely! I managed to find a window in June 2021. The house was booked, and I shot for 10 days!
It was a filming lockdown as we staid on site for the whole duration. Everybody especially extras and small parts were expected to make some test.
So, it was safe.
What’s an action film you think deserved a lot more praise?
CR: Hum, to me there are many! For example, “Millionaires’ Express” that is an extraordinary action flick that unfortunately few have heard about. We tend to forget Sammo Hung used to be a great director. Ten miles below, we can find “Birth of the Dragon” that makes no sense, a film about Bruce Lee starring Billy Magnussen, but ends up being quite enjoyable.
But I believe you expect some kind of shameful confession. I don’t know if this film deserves more praise, but hey I like it very much. It’s Renny Harlin’s “Driven” (laughs). Yeah, this one. But I can live with that. There are many interesting characters, good actors. It’s very silly, though it’s totally fun!
Do you think action films should be given more of a look-in at the awards shows?
CR: Stunt people should definitely get more recognition. What would a film look like without them? Well, we could ask this for many positions, but without them, we wouldn’t have decent car chases, brawls and everything we love in a movie.
We all admire Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton and Tom Cruise because they’re said to make their own stunts, but we seldom talk about unsung heroes behind the best action scenes.
Where would be Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis without their stuntmen? Probably in the hospital! (laughs)
People enjoy watching well-crafted stunts. These are always put in the trailer and sale the movie, but nobody knows who are behind.
Liu Chia-Liang, Jeff Imada, Tak Sakaguchi, Sophia Crawford and many many others need to be celebrated.
What’s the ultimate action-thriller? What’s the go-to flick?
CR: I believe that many would answer “Hard-Boiled” or “Time and Tide” and they would be close to truth. But I would like to answer Ryuhei Kitamura’s “Versus” because it’s simply the “Citizen Kane” of action (laughs)
Can you see yourself making the transition from independent features to big studio blockbusters like Die Hard and Predator sequels one day? Is there a dream project?
CR: Thanks a lot for this question. Indie is fun because I am the only master on board and nobody to report to. But honestly, a big studio is the nicest dream of all.
There are many licenses I would like to adapt. Like Don Winslow’s “The Cartel”, Tim Willocks’ “Green River” or Terry Hayes’ “I am Pilgrim”. But if you ask me about a dream project…
“Aliens vs Predators vs Terminators vs Robocop”, is the biggest crossover ever (laughs)