Interview: ‘The Djinn’ Director and Editor Justin Powell and David Charbonier

The Djinn is a new horror film about Dylan Jacobs, a mute 12-year-old who discovers a mysterious book of spells after losing his mother.

We were lucky enough to ask director Justin Powell and editor David Charbonier about making the film – and what advice they have for emerging filmmakers. They also shared their recommendation for their favorite camera – keep reading to find out which one it is!

What was a challenge you faced during production on The Djinn and how did you work through it?

The biggest was regarding the title character, The Djinn, itself. We worked with an insanely talented special effects makeup artist, Gage Munster, who designed the creature. Originally, we were supposed to see that creature in full many more times throughout the film, but due to budgetary constraints, we couldn’t afford the makeup it would take to fully realize Gage’s horrifying design. As a result, we had to make a fairly significant last-minute rewrite. Fortunately, that rewrite led to some of the strongest elements in the movie. And somehow Gage was able to work with limited resources to pull off something truly terrifying.

How did you deal with the long post production process on a limited budget?

We actually found that an extended post allowed us some emotional distance from the project, giving us a better ability to be objective when it came to making cuts and alterations. It was also fortunate that we were using Adobe Premiere Pro to cut the movie. The crossover with all of the other apps in the Adobe Creative Cloud, like Photoshop and After Effects, makes for a very streamlined workflow so that alleviated a lot of the stress of the lengthy process.

 

What films inspired The Djinn?

With this film, we wanted to create a homage to old school, 80s/90s horror. John Carpenter was obviously a major inspiration for us as evidenced by a couple of the film’s nods to Halloween and The Thing. We also love pretty much anything by Steven Spielberg, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, James Wan, Mike Flanagan, Chris Columbus… We have a very long list of filmmakers that we admire and draw inspiration from.

Do you have any favorite pieces of gear you can recommend?

Is it ok to list our favorite camera here because we absolutely love the ALEXA MINI! If you’ve seen the film, you can tell that we have an affinity for low light and long, flowing takes. The mini picks up so many details in the dark shadows and its small size also makes it very mobile, so it’s the perfect fit for us.

What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

Without question, it would be to never give up. This industry is in many ways designed to deliver rejection after rejection before you’re finally given a chance to breakthrough. Both The Djinn and our other movie, The Boy Behind the Door were born out of being turned down by production companies and were only made due to resilience and persistence. So stick with it and follow your dreams!

The Djinn opens in theaters & streaming on Friday, May 14th, and is being distributed by IFC Midnight.

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