Crackle’s The Clearing: How director David Matalon brought his vision to life

Chatting with director David Matalon about Crackle’s The Clearing

Not only did David Matalon direct Crackle’s The Clearing, a new zombie horror movie, but he also wrote and produced the flick. Hidden Remote has had the chance to speak exclusively with him about the movie.

The Clearing is about a father, Tom (Liam McIntyre) who strives to reconnect with his daughter, Mira (Aundrea Smith) on a camping trip. Unfortunately, their father-daughter bonding experience is cut short when they’re attacked by a bloodthirsty horde of the infected.

How Matalon came up with the idea for Crackle’s The Clearing

We had the lucky opportunity to chat with the ambitious director about his idea for The Clearing, along with his inspirations and his general thoughts on the genre as a whole. Read on to find out how he came up with the film’s story and went about adapting it from page to screen.

Hidden Remote: What was it like for you to write, direct, and produce the film? Was that something you always intended or did you ever consider having someone else direct?

David Matalon: The Clearing was one of those rare projects that went from conception to execution very quickly. From the time I finished the script, it was only a few weeks before we were greenlit.

We shot on a very tight 15-day schedule, which was insane considering we have I believe 10 action sequences often involving multiple members of Cole McKay’s amazing stunt team and dozens of extras. Luckily, Liam McIntyre, besides being an extremely talented actor, and a joy to work with, already had considerable stunt experience and fight choreography expertise.

We would often rehearse our action the day before so then I could adjust my shot lists to make sure we covered everything we wanted to.  I’m currently working on a few other projects, including a ’70s style action movie called 10 To Life.

HR: Why zombies? How does Crackle’s The Clearing stand out from other films in the genre?

DM: I’ve always loved the genre (though technically ours are “Infected” not the undead). From Romero’s classic to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (my personal favorite), there’s something terrifying about the horror being someone you know or a loved one. It lets us tell stories about who we are as people, both morally and societally.

The heart of the clearing is a father-daughter story. Tom and his daughter have drifted apart. He doesn’t spend enough time with her, and frankly is struggling to understand her. Over the course of their weekend away, Tom realizes that the distance between them is his fault and that he has the power to change it.

No sooner do they begin to patch things up, when the attack happens, and now he has to not only survive but find a way to save his little girl who is out there somewhere, all alone.

HR: How do you approach creating a horror film versus a movie in another genre?

DM: I’ve actually written for a lot of different genres besides horror: sci-fi, action, thrillers, dramas, romantic comedies, even a Christmas movie and a western. For me, they all begin with a person’s story or journey. If I can figure out why this person, why this journey, and why now, the rest of the story falls into place.

HR: Did you take any inspiration from other zombie films or television series?

DM: As I mentioned, I was really affected by 28 Days Later. The fast zombies had me on the edge of my seat. In most zombie films you can run away fairly easily (unless you twist your ankle while running, as so many people seem to do in this genre) and the horror is this feeling of death as an inexorable force pursuing you.

With fast zombies, the threat is immediate, and you’d better have been going to spin class. I wanted this feeling that Tom (and our audience) could barely catch his breath.  As if he’s drowning in danger.

HR: What made you want to approach the film using “innovative” filmmaking techniques? Did you have a favorite scene to film or a sequence you’re particularly proud of how it turned out?

DM: I’m really proud of our ending. Once all the action stops and we come back to heart of our story, I feel our finale really succeeds in seeing our hero’s arc realized and I love how it touches people.

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Crackle’s The Clearing is now available to stream free on the service.