Alex Ferrari • February 18, 2021
So many times we hear those mythical stories of a filmmaker who makes a short film and uploads it to YouTube in hopes of a big time film producer sees to and comes down from Mount Hollywood and offers him or her a deal to turn that short into a studio feature. Today’s guest had that happen to him and then some. On the show is writer/director David F. Sandberg.
David’s story is the “lottery ticket” moment I speak about so often on the show. His journey in Hollywood is remarkable, inspiring and scary all at the same time. He created a short film called Lights Out. That short was seen by famed filmmaker and producer James Wan (Furious 7, Aquaman, The Conjuring) who offered to produce a feature film version at New Line Cinema.
The feature version of the film was made for $5 million and grossed $150 million at the box office. Here’s what the film is about.
When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out… and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has re-emerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger… once the lights go out.
The film stars Teresa Palmer (“Triple 9”) as Rebecca; Gabriel Bateman (“Annabelle”) as Martin; Billy Burke (the “Twilight” franchise) as Martin’s father, Paul; Alexander DiPersia (“Forever”) as Rebecca’s boyfriend, Bret; and Maria Bello (“Prisoners”) as Sophie.
After the success of Lights Out he tackled the horror prequel Annabelle Creation. That film went on to make over $300 million at the box-office with a $15 million budget.
Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.
The studio Gods were pleased with David because he was offered New Line Cinema’s Shazam!, the origin story that stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson, and Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Shazam! was a box office smash.
David and I discuss his days making short films, which he still makes on the side, working in the studio system, his filmmaking philosophy, how he could afford a place to stay in Los Angeles while he was in pre-production on Lights Out and what it takes to make it as a filmmaker in today’s world.
Enjoy my conversation with David F. Sandberg.
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