Craig Moss has been a filmmaker since he was thirteen years old and was given an eight-millimeter camera. And as a child of the 1980s, his cinematic universe was shaped by films that have shaped the movie industry. His career began to take off with a short film parodying Saving Private Ryan that was called Saving Ryan’s Privates. After making several comedies, he pivoted to horror and action; which leads us to his current film, Let Us In. Wanting to learn more about Let Us In, his love of urban legends, and his career, I was able to interview Moss for ScifiPulse.
You can learn more about Let Us In by following Samuel Goldwyn Films on Twitter.
Let Us In is now available on digital and on demand.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some movies you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Craig Moss: I think I grew up in the best time for cinema…the eighties! We were incredibly privileged to go to the theater and see new releases like Ghostbusters, Goonies, Stripes, ET, Everything John Hughes, Mel Brooks films and the list just keeps going. The greatest part now-a-days is being able to show these films to my daughters, it’s like seeing them for the first time all over again.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in film? Was there a moment this goal crystalized for you?
Moss: I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker when I received an eight-millimeter camera when I was thirteen. My brother, neighbors and I would make these James Bond films with elaborate bike stunts and choreographed fight scenes where we ignorantly would fall off the roof into the pool.
Yanes: You went to UCLA. Given how expensive college is and the wealth of educational content online, what advice do you offer people interested in going to film school?
Moss: I personally didn’t get into film school so instead learned filmmaking on my own by shooting short films on 16MM and cut them on flatbeds. It was much more of a process back then but was such a great learning experience that gave me invaluable on set experience. I can’t give advice on whether someone should attend film school or not mainly because I have no point of reference however, for me learning on my own through trial and error seems to be more effective. Not to mention you could probably do an entire three years of film school in two days on YouTube.
Yanes: You have been in the film industry for years. During your time, what do you see as the biggest change in the industry to impact you?
Moss: 2008. The WGA strike and the economic disaster which occurred simultaneously. Studios handled things very differently. Prior to that studios and financiers would purchase a larger quantity of spec screenplays and put them through development which I was able to achieve some success with. Post-strike, they decided to be more limiting as they purchased material that fit the ready to shoot mode. It was soon after that, that I changed course hitting the independent filmmaking side of things.
Yanes: Your latest movie is Let Us In. What was the inspiration behind this film? Did you ever encounter anything like the black-eyed children?
Moss: Joe and I set out to make a film and we ran across a bunch of urban legends, The Black-Eyed Kids being the most interesting and creepiest one of the group which became the inspiration for our story. I consider myself lucky to have never had an encounter with anything like the Black-Eyed Kids…would definitely creep me out for months after seeing that.
Editor’s Note: More about the Black-Eyed Children can be learned here.
Yanes: On this note, is there another urban legend you find particularly fascinating?
Moss: I need to revisit the list of urban legends we put together but I will say the BEK’s was the creepiest and most interesting one on the list.
Yanes: In the process of filming your script, was there a character or scene that came to life in a way you weren’t expecting?
Moss: Without giving anything away, there’s a scene involving the Black-Eyed Kids a skylight and Emily that just came together so amazingly and exceeded what we envisioned when we wrote it.
Yanes: As creatures go, the black-eyed kids are rather minimalistic. How did you go about designing them to be visibly unsettling while remaining grounded?
Moss: The hoodies they wore helped silhouette their faces which created this mysterious creepiness to these characters but at the same time they’re hoodies which most teenagers wear anyway which kept it relatable. But once they stepped into the light to reveal their black eyes (literally their entire eyes are black included the white part) which although powerful it’s very subtle. We wanted to make sure that these BEK’s looked like normal teenagers up until they locked in on you and you discover those creepy eyes.
Yanes: Reflecting back on filming, is there a shot you are particularly proud of?
Moss: Probably the opening shot of the film. Our budget was extremely low and we wanted to make the opening look a bit more dynamic. A lot of choreography went into it and was hoping to have a few more takes but with limited time comes limited takes.
Yanes: When people finish watching Let Us In, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Moss: A fun, entertaining, creepy and just scary enough movie with a great message that is great for the entire family.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Moss: There’s a few projects that I’m pushing through right now so will have more of an idea in the next month. I’m the worst with social media but my daughters are promising to set me up so once they do I will definitely keep everyone posted.
You can learn more about Let Us In here.