Fear of Rain featured

Interview: Writer-Director Castille Landon Talks ‘Fear of Rain’ and the Final Two Films in the ‘After’ Series

February 12, 2021Ben MK

What if you couldn't be sure what was real and what wasn't? That's exactly the situation teenager Rain Burroughs (Madison Iseman), who suffers from schizophrenia, finds herself in in the suspense thriller Fear of Rain. But when Rain begins to suspect that her neighbor, a teacher at her high school, has kidnapped a young girl, will her parents (Harry Connick Jr. and Katherine Heigl) believe her? Teaming up with fellow student Caleb (Israel Broussard), Rain sets out to uncover the truth — though is she prepared for what she'll find?

I caught up with writer-director Castille Landon to chat about Fear of Rain and, of course, to find out what it was like directing After We Fell and After Ever Happy during the pandemic.

First of all, how have you been doing as we head into year two of the pandemic?

Landon: Honestly, I've been working a lot. I did direct two movies over the fall and winter in Bulgaria, so I've just been really, really lucky in that sense. But I am happy to be home and happy that it's almost over. [laughs]

Fear of Rain is the first feature that you've both written and directed. Where did the idea for the movie come from and, being an actor as well, what made you want to become a filmmaker?

Landon: The idea came from a desire to have a film about a young, female protagonist who has a mental illness, with the aim of upending tropes where we see people with mental illness being portrayed in a negative light or just an inaccurate representation. And I wanted to show the reality of what it is and put the viewer in that person's headspace.

I was raised by a single mom. She worked 80 hours a week and I was an only child, and so I watched so much film and TV. This was before Netflix and before smartphones, so there really wasn't anything else to do. That was my outlet. And I just couldn't consume enough. So I think I've always been inspired by media. But then as I got closer to wanting to move to L.A. to do the whole acting thing, I really started becoming a student of film and became more interested in creating images as opposed to being in front of the camera.

It's not very empowering when you’re just stuck in front of a camera and told to say lines that you don't necessarily relate to. I think that out of that I knew that I had something to say, and I wanted to see movies made for people like me — young women. So I started writing what I wanted to watch, basically.

You've assembled a great cast here — including Madison Iseman, Israel Broussard, Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick Jr. What was it like working with them and what did they each bring to the movie?

Landon: It was a dream come true to be able to work with them, honestly. Maddie is probably one of the most talented humans and [she's] so courageous. To be able to do the level of performance that she did, you just have to be so brave to put yourself in that vulnerable of a position. I am in awe of her.

And Harry is so kind. He's not just talented in front of the camera. He also elevates the entire mood of the production. The crew love him, the rest of the cast love him. Any time he's on-set, he's making it a better environment. And to me, that's just as important as — maybe even more important than — the performance. And Katherine is just a consummate professional. She really related to the character that she plays. I'm in awe of all of them. They're so good. It's hard for me to say enough kind things about them, and I mean it genuinely.

And Izzie. I love that relationship [between] Caleb and Rain. I would love to just do a movie that's the two of them, because I think they're so cute. He is the kindest human being and he's so just himself. It's really nice when you have an actor who is able to get in front of the camera and bring exactly what it is that makes them special as a human to that character.

Were there any scenes in the movie that were especially memorable or maybe challenging to shoot, given the weightiness of the subject matter? And how did the cast bring some levity to the set while filming these heavy scenes?

Landon: Well, that's where Harry is just absolutely amazing. Because he is able to have that kind of levity that is necessary, so that we're not always sad on set. But actually, I'm really shocked that Maddie is able to jump in and out so easily. There are so many scenes where they're going at each other head to head screaming. I'm behind the monitor, with tears literally running down my face, and then I would go in and expect her to need some support and she's laughing and having a good time with Harry. So she's able to go in and out of it like no one else I've ever really seen.

We shot so many scenes that were really, really challenging scenes. They're hard to watch and they were hard to film. But the mood on-set was great all the way though. I would say the only time that it was challenging — the worst day on-set, probably — was when Harry left. On Harry's last day we were all just gutted. And he really did become like Madison's dad. To this day they do things all the time. He refers to her as his fourth daughter. And I think she's gone on family vacations with them before. They're very close, and I think you can see that in the film.

Of course, you're the director for the next two installments in the After franchise (After We Fell and After Ever Happy) that just wrapped. Can you tell me a bit about how that went and what it was like filming during a pandemic?

Landon: It was really challenging to film during a pandemic, especially because that cast is massive. So it wasn't just a matter of keeping a handful of people safe. It was a matter of lots of people flying in and out, and that always makes it challenging. But it was really great to be in Bulgaria because I don't think that we could have shot those films in the U.S. during that time. And certainly not without compromising the visuals or the film itself. We did have to make a lot of concessions in order to get through filming. But, overall, I'm really glad that we went there to do it.

Were you a big fan of the After books going in? And, if so, which one is your favorite?

Landon: My favorite book is the last one actually, After Ever Happy. I wasn't familiar with the books or the movies until Fear of Rain, because we shot at pretty much the same time and the foreign distributor is the same on the movies. So through them I heard about the After films and went back and watched it before I got asked to interview for the job. So I knew about it before I had the interview, but I didn't know about it prior to that.

What about the cast? What was it like working with them and what can audiences expect from these next two After films?

Landon: I think viewers can expect a maturing of the series, both in what is being discussed as well as the performances and the visuals. I wanted to take a very filmic approach to it, as opposed to necessarily tying it to what had already been established. I wanted it to be something new and fresh and edgy, so I tried to bring that to it. And that cast is really phenomenal. I didn’t know what I was going to get, because when you inherit a cast you just don't know. But I was really impressed with those kids. The two leads are amazing. We all stayed in this hotel and were not allowed out. So it would have been pretty awful if we didn't all get along.

But we really did get along and we became a little film family. I think that the relationships [the cast] all built together was really exciting. We did replace a lot of actors that had been established previously, so there's always some nerves with that because the fans are really trusting us. So to see them all come together outside of filming was really great. Because it does carry over into the movie. You can see they're friends.

As for Fear of Rain, what do you want viewers to take away from the movie?

Landon: When they watch it, I want them to just be able to see it as a fun, escapist film. And have the thrills and chills. But then I hope that afterwards they're able to have a conversation about how their assumptions might be challenged based on this new information. And how we need to support and come at things with love. We need to behave in a way that is loving and embracing people and all of their neuro-diversity.

Last but not least, what are you working on next?

Landon: I've got the two movies in post-production. And then I'm writing two movies. And then I just adapted a young adult book that's a YA revenge thriller with a female protagonist that's super, super cool. So hopefully that will be coming up soon.

Fear of Rain is in theaters & VOD now and is available on Blu-ray & DVD February 16th.

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