Monday, September 8, 2014

Jon Braver: You"ll Be Trapped In His Delusion Interview

Jon Braver has been behind one of LA's most infamous LA haunts for the past few years, Delusion
TTDILA has published well-liked reviews of his new type of haunts. These interactive horror plays have garnered so much attention they've sold out over the years and Niel Patrick Harris came on as a producer at a point. Jon himself knows Hollywood, he's worked on massive hits like The Dark Knight Rises, Gangster Squad, Ironman, Transformers 3 and Star Trek.
We asked Jon a few questions about being such a scary man who lives off the fear of others and how it gratifies him so much to see others afraid.
TTDILA: Jon, you're a very scary man. So scary that you've created you're own haunted interactive play. Did you do this just to get a thrill from scaring people?
Jon Braver: I am perfectly sane, easy going and enjoyed Frozen with my daughter, so you take that back or I'll watch you while you sleep! (humph)....scary man....I'll show you scary! Sorry...where were we? Why do I do this? Well, honestly, I do it for many reasons. In order of importance: 1) I love creating something that allows people to escape for a time into a place we never get to go back to: our imagination-filled, childlike days. I am a hopeless adult. I want to be a kid again so badly, and this (along with my daughter) brings me, and others, back. 

What is your background in film? I have no background in traditional "special effects", just film directing and stunt work. I have worked in film for over 10 years and have learned an ungodly amount of cool shit from some of the best in the business. I'm blessed to be surrounded by some incredibly talented people who can help pull off spectacular stuff. 
Why the move to a new location this year? What does the new location allow you to pull off? The move to a new location was because our last location was a nightmare in so many ways. I still can't believe we had a show last year. After an exhausting search my assistant director Victor turned me on to a 108 year old mansion that reminded me of the old mansion from 2011 and 2012. I jumped on it immediately and made the deal. This is a gem. A true gem of LA. It served its great purpose of setting the stage for an eerie night of immersive storytelling. 
This is still connected to your other interactive plays, could you explain the connection? This story is vastly different from the previous ones, YET it lives in the same world I'm trying to create for Delusion. Eventually, I'd like to direct the film version and perhaps expand it into a role-playing game. There is a lot of room for various characters and plots in the Delusion world. 
What have been some of your highlights working on Delusion? Just being able to pull it off is the biggest high. Also, watching people's reactions. Seeing how random strangers band together to survive the night. This is a social experiment as well. Nothing brings people closer together than the edge of death. As well, the Delusion family is growing and with that comes a pool of disturbing talent I can pull from for all my projects. I've also made some amazing friends and built up my professional network. I am hoping to direct more feature films as well so this endeavor really brings more legitimacy to not only my career but everyone else who works on it. 
You had a short film come from your Delusionverse, did your haunts greatly affect its story or look? Delusionverse....nice. One of the main characters from 2011 and '12 played into the idea for my short film The Hypnotist. Yet, it is very obscure and only some die hards would know the connection. It really is a stand alone short though (being considered for a feature or tv series). As everyone knows, one's style always comes through in whatever they do so with Delusion and The Hypnotist you can definitely see a common, thematic tone and storytelling style. 
Going to Delusion myself, I want to know how influenced you are from video games and horror films. Much of the time when I explain the event to friends is how it's like being in your own horror movie or Silent Hill scenario. Any favorites or themes that shined through into Delusion from those two medias. I love RPG's. I haven't been able to play them forever, but I love them. Games like King's Quest, Baldur's Gate and The Witcher shine through into Delusion. My favorite films in the horror and suspense genre are Aliens, The Shining, The Omen II, Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage (Spanish film). I always tell people Delusion is a tonal mix of all these films and games. The idea that we can be characters in a living, breathing other world is what brought about Delusion. 
What has been the hardest part of putting Delusion together: Liquor license, angry neighbors, LAPD anti were-wolf squad (it exists), pulling off stunts? Not promotion, you've gotten great reviews. The answer is long and boring. Basically, putting Delusion together is incredibly difficult and could not have been done without my core team of Brandon and Sarah (producers) Victor Mathieu (assistant director and creative supervisor), Jackie Kreterfield (production coordinator). Unfortunately, there are so many, what I call, "obstacles" in our path to make this happen. Ask any other small business and they'll tell you the same. If I didn't get such a great response to this I would have hung it up awhile ago. I've personally taken a great risk to make this happen, as I could have just stayed in the stunt business and made a good living. I just felt I didn't have enough control over my path. Stunts in film and tv is sporadic and getting gigs is up to so many other people. I wanted to make my own destiny (sorry to sound trite!).  Yet, again, putting Delusion together is major team effort. And I have the best team by my side. 
What's the draw this year? What little thing can you tell us about it to peak our interests? This year presents a story I am most proud of. I brought on an amazing co-writer named Peter Cameron who helped tremendously. The story is the most tight so far I think. I've decided to venture into a bit of fantasy for this one. We are circa 1948 as we dive into the world of Elena Fitzgerald: a revered and reclusive novelist whose daughter went missing many years ago. After this horrific event, Elena fell into a dark place in her one would imagine. She became convinced that if she finished a dark, epic book series called The Stygian Ascent her daughter Mary would be returned to her. Her twisted devotion to writing has brought about her characters into the real world. They protect her, they love her and will not rest until she does as she promised she would: finish the series. The audience plays the part of Elena's rabid fans, who have been without a book for many years. They won't take it anymore and decide to invade Elena's manor and find out what's happened to her. It's an eerie story. I want to leave with one overall note about the show. This is not about scaring people to death! It's not about "horror" per se. It is a haunting story that touches on all elements of what makes a great film/play...story! It'll be great fun...I promise. 

Delusion: Lies Within
September 25 through November 2
The Fitzgerald House
2525Arlington Ave Los Angeles, CA 90018
September 25 through November 2 

Delusion: Lies Within is the fourth living horror play you star in this Halloween season.