October 14th at 9PM premieres on SYFY the original movie The Sandman, Witten and directed by Peter Sullivan and produced by Stan Lee. Thunder Wave talked to Peter Sullivan, who commented on his inspirations and the metaphors present in the production.
See the full interview below:
The Sandman is focused on a special child who unwittingly ends up controlling a monster. The story ends up serving as a metaphor for the influence of fear on human behavior. Was this metaphor intentional? How did you come up with this idea?
Peter Sullivan: The metaphor was definitely intentional. I wanted to create a villain, a boogeyman if you will, that was just as much a threat internally as well as externally. I’ve done the “evil child” dynamic before, and I thought it would be interesting to have a young character with a dark power who isn’t malevolent, but simply unable to control it. She’s haunted by her own supernatural abilities.
The film focuses on only one family and therefore saves on the cast. This helps the viewer to connect with the characters and with that the film gets more intense. Is it easier or more complicated to work in this more intimate way?
Peter Sullivan:Initially the concept was much broader. After researching a great number of boogeymen and folktales from various cultures, I’d hit upon the Sandman. While traditionally benevolent, there was something very off-putting about a stranger who comes into your room at night and controls your dreams. But rather than go in a general Freddy Krueger-type direction with that, terrorizing an entire town or group of kids, which was the original idea, I thought it would be stronger to keep it contained to one character, Madison (Shae Smolik), and explore how she deals with it.
The unconventional family dynamic that you see the film also evolved over several drafts. The character of Claire (Haylie Duff), the mother figure, went from being an all-star suburban mom to being someone who absolutely should not be looking after a child, especially not one that comes with the monstrous baggage that Madison does. To me, that made the story, and her arc, much more interesting. In my opinion, that extra complication makes things more rewarding for the audience.
The Sandman is a production of horror, but does not invest in scary scenes and this is a great differential for the movie. Was this choice deliberate or did the plot lead to it?
Peter Sullivan: Having written a number of genre films, I’ve always believed that the good ones would work despite their horror element. There needs to be something interesting going on that could sustain itself even without the creature, and in this case, it’s the relationship between the mother and daughter. There’s a lot of great drama there, and kudos to Haylie and Shae for pulling it off.
In the same spirit of keeping things fresh and different, I found that, in developing the story about this girl with a dark and uncontrollable power, it was actually more of a horror/comic book hybrid, and embraced that in order to make the movie feel different. What would happen if one of the X-Men had a power that was NOT an instrument to do good?