Last Exorcism by Daniel Stamm

Daniel Stamm is the director of "The Last Exorcism," starring Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell. The film, which is being released by Lionsgate, comes out August 27.

During production, Stamm maintained a tightly sealed set to foster a sense of intimacy for the actors. “We had no one in the room,’ he says. “There was only one monitor on the set. There was no video village where people were watching, so the actors knew there weren’t fifty eyes on them.”

Exhausting takes
 
He also had the actors perform more takes than usual, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. “I try to throw the actors into the scene so that they come up with things that I would never come up with,” says the director. “I let them be themselves and just react. We do a lot of takes, and what really works for me is to do so many that they get tired and upset or annoyed. Because then you get some raw emotions that show really well on screen. We'll do fifteen or twenty takes to get that.”
 
“Daniel really knows just how far to push the actors and how to get the best out of them,” adds producer Eli Roth. “He's also got a very dark sense of humor and knows how to mine scary moments from humor, and humor from scary moments.  He's an incredible talent.”

Improv
 
Improvisation was encouraged on the set, with Stamm allowing the actors to follow their impulses and develop their characters in unexpected ways. “The most important thing to me,” says the director, “is that the actors develop their own character flavor, which is the same style I worked on in my last film.”
 
According to producer Marc Abraham, Stamm’s strength as a director kept the story and characters on track even when the script was deviated from. “His point of view is so strong and because of that, actors trust him a lot,” he says.   
 
“It was exhausting,” remembers Fabian. “Coming up with new stuff when it was called for was really hard and sometimes it was unnerving.  But Daniel managed to strip us down to our real instincts without us realizing it. In retrospect, I realize he was so clear in every moment during production about the film he was building.”
 
“As an actor, to have that many opportunities to try things was a gift,” says Bell. “And Daniel was so responsive to us and always asked our opinions. You go through your whole life praying for that kind of experience.” 
 
“Both Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell are incredibly sympathetic.  You like them immediately,” avows Roth. “Patrick's so funny that we like Cotton right away even though he’s phony.  Ashley at first appears like a scared rabbit. So when she turns it's all the more shocking – you really can't believe it's her.  Her range as an actor both emotionally and physically is so spectacular she can charm you one moment and horrify you the next.”