Jack is an immortal, cannibalistic loner that has withdrawn from society to protect both himself and others. One day finds a daughter knocking at his door he never knew he had until then. How would you live your life if it was forever and you had no clue what your past was before you existed? Let’s chew on writer/director, Jason Krawczyk’s brain to find out.
Sandee: Thank you ever so much for taking time for us. Ok so, immortal Jack. What makes him immortal and why is that not in the story?
Jason: Jack has no idea why he’s immortal. He has a few ideas, but his memory has been ravaged by an immortal existence. I think having him not fully understand why he’s a phenomenon isolates his plight.
Sandee: I know what that’s like. This character is of biblical proportions. . Did you model him after Cain from the Hebrew bible? If so, why? Jason: Yep. The idea of “The Mark of Cain” is pretty horrifying. That’s a fate worse than death. Becoming a wandering vagabond tormented by life is a harrowing concept. God’s a jerk as that punishment is totally merciless. I’m not sure if the bible ever references “immortality” as apart of his curse, but the wandering aspect totally is.
יא וְעַתָּה, אָרוּר אָתָּה, מִן-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת-פִּיהָ, לָקַחַת אֶת-דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ. יב כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה, לֹא-תֹסֵף תֵּת-כֹּחָהּ לָךְ; נָע וָנָד, תִּהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ.
(Genesis 4:11-12 And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.’)
Sandee: I understand those scars on Jack’s back. Please explain the significance of them to you.
Jason: It’s a “Paradise Lost” reference combined with “the mark” from “The Mark of Cain.” Angels had these beautiful feathered wings while demons had a these dark leather wings. The lack of wings was suppose to represent Jack not being welcome in heaven or hell, thus his immortality.
טו וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ יְהוָה, לָכֵן כָּל-הֹרֵג קַיִן, שִׁבְעָתַיִם, יֻקָּם; וַיָּשֶׂם יְהוָה לְקַיִן אוֹת, לְבִלְתִּי הַכּוֹת-אֹתוֹ כָּל-מֹצְאוֹ.
(Genesis 4:15 And the LORD said unto him: ‘Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD set a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should smite him.)
Sandee: That is brilliant! You become cooler the more I get to know. Throughout the movie we see a man in black that never says anything until the end. He’s never talked about, what does he represent?
Jason: Jack has no idea who the man in black is, but he is a constant in his life. He seems to appear in situations of great personal strife for Jack and seeing him appear when he’s dealing with Alex is mind boggling. Alex is a murderer; Jack should be able to murder him with a clean conscious. It’s more what killing Alex represents. As for not letting him die, when you’re cursed by Devine intervention, you’re cursed for good.
Sandee: Jack is a murder as well. So the man could be……….
Jason: he’s not quite God, the Devil, or Death. He also chooses who can see him or if they’re about to die.
Sandee: That’s very Dante’s Divine Comedy; smart. Now in the movie, a conversation between Jack and Cara reference him to be a vampire. Vamps don’t eat flesh. Why this continuity error?
Jason: In the world of “He Never Died,” vampires don’t exist. So Jack is where the vampire myth originated, there are just certain details that are off. He’s fine with sunlight, crosses are harmless, and he eats garlic on the occasion.
Sandee: Ok but in his life, he would have come across the term zombie and known the difference between the two. But I do like the reason you’ve said, so I’ll let that slide. I found it interestingly funny that Jack is so obsessed with time. He’s always asking about it. He never dies, why would he care?
Jason: He doesn’t wear a watch and destroyed his alarm clock in a fit of anger. He just needs to know the time for bingo and getting his blood supply. Sandee: I love the way your mind works and the psychology behind the decisions you make. I can’t wait to see more from you. What are you working on next?
Jason: I have a couple scripts in the line-up that I would love to see made. The script “My Demon’s Demons” always screams at me to be looked at again. I also just finished a cosmic-horror trucker script that I get more and more excited about the more I dive into it.
Sandee: What is your favorite aspect of doing movies for a living?
Jason: I guess each stage of filmmaking has its own favorites. I love writing. The boundless creative expression that can happen on a blank page is breathtaking to me. There are very few feelings as gratifying as finding a cool coffee shop and zoning out into my writing process for a long period of time. In fact, that’s how I’m writing these answers. Then the collaboration with other artists is unlike any other experience. Collecting the crew members and going over the mechanics of a certain production with my producer Zach Hagen is ridiculously fun, creating a visual language that evolves with Eric Billman (The DP) is creatively inspiring, and flushing out characters with actors is an endearing journey into the psyche. Listening to other ridiculously talented people’s ideas and interpretations reminds me why you put in the hard work and grueling schedule. Shooting the damn thing is a fun nightmare. Then seeing the movie take form with a new perspective is a sensation that’s hard to describe. Seeing editors, composers, and graphic artists mold the project into an actual movie makes you believe in magic.
Sandee: What were your fears about He Never Died and why?
Jason: Letting people down. It’s always letting people down. It’s something that keeps me up at night. Henry’s really taking a risk on a weird multi-genre project with a fairly new director, the crew’s putting their name on this thing and are working their asses off just as much, if not more, than me, and the audience wants to see something cool fulfill its potential. I know you can’t please everyone, but I can tear myself apart to at least try and give them the devotion they’re due.
Sandee: Best advice for anyone wanting to do what you do.
Jason: Listen and be patient. It’s easy to talk your head off as a filmmaker, but a large part of the craft is filtering and collaborating. There are no enemies on sets. Just do your best to respect people’s crafts and give them an atmosphere to perform. That’s where patients come into play. If you were to give notes on the first time an actor reads something, it’s going to be riddled with flaws, but if you let that actor figure things out on their own and find their rhythm, you’ll have a stronger foundation to spring board from.
Sandee: Good advice NEVER goes out of style. What were some gems that came from the decisions you made?
Jason: Casting Henry Rollins was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. He brought a devotion and professionalism to the project that I don’t think could be duplicated. Plus, I just like the dude.
Sandee: Well doing anything with him is a great decision in the first place. I’m with you on that.
Jason: Keeping it weird was another thing we’re proud of. We could have made it more like a supernatural “Taken,” but trying to balance the humor, violence, and drama on a twisted canvas is more of what we wanted to do. We never really compromised on the vision and that means more to me than anything.
Let’s all keep up with what Jason is doing at http://alternateendingstudios.com/ and always support indie films and their makers with emotional and/or financial help.