David F Sandberg is going to scare you. Lights Out will leave you terrified, and not in that funny slasher movie kind of way. He’s aiming for that primordial brain fear that kicks in when you’re six years old and it’s long past your bedtime but you can’t get to sleep because there’s a dark shape at the end of the bed. It might just be some laundry, but it’s probably something much more dangerous.
So it’s only fair that you learn a little bit about the man who will get you using a nightlight for the first time since you were in primary school. Here are some things you might not know about David F Sandberg…
He Started Out in a Video Store
David F Sandberg is one of the fine group of directors, including Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, who are video store alumni. From his late teens Sandberg worked at a video store, delving deeply into their stock to indulge his passion for filmmaking, and using his earnings to save up for his first camcorder.
That camcorder helped him make his first short films to submit to festivals, and eventually led to his internship at local film centre, Film i Jönköpings län.
His Films Started on YouTube
Sandberg’s first film release was the animated short “För Barnen,” which he released on YouTube in 2006. This was quickly followed by another, “Vad Tyst Det Blev,” which went on to win awards at the November Film Festival and open the door to job offers. From here, Sandberg started his own company making commercials and more short films.
He Loves Mixing Animation and Live Action
While running his own company he worked on projects including a TV series called “Earth Savers”, an animated documentary series. He blurred the boundaries between reality and cartoons further with “Ladyboy”, a mix of animation and live action, and “Wallace” a short film about a boy whose drawings come to life.
His Wife is in All His Films
Throughout Sandberg’s work there is always one familiar face, and you’ll seeing her again in Lights Out. While animations and commercials were taking off, Sandberg realised he’d moved away from his true passion, sci-fi and horror movies. He began making short horror films in his apartment with his wife, Lotta Losten. A writer, actor and producer in her own right, Losten has headlined many of Sandberg’s films as well as acting as writer and producer alongside her husband.
Lights Out Began Life as a Short
Lights Out is Sandberg’s first feature film, but it was originally a short alongside his other nightmarish creations like “Closet Space” and “Attic Panic”. The quality and the impact of the original Lights Out short brought the young Swedish filmmaker to the attention of Hollywood.
He Knows How to Scare You
Lights Out’s producer James Wan, who is behind The Conjuring and Insidious, was drawn to Sandberg by the young director’s innate understanding of putting a scare together.
He Reminds James Wan of a Young James Wan
One of those impressed by Lights Out was James Wan, director of The Conjuring and Insidious. When Wan saw Sandberg’s work, it looked awfully familiar. Wan says, “I remember watching it and thinking, ‘this is fantastic, this is really cool, the kind of stuff that I used to do when I was an aspiring filmmaker myself.”
He Likes His Effects Practical
Despite his early career being defined by experimenting with live action and animated film making techniques, with Lights Out Sandberg’s gone the other way, abandoning CGI for makeup, prosthetics and lighting techniques. The director’s most important tool, however, has been the actress playing “Diana”, the menace of Lights Out. “Ninety-five percent of the time, Diana is just a silhouette, so movement becomes everything,” Sandberg says.
He’s Enjoying Making a Feature Film
After years of making films with self-funded equipment in his own apartment, Sandberg has really taken to having a full production team on his side. “It was surreal having so many people working on what began as a two-and-a-half-minute film, made for no money, by just me and Lotta in our apartment,” he says. “A year later, there were people painting walls, makeup and visual effects teams, and guys drilling holes in the ceiling…it was just crazy. It’s every aspiring filmmaker’s dream.”
You Haven’t Heard the Last of Him
While Lights Out is about to hit cinemas, Sandberg is already working on his next project, Annabelle 2, the sequel to Annabelle. Be afraid.