‘Sound of Violence’ director Alex Noyer and star James Jagger talk fake blood, killer instruments

Noah Levine

Editor’s Note: There are minor spoilers in this interview

“Sound of Violence” is a new horror film that premiered at South by Southwest in the Midnighters category. The film follows an aspiring musician named Alexis, who finds immense stimulation from the sound of violence. In her pursuit to make the perfect song, Alexis is willing to risk it all, even if it means taking another person’s life to achieve the perfect sound of agony. Director Alex Noyer and actor James Jagger (Duke) chatted with The Daily Texan about working on the blood-splattered film. 

The Daily Texan: How did you come up with the bizarre and disturbing instrumental weaponry featured in the film?

Alex Noyer: The noise of flesh is the music and the instrument is a weapon. After that I kind of set the bar with the short and it did well … I really got worried, I didn’t know what other instrument than a drum machine I could use to expand upon (Alexis’) process. I experimented and I started jotting down crazy ideas about instruments I could think of and their potential violent ramifications. It was a lot of back and forth with both musicians and my producing partner and trying to see what was feasible because there's no budget limit in imagination but when you are trying to put a movie together you have to think what can be achieved. I’m very proud of what we managed to achieve because some of them, even while shooting them, made quite a few people on set queasy. 

James Jagger: (In the art gallery scene) There was a lot of blood. All I’ll say is just quantity. There’s a lot of blood. 

AN: This is why I had my blood wizard on set, Robert Bravo. I called him my blood wizard because he knows that I'm very very picky about the way blood looks.

JJ: I’ve never met two men in my life quite so passionate about fake blood as you two.

DT: What was the process adapting your original short film to this feature-length version?

AN: I made the short really to close a chapter in my life when I had been doing a music documentary about the 808 drum machine. That kind of took over my life for five years. I felt that I was developing a genre project. I was encouraged to start directing. And that’s when I had a light bulb moment saying well I’m not completely done with the drum machine, I need to kill somebody with one … The short was just going to be that. I had been 15 years a producer and I needed to prove myself as a director and the short was a good way to experiment. I got great feedback and we won awards. The questions I was receiving were mostly about (the character of Alexis) and I realized there was a joint obsession between the way (she) was received and my perception of her. This is why I decided that I needed to write more and approach her backstory and expand her universe. 

DT: James, there’s an incredibly violent scene featuring your character “Duke,” what was the filming process for that like? 

JJ: You feel sad. I was sad. I read through (the script) again and I was like this is violent too. This is really violent. For me, it’s an exciting push and pull in expressions. When you are working with two actors, inside a tight parameter of filming where you have focus length, camera, spacing and it’s all really small but you want to go big. You don’t want to make it look like you are acting in an enclosed space. We really were able to shoot this incredibly violent, really energetic, very enclosed (scene) inside of an RV basically. As a real soft wuss, it still made me sad watching myself go and getting my knees cracked open. 

AN: The sound design added so much to that. Jussi Tegelman, who works regularly with Sam Raimi, really took on board what we wanted to achieve. In the time with him in the studio, I was like “we need this to go a little slower … we need to feel the blade.” It is one sound in the movie that definitely gives you.

JJ: It’s chilling!