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Exclusive: Director Scott Mann Discusses the Challenges of Making Fall

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Becky’s (Grace Caroline Currey) husband Dan (Mason Gooding) falls to his death while on a climbing expedition with their friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner). The traumatizing experience distances the two and leaves Becky resorting to booze. Her father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tries to help her move on but fails.

Hunter returns after being estranged since the accident with a plan and hopes to help Becky through her hard times: they’re going to climb a 2,000-foot radio tower as it’s what Dan would have wanted. Together, they set off on their climb and successfully make it to the top, though, fail to realize that the ladder is no longer secure. Bolts have fallen out from holding the ladder in place, and they have no practical way to return to the ground. Out of cell phone range and with no other ability to call for help, Becky and Hunter look for any means possible to survive.

Fall does an excellent job of translating the real sensation of being at heights to the screen, of which fear served as an inspiration point for director Scott Mann when coming up with the movie.

“The inspiration was personally being scared of heights, like a lot of people I think,” explained Mann, “it actually started when myself and Jonathan Frank, the co-writer, were shooting a sequence for another movie in London on top of a football stadium. And even though we were getting a spectacle for the movie, it was actually where we stood on this kind of small space looking straight down that I remember thinking, ‘heights hasn’t really been done fully in a film yet.’ There’s never been something purely focused on that fear, and that fear is in all of us.”

Mann continued, discussing the various iterations of the script before reaching the final product audiences can see on screen. “It was really interesting to write… it became a question of how it plays out. There’s an element of play and what’s the story behind it, like the characters, so that you want to go on that journey with them… but we wrote ourselves into the corner like, ‘Okay, you’re stuck.’ Now what do we do? And it was really a lot of hard thinking about if your life depended on it, how do we get out of this situation? That process was interesting because it’s a horrible situation to be in, and what can we possibly think of as a way out.”

Another interesting element noted by Mann was that the original short version that the full feature is based on actually had Dan and Becky going up the radio tower, and Hunter as the one who dies at the beginning. “We found we had a much more interesting dynamic as the friends than we did as a partnership,” said Mann.

Related: Exclusive: Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner Talk Lionsgate Thriller Fall

Fall was filmed on a 100-foot tower at the top of a 2,000-foot mountain top in the desert. Of course, that comes with plenty of challenges considering that the talent would have to climb up and down the tower, affecting communication between them and Mann, and more.

“This film is a testament to what someone once said to me, ‘how difficult the film is to do is often in line with how well it turns out.’ And I would say if it turns out as well as how difficult it was to do, that’s okay because it was really hard,” said Mann.

Outside of the glaring difficulties associated with the tower, there are also buzzards in the film that stalk Becky and Hunter at the top of the tower and interact with them. “They just don’t take screen direction,” laughed Mann, “we had to put pieces of meat in clothing and things. It was very hard and time-consuming. It was definitely the most difficult single element to get right because you couldn’t fake it, especially when you’re up close with them. It’s got to be real. So that leaves pretty much no choice but to kind of awkwardly work around these things… they were enormously tricky.”

Related: Fall Review: Vertigo-Inducing Thriller Nails a Whopper Climax

As previously mentioned, Fall strikes the chord of fear of heights that is shared among many. Though, there are other elements present in the film that are sure to speak to viewers.

“I think at the core of it, there’s an element of grief after losing someone, and then climbing up and rising up again. I think there’s a resonance, a personal part, but a wider bit I would say as much about what we’ve been through the last couple of years as a world. We’ve kind of all been through this traumatic experience, and I think we’re all looking to climb out of that. I think weirdly having the escapism of a trauma-type movie like this, that then pumps you on the other side with a message that heals you, I think that’s what people can really take from it… it’s a heart-stopper with a big heart (laughs)… that’s the thing that resonates,” explained Mann.

“We set about making this film to be for the theater to its fullest… that’s what led us down the IMAX route and having this full soundscape, and the design and what not. I think I’m most excited for people to strap in on the thrill ride and watch it and experience it that way,” added Mann.

Fall is available in theaters on August 12, 2022, from Lionsgate.

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