Movies & TV / Columns

411 Talks w/Amariah Olson About Co-Directing The Shadow Effect

May 11, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411mania Interview: Amariah Olson


Amariah and Obin Olson are brothers and a movie directing tandem, responsible for such action thrillers as Unknown Caller, Operator, and the recent release The Shadow Effect starring Cam Gigandet, John Rhys Meyers, and Michael Biehn (check out my review of The Shadow Effect here). Amariah recently took time out of his busy schedule to speak with this writer about The Shadow Effect, what it’s like making a movie with your brother, and more.


Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in making The Shadow Effect?

Amariah Olson: We had just finished releasing Operator, and needed a new film. Chad Law, the writer, we had been aware of his material for some time, and specifically this script. We decided to greenlight it and put it into production.

BK: What was the hardest part of making The Shadow Effect?

AO: A lot of locations in a short amount of time created a lot of production headaches and confusion, as we had to move a large amount of people around and coordination becomes very difficult.

BK: Where was The Shadow Effect made? How long was the shoot?

AO: We shot the film around Atlanta. Altogether, it was about a month of shooting days.

BK: Did the essence of The Shadow Effect change while making it, or is the movie that you made pretty much the movie you planned on making in the first place?

AO: I think most of the essence was captured, the visuals, the tone, the story, but some of the personalities that the actors brought changed who the characters were.


BK: What was it like working with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Michael Biehn?

AO: Jonathan comes very prepared. It was a nice change from some previous actors we’d worked with; every actor has his style, but from a production standpoint Jonathan makes it a very easy shoot, things are very clear and concise with him. Michael, we were just very excited to work with him. Knowing him from other classics, we knew he would bring a great performance and his passion for making movies just shines through. He’s very fun to work with, a very humble man.


BK: Is Cam Gigandet as badass in real life as he is in The Shadow Effect? How did he get involved in the movie?


AO: Indeed, Cam is as badass in real life as he is in the movie. He’s like a wild uncaged lion, and this brings a great intensity and uncontrollability to a character like Gabriel. When we were looking through actors we knew he’d be perfect for this role.

BK: Explain the dynamic of working together as co-directors on something like The Shadow Effect or any of your previous movies. Do you actually work together, hand-in-hand, or do you sort of “split” responsibilities?

AO: It changes on a day to day basis, depending on what all is going on set that day. Sometimes it’s hand in hand, other times we split off units, sometimes one acts more as DP and the other director, or vice versa.

BK: Do you always plan to work together? Did you plan to work together?

AO: For the most part yes. Movies are not easy to get physically made, and having blood team mates to back you up certainly lessens the weight.

BK: What kind of movie haven’t you made that you’d like to get a chance to make one day? Any dream projects?

AO: We have some big sci-fi concepts, more like films you’d see Blomkamp or the Nolans make.

BK: Generally speaking, how hard is it to get something like The Shadow Effect made?

AO: Generally – like Mt Everest. I mean, first you have to figure out how to become wealthy through some very stupid, simple business like real estate (a whole other story), which can take a few years, just so you can afford to make it, because getting a film financed as a first time director is pretty much impossible. Then after that you’ve got to actually line up all the elements, and get the distribution, and the actors. It’s really a place best left to extreme athletes, I think. Then you’ve got to be ok with basically going to Vegas and gambling, because that’s what every movie is, the risk is so high from production to completion to distribution that it really takes an insane person to do it.

BK: Was The Shadow Effect made for a theatrical release, or was it always intended for direct-to-video?

AO: This film is intended for both. We always master for theatrical, as many countries will go theatrical even if it does not make it in the U.S.

BK: Who are your movie making heroes? Favorite movies?

AO: Anything really, as long as it’s a good movie, well-structured plot, good creative.

BK: Outside of The Shadow Effect, any other upcoming projects you can divulge?

AO: We just finished a very sexy thriller called Body of Sin, all shot on exotic beach locations. We are excited to be releasing this one shortly.


Once again, a very special thanks to Amariah Olson for agreeing to participate in this interview and for Tatum Wan and Erika Ayres for helping set it up.

All images courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

Purchase The Shadow Effect here.