Feeling the “Effect”: An Interview with Amariah Olson


The talented duo of Obin and Amariah Olson hail from North Carolina and have unleashed indie action thrillers known for some intricate twists. These including their 2014 film debut Unknown Caller and 2015’s Operator. Their latest thriller, The Shadow Effect, is coming to DVD, Video on Demand, and Digital HD on May 2 from Momentum Pictures.

World Film Geek took the time to talk to Amariah Olson (above) about the film.

Thank you for taking the time to talk about The Shadow Effect.
Not a problem, did you get to see the film?

I sure did and it was better than what I was expecting.
Sweet! I’m glad it worked for one audience member. I hope it works for many others.

How did you get involved in filmmaking?
I’ve been involved in film-making since I was young. I never really wanted to do anything else. I had a camera and I began shooting a lot of clips and documentaries when I was a kid. I started producing commercials when I was 15. My brother got into that business as well and around 2012, we produced many commercials for companies like NASDAQ, Nickelodeon, and the Marines.

It was around 2012 that we decided to start producing movies. So we made our first movie, Unknown Caller (in 2014) and our second film, Operator (in 2015). This is our third film and we just finished another film, Body of Sin, and we are about to start shooting our fifth one.

What was your inspiration in making this film?
The inspiration was actually finding a script that was really elevated from our previous movies and had more interesting and psychological property layers than the previous ones. We read the original script from a writer we’ve known for a while, Chad Law, and we really liked it. This was what we wanted to do.

You got to work with Chad Law, who today is a great screenwriter of indie action films. How did he come onboard and what did he bring to the table when you were developing the film?
He wrote the original screenplay and we optioned that from him. Then we did a director’s pass on the screenplay, kind of reworking some of the structure and some of the backstories with the secret society and fleshing it out a little. Once that was done, we greenlit it and started production.

What was it like working with Cam Gigandet [left, who plays Gabriel] and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers [right, who plays Dr. Reece] as these two drove the film with their performances as well as Michael Biehn?
Well, Michael Biehn is really good even though he had only a smaller part. Working with Cam was definitely a big challenge but at the end of the day, what matters is the intensity that comes across from his character on the screen. I think it was because it was a very stressful production and everyone was pretty stressed. He was able to channel that through his performance because once the cameras were rolling, he really brought it to life. It was fantastic and it was what we wanted for this film. We wanted an intense scenario, intense performances, and someone who really is going through something and is very emotional about it and acts out of that animal instinctual level and Cam really brought that to the film.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is a terrific actor and he’s really an artist’s artist. I’ve known him from films like Match Point and such. I was a big fan of his so for him to come on this film was really great for us. He’s a very methodical actor and he goes into it knowing exactly what he wants and how to deliver it. I think he has an extra special spark and intelligence that really came across, especially for this character. I think it really worked out well and really added a dimension that wasn’t really thought out from our original script. He elevated the character and he brought an intensity and intelligence level that no one else could have pulled off if they were cast in the role.

One thing that was great about the film is that it keeps the viewer guessing what is real and what is fiction in terms of seeing Gabriel acting normal then becoming this hardcore assassin. Is that the intention of the film, to keep the viewer guessing, because that is truly ingenious?
Absolutely it was our intention and we have many cuts of the film that bring to light that issue. We had to figure out how much to meter out. We don’t want to intentionally confuse the audience because they will get angry and turn the movie off but at the same time, we don’t want them to know what’s going on right away. We want the audience to live through Gabriel and feel the same as he does. We don’t want the audience to know what is going on with Gabriel until the end of the movie.

I have to say the twist of the film, and I’m not going to reveal it, was quite the shock and in a way, it came out of left field. Yet it makes sense. Of course, there are those who may think it’s ridiculous but from my personal level, I thought it was great. Who came up with the idea to bring that to the film?
It was a collaboration between everybody that we wanted to add both a midpoint twist and an end twist structurally. To slowly start revealing things midway so we can kick it into overdrive action mode with so many problems that you will figure it out but not reveal the depth of it. Most good films will reserve that in the midpoint twist to re-engage the audience and keep them guessing., which is the hardest part of any script, to engage the audience.

It was a collaboration, very concise. We had to determine where do we want this, how to meter it out and how to keep the viewer engaged. That was when everything is said and done, you can finally turn it off when the film actually ends.

Finally, what is next for the Olson Brothers?
We just finished Body of Sin, a diamond heist thriller with beautiful locations, shot on the beaches, warm color tones. It has a very sexy, very beautiful feature lead character. It’s an intense action thriller focusing more on the dramatic aspects of the characters and thrills with a little bit of romance. We enjoyed making that one and that one is going to be coming out soon. We’re just finishing up post-production on it.

Then we have under option a science fiction movie script. It’s very interesting, it’s a cross between Cube and Buried. It’s a contained thriller but it’s still got a very mass essential question like The Shadow Effect. It keeps you intrigued until the last page and asks what is going on but it delves more into the sci-fi angle and sci-fi visual effects. It’s kind of a mind [censored].

I think that’s cool that you get to try different genres and that’s what I like about filmmakers who want to try different genres and even mesh different genres instead of sticking to just one. And hearing this is just proof that you guys are giving that a shot and I think that’s awesome.
I mean that’s what I like. It keeps it more interesting if you kind of don’t just stick to just one genre because you will get creatively tired of it. You have to experiment, kind of try different things. I was like okay, with Body of Sin, we have the sexy romance, shot on the beach kind of thing. We just wanted to get out and go to the beach. Everyone was having a blast. That was the goal and it brought some personalities and added a bit of sexiness to the picture.

That’s great. I feel like sometimes when an actor or filmmaker gets a typecast of sorts, it doesn’t give them a chance to broaden their skills.
I think as a core, it’s still always going to be an action thriller type film. When you see “The Olson Brothers”, it’s going to be a very commercial, marketable, and very thrilling film. But it’s the tone that changes, like straight thriller, erotic thriller, sci-fi thriller. But it still has the same kind of thriler tone.

The Shadow Effect comes to DVD, Digital HD, and VOD on May 2. Everyone needs to see this film if they like action, thrillers, and movies with a major twist. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about the film.
Thank you very much.

A Special Thank You goes out to the crew at Katrina Wan PR and Amariah Olson for making this interview possible. You can follow Amariah on Twitter for more information. 


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