Interview With Writer/Director George Veck: Clogwyn

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview writer/director George Veck about his new film Clogwyn which focuses on the destructive nature of gambling addiction and how it can destroy families. In this interview we discuss addiction, mental health and the need for further legislation regarding gambling, and its marketing. I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your motivation for making this film?

A: To shed light on the sheer amount of people who despite having no background in sport or watching sport, end up gambling and how it can be those lesser fans who suffer most as they need a bet to enjoy the event.

Q: What was your message?

A: That anyone vulnerable who hates what they do with their life can be sucked into drink, drugs or gambling in the UK.

 Q: Do you think the government should do more to tackle gambling beyond what it is currently doing?

 Absolutely, the current level of restrictions on adverts during sporting events is appalling despite overwhelming evidence of the amount of sports fans who watch not for the love of the sport, but only due of the thrill of betting.

Q: What are the warning signs of gambling addiction and when should people seek help?

 It’s hard to detect initially but the secrecy of the person suffering will become apparent and the niggling feeling of being lied to. The deeper the person gets, the harsher the depression will be after they lose a bet, this is one sign to get help.

Q: Do you have any funny or interesting stories from the making of this short?

 This was a very international cast, with talent from Canada, US, Ireland, Wales, England, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand forming the cast and crew.

Q: Future Plans do you want to do a follow up or tackle any other issues in future films?

 I have just finished editing a short about domestic violence called disquietude which will be out soon as well as a short called Scarlett about cocaine addiction. Issues around mental health and poverty are what I want to portray in my films. I would love to explore gambling addiction as a theme again, hopefully next time as a feature film.

Q: After making this film do you have any advice for aspiring film-makers?

 To those from rural areas who worry about accessibility and finances, that with a carefully selected cast of willing actors and imagination you can make fulfilling films from the comfort of your home.

To check out Clogwyn for yourself then head over to Vecks Gems Productions or click on the link provided

If you have been effected by the topics discussed in this interview then please consider getting help or if someone you know is suffering people get them some help. Addictions are awful things and often people try and hide them and suffer in silence and we all need to do our best to recognise the symptoms and help to the best of our abilities.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Narrator/Director George Popov: Sideworld Terrors Of The Sea

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director George Popov to talk about his new film Sideworld Terrors Of The Sea, which focuses on creepy nautical urban legends and tales of sea monsters. In this interview we discuss coastal folk songs, exploration and tricky tides.  I hope you enjoy.

Q: Why Focus On The Sea This Time Around

GP: We were discussing a vast array of potential topics for future sideworld films even before “Forests” was finished and always one of the main examples for a topic that we were all excited about was the sea legends. It gave you a scope in which you can show potential directions for where the series can go and retain its particular style while enrich the palette with every single one. And also out of all other options we had, it felt like the right continuation from the previous one. They have a thematic relation when you’re talking about these biomes, these vast areas of the world that we have been so closely connected to throughout history.

Q: What Inspired This Sequel?

GP: I really wanted to give a good idea of how varied and diverse our relationship with the sea is, and there are stories and sea legends and horror myths that really capture the vast difference between how gigantic and operatic they can be in some examples and then how emotional and personal they can get in others. So the inspirations for me came from all different angles including reading old sea stories when I was a kid all the way up to, of course, watching many films and frankly a lot of marine art. Some fine examples of which made it into the film in a very beautiful way, which I’m very happy about. Also for a few months my playlist was nothing but coastal folk songs and old sea shanties.

Q: What Is The Strange And Unsettling Allure To People And How Would You Describe The Relationship Between Humanity And The Sea?

 GP:In lots of ways that’s the main question we try to tackle in the film. No matter which section we’ll be working on or which story we’ll be telling, the question of our relationship with the sea in its complexity and its duality, would just keep coming up. Throughout history, the ocean has been one of the main frontiers for humanity to explore and the ocean floor today is the final frontier for us, maybe alongside Antarctica, that we have left on this planet. The mystery, the adventure and the danger add to this strange allure we have for it, and until we completely tame and explore all of it, I don’t think that sensation is going away. And I kind of hope we never get to that stage, because I think it will be really sad if the ocean loses all mystery and just turns into another park or backyard for us.

Q: What Do You Think Is Waiting For Us At The Bottom Of The Sea?

GP: I think it is an abundance of new knowledge. There is a lot on the ocean floor that we still know nothing about. Almost every month it feels like, there is a discovery of a new funny looking invertebrate or something else thriving in conditions previously thought very difficult to sustain life. Also in recent times we’ve discovered a lot more about creatures growing to sizes, previously thought to be exclusively reserved for tall tales, like in the case with the Colossal Squid. And if you watch “Terrors of the Sea” we do bring up the question of what else might be there that’s not just pure fantasy.

Q: What Was The First Nautical Ghost Story, Legend Or Tall Tale That You Heard?

GP: I have to think about it. Most likely the literal first one I do not remember but I do remember being very young when I read a lot of the Sinbad tales and remember them being amazing. They captured my imagination with all these adventures on the ocean with mythical creatures and being epic fairy tales. Yeah, so that will have to be it but I do recall being aware of the Odyssey at a very young age so that also could be it.

Q: Do You Have Any Funny Stories From Production?

 GP: When you travel around the country to film all these amazing places on our schedule, it’s almost difficult not to have a single day go by without something kind of wacky happening. So yeah, I guess there was, it was funny but also a little bit worrisome, there was this time when we were filming this colony of clams on a cliff side. We did know that the tide was coming in because it was in our schedule, you had to know where the where the tide is at that time of day and how much time we have and everything. But they don’t tell you how amazingly quick that happens, so it can be a problem if you get lost in your shots. And at some point as we were standing on these rocks, thinking that we’re quite a way from the sea with our backs turned towards it. At some point I just fell this water washing my ankles and I turned around. What used to be rocks and a vast beach now was nothing but the ocean and so we had to very quickly evacuate the equipment and ourselves. Trying to navigate what has now become islands that were shrinking very quickly and the whole carpet of sharp clam shells as well in our way. So yeah, that was that was pretty exciting.

Q: What Location Will You Focus On Next If There Is A Third Sideworld Film?

GP: I can’t say much at this point but what I can say is that there will be a third Sideworld, the whole team is very excited about it and we’re working on it as we speak.

Q: Any Words Of Wisdom For Aspiring Filmmaker, Gleamed Whilst Making This Film?

GP:This is the first sequel I’ve ever done and first for Rubicon Films as well as whole, so don’t know yet so I don’t know how much wisdom any of this carries, but I did find the whole experience a lot more liberating than I thought. I think it’s normal for filmmakers to feel a bit constrained when you make something that has to fit as part of a series. If you don’t feel that constraint, you probably don’t worry about your creativity in the first place. Which is a problem. But at the same time the balance of trying to push the boundaries a bit while giving that familiarity is really intriguing. And that every new film gets the opportunity to shine in its own unique way. Are they all going to be all equally successful? Of course not, but by changing the recipe ever so slightly every time you learn a lot more about our audience and about yourself as a filmmaker.

If you would like to check out Sideworld: Terrors of The Sea for yourself then it is available to rent and buy right now on Amazon Prime Video

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Director George Popov: Sideworld, Haunted Forests Of England

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director George Popov about his new film Sideworld: Haunted Forests Of England which serves as a tour around some of the most haunted forests in England, wherein you learn about the forests’ past and supposed supernatural visitors. In this interview we discuss spooks, spectres, and English forests.  I hope you enjoy.  

Q: What made you want to make this film?

GP: Folkloric tales and legends have always been an inspiration for me and a lot of the narrative projects I’ve been wanting to make and we’ve developed so far, go hand in hand with an overall interest in any kind of dark mythology. At the same time, I’ve always been interested in paranormal or unusual cases and that, alongside opening your imagination for storytelling, are also just really curious from a factual perspective. And not necessarily from the point of view of putting a cap on what’s actually true or not, because that can be very difficult to identify and it can be very procedural. (And there is plenty of documentaries that already do that.) For me, the main interest is combining those perspectives and conveying a strong atmosphere to experience horror myths and legends that the viewer might not be necessarily familiar with. And I think that applies not just for “Haunted forests of England”, but for our intention for the SIDEWORLD series in general.

Q: What was your message?

GP: When it comes to the stories in the documentary, I wouldn’t say we had a desire to necessarily convey a strong subjective point of view. In fact, Jonathan and me were very careful to be both a Mulder and a Scully (or a believer and a sceptic for the non-X-Files-fans out there). The thematic relevance of forests as a setting for all these cases is where we try to make a stronger unifying point. Particularly the human predisposition to use the forest as a veil for any activity that is supposed to remain hidden.

Q: Why did you decide on documentary for your next project?

GP: A lot of the stories that we tackle in these documentary films are ones that I’d love to explore as a narrative feature. However that would also mean that I’d need to book off the next 250 years and not make anything else. And also stretching them into a longer more demanding narrative might not be the best thing for them. The SIDEWORLD format seemed best. In the way that it’s a documentary series of feature films that explore different horror legends under a unifying theme

Q: Have you had any creepy experiences in forests before?

GP: Not anything that would make it in a documentary like this, and nothing that I’d dare to confirm as extraordinary. Although I’ll be lying if I say we didn’t experience a particular feeling especially in some sites in Epping Forest in relation to the Suicide Pond story. But I’d attribute that to preconceived notions and auto-suggestion. I prefer it that way.

Q: There is something quite primordial about forests, is there something about returning to nature that has people questioning their humanity?

GP: I think nature’s role in our development has always been a catalyst for debates and existential crisis. And I think that’s only getting more relevant the more we progress. The tug of war between nature and technology is at the core of many questions of what it means to be human. I don’t know but I personally don’t think there is much future for us if we continue to see them as two things at odds with each other.

Q: Who were your influences on this project?

GP: I don’t know. I think it would have been a much easier question if I was taking about my narrative projects. Probably because I feel still very new to this. A lot of people would say Ken Burns or something when it comes to the format. But honestly I think it’s closer to trying to recreate the feeling I had as a kid going through storybooks full of horror fairytales and factual ones trying to solve the mysteries of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. It must be a combination of all that.

 Q: What is your favourite horror film set in the woods/forest?

GP: Off the top of my head: The Blair Witch Project, Antichrist and Evil Dead 2. I know, probably weird given how different from each other they are. I guess that’s why they came to mind. They all capture what makes forests so intriguing and terrifying in extremely unique ways.

Q: Future plans?

GP: We’re in post-production of our second Sideworld documentary, which I’m very excited to share with everyone very soon. This time the theme is sea-related horror myths and legends. The depth and variety of stories and visuals is even greater I think. We’re also working on a couple of our next bigger narrative projects. We’ve been working with some great producers recently and I’m really excited to update everyone on my next narrative feature in the next few months. In the meantime we have more Sideworld filming to do, and while dealing with the elements can be challenging on those shoots, nothing beats experiencing those places first hand, so I always look forward to it.

Q: Any words for aspiring filmmaker?

GP: Probably I’d encourage aspiring filmmakers to ask themselves how they and everyone around them consume films these days and be up to date with the changes that are occurring in the industry, because there is a lot of opportunity in that. The filmmaking community has become a lot more social recently and there’s plenty of chances for filmmakers to share useful knowledge with each other. Read articles, listen to podcasts, go to festivals. And listen, I might not be able to answer every email, but if you buy me or another director a beer, we’d usually answer your questions. We do love to talk…a lot.

If you would like to check out Sideworld: Haunted Forests Of England the film can be found on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and if you’re from the US on TubiTV.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Writer/Director/ Editor Hunter ‘Bueller’ Farris: Found Footage Dracula.

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview writer/director Hunter ‘Buller’ Farris, about his new film Found Footage Dracula which serves as a reimagining of the classic tale of Dracula. In this interview we discuss Bram Stoker, The League Of Extradentary Gentlemen and the benefits to shooting films in the found footage style. I hope you enjoy.  

Q: What made you want to make this film?

HF: Bram Stoker’s novel was written in a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, scientific writings, and half-a-dozen other formats, so I felt like found footage was the only way to capture the experience of what it feels like to read the original novel.

Q: What was the message you wanted to get across?

HF: I wanted to help audiences understand what it feels like to be an audience member in 1897, so this film could be an empathy machine and so this film could help us understand that our modern perspective is not the only perspective.

Q: What is your favourite vampire film?

HF: I’m going to be honest, I love the aesthetic of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). The whole film is this wonderfully rule-of-cool dieselpunk dream.

 Q: Why re-do Dracula?

HF: A lot of versions I’ve seen of Dracula take out some of my favourite parts of the novel, like Jonathan being manipulated by Castle Dracula, the voyage of the Demeter, and the character of Quincey P. Morris. So I wanted to put those parts back in. Also, no one has ever done Found Footage Dracula, and I feel like it’s the best way to capture the experience of what it’s like to read the original novel.

 Q: What benefits do you find to shooting in the found footage style?

HF: Found footage is incredibly cheap, so we could pay all the cast and crew fairly for less than $2000 because you only need 1 or 2 people on set at a time. When your set doesn’t need fancy lighting, or a separate sound source, or PAs, or grips, or a DIT, you can film from anywhere in the world. So I was able to work with people I would never get to work with.

 Q: What do you think your film contributes to the wider found footage genre?

HF: Most epistolary novels are exclusively letters. Bram Stoker’s novel expands that format to everything from invoices to journal entries, to a suicide note! To capture that feeling, I wanted to expand past the traditional form of found footage and use a dozen different sources of videos, like TikTok, Snapchat, podcasts, and even a doorcam!

 Q: Any funny on set stories?

HF: Honestly, I can’t think of much that was funny. Weird? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. But not much funny.

Q: Future plans?

HF: We’re expanding to a cinematic universe, including Jekyll & Hyde as a social media screen movie, Dorian Grey as a juxtaposition of social media and private video, and The Phantom of the Opera as a fictional Making-Of documentary. And eventually, all of those will crossover, inspired by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Director/Editor Jacob Melling and Actor/Writer Amy Cotter: Fish Out Of Water

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview editor/director Jacob Melling and actor/writer Amy Cotter about their new film Fish Out Of Water, which tells the tale of an anxious person, played by Cotter, trying to navigate the hellishly social world of the adult.           In this interview we discuss issues of anxiety, poetry and early morning bathing  . I hope you enjoy.  

Q: What made you want to make this film?

JM: Post pandemic I was looking to do a low budget Independent film that really pushed myself creatively whilst having fun and working some creative like minded people. I had been wanting to work with my good Amy since previously working on a short film with her. She is a very talented poet and had sent me this poem called ‘Fish out of Water’ and reading it for the first time I found it so relatable, funny and truthful and I immediately knew it would be fantastic as a short film.

Q: Why choose to feature poetry so heavily?

AC: I wanted to make a film using a process and form I’d not tried before, with a written poem as stimulus and developing the film from there. We wanted to experiment with comedy and rhythm usually reserved for performance poetry and see if it would work. I was especially keen to work with a musician to mainly improvise in the studio, discovering Fish’s thoughts in music and culminating in a thoughtful and beautiful sound track. It was important to us to collaborate with a brilliant team of creatives to bring the characters and aspects of Fish’s world and worries to life. To the voice of her Friend to the credit song- each aspect as important as each other.

Q: The ocean serves as an apt metaphor, however, what inspired that visual element?

AC: We wanted to portray a calming dreamlike alternative world that contrasted to the dreary domestic anxiety of Fish’s reality. The ocean serves as Fish’s go-to ‘happy place’, where she can keep her head above water.

Q: What was the message of this film?

AC: I think there are any number of  messages in the film, hopefully it speaks to whichever part of the viewer that needs soothing. I think it’s an intimate insight into social anxiety and shines a light on the domestic demons we face, sometimes on a daily basis. I also hope it’s an entertaining comfort to a generation unsettled by our growing strains and stresses.

Q: Do you have any funny on-set stories?

JM & AC: During the bath scenes there was a local festival going on so we had to keep restarting the dunking in and out of the bath. A lot of water was swallowed. It was a very joyful summer soundtrack to our luke warm morning of 4 hours in the bath- and VERY hard not to sing along to Sister Sledge.

Q: What was your favourite moment from production?

AC: My favourite part of production was probably getting into the studio to do the ADR and music. Playing the full film to our composer and seeing him improvise to it was magical! A culmination of everyones hard work right there, a very special moment seeing that happen. Also sighing and scoffing into a microphone for 10 minutes for the foley sounds is always fun!

Q: Future projects?

AC: We might develop the next part of Fish’s story, using everything we have learnt about merging poetry and filmmaking. I’d like to make more poetry shorts, different poets, different stories, and experimenting with this style of storytelling, so we are always on the look out for creatives and collaborators to work with!

Q: Do you have any advice for upcoming filmmakers?

JM & AC: If you have even a half formed idea that you want to develop, approach some like-minded dreamers, get a little team together and make it happen. We all need support and I’m so grateful that our tiny team got behind the poem and made it happen.

Keep making films! Keep creating. Keep pushing yourself. I’m nowhere near where I want to be as a filmmaker, but each film I make I learn from and improve. Each experience I also go on to make so many amazing connections and creative relationships just like I have with Amy and the rest of the team working on ‘Fish’.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Editor/Director Oliver Simonsen: The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphyiscal and Fractured Destiny Of Cerebus The Aardvark

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview editor/director Oliver Simonsen about his new film The Absurd, Surreal Metaphysical and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus The Aardvark, which features a self-reflective Aardvark going on a journey of self-discovery whilst also conducting a heist. We discuss issues of CGI animation and deep humanist philosophy

I hope you enjoy.  

Q: Why did you want to make this film? 

A: I’ve been reading Cerebus from the start when i was young:). Having said that, I would probably have done a film of my own lesser known comic book character Captain Zap if I thought it would gain traction…with a nobudget CGI feature animated film the hardest thing is getting people interested in working on it. Cerebus had laid the foundation and proven its appeal. If the Cerebus film hadn’t generated enthusiasm with CGI artists from the start it wouldn’t have happened. It couldn’t have. Another thing is that CGI is a field that has so many specialized skillsets so you can’t plan when you have people with those certain skillsets when needed…when they have a window you have to work with it. The pipeline is one of nimbleness you could say:)

Q: Did you have a message you wanted get across? 

A: Wikipedia says the absurdist philosopher Albert Camus stated that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence. 

Britannica says Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.”

Anyway, if anything it is maybe that even the smallest choices could have a huge impact. Especially if you are a talking aardvark?:)

OK, yes there is more:). I know some might be upset that it’s a liberal movie, but that’s what Cerebus was back then.

Q: How did you find the process of adapting this from the comic book source material?

A: Ideally I would have done the script adaptation and storyboard and then tried to get the project off the ground. Considering it was a longshot that this could even happen, that just wouldn’t make sense. Besides I’ve also seen so many projects with beautiful concept art and pitches that never go anywhere.  A CGI no budget feature has never been done – more people have been on the moon you could say:). Guinness here we come!:) We were like a handful of people at first and had animators and character modellers, but no riggers or environment modelers if I remember correctly…anyway, luckily Dave Sim, the creator of the comic, had done a lot of heavy lifting just by virtue of doing the comic. The idea was to have the movie be the first issue and so we started on the main scenes of that issue while I started expanding on it…whereas i soon got stumped trying to stretch what is almost a Looney Tunes cartoon in length into a full feature. I was a thinking it could have kind of a groundhog day theme of Cerebus just always failing in getting the gold in one adventure after another…like in the comic. And then I remembered issue 196 that explained if Cerebus hadn’t traded his Northern Barbarian Warrior helmet for a Merchant vest way back in issue 4 he wouldn’t have fractured his destiny – a seemingly small event that catapulted and informed the rest of the series run. So it kinda fell into place – as so much did. So in the end the film is the early issues 1,4, 5 and 13 seen through the revelation in issue 196.

Q: What went into the animation process for this film, how did you achieve it?

A: We voted on which software to use. My vote lost and we went with Maya which i didn’t know how to use at the time. It is the most popular software so that probably helped with artists joining the team. Though even so we were all using different year models/editions of the same software which still caused a lot of issues. Those who didn’t have Maya we also still tried to find ways to work with. In some cases those softwares would get discontinued. Luckily Maya stuck around:). We rendered mostly with Mental Ray which came with Maya at the time, but that actually did get discontinued and we could then not upgrade our software or we’d lose it – was really hard, nearly impossible, to work with those who had newer editions of Maya at that point. Mental Ray is beautiful but slow – especially compared with some of the amazing renderers they have now. Now you have things render in realtime, meaning no render time at all, as before you would take hours if not days to render 24 images that make up a second of screentime. So much time, years, could have been saved if we had what they have now. A thought was to transfer everything, but almost every scene is separate. And you know all kinds of problems would arise because nothing is ever glitch free. We figured it would probably be years’ worth of additional work to do so.

Q: What is your favourite moment from the film?

A: I still go around quoting Necross exclaiming  “…and then!” lol. Eh, ironically of course:).

Q: Any funny stories from production?

A: The production was a true joy – so much fun. Such an enjoyable experience and feel blessed i got to have it. I think that sentiment was shared by most – it kinda had to be for people to want to be there. Made some good friends, too. (Didn’t know any of them beforehand, I might add). I know some people might think that with the film taking so long, and yes sometimes I’d joke it’s like watching paint dry, but there are so many little victories along the way and such a great vibe that I really loved every minute of it. 

Q: How do you feel your films differs from other animated offerings?

A: While needless to say it is rough around the edges I do think it works on its own terms and has something to offer that others don’t. I come from the indie self-publishing comix scene and that “things are rough around the edges” is not only a given it’s embraced. No one would point out how the drawings aren’t John Buscema level. Polish is almost a dirty word:). You seek out those comics for different qualities then you would something by the big corporations. So far there is no CGI equivalent of the indie comics scenes or even of say John Cassavetes whose debut “Shadows” started indie film making. Or Henry Jaglom, one of the most independent of independent filmmakers. Or Peter Jackson’s debut “Bad Taste” – so different from “LOTR”:). And yet even these had higher budgets than our film. The CGI movie Hoodwinked, from like 20 years ago, is often referred to as having a shoestring budget, but still cost $8 million. (Even when not adjusted for inflation that is likely more money than any of us will ever see in our lifetimes).

Our film really did have zero budget – way less than self-publishing my 90s indie comic Captain Zap:). No art supplies, printing or major shipping needed. 

And of course with today’s tech/web we have more comics and film than ever. And I imagine indie CGI feature length films are going to become much more frequent too. Hopefully we have a little place in history as pioneers in that regard:).

Ultimately, we tried not to be a watered down version of what others already do so brilliantly – it’s mind blowingly epic what is done these days. And there’s so much of it. We figure anybody taking the time seeking out no budget/microbudget/low budget animation would be doing so looking for something a bit different. Something that hits a different tone, has a different feel than what others do. Hopefully there is enough likeminded peeps out there to sustain that though i don’t think any of us are holding our breath that we are going to see any money to speak of. Just overjoyed we got this far. I’d like to say I’m super grateful to Dave Sim, our Distributor and the channels who took a chance on us for making our dream come true. 

Q: Future plans?

A: I hope someone will give me an actual budget to make a movie:). If not keep drawing comics – maybe make a movie with my phone or something? 

Q: What advice would you give to any future filmmakers reading this? 

A: I’m so envious of future filmmakers who have all this technology at their fingertips from a young age. You can be practical and follow your dreams at the same time – you don’t have to break the bank. 

Q: What will people get out of your film?

A: It is from top to bottom in character, story and execution about being an outsider and not trying to fit in. There’s room for something unusual once in a while. To not try to belong and be part of a group at all costs. Or maybe we should? lol. It does want you to think about it and have some fun with it, too:). So while we hoped to make a movie that is breezy and quirky – it’s meant to have substance, mind games and levels.

If you would like to check this film out for yourself it is on Plex and Tubi now

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Director Judson Vaughn And Screen Writer Chris Barnes: Burn

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director Judson Vaughn and screen writer Chris Barnes  about their new film Burn, which sees a young boy born into a world of societal panic and hidden truths. We discuss media representations, nature vs nurture and classic horror. As always I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was the message you wanted this film to send?

A: Chris: In the original story, the setting, in my mind, was a lot more working class and no frills; not the grand, rural landscape it ended up becoming – the idea being psychopathic serial killers didn’t have to be these completely cut-off and detached characters. They could be living right next door, only a thin layer of bricks away. The story evolved as myself and Judson worked on my initial idea and script to something much more grand but that’s how it began.   

Judson: That how everything can seem so normal beneath a veneer, whilst trying to convey a subtle sense of former glory (the house and family) of a bygone era as well as crumbling murderous ways – the end of a murderous bloodline… or is it?? 🙂

Q: The film often comments on the nature of worry and panic what inspired this choice?

A: Chris: I guess it came from how the media (and whom they’re driven by), in the main, thrives on fear to keep control. While an active serial killer is an extreme example, I feel that awful events and ‘stories’ are almost welcomed by certain parties to keep people scared and compliant.

Q: The child in the film is essentially born from the sins of the parents in what way do you think this is reflective of early childhood?

A: Chris: I suppose it’s the old ‘nature versus nurture’ debate. Does Charlie learn this behaviour purely from DVDs? It’s doubtful. External influences and a million other things play their part too, and not knowing exactly what they are is why such dark stories and characters are so fun, I guess. 

Judson: I think it can and does happen, but we have to remind ourselves and remain respectful, mindful of the fact that a child is its own person essentially, certainly even more once grown up of course… and separate of their parents afflictions – they deserve that separatist thought, they can’t’ be blamed for their parents wrong doings. However… I think there’s always the debate that rages on, about being a product of your environment or not, or rather, how much of an influence it might have been. It was fascinating to explore these themes within BURN.

Q: What inspired you to make this film?

A: Chris: Judson did! I had a story and a rough script and was in contact with Judson for something completely different. I happened to mention to him I had these things and being the boundless, creative crackpot he is, he said “Let’s make it!” I didn’t have a clue. So it’s down to him. What a bastard.
Judson: Hahaha! Chris’s story made me do it. I’m glad we turned it into a red hot multi-award winning shock fest!

Q: Do you have any funny on-set stories?

A: Judson: Yeah, some of the actors got to torcher the director in a memorable scene. I think they really enjoyed that part. I’m in that scene obviously, say no more.

Q: Future plans and projects?

A: Judson: As BURN continues to cinder- its last couple of film fests are approaching (probably Frostbiter next in Iceland) I’m putting together a short dark drama that laughs loudly in the dark called ‘Little Terrors’ we’ll be fundraising this one and also currently raising money for a new feature crime-drama/action called TRIGGER.

Q: What is your favourite horror film?
A: Judson: The Shining – all time fave. Class. I’m always up for a re-watch, just brilliant.

Q: Are any of your own experiences influencing the creation and style of the film?
A: Judson: I guess it’s inevitable, along the way somewhere it will happen, whatever type of film I might make, everything around us can be an inspiration of sorts or subtle influence… I mean if… if you let it… if you want it to be. Let it flow.

Q: Do you have any words for future filmmakers who may be influenced by your work?

A: Judson: Get inspired. Find that inspiration. Seek it out, be compelled. Go tell your story. Just go and make it, no matter the budget. We made BURN for £5,390 and it came out pretty cool. Similarly, I’m not afraid to make films with £150!

If you would like to check Burn out for yourselves then you can catch it the above mentioned festivals or as it hits digital.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Writer Director Robbie Walsh: The Letters

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview writer/director Robbie Walsh about his new film The Letters which shows three women from different walks of life be given incorrect cancer diagnosis. We discuss issues of medical failure, injustice

Q:  What inspired you to make this film? 

A:  The film is inspired by actual events happening in Ireland today

Q:  What was the message? 

A:  This happened and continues to.

Q:  How do you think this film reflects on society, health care and the experiences of women? 

A:  I hope we gave a fair and thoughtful representation, and hopefully people who watch will think about change going forward.

Q:  Who were your influences? 

A:  In this film it was, Shane Meadows, Ken Loach, Fredrico Felini, Jean-luc Goddard, Ben Wheatley.

Q:  How did you manage to balance the tone of the film? Bleakness to happier moments and beauty?  

A:  There aren’t too many happy moments in the film and it is a very tough watch, some of the more delicate shots are based on famous paintings I admire.

Q:  Any thoughts for filmmakers looking to get into the industry?  

A:  Just start! but know the art form and be passionate about it, always remember your love for cinema.

Q:  Future projects?   

A:  Just working on this for the time being, self-distribution takes up a lot of time.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Actor/ Director Robert DeSanti: The Epilogue Of Gregory Archambault

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director/actor/writer Robert DeSanti about his new film The Epilogue Of Gregory Archambault, which sees a writer, also played by DeSanti struggle to write the perfect suicide note. We discuss issues of mental health, the writing process and the classic that is Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Q:  What inspired you to make this film?

A:  I think the inspiration came from a mixture of several things that were happening to me
at once. The main one being I was in a place where I was auditioning all the time but
never quite landing the role. I had a sadness that came from that. I felt like a good actor
with a high level of training (I am good enough) but couldn’t quite land the role(s) (wait,
am I not good enough?). This all-to-common artist juxtaposition caused very dark
thoughts for me. Knowing I couldn’t be the only one going through this, and like the
artist that I am, I decided to pour my heart onto the page.

Q:  What was the message you were trying to get across?

A:  It’s my attempt to address a very taboo subject—the mental health of an artist and
contemplations of suicide.

To me art should make us confront our own vulnerability and contemplate our shared
humanity. With this film I wanted to offer something real. The private moments often
associated with but seldom spoken about in regards to being an artist.

Being an artist means putting your work out there, often to be rejected time and time
again, and the brutal truth is this doesn’t come without a cost. Many of us are rejected
more times in a year than others will face in a lifetime. As artists at some point, we must
confront the duality of rejection (we aren’t good enough) while idealistically clinging to
the hope that we are good enough. The disconnect between artistic aspirations and the
gatekeeper’s system that dictates the marketplace can create a difficult psychological
split that can feel like madness. Life is hard. I feel for everyone’s struggles but I have a
soft spot for the pain an artist goes through because, well… I am an artist.

I wanted to highlight this relationship from an artist’s perspective as taboo as it may be.
It’s told, not as an outsider observer, but from inside the mind of our main character,
Gregory Archambault — it’s his world as he perceives it to be. As right or wrong as that
may feel, or as funny as it might seem from outside looking in, the stakes couldn’t be
higher from Gregory’s perspective.

It’s easy, and even delightful to speak about the successes, awards, and highlights but
what I hope, above all, is that this inspires you to speak about the doubts, dark
thoughts, and pain you also feel, and through that realize that you’re not alone. That
there is a beautiful community of artists around you that has your back, knows your
pain, and is always rooting for you. I hope you laugh. Maybe even cry. But above all, I
hope that you feel seen, and heard, and inspired to have deep dialogue with your fellow

Satire is comedy about things you care deeply about. It has the ability to express dark
themes in blunt yet relatable ways. I felt this was the best way to confront myself and
the audience with these brutal truths we often carry with us while also making it
digestible and hopefully enjoyable.

Q:  How was the writing process for this film?

A:  Brutal! In many ways it mimicked the film. It was very difficult, and I was full of doubt,
but it was also an amazing process of exploration and learning my craft. It feels weird to
even type this out but if you really watch the film (might take multiple viewings) you will
pick up how layered the film is. There are things in this film that add context and
meaning that no one has picked up on (so far) which really excites me. I’m a big fan of
Chekov and his belief that every element in a story must be necessary, any irrelevant
elements should be removed. I combed over each line of the script time and time again
to make sure that every word had meaning, that no space was wasted, and that I could
justify every single thing that I wrote.

I wrote it to be like Russian literature or a piece of work from Shakespeare. The stakes
had to be high, and it had to be as real as it could be for the character for the comedy to
land. This brought many struggles going back and forth to balance the tone and how far
to go or not to go. I’d act it out in my room and tape it on my phone and make decisions
based on seeing it out loud.

I had two friends whose writing I really respect, Kyle Kolich and Tom Connor, look over
it at certain phases and give honest feedback which really helped me understand how it
was being perceived.

 Q:  Did you find any overlap between the character’s writing experiences and your own?

A:  Absolutely! I think many artists of any discipline can feel imposter syndrome whether
you are talented or not. You have this ideal of yourself and ability but at some point, or
many times, you must be confronted by that inner voice that mocks your very existence.
As an actor and writer, I have dealt with that on many occasions. In writing this film that
was very frustrating but also a very helpful feeling to utilize. I probably found more
genuine, deep truth because of that than if I had not been going through that while
writing this. Now it was nowhere near as bad as Gregory, but it still existed.

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting in the industry what advice would you give to your younger self?

A:  I’m a big believer that life is what it is and learn to roll with the punches. I love who I am
now and although being an up-and-coming artist that is still struggling in many ways to
get his work out there, I do believe it is forcing me to slowly become that much better at
my craft which will pay dividends in the long run. So, I’m pretty content where I am at
and the choices I have made as an artist. With that being said I would have emphasized
the importance of it’s who you know not what you know that often gets you ahead. So,
definitely to put a little more emphasis early on into heavily networking (I solely focused
on the craft for many years).

Q:  How did you strike the balance between comedy and more serious elements?

A:  I love a story I heard about the writing of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I think that is one of
the funniest comedies of all time and I remember an interview where Jason Segal spoke
about the writing process and Judd had told him to write a drama and then fill in the funny moments. So very much that’s what I did. I focused on the more dramatic elements first. Then I slowly layered in more and more comedy. I also had the advantage that I would be acting in this. I know my own voice pretty well and when writing it I could take a few lines of dialogue and act them out. If I couldn’t make it funny while also hitting the more serious tone I’d change it until I felt I could do that.

Q:  Is the ending happy or sad? Or is it bittersweet?

A:  It changes as I change, as I experience more, and have ups and downs in this industry.
And I hope that people who watch it feel the same way. I think it’s up for debate and
dependent on who you ask and where they are at in life.

Q:  Who would you say your influences were for this film?

A:  My biggest inspirations in everything that I do, but very much for this film in the writing
department, were Paul Thomas Anderson and Charlie Kaufman. I think that they both
explore character and the human psyche as good as anyone who does this and also
make it fun and unique while doing so. I hoped that I could maybe touch the surface of
what they do through this film. Directing style was also very much inspired by Paul
Thomas Anderson. This film is not clean and composed. It gets messy and has a very
nice build up and that is very much inspired by PTA’s early work (specifically Magnolia).
And as an actor my north star is and will always be Philip Seymour Hoffman. I just do
my best to make interesting and honest choices no matter the genre and that was as
true as ever with this role.

Q: Upcoming projects?

A: I’m currently auditioning as much as I can. I also have two more short films in the works,
and it just depends on timing which will be made. One revolves around institutional
policing and is based on a true story of a mixed-race couple that I am very close to and
the other is another piece for me to act in that was inspired by a statue I saw at the
Acropolis Museum in Greece outside the Parthenon.

If you want to watch The Epilogue Of Gregory Archambault it is currently doing the festival circuit, and will be available to watch outside of that soon.   

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

Interview With Writer/Director/ Producer Joe Badon: Wheels Of Heaven

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to, virtually, sit down with writer/ producer/ director Joe Badon and discuss his new Kickstarter film Wheel Of Heaven, we talk about the strange characters you meet at parties, choose your own adventure novels and shooting fireworks at model dinosaurs.

Q: What is your film about?

A: The Wheel of Heaven is the story of a young woman named Purity (played by Kali Russell) whose car breaks down on a dark empty street in the middle of the night. After a chance encounter with a mysterious party host (played by Jeff Pearson) and his myriad of strange party guests, Purity is left with the existential decision to either break free of her meaningless existence OR simply just succumb to it’s meaningless-ness.

Q: What inspired you to make it?  

A: This film comes from my love of Choose Your Own Adventure Novels and the simple ideas that our choices in everything make us who we are. And the idea of string theory – where there are endless universes, endlessly different, all existing on top of one another. 

Q: Do you have any funny pre-production stories 

A: Well, we just shot a less financially ambitious short film as a prelude to The Wheel of Heaven entitled “The Blood of the Dinosaurs: A Prologue to the Wheel of Heaven”. 

And we had basically like $2,500 for The Blood of the Dinosaurs. So, because of that, I had a 20 dollar budget to create a mountain landscape for the Dinosaur miniatures to exist in so I went to Dollar Tree and Dollar General and bought a bunch of posterboard, spackle and spray paint and created this mountain landscape (made entirely of paper). 

And then we shoot this scene where we’re shooting fireworks at the miniature dinosaurs and the mountains and of course, the mountains catch fire, LOL! But we quickly put it out with the water from the igloo of drinks sitting nearby LOL.  

Q: If you were to sum it up in a word what would it be?

A: Surreal

Q: What do you find are the benefits to using Kickstarter to fund your films?

A: MUCH more creative freedom. Which gives me more fearlessness as a creator. Which, I think, is the only way for new original ideas and content to be born. 

Q: Why should people donate to your Kickstarter?

A: So you can allow new ideas to be created without the hindrance of commercialism and sellability. To create something new, fresh and unique. Everything that the world truly wants: braveness and uniqueness. 

Q: Are you offering any kind of rewards/ exclusives?

A: YES! We have digital downloads of the film with commentary tracks, movie posters and tickets to the physical screening! You can be a producer on the film at the $700 level or Executive Producer at the $1,500 level! We also have ADD ON rewards like: Custom Illustrations by me and the chance to even have a speaking role in the film!

Q: Do you find using a Kickstarter allows you to be closer to your audience?

A: Absolutely! I have A TON of relationships that have been creating through friends and fans backing my kickstarters AND participating in the creation of the films and comics that I’ve made over the many years. 

Well there you have it, if you would like to support Wheel Of Heaven then head over to the Kickstarter and give what you can, and make sure to check out the film when it releases.

If you enjoyed this interview, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, one on one Q and As, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!