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 Writer Director David Axe: BAE WOLF

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview writer/director David Axe about his new film Bae Wolf, which provides a fresh take on the classic Beowulf legend. We discuss issues of fantasy, representation and the importance of striking monster design. I hope you enjoy.  

Q: What inspired you to make this film?

A: I was inspired by the set — a live-action roleplaying facility in Trenton, South Carolina that was convenient to where I live (Columbia) and affordable in my budget. When a resource like that presents itself, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it. I was also inspired by one of my favourite books. GRENDEL by John Gardner. A postmodern twist on the Beowulf legend and a great political polemic.

Q: What would you say is the message of the film?

A: The message is simple. Monsters don’t always look like monsters. And kindness can be a radical act.

Q: How do you feel your film redefines stereotypes and cliches within the broader fantasy landscape?

A: My project in a lot of my movies is to create sympathy for monsters. To give hideous things humanity. With BAE WOLF, I wanted to create a heightened but believable world and populate it with desperate creatures, all of whom have the same needs. To be understood. To be loved. To be included.

Q: What inspired your monster design?

A: The monster design had to be striking but VERY simple and cheap. We were shooting in an austere location with no time and no money, after all. In my experience, a solid, bold color makes more of an impression than anything overwrought texture. So we just painted our monsters weird colors you rarely see in nature. Bright orange. Bright blue. That plus a simple prostheses — and energetic performances, of course — did the trick.

Q: What is your favourite fantasy film?

A: My current favourite is THE GREEN KNIGHT, which came out right after I finished editing BAE WOLF and scratched the same revisionist itch that drove me to make my own movie. Plus, GREEN KNIGHT is gorgeous. And it hides more than it reveals. I love that.

Q: Any future film plans?

A: In a few weeks I’m shooting a movie called ACORN. It’s about a young woman filmmaker who gets a cancer diagnosis and struggles to make her last movie — a weird, sci-fi Western. It goes badly. Also, there’s a man-eating tree. I’m also producing several movies by other directors, starting with Shawn Phillips’ WOODS WITCH.

Q: Any funny on-set stories?

A: My on-set stories are rarely funny. It’s really hard making microbudget movies. You can’t throw money at problems. So everything is a struggle. One funny thing did happen on BAE WOLF, though. I stayed on set, in a cabin. I brought along a bottle of bourbon so I could have a drink every night before crashing in sheer exhaustion. I know my cast and crew, so I hid the bottle. But those miscreants found it, anyway. Like bloodhounds. Every day that bottle got a little lighter as, I imagine, half my people slipped into my cabin to take sips they thought I wouldn’t notice. And I didn’t, at first. And then all of the sudden I was out of booze

Q: Do you have any advice for upcoming filmmakers?

A: My advice to filmmakers is simple. Don’t let anyone tell you no. Figure out how much money you can beg, steal or take from your own paycheck. Write a movie that you can shoot with the budget you have. Interesting locations are often free. Give some thought to lighting. Worry most about recording clean sound. Don’t be afraid to take chances with performances, camerawork and effects. Don’t think that an expensive camera can replace an interesting lens and strong choices. Always pay your actors, even if it’s $50 a day. Learn to edit. Once you’ve made your movie, let go of all expectations, You won’t get famous or rich, but you’ll get to tell a story.

If you would like to check Bae Wolf out for yourself then you can find it on DVD 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/ 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!

Interview With Writer/Producer/ Director Gino Alfonso: The Hostage Indiegogo

I recently had a chance to chat to Gino Alfonso about the Indiegogo campaign for his upcoming horror feature The Hostage. We discuss the pros and cons of using Indiegogo and other means of crowdfunding to make a film, creative freedom and pre-production processes.

Q: How important do you find crowdfunding as a means to provide filmmaker’s with true creative freedom?

A: I think crowdfunding is a great way for filmmakers to have the creative freedom to tell the story they want to tell and not be tied down by the studio system.

Q: Does the experience of crowdfunding your films with your fans feel more communal?

A: I feel it makes it very communal, giving your backers something tangible and moving fast helps and having the same team on your projects too.

Q: What are the things you consider when brining a film into pre-production?

 A: I always look at the 6 P’s of production Piss Poor Planning = Piss Poor Production you have to take everything into account during prepro

Q: Why should people contribute to your crowdfunding campaign?

A: I think people should contribute to The Hostage because it is an original urban horror film that will entertain and scare the hell out of you!

Q: What is your film going to be about?

A: The Hostage is about Two amateur drug dealers sell to a buyer that screws them out of $10,000 they decide to kidnap his girlfriend that unbeknownst to them is possessed by a demon looking to bring on Armageddon. In tradition of Evil Dead (2013), Trespass (1992), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Reservoir Dogs (1993).

Q: How did you get into filmmaking?

A: I got into filmmaking at a young age when I saw Jurassic Park when I was 10 years old, that was when I learned what being a Director was and seeing Steven Spielberg’s name on the screen.

Q: Do you have any lessons for those who might just be starting out trying to make their own films?

A: Lessons in starting out and making your own films, just go out and do it there’s to many resources out there today not too build your network. Everyone wants to make movies, even if you’re in a small town there’s always an actor or 3 and someone that knows how to run a camera just go do it!  

If you would like to check out Alfonso’s Indiegogo click on the link below.

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!

Interview With Director Alexander Jeremy: Crowning

Hey Everyone. I recently got the chance to talk to Alexander Jeremy for the second time, my first ever follow up interview, about his new film Crowning, which sees a young pregnant women adapt to her changing life. In our interview we talk about silent cinema, corner shops and hiding in bushes.

Q: How would you describe this film in a word?

A: Weird.

Q: What do you feel this film says about pregnancy and the idea of it?

A: I guess it kind of challenges our presumptions, you think she’s one thing and then she’s not. We see pregnant women as sacred and in need of care, but we thought we’d play with this.

Q: A few of your films have heavily featured a corner shop is there a deep meaning or wider connection there?

A: It doesn’t have a deeper meaning other than its the corner shop closest to my house! I know the guy who runs it, and he lets me film in there!

Q: How did you find filming this film in lockdown compared to the experiences of Milkrun earlier?

A: I’d learnt a lot from Milkrun, mainly that i can’t do everything by myself! I still wanted it to be no-budget (about £500 budget all in!) but I wanted it to have more polish than Milkrun did. So I got in some great people to help me out.

Q: When the character enters her home and says something to the effect of ‘I’m home’ who is she talking to?

A: She’s talking to her imagined husband. She creates a dreamworld for herself, the perfect pregnant woman with the perfect house, home, jewellery etc. She’s a bit mad – but I guess it’s a comment that the writer Hannah was trying to make about desperately trying to live or aspire to a certain life, even if it causes you much pain and makes you delusional.

Q: Do you have any funny on set stories?

A: I mean, there were so many shots in the rushes where I was just in the background, using my phone as a wireless monitor. I just stand there in the background like a freak. We’d have to cut a lot because I just kept popping up. What a fool!

Q: Sparse dialogue is used with deliberate intent here, what were you trying to convey with it?

A: It’s a style I’m playing with at the moment, sort of a development of silent cinema, but then combining that with modern equipment, cameras – ambient sound etc. It also helps us with budget, so there is no need for sound recording! How does the Crowning make you personally feel? I don’t know. Again, I like playing with style, trying things – I often don’t really know what it means but it definitely makes me feel something. I just try to follow that (whilst maintaining a somewhat coherent narrative.)

Q: Sequel plans, what’s next for you?

A: No sequel plans, but I’m potentially thinking of developing this kid of style into a feature film! An almost silent feature. I think it could be cool, using the low-budget approaches I’ve been developing, trying new things etc. I also have a more conventional bigger budget short I am in post with at the moment called The Spaceman, which stars Amanda Abbington, Woody Norman and someone else I can’t mention yet! Stay tuned.

You can check out Crowning on Youtube now, and as always my review is also up on the site now.

Interview With Actor Waseem Mirza: Beyond Belief

Hey Everyone, I recently had the chance to talk to Waseem Mirza about his role in the newly released Beyond Belief, we talk about the ideas of the film, family and how to research a role.

Q: What was the experience of making this film like?

A: It was a surreal experience as it was my first drama shoot during a full lockdown. It was around 3 days long, but I was involved only on 1 day – which was when we could film in an actual surgery without disrupting patient care. It also happened to fall on my birthday.  On the day of the shoot my grandma was in an ICU after having several strokes. The prognosis wasn’t good.  I tried my very best to keep things together as best I could for filming, but it was very difficult.   The worst thing was that I didn’t want to open up about what was happening for fear of it affecting the performance – a storyline which was now far too close to home. 

I remember feeling so drained with a hundred different things swirling around in my mind.  With the Director’s help – Haider Zafar – I made a conscious decision to try and use that same energy to depict a tired, but still warm and friendly doctor.

We filmed my scenes in a real GP surgery in the East Midlands in the UK, out of hours on a Sunday.

After wrapping, I remember going to London to see gran and even though she was not fully conscious at the time, I made a promise that she’d be the first to see the film when I had it.  She died in mid-january. But, like the characters in this film,  I and my family were well prepared for the inevitable by an amazing NHS team.

Q:. Did it change your perspective on coping with grief/life after death?

A: The film did open my eyes to the idea that people have such different views on how to cope with grief.   It’s still very much taboo but definitely needs to change. After all, we’re all going to have to face it one day.

Q: What would you say is the message of this film?

A: I think the message really is that there is no one answer to this dilemma of facing death or having to help loved ones cope with someone who is facing a terminal prognosis. All you can do as a health professional is be there for support and signpost to other sources of help. 

For doctors and nurses having to go through this on a regular – or even daily basis for many health workers during the pandemic – is one of the reasons why this film really brought home its message to me that they really are the true heroes.

Q: Do you have any funny production stories?

 A: no sorry!

Q: How did you get into character for the role?

A: Coming from a family of Healthcare professionals I found getting into character straightforward.

Q: What sort of research did you do for the part?

A: Part of my (unintended) research consisted of going to a&e (for real) after bad friction burns following filming on another project! I used that opportunity (if you can call it that), to really observe!

But it was the personal situation unfolding off-set that began to drive the choices for my character during the shoot.  My energy – understandably – needed to be brought down a notch (or two) and Haider was so patient and superb in directing me in every way.

The entire cast and crew were great to work with, but they were unaware of what was really happening.  I only opened up to the Director about what had happened behind the scenes, a week before the film premiered online.

In hindsight I should have sounded the alarm earlier. The Show Must Go On and all that.   I think I get that from my live TV experience – I’ve been a TV news journalist before making the journey back to screen acting. Live broadcast News is a world where it’s really ingrained in you that no matter what, an audience is expecting to see your program at a certain time and failure is never an option. Maybe I should get around to trying theatre someday!

Check out Beyond Belief available via the Open University and see my review which is on site now.

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!