Interview With Writer/Director David Bryant: Splinter

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview Writer/ Director David Bryant  about their new horror thriller film Thriller, which follows a guy, played by Bill Fellows, who sinks into the abyss after the death of his wife and child, and whilst there he believes something is watching him with the question then becoming is it a benevolent or malevolent presence. In this interview we discuss processing depicting mental health on screen, the metaphorical significance of Christmas,  and the labour of love that is filmmaking.I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your message with this film?

DB:  On Splinter, as with many of my screenplays, I try to bring in a social aspect, something relevant and contemporary. I knew I wanted to base the film inside a single location, a house; So, why is someone trapped inside their own home? This is where I wanted to make the film about a mental prison. A man dealing with multiple issues from anxiety and OCD to agoraphobia but place him in a horror/thriller. It’s more an examination and depiction of the failing of someone’s mental state than a message. I prefer to pose questions than give a complete answer with my work, so people can discuss how they read the film compared to other people.

  Q: How did you try to approach the topic of grief with this film?

DB:  My whole approach to the film was to play it as real as possible. To create a genre film but stage it like a kitchen sink drama. This extended to how John, played by Bill Fellows, deals with his grief and loss. I felt this approach would form a stronger link to the character, an empathy that would bond you to him. Hopefully you feel his grief in a deeper way because of the down to earth depiction.

Q: In what way does Christmas play a role within the film?

DB:  Christmas is a wonderful visual metaphor for family and joy. It instantly places you in a safe place. Then I wanted to twist that, a man trapped in a time capsule, literally it is “Christmas everyday”, but it’s not as fun as Wizzard told us! The tree and cards also give the film a sense of time and place and on a low budget, creates a more interesting environment.

Q: Would you call this film a Christmas film?

DB:  Ah, the age old question. I think it falls into the category, though most of it is not set at Christmas. I think Christmas horror/thriller is a big market so I say a big YES. I have co-written a very cool Christmas anthology horror that I would firmly put as a Christmas movie plus a family non horror Christmas movie. I sound like the new Shane Black… Which would be nice.

Q: What is your favourite moment from the film?

DB:  I’d call the film a slow burn that builds to a crescendo. I like when Bobby enters the story. It’s the most visceral and violent moment. The finale with Michael and Bill I really like too. Bill certainly enjoys playing off another actor whether Michael McKell or Jane Asher.

Q: Any funny stories from production?

DB: It was a small shoot, just a three man crew most of the time and shot over several weekends so not a lot of time for hi-jinks. Wish I did have a funny story, just tales of hard bloody work.

Q: What does the future hold for you, any other films in the works?

DB:  I hope I get to make more movies. I’m working on several feature screenplays including a sci-fi UFO horror, a pirate horror and a Western horror and have numerous completed scripts ready to send out that have placed in screenwriting competitions. I work mostly in genre and have two projects I am working with producers on to develop; Flesh & Blood, a vampire story and a female led revenge thriller, Scavenger. I want to move on to a higher level and both these films have a real cinematic feel. We just need funding! I’m also open to offers of writing or directing!

Q: Any words of advice for future filmmakers?

DB:  My advice is always to not wait. Many filmmakers think they need a million dollars to produce this incredible film that will catapult them to legendary status. It can happen, but not often. So I suggest you practice your craft. Learn the art of screenwriting by reading and writing dozens of shorts or features. Get a camera, find a few actors and go make a short film. There is a lot of pressure filmmakers put on themselves that everything they make has to be outstanding- it won’t be, and if you see getting out and shooting your film a chore, maybe filmmaking is not the life for you?

If you would like to check out Splinter for yourself it is currently out now on iTunes and Amazon Prime in the US and Canada with it coming to the UK and other territories next year.  

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/Directors Jamison LoCascio and Adam Ambrosio: How Dark They Prey

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview writer/director Adam Ambrosio and writer/director Jamison LoCascio to talk about their new horror anthology film How Dark They Prey which presents a collection of scary stories. In this interview we discussClive Barker, the pros of anthology horror and a bug attack.  I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your inspiration for making this film?

Adam Ambrosio: The horror movies that I grew up on. Everything from Carpenter to Clive Barker. A Lot of 70’s and 80’s horror films.

Jamison LoCascio: We were watching some great anthology films and Adam had come up with “Blood Beach,” he had come up with the war story years prior. I developed my own concept called “Encounter Nightly” and then finally, my father came to me with the concept for “Nelly” and I sat down to write what you see now with that one.

Q: What was the message of this film, did each segment have its own message or did you aim for a unified one?

Adam: I think the overall message is the strength people have in their beliefs and what dark paths they will take in their own convictions. 

Q: How do you view the state of modern horror?

Adam: It’s up and down. I think people get too comfortable with something that works but there have been a few recently that I think break the mold holding on to tradition yet still giving us new characters and stories.

Q: Why choose the anthology format? What strengths do you think it brought to the project? 

Jamison: It was such a cool idea to be able to work on so so many different kinds of stories that we love. I am not kidding when I say that movie that deals with WWII, aliens, monster movies, black and white retro haunted house films, slashers, and the occult…that is a dream come true for me and Adam too, I believe.

Q: A hard one, what are your top 5 horror films of all time?

Adam: Prince of Darkness,  Dunwich Horror, Hellraiser, The Thing, Event Horizon

Jamison: Evil Dead 2, The Fog, Psycho, Halloween, The Ninth Gate

Q: Any funny stories from the production of this project?

Adam: YEAH! We got Swarmed by a bunch of bugs while shooting “Harrowing.”

Jamison: Yes, every shoot we had a thunder storm come in to make us wrap everyday early. Luckily, it added heavily to the suspense…of both the film and the filming.

Q: Sequel or future plans? 

Jamison: We are always working on the next projects. Right now we are developing a feature film screenplay, placing a number of our most well-received short films into a VOLUME ONE: FILM VALOR, and working simultaneously on some Film Valor content for direct release via youtube including the anticipated Part 2 in our popular Battle Royale series that is a mix of Battle Royale Style video games with Star Wars. You can check that all out, and more right here:

Q: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Adam: It’s okay to go against the grain.

Jamison: There are no paths set in making films, only the ones you make yourself in your search for fun, adventure, and to create the films you love. There is always a way forward if the goal is really just to make films. It is truly great if you can do it with people you love who want to be doing the same things too.

If you would like to check out How Dark They Prey for yourself then head on over to Amazon or search for the film on Youtube

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 Ross Munro: The Moviegoer

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview director Ross Munro about his new film The Moviegoer which serves as a personal love letter to cinema and reflects an experience many films fans can relate to. In this interview we discuss home movies, early cinematic memories and the films of Charles Bronson.  I hope you enjoy.

Q:  What was your inspiration behind making this film?

RM:  Around the time of the pandemic first hitting, everyone was understandably bummed (to put it mildly!) about having to be separated from friends and family as well as participating in the normalcy of their favoured activities. In the case of myself and my producer/wife Maria, we really missed our movie going community here in Vancouver. There were a couple of movie theatres that we always went to that showed an amazing assortment of films and we really bonded and shared the camaraderie of our fellow movie lovers there.

So, since pretty well the whole filmmaking industry was on a shutdown as well, I had the idea to make a one-off little cinematic homage to how much we all missed going to the movies. Originally, the movie was intended as a collection of photos of myself as a young kid with my narration about my own movie going memories- a nice little cinematic nostalgic love letter that we could pull off very quickly and get it out there for people to enjoy.

Of course, as we started piecing the film together it started to take on a life of its own as we started to add more and more complicated production components as the film industry and society started opening up more. What started as a collection of photos with narration soon found us shooting several complicated live action sequences with numerous actors, original costumes, green screen fx, and the commissioning of original animation all of which added up to a nearly two year journey to make what is now the final version of The Moviegoer.

Q:  What is your earliest cinematic memories?

RM:  I’m definitely a product of growing up in the 1970s and going to the movies during this amazing time of films that made their way to theatres. Probably because my parents were such lovers of movies, I really absorbed this love and pretty soon as young kid movies became the most important fabric of my love- even more than playing hockey which I actually loved a lot. My earliest memories wrestled back and forth between which I’d love to win more: an Oscar or the Stanley Cup.

Probably my first memory was our back in 1969 when I was around 6 years old and my parents took myself and all my brothers to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”- I don’t remember that much except the image of Newman and Redford jumping off the steep cliff into the waters below with Redford comically proclaiming that he didn’t know how to swim.

Going to movies really took root a little later when my older brother Cam went to see “The Aristocats” in 1971 and snuck me along after my parents said I was too young to accompany him on the bus to the theatre downtown. I remember the dizzying enjoyment of going to the movies as we stayed and watched the movie all day long and ended up coming home at sunset and I got into a lot of trouble with my parents for defying them and sneaking along to the movie with my brother.

The next year- in 1972 when I turned 9- I started going to movies regularly and my first and greatest memories were seeing the films of my first Hollywood idols Charles Bronson and Raquel Welch. I loved seeing Bronson in “Red Sun” and Miss Welch in “Kansas City Bomber”.

Since 1972 seemed like the most pivotal year of my early movie experiences and best represented my movie fandom awakening, I decided to have The Moviegoer focus entirely on my journeying to the movies in that year. And, of course, we filmed a whole montage of scenes based on “Kansas City Bomber” with our homage entitled “Kansas City Roller” where we recreated some of the film’s iconic scenes. This was a huge amount of fun to do and not to mention a lot of work for Maria who also served as the film’s Costume Designer and had to recreate all those early 70s roller derby outfits!

Q:  Will we ever see your early Kung Fu films remade?

RM:  Ha! Wouldn’t that be cool? Your referring, of course, to the segment in The Moviegoer that details how my love for movies eventually started me down the path of making my own Super 8mm versions of Kung Fu movies when I was 9 years old as well.

I was a huge fan of martial arts movies back in the early 70s and, of course, Bruce Lee was the holy figure of that amazing, action-filled genre. I remember going to see The Chinese Connection back in 1972 and how my friends and I at school would run around trying our kung fu moves on each other in the playground and pretend to swing around nunchuks like the expert Lee himself. It didn’t matter that the Kung Fu movies were badly dubbed and all had the same story- they were so thrilling and unlike any other typical action movies playing the theatres- it’s almost they came from another planet that’s how unique and mind-blowing they were. Another fave of that genre I saw at that time was “Five Fingers of Death”- definitely not for the squeamish.

But to answer your question, it’s not too likely I’ll end up reacquainting myself as a filmmaker making a martial arts movie- I guess audiences will just have to enjoy my early kung fu movies that came from the mind of a 9-year old wannabe filmmaker using my dad’s Super 8mm camera. Although I’m thinking if I made my own version of “Kill Bill” it might be called “Nunchuck Buck”…

Q:  In 1972 what was your favourite film?

RM:  That’s a fun question to answer as it allows my mind to wander back to the halcyon days of my movie going back in 1972. Where to start? Because of my love for Chuck Bronson and Raquel Welch I have to include both “The Mechanic” and “Fuzz”- two more movies that we reference lovingly in “The Moviegoer” by the way. Also, I remember being in awe of the granddaddy of disaster flicks “The Poseidon Adventure” (Gene Hackman as a priest!), “Blacula”, “Hickey and Boggs”, whichever one of the “Planet of the Apes” series was out at that time, the cool Peter Cushing horror anthology “Asylum” (couldn’t find any friends who were allowed to come and see that with me at the time!) and a cool- and now underseen- Western revenge flick with another of my faves Ernest Borgnine called “The Revengers”. Oh, and let’s not forget another of my faves Chuck Heston trying to save terrified passengers from a deranged plane hijacker in “Skyjacked” which I saw on a double header that year playing with “Kelly’s Heroes”.

Of course, I could go on and on. We tried in our film “The Moviegoer” to mention and create some kind of homage to as many of these films as possible- it’s fun to see how many of these cool 1972 films people who watch the film pick up on. As an added bonus to making the film, it would be nice if people will go out and try and discover these films for themselves- they definitely won’t be disappointed.

Q:   Do you have any funny stories from production?

RM:  I don’t really have too many stories about anything funny going down during production but while building our film’s main segment of recreating what it was like to see a movie back in 1972 we originally created a spoof of a “short documentary” that was to play on screen while my 9-year old self attends a typical Saturday afternoon at the movie theatre. The mock short detailed the attempts of a teenaged girl taking her driver’s test and devolved into the eventual destruction of many cars as a crazy police chase also ensued- we had to remove this segment late in the editing game of the film as it felt almost right out of the movie “Airplane!” with its over-the-top humour. It actually hurt a little to remove it- I know our film’s editor Julia took the news a little hard when we had to make that eventual request.

Also, I just remember having tons of fun with all our talented cast shooting both the homage to X-rated sexy stewardesses trailer and “Kansas City Roller” women’s roller derby sequences- lots of great authentic costumes that the actors really had a blast performing in. I think everyone involved really pulled these sequences off great- lots of campy energy that hopefully transports audiences back to 1972 (or if they never lived through 1972 then taking them on a fun ride there for the first time!).

Q:  Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

RM:  Well, sometimes I wonder why anyone would want me to dispense filmmaking advice and then, upon reflection, I soon realize that, damn, I’ve actually been at this indie filmmaking business for almost four decades! So I guess I’m now on the cusp of getting my home in Malibu and daily film luncheons at Spago in Hollywood…ya, right.

Actually, the main things I’ve learned and am happy to pass along are that you should always follow your dream and vision. Sometimes things might seem impossible to do but there are always solutions and you will definitely find away if you keep grinding it out. You will have many doors closed along the way and though it may prove a temporary setback and cause a little heartbreak, you will soon realize that it will lead to new doors opening and illuminate your path even more as you continue your journey. Because you are definitely on a long journey and definitely not a sprint- you have to keep your mind, spirit and body full of energy and, despite the ups and downs, keep the belief.

And, most importantly, filmmaking is a collaborative effort- try to surround yourself with others who share your beliefs and passion for your projects. This cannot be stressed enough! There were definitely times I felt like giving up but, luckily, I was able to turn towards my wife Maria who, at that time, had just left her job as a graphic designer and didn’t know what her next career path would be. As mentioned, I was on the verge of throwing in the proverbial cinematic towel but I reached out to her and asked if she’d be my producer which, thankfully, she agreed to even though she was not in any way part of the film scene. Now, four films later collaborating together, we are able to strengthen each other and lift the other up as we continue this journey. The point is that she was able to turn her passion to share my vision with me into an amazing collaboration which reinforces my point about surrounding yourself with the right people.

Q:  Future film plans?

RM:  Having now made two features (“Brewster McGee” & “A Legacy of Whining”) and four short films with the latest, of course, being “The Moviegoer”, we are always on the go with developing several projects.

Right now we are looking at making another feature from an original script I wrote called “The Illuminating Angel” which is a somewhat surreal and comical look at a trio of mismatched office workers stuck in a literal and figurative purgatory whose only escape comes their daydreams. Another project on the docket is Maria’s debut as director with the original short film “La Fiesta” which is her autobiographical look back at her family in early 1970s Caracas and will be shot in Spanish from a script we wrote together. We’re also working on an animated film about the life and death of an historic movie theatre called “The Esquire”.

So, as you can see, we have a ton of things that we’re always moving forward with which- along with submitting our current “The Moviegoer” to film festivals- never puts us at a loss when it comes to keeping our passion and desire for making movies as we go into the future!

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 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!