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.
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