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An Interview with Emily Haigh, Producer of Officer Down

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2020

Emily Haigh on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Officer Down - in a few words, what is it about?


Officer Down follows a young British police officer, Alex Trent, who gets cut off from the rest of his squad during a riot and finds himself trapped in a rundown building, alone with the same people he was sent to help arrest. However, he soon finds out they may not be all he thinks and must overcome his own fears and bias in order to escape.


How did the project come into being in the first place, and what drew you to it?


Director Simon Pearce [Simon Pearce interview - click here] came to me with the script, which he had co-written with Tommy Draper, and asked if I would come on board as the producer. I really liked the script and how it challenges the audience, something I always look for in a project. Though it wasnít a female lead film, which is what I mainly focus on, I felt that the story was very relevant and one to be told. Simonís work has always grabbed my attention and this was the perfect chance to try my hand at producing an action film as it is something I hadnít done before.


What were the challenges of bringing Officer Down from a producer's point of view?


The main challenge was finding the location for the film. It is so integral to the script and plays such an important role in the film, so we had to try to find the perfect place. We ended up finding three locations, two of which fell through rather last minute which forced our shoot back. Moving the shoot to December was the only way to secure the location we ended up with, unfortunately that meant our twelve-hour days were reduced to around five or six, due to the daylight hours. This became a whole new challenge, however the cast and crew were fantastic and kept up the pace utilising every moment.


Then we had post-production starting when Covid hit. We were lucky to have been able to edit it without the restrictions. However, the grade and sound design were a challenge.


What can you tell us about Officer Down's director Simon Pearce [Simon Pearce interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?


Simon has edited a couple of my short films before, so we already had a great working relationship. He is a really talented director and knows what he wants but is also open to new ideas. He was extremely hands on and nothing phased him whilst we were shooting. His vision was extremely clear and we were always on the same page as each other.


Do talk about Officer Down's cast, and as a producer, how deeply were you involved in casting them?


Our cast were amazing, we were so lucky to have them in the film. Martin Delaney had already worked with Simon previously on Simonís feature film ďJudas GhostĒ and had expressed interest in making an action film with Simon. I had worked with Ben Turner years ago on Casualty and have followed his career since. He has such depth and control to his performance I knew he would be perfect for Elijah, we were very fortunate that he said yes! Josef Altin was the last of our leads to be cast, and was absolutely brilliant. In two days Josef had to learn the script and an accent, which he did effortlessly. All of our cast elevated their characters and made choices that were really rememberable.


You also have to talk about the location Officer Down was shot at, and what was it like filming there? And how did you find it even?


As mentioned before, the location was a challenge. We had the wonderful Courtney Mendez from the Location Collective to help us find the location. Itís an old sports hall attached to a shopping centre, we were filming in December and Christmas music almost became part of our sound design! It was an extremely cold and dilapidated building with lots of stairs. I think everyone ended up doing a leg work out every day.The location was worth it though, it had everything we needed and looked exactly the way we wanted it to.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot was brilliant, everyone came together really quickly and it was fantastic to see. It was a fun set and I think the action brought an extra level of energy to the set.


The $64-question of course, where can Officer Down be seen?


Officer Down can currently be seen online via the BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival, where it will be streaming with 5 other shorts as part of Thriller Block 4, until November 30th. From now until November 14th itís also playing in Film Block 14 as part of the Urban Action Showcase festival in New York, as well as at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, though that one is in the State of Florida only. From the 11th November we will be streaming as part of the Oscar qualifying Hollyshorts, based in California.  


Emily on set of Officer Down

There will be more festivals and screenings to come but if you make sure to follow us on social media you can keep up to date with all the latest! With COVID itís a shame many of these festivals are now going virtual, but the upshot is the film actually becomes so much more accessible to audiences around the world each time - this way anyone, anywhere can stream it, as opposed to only being able to attend if youíre in a particular city or country at the right time.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Officer Down?


So far we have had really positive reviews which is great and we hope this continues!


Any future projects you'd like to share?


When Iím not producing I also act and a feature I filmed last year is also on the festival circuit. Itís called Sorority, written and directed by the wonderful James Webber. It stars BAFTA winners Sophie Kennedy-Clark and Kate Dickie, as well as Sam Gittins and myself.


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I would just like to mention our wonderful cinematographer Phil Mťheux BSC and camera operator Roger Pearce who have worked on some incredible films and their experience and talent raised everyoneís game. Also, I would like to mention our fantastic action designer Neil Chapelhow who designed the fight scene and was also Martinís body double. He worked closely with Simon and made the fight scenes so action packed and gritty, he is an amazing addition to any action film!


I would also like to thank our wonderful cast and crew who worked tirelessly on this film some of whom had worked with my on my my previous films. Everyone brought something extra to their role and it really shines through. Iím extremely fortunate to have worked with everyone on this film.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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the new anthology by
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directed by
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written by
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