Your film The
Shadow of Death - in a few words, what is it about?
Shadow of Death
is about some friends who go out to the woods to pick up some
weed, they get lost and find an abandoned cabin. While this is going on a
killer is wandering around the same woods. It's a pretty clichéed film but
that's what it is intended to be.
The Shadow of Death
being a slasher - is that a genre you're at all fond of, and your genre
Yes, I grew up on horror films but found slashers more likable, I think
because of the realism of them, monster films and such would come second
for me, but I still loved them. I'm a fan of werewolf films and zombie
flicks as well in horror but outside I love a good comedy, western, war
and being a dad I have come to enjoy family films and appreciate them for
what they are.
(Other) sources of inspiration when writing The
Shadow of Death?
13th(s) and also the way some films were made such as El
process behind that and Robert's book Rebel without a Crew really gave me a
push in the right direction. But stepping off the page of film, at times
while thinking about making a movie an inspiration for me was my job,
sometimes I was doing some shitty work to make money and this really did
push me on to do something outside of my daily job.
What got your project kicked
off in the first place, and what can you tell us about the trials and
tribulations of bringing a low-to-no budget film of this kind from written
page to screen?
I have been writing music and songs on my
computer for ages, kind of hip hop instrumental stuff and I have always
been heavily influenced by films in some way or another, I had some music
reviewed by some industry peeps once and they said I should look towards
writing for films, and that made total sense, so I tried and tried and was
always let down by false promises, so I thought why don't I just make my own
film so I can could score that.
in production, I would say lack of money was one, but it's that old story
of less is more, and I applied that to every aspect of production, so we
worked harder on it as a team and even with a very small budget we just
improvised with sets, FX etc... I was very lucky I had a 3 month contract
to film at the cabin and surrounding woods, all for the price of a bottle
of whiskey. Through production stages I found most stages fairly OK, just
by taking it a step by step and keeping on top of it all. I have to admit
it was hard sometimes on family life and keeping every aspect of your life
happy. So it can be trying that's for sure.
How would you describe your directorial
approach to your subject at hand?
I think keeping a happy feeling on set and keeping everyone focused on
what we were doing was an approach I took on, when it came to it., The
Shadow of Death was my directional debut, so to be honest, I learnt how to be a director
on set, but with such an amazing crew behind me, who all got along really
well... we all just got down to it, I think one thing is keeping everyone
interested. I shot really fast, a lot of the takes are one takes, I wanted
to keep momentum up, as I had read of people losing interest if production
went on too long, especially if no one is getting paid. Also I think most
cast and crew not knowing each other helps - so I think if it had all been
friends, there would have been arguments.
I think it's fair to
say The Shadow of Death
is not the most serious of slashers. So how would you describe your
movie's brand of humour?
Oh totally, I was making the
film I wanted to watch, something that felt like a movie I grew up with,
not taking itself seriously in any way, but just enjoying it for what it
think it a very British horror film but definitely with influences of US
horrors. But there would be almost a Simpsons-
or Carry on-humour going on
at times, I guess there is also a lot of almost toilet humour in it as
No slasher without gore effects
of course. So what can you tell us about yours, how were they achieved,
and was there ever a line you refused to cross for other than budgetary
Sophia Disgrace, Corinna Jane, Jane West
I wanted all in camera FX, no CGI. My friend Mark Kelly was an art
student and also butcher in my town, in my head this meant he could do FX,
this was how I came to ask him, so I would have a pint in pub with him and
come up with ideas of how to kill people in the woods, and he would come
up with some crazy ideas - some which were not possible... one idea I had
for example would have been to kill 8-12 Ramblers in the woods in one go
but that would take too long and cost too much, so that idea was scrapped.
But at no point we thought anything was too strong, we didn't care, we
just wanted to have fun. If anything I just wanted the FX to look as good
as we could and I feel we have done a pretty decent job.
What can you tell us about your quartet of
leads, Daniel Carter-Hope, Sophia Disgrace [Sophia
Disgrace interview - click here], Jane West and Corinna Jane? How
did you get them, and what made them perfect for their roles?
was recommended to me, I did not even audition him, I had a good feeling
Again Sophia was recommended to me and I originally gave her
the role of Debra and I wanted her to play down all her ink, piercing etc.
but then I changed my mind and Nancy's role was more right for her.
West was in fact Andy Clarke's (sound recordist) girlfriend, he mentioned
she was interested in doing an audition and at first I was hesitant, mainly
because of their relationship and I did not know how they worked
together, but they are super cool and her audition was great!
plays the lead Debra was from an internet casting call I put out, she
auditioned and was very dedicated from the beginning and just seemed
I can't say enough good things about these guys and they all
clicked perfectly together. I was and am a very lucky first time filmmaker to have had such a great cast.
just have to talk about scene-stealing Dan Bone for a bit as well, and
about his character in The
Shadow of Death!
Well Dan Bone who plays Craven is a really good friend of my wife's, I
had met him a couple of times and knew he had done some corporate horror
film shorts, I checked them out and digged his acting, so I asked him to
check out the script and told him I wanted him as the policeman, but we
took it further and ended up co-writing his part. And in fact now we have
written a zombie comedy film together as it worked out so well writing his
character in The
Shadow of Death. Everyone has come to really love the
character of Craven, and we somehow knew he would be quite an almost iconic
figure, he is kind of like a Tarantino film, full of other films loved by
us we moulded him into what he is in the film. We are actually going to
write a spin-off film about Craven.
A few words about the rest of
your cast and crew? And what can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere?
Every cast and crew member was amazing, people really got behind what I
was doing, Dan Carter Hope, would not accept any petrol money but just
told me not to "let him down" - and this really spurred me on to
make something good as I do not like to lie or let people down. The whole
atmosphere on set was just fun, getting up early on a Sunday morning to
film this crazy horror movie was just complete fun and I know everyone was
disappointed when we wrapped. I was and still am amazed people actually
believed in this crazy idea I had of making a film, considering I have no
previous work to show.
Shadow of Death has been finished only fairly recently. Any idea
when and where it will be released onto the general public?
Well, we are submitting to festivals at the moment and would love to be
picked up for distribution - but we are realistic and are well up for doing
the distribution ourselves, it would keep in vein of the whole film. In
fact I would really like to do a limited VHS release. I'm very inspired by
Roger Corman [Roger Corman
bio - click here] and his own DIY way of filmmaking, and feel if we sold it
ourselves we could put what we made from sales back in to another script
and just keep going. So there is no public release date at the moment,
which is annoying in some aspect as I just want to get it out there, but
it's just deciding the right approach to doing this to make sure it is
did you get into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any
formal education on the subject? And what can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to The
Shadow of Death?
I always wanted to be working in
films but somehow forgot this for a huge part of my life - I got really
into skateboarding and DJing and put filmmaking to the back of my head
until I felt it was the right time to do it. As I said this is my debut
film, I have never studied the subject at a film school, but felt I could
give it a good go. I have not done anything previous to this, some little
skate videos and some fun stuff with my family but no shorts or anything
like that... the film was my film school and I cannot wait to start again
with the knowledge I gained from working on The
Shadow of Death.
Any future projects you'd like
to talk about?
Dan Bone and I have written a zombie comedy
- best way to say it is if the Goonies met some zombies on a housing estate
in England. It is really fun and we have really tried to stay away from
things like Shaun of the Dead, which is something I feel English comedy
zombie flicks seem to be compared to. We are also writing a kind of sci fi
comedy about two security guards who one night looking after their
building get extremely paranoid that aliens are going to attack. Then there is a
Cornish pixie film Dan is writing, then we want to go on to do Craven vs.
the Devil Worshiping Doggers - which like I said is a spin off from The
Shadow of Death.
So we are pretty busy at the moment, it's good to write while we promote The
Shadow of Death, then hopefully we could jump into a script if a green light was
given or the time was again right to do it.
Directors who inspire you?
John Carpenter, Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson. There are
loads more, but these guys have really influenced me the most.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Um, that's always a hard question. The Burbs, Halloween
(original) - and there is loads more...
... and of course, films you really
I'm not a fan of romantic films, and there's a lot
of films I have not actually seen because I know I just won't like them
like Top Gun, Titanic, Avatar... I can't really think of any off the top of
my head though.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
the films web site is
and you can go there which will link on to Twitter/ Facebook pages etc...
So please come visit us and like or follow us, we have slowly been
gathering quite a following, which amazes me and I thank everyone who is
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I would like to say thanks for the interview, and a big thank yous to all
our fans/supporters, and I hope we can get the film out for distribution or
playing in a cinema/festival near you ASAP. So you can see what you have
heard so much about. I also hope I can inspire fledging film makers and
give them that extra boost to go out and film a feature - if I can do it, I
think anyone can with a little determination and patience, don't just say
you will do it, just do it! Thanks loads.
for the interview!