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An Interview with Malcolm Galloway, Writer, and Raed Abbas, Director of Rock Band vs. Vampires

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2016

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Your new movie Rock Band vs Vampires - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Raed: It's a horror/comedy packed with LOTS of action. The storyline Malcolm is best placed to talk about, but in short elderly vampire Jeremiah Winterford is fighting to stay alive while Anna, his daughter, takes the human side. The rock band find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Malcolm: The story is largely autobiographical, apart from the bits about vampires. It was inspired by my experience of being in an obscure rock band in Camden, London. The band, Sorcerer’s Tower, aren’t particularly practical or heroic. They just want to get the 15 or so fans they need to be regularly playing gigs. They are struggling with this modest ambition, until they get an invitation play a Saturday night gig at Angelfish, now under new (vampiric) management.

Jeremiah Winterford (played by Guy Barnes) is an old-fashioned vampire, totally out of place in the modern world. After his castle is burned down by rival vampire Jako Van Zyl (Adam Dindorf), his partner Angelica (Dani Thompson) persuades him to temporarily move into a 1970’s terraced house in Primrose Hill, close to Camden, where nobody is likely to notice a vampire. From there they plan to rebuild their forces, and take revenge on Jako.

The band find that their new fans are being turned into vampires, and have till dawn to team up with Jeremiah’s daughter Anna to save them. Saving them largely involves killing vampires with items of musical equipment, and/or stunning them with a spatula…

 

How did the project fall together in the first place?

 

Malcolm: It started as a chat with friends in a pub. We had made a no-budget comedy horror short (Badgergeddon), and fancied doing something a bit longer. It snowballed into Rock Band vs Vampires. Raed, who has experience in feature film direction and VFX, soon joined the team, and brought in the action side of things.

 

Malcolm, what were your inspirations for writing Rock Band vs Vampires?

 

Malcolm: When I wrote it, I hadn’t yet seen Flight Of The Conchords, but in retrospect, if the comedy has a similar tone to that I’d be delighted. We were aiming at something like a cross between Shaun Of The Dead and Spinal Tap.

 

Do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!

 

Raed: As a vampire film, it comes with blood, some gore, and so gets into the horror category, but it’s much more comedy than horror. We’re hoping that people will be surprised to see the quality of action and VFX in a micro-budget indie film. We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some great stunt experts and crew on the film

 

A few words about Rock Band vs Vampires' brand of comedy?

 

Raed: It has all kinds of comedy. It has black comedy, silly comedy, action comedy, tragedy comedy and awkward pauses. Lots of awkward pauses.

 

Malcolm: A lot of the stuff I find funny in it relates to the characters, almost all of whom are completely out of place in their surroundings, not really knowing what to do.

 

The "rock band" part of your title suggests quite a bit of music - so do talk about that aspect of your movie for a bit!

 

Raed: Yes, it has some tracks but not enough to call it a musical.

 

Malcolm: The setting relates to the experiences of a rock band in Camden, and there are several opportunities to plug my real life Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate band in the soundtrack (www.hatsoffgentlemen.com). We also got to film in some iconic rock venues, including the Camden Underworld and Zigfried Von Underbelly in Hoxton (doubling as Camden’s fictional Angelfish).

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Raed: We played a lot with script while keeping the main line of the story. I personally love characters in films. I focused on building personality for each character even if it was a minor one. Each one has a back story and fighting style. The writer, Malcolm, was very flexible allowing us to make changes on the fly to the script but, again, we all made sure we keep the main story line untouched.

 

Malcolm: This was my first attempt at writing a feature film script, and I generally like a collaborative approach when creating things. Raed knows about making films, which feels a bit like cheating, but apparently is the done thing when making a feature film.

 

What was the collaboration between the two of you actually like? And how did the two of you first meet even?

 

Raed: I'd found a post online for a film called Rock Band vs Vampires. Just by reading the title I giggled and wanted to join the team. A couple of days later I met Malcolm and we started our journey. The collaboration developed quickly and we ended up becoming friends and before we know it we are family.

 

Malcolm: Raed brought a different level of professionalism to the film than I had imagined when we started. Our creative process tends to go something like this – “let’s have a really long awkward pause here”, “how about a Matrix style action scene instead”, “mmm, I see what you mean, but maybe an awkward pause would work better”, “Malcolm, I respect you as a writer, but I really think a massive VFX-heavy battle would work better”. And then we compromise on a massive VFX heavy-battle, with my character (Will) awkwardly pausing in the background…

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Raed: The most adorable thing about the cast, and the crew, was their patience and passion. We couldn’t have wished for a better team. We'd need to write a book to do justice to how amazing they were but for now let's try to keep it short.

- Guy Barnes gave Jeremiah a whole new personality. He became the only Jeremiah I could ever imagine. His Shakespearean performance and screen presence is simply what every director looking for art wants.

- Faye Sewell played Anna. We wanted a combination of innocence and aggression. Anna kills with a smile on her apparently innocent face. Faye magically did all that.

- Loren Peta made Pixie (drummer of Sorcerer’s Tower) simply the best Pixie you can ever get. The way Loren adopted the character was incredible. She’s got a great natural deadpan comedy, and has some incredibly expressive snarky facial expressions. She makes you laugh but you don't know why.

- Jake Rundle has a unique touch. He made us, and will make you, love Dan (Sorcerer’s Tower bass player) for real. Jake's ability to animate every single bone in his body brought a huge amount to the character of Dan.

- Malcolm Galloway played Will (singer of Sorcerer’s Tower) very well. Malcolm made Will come to life and very human. Will is not only scared of everything he's also sensitive a person. The sensitivity you find only in Malcolm's eyes.

- Dani Thompson [Dani Thompson interview - click here] gave us the feel of a royal vampire matriarch. She made Angelica the dream of every vampire lover.

I would love to mention all of our amazing stars, but haven’t got space here. A special shout out to Adam Dindorf as Jako, and Dita Tantang, our martial artist vampire.

 

Malcolm: I thought the casting of me as Will (singer/guitarist of an obscure band) was particularly inspired, and would like to pay particular tribute to the casting directors. We are also very grateful to Richard Herring and Gyles Brandreth for doing such lovely celebrity cameos in the film.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Raed: I'd say it was great experience, amazing crew and cast, wonderful collaboration. A family spirit filled the space where ever and whenever we meet. It was a huge honour to get to meet and work with a great team.

 

The $64-question of course, when and where will the movie be released onto the general public?

 

Raed: Originally we were planning to release it in 2014 but the more we worked on Rock Band vs Vampires the more we realised that we have something special that we want to do justice to. We are aiming for a 2016 release, but that will obviously depend on discussions with distributors.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Raed: We have several projects coming up. At the moment there's an Rock Band vs Vampires video game in development and planned to be released on PS4.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

https://www.facebook.com/RockBandVsVampires/

https://twitter.com/rockvsvampires (@rockvsvampires)

 

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

 

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Raed: This project is not just a movie. It made a real impact on all of us. Personally I made new friends. Friends I will make sure I'll keep for the rest of my life. Friends I call family. Friends I will make sure I'll keep for the rest of my life. Dan Abrams, Trish Holden, Angela Holmes, Silvia Bellitto, Guy Barnes, Jake Rundle, Loren Peta, and Malcolm Galloway, just to name few, are friends I call family.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you for your support and we wish you all the best. We’d also like to express our thanks to our friends at The Gothic Shop (www.the-gothic-shop.co.uk) for their kind support with costumes.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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