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An Interview with Mark Ashmore, Director of Portal

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2015

Quick Links

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Your new webseries Portal - in a few words, what is it about?


Sex, drugs and addiction - it's not a family show.


How did the project fall together in the first place?


We released our first feature film The Lost Generation in 2014, and the fans of this took the DVD and uploaded it on to the streaming sites, it's now on over 500 sites, and my mates got this illegal Netflix app and it's been seen 150,000 times on that - well we took all this data, about a million views, to Dailymotion whom we knew and they liked what we did, and I basically said 'all these views should be on your platform, and you should pay us to make a series we can give away from free' - and to cut a long story short, they said yes.


To what extent do you see "the portal", the titular drug of Portal, as a metaphor for addictions (to drugs or other things) in modern society? And other sources of inspiration when dreaming up Portal?


"Portal" means to escape, or a window into another world, and so portal on its most basic level is the name of a drug in a web series, or it could mean that Future Artists are going to show you a world of portal, lots of things you have never seen... there are many levels to the film, addiction to sex, drugs and a certain criminal way of life play a big part of it, but also everyone is trying to escape too.


What can you tell us about your screenwriter Jack Casey, and what was your collaboration like?


I have known Jack for many years, we met on the set of Life on Mars, he was a runner and I was John Simm's stand in - being the lowest members of crew, we got on well, lots of banter and built a good friendship, he is an amzing writer and I can come up with ideas, and so we bounce projects from text messages to Facebook to WhatsApps to craft the story and script - I started the process off by explaining a storyworld that I wanted to explore and a way of filming it, Jack came in and wrote all those amazing scenes and built up the characters, and all the dialogue is Jack's own, i love listening to Jack's dialogue!


Portal does feature its fair share of special and visual effects - so you just have to talk about those for a bit, and how were they achieved?


Portal is very special effects heavy, but more old school than CGI... for the opening of portal in episode 1 we wanted the wow factor, so we show this computer game that a real person lives in, the world of portal is both digital and real, or cartoon or dreamlike, it can be anything the user of portal creates, the more advanced they get, the more odd the world can become - so we used CGI to demonstate Sophie's character with her eyes, create spaceships and transport devices and also gunshots and blood, and blood that an actor walks in and carries across the street (in episode 4) - we also used a few practical effects, we chopped someones hand off in episode 5, that's a practical effect, loads of fake blood, gunshot wounds ... when you do a practical effect everyone has to be involved, with green screen it's more me and the VFX guy Sam Highfield, pointing and going, ok where is the spaceship again, and then trying to explain this to a bemused actor.


What can you tell us about the series' look and feel as such?


It's old world vs new world, analogue vs tech, good vs bad, the colour pallets and the locations and the design within them are both classic, and via Ben Tallons (art director) a unique artistic look, that is exclusive to portal, all captured by Craig Porter and his 3 light cinematography.


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


The main cast are people I have worked with before, Clay Whitter has been in every film I've done, so if you like his work, check out my back catalogue, Victoria Connet was the lead in Lost Generation and we had a great time on that film, we had to bring her back, and Chelsea Edge who was pretty much an extra in Lost Generation, is the main lead, and is making a real name for herself in the filmworld - they are all Northern actors, who have worked so hard for a break, and this is their moment to shine.


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


Fast, we had 12 days to shoot this picture, and a 90min run time, as the project is both a feature film, and a shorter web series, so we shot fast, and all worked very hard, we had 12 key crew that did everything, from moving kit to shooting, to making food to art direction to, well everything, those 12 people are priceless!


What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of the series so far?


Critics have been praising the film, saying its surreal, bold and hard hitting, we have had nearly 200,000 views on episodes 1 and 2 thus far, and episode 3 is out today - and the fans are connecting with us via social media - it's been amazing to think that something we worked all year on has found a fanbase!


The $64-question of course, where can the series be seen?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Mark Ashmore
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Mark Ashmore here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Mark Ashmore at

Head here and subscribe to our channel and watch all the season


I've read somewhere that the present one is only the first season of Portal - so is it at all true that you're planning a continuation, and if so, what do you have in store for future seasons?


We leave episode 5 on a bit of a cliffhanger, major characters will die and there will be consequnces, plus we will explore the real world of portal and the real price of addiction... no spoliers.


Your/your series' website, Facebook, whatever else?


You can check out The Lost Generation here:

Mark Ashmore:


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD