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An Interview with Mj Dixon, Director of Hollower and Cleaver: Killer Clown

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2016

Films directed by Mj Dixon on (re)Search my Trash

 

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

 

In a nutshell, the film follows another of the characters from our debut feature, Slasher House. This time Nathan Robbins, as we look deeper in the ghoulish origins of him and the creature that lives in his shadow.

 

What were your inspirations when writing Hollower?

 

I really wanted to use Hollower to do something a little different. Most of our films have been heavily influenced by the slasher genre and this was a great opportunity to something slower, scarier and more psychological. I took heavy influence from films like Psycho and Black Christmas, trying to approach it with a much more suggestive style rather than relying on gore and guts.

My biggest inspiration though was the little known Josh Becker movie Lunatics: A Love Story which was the closest film I could find to what I wanted to do. The film stars Ted Raimi of Evil Dead/Spider-Man fame and, although it's waaay more 'out there' than Hollower aims to be, it helped me cement the fact that we could tell a story set in one apartment.

 

What can you tell us about the Hollower's position in the Mycho Universe, and his past (and maybe also future) appearances?

 

Without spoiling the film too much, Hollower takes place about a year before Slasher House and although it doesn't directly give us a path to how Nathan ended up in that film, like Legacy of Thorn's hidden after credits sequence does, it allows us to suggest how he got there. The film also hints at a bigger story involving Nathan's mother which we may get to explore at some point, either as a short or another feature, but nothing is concrete.

In terms of the future, Hollower is kind of settled and 'locked away' for now as the story goes forward, but there is a master plan in which the Hollower plays a large part further down the line. I can't say more than that, but that's the next time we'll see him/it.

 

Since Hollower's lead is an agoraphobic recluse - to what extent can you idintify with his condition, and how much research went into that aspect of the story?

 

Well, it might be surprising to some, but I've suffered with the condition on and off most of my life. It was a huge part of why I wrote it into the character, way back when Slasher House was just forming as an idea, because it was easy for me to identify with the condition and how it would affect the character.

I did a lot of reading into the condition whilst I was working on Slasher House, but that film wasn't really set up to cover it in much depth. Hollower was a different animal altogether and it allowed me to cover the aspects of his condition further. I wanted to be careful that I didn't suggest that agoraphobic people were psychopaths, however, as it's easy with any mental illness to make that kind of jump when writing a narrative like this. I wanted to make sure that people understood the condition and that went hand in hand with the demons in his head, rather than it causing them.

 

Other than most of your other movies, Hollower is deliberately slow-moving - so what can you tell us about that change of pace, and the idea behind it?

 

I really enjoyed the original Paranormal Activity back in 2009 when I first saw it, it gave me a couple of sleepless nights. I studied the film to figure out why it had had that effect on me and what really stood out was that the film burned slowly and allowed time for the audience to get to know the characters.

I had, up to that point, really only made slasher/action movies and I wanted to show that I had more to offer than girls running and screaming and getting chopped up. We had talked with a distributor about one of our previous titles and they said they were looking for something with less gore and splatter and more supernatural elements. So I pulled the Hollower story from my archives and got to work with that in mind.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I wanted the style of the film to match the pace of the story and so it was set up with the idea of long takes and slow moving shots, allowing the actors to really carry the film on their own. I also wanted that sense of dread to carry through the film, so the idea was to hide the monster in the shadows all the time, so it was always there but never perfectly visible.

I'm a big fan of vivid lighting too, but for this I went with a sepia colour palate, albeit still fairly bright. The temptation was to mute the colour, but after the first tests, I really wasn't happy with it and we decided to go with a slightly more warm, saturated tone and using that to contrast with the cold blues of the police interview room.

 

What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

With it being such a small film and such a tight schedule we really wanted to work with people we knew and trusted and people who we knew would put the work in. Adam (from Slasher House) was a no brainer obviously, after that we went in for filling the roles with actors we knew had a good work ethic. Becca Talulah had worked on Legacy of Thorn for a couple of days and we really liked her, so she was our first port of call for 'Izzy'. Adam suggested Joe Hughes as Brad and we really liked him in initial talks and brought him on board. Hollower was played by Myk Dud, a friend of ours who did a small role in Legacy of Thorn and he offered his services as our monster.

We were looking to cast someone local to play Detective Miller, but then we met Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Nightbreed) at Liverpool Horror Festival. We are big fans of him and he was signing at the convention, we got to talking to him about the film and he was interested in seeing the script. Long story short, within a week he came back to us, he told us he "loved the script" and he was in. Local actor James Ford filled in for the monster in his scenes and that was all we had in terms of cast.

 

Hollower features only a handful of locations - so what can you tell us about the locations, and what were the challenges filming there and keeping things interesting?

 

The film has literally 2 locations. The first was a friend's apartment, we only had Adam for 3 days and so the pressure was on to get the apartment stuff filmed in 2. The problem was the real corridor outside the apartment was actually a high botanic garden-esque area and was completely sunlit, which wouldn't work with us shooting around the clock. So the hall of the apartment also had to double as the outside hallway and that was a challenge as everything had to be shot flipped to make the doors opening make sense. If it sounds complicated, that's because it was.

The second location was the police station. We had a connection at the station and they pulled some strings and got us access for the day, but it meant that, once again, we had to move fast. We had 8 hours to shoot literally half the movie, it was tight but we got there. Just.

However, we did hit a small snag. Halfway through, one of the harddrives with the footage on broke whilst backing up and we lost all of it. We tried for months to recover it, but eventually we had to give up and had to go back and shoot the first 2 days again. Luckily, it was the one film that we could have done that on, if it had been any other film, we would have been up the creek.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It was a fairly drama free shoot, working with such a small cast. Even when we had to come back for reshoots, they all gave it their everything and although we were all tired, getting about 3 hours sleep a night, we all had a great time just making a movie and hanging out with people we liked. That really helped us work smoothly and efficiently.

 

Another very recent film of yours is Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown - now we have talked about that one at length already [click here], but do bring us up to speed, what's that one about?

 

Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown is another prequel to Slasher House, this time set in the 90s. It follows Cleaver on his rise to becoming the legendary clown slasher that we come to know in our debut feature. It's set in small town America as Cleaver stalks a young babysitter as he looks to snatch the child she is looking after. It's a polarising film when compared to Hollower and is a little more like a traditional slasher, drawing heavy influences from NOES and Halloween.

 

Since Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown has been filmed in the UK but supposed to be located in Oklahoma, USA - how did you achieve that illusion, and what was the idea behind it?

 

I'm not entirely sure we pulled it off, it required some ingenuity when it came to things like vehicles and locations, but I think, for the most part, we pulled off what we were going for. Our universe is set in a kind of fantastical version of reality, so that helped us cheat that illusion a little. It's very tongue in cheek in its interpretation of Southern State America rather than a direct and realistic portrayal of it.

The main reason we had to do it was that we made the decision, last minute, to give Cleaver a Texan drawl and that really cemented his origins and the story that went along with that. It also helps to try and give the Mycho Universe a more global flavour. I was worried it wouldn't work and, if I'm honest, I'm still worried.

 

Again, what can you tell us about the shoot as such?

 

Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown had all its teething problems fairly early on, mostly before we even started shooting. We weeded out the problems before we got on set and so that made the shoot flow more smoothly than we were used to. Everyone was a treat to work with and, because we were shooting in a house, we even got to sleep in a real bed on a shoot for the first time, ever. Which was nice.

 

The $64-question of course, when and where will these two films released onto the general public?

 

Both films are landing on DVD and VOD on August 29th 2016. You can Pre-Order them both now directly from us at http://mycho.co.uk

 

Anything you can tell us about critical and audience reception of Hollower and Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown yet?

 

The response has been overwhelmingly positive and, because we sent them both out at the same time, we've noticed an odd trend. People seem to prefer one or the other, but of course that makes sense with them being so dramatically different in tone. We've heard only good things at the moment, so here's hoping that continues.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

We're currently in the final weeks of shooting on our first sequel Slasher House 2, which is due for release (for IndieGoGo supporters) in October with its UK premiere hopefully in the new year.

Outside of that we're currently working on an 80s set prequel to Legacy of Thorn called Mask of Thorn, which delves into the origins of Thorn and his connection to Avondale and the people that live there. It's a throwback to the SOV horrors of the 80s and, hopefully, an interesting take on the ideas for the first movie.

 

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

 

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You can check out our movies, shorts and other stuff at http://mycho.co.uk

Facebook: http://facebook.com/mychoentertainmentgroup

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mychopictures

 

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

 

We're in the middle of working on copious amounts of feature length movies and we've begun production on a series of ongoing short films also set in the Mycho Universe, featuring old and new characters from our developing horror world. The first of these is called In Tents and premieres this Friday (July 1st) across our social media pages.

We have plenty of other things in the pipeline over the coming months too, so stay tuned.

 

Thanks for the interview

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

Jetzt kaufen bei
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