Your upcoming movie Senseless - in a few words, what's it going to
Jason storms out on his wife, Diane, one summer's night, he seeks refuge
in a nearby forest. Little does he know the forest is plagued with lost
souls manifesting in his darkest desires and innermost fears. Lost and
tormented in the forest, will Jason find his way home?
Now how did the project fall together in the first place?
Sam was working with co-writer, Jackson
Batchelor, on various other projects which were planned to be shot in 2020
and then the UK lockdown happened. Once that was in place the focus could
only turn to post-production on existing projects and outline thoughts of
future possible scripts. But once various producers' organisations started
releasing guidance for filming after the lifting of lockdown, both Trash
Arts and HB Films
wondered what would be feasible to shoot before the
creation of the 'new normal' for filmmaking.
what were your sources of inspiration when writing Senseless, and
what was your collaboration with Jackson Batchelor on the script like?
have always wanted to tell a story of someone with reality-based
frustrations walking into woods and then being ‘welcomed’ by a
supernatural evil. Once we had that base idea, we had a lot of freedom to
take it into any fantasy horror realm we wished, but obviously with the
restriction of social distancing was able to be put in place for filming.
Personally, I wanted something which was minimal cast with a Hellraiser/Mandy/Evil Dead vibe.
where do you see the main challenges of bringing Senseless to the
screen from a producer's point of view? And in what way do you see the
current COVID-19 situation impacting the shoot?
All the usual production
challenges apply of course, with the need to find a location, cast actors
into the characters, ensure the crew is right, efficient and just know
what they are doing, and plan for the shoot. But with Senseless there is
also a bit of upskilling required by the crew with the planned 'green
screen' work so that needs time being allowed for practice and created the
need to obtain that kit before the shoot. Then the COVID-19 situation, of
course, which demands additional consideration in the usual pre-production
planning. So what we have planned to achieve is the ability to minimise
the pandemic risk by not only considering social distancing on location
but finding the right mix of cast and crew that limit the number of
households, enable same household members to travel together, ensure that
the cast and crew is minimal, and all involved have a good working, and
social, relationship with each other so that they can easily monitor their
post-shoot health and immediately raise any concerns to allow others to
isolate for 14 days. There's also the need to ensure temperatures check,
that the makeup artist is aware of the need, and has the ability to
provide, appropriate PPE for herself, pre-shoot health confirmations, the
need to provide travel authorisation just in case it is required en route.
Everything needed, or that should have been undertaken, in the old
now with an even greater concern for the health and safety issues arising
from the pandemic.
about Senseless's approach to horror for a bit?
film works in three acts. We wanted the first act for Jason to become
aware of having to use his own base five senses. Once that has been
brought in and he is dragged into the evil of the forest, then the
strangeness can kick in for act two. His own memories as to why he came
into the woods are fully manipulated, which allows us to play with
manifestations of death. We wanted this forest to feel as alive as
possible by filling it with the perceptions of ghosts, monsters, and
skeletons, building our own twisted folklore to the wood, and therefore
requiring some trickery on screen. Then the third act being the impact of
the forest on Jason and, ultimately, his relationship with his wife which,
of course, is also the basis of the start of the film.
can you tell us about the overall look and feel you intend Senseless
and I completed the shot list for the shoot together, taking into
consideration the use of green screen for some of the more fantastical
elements, but also having a good level of practical effects. We both love
the golden age of practical effects but also know when CGI can come in
handy. It is trying to give the same energy as Evil Dead
simply copying every frenetic shot that Sam Raimi pulls off so well.
Recently, we have been trying to experiment with improvisation and letting
the story move forward without forcing dialogue - basically let the
actor's own physical actions push the story forward.
With much of the film taking place in a forest,
what can you tell us about the projected location, and why there?
are looking to shoot in Emsworth in Hampshire (UK). We actually intended
to shoot a different film there towards the end of March 2020 - a slasher
reboot of Dustin Ferguson's Tales From Black Tree Forest [Dustin
Ferguson interview - click here] - so we were
scouting it out in January, so we knew the woods are accessible and local
to us and we had already contacted owners for approvals. Then the lockdown
happened! So, whilst we have postponed that shoot to 2021, Senseless
became a lot easier to consider as possible shoot early after the release,
or weakening, of the UK lockdown.
you can tell us about key cast and crew of Senseless yet, and why
exactly these people?
can tell you the cast is minimal! Ryan Carter, playing Jason, the lead
character, is part of Trash
Arts and, in 2019, was the lead in our psycho
thriller, Decline (still in post-production). I know he can do a lot with
silence and letting his body portray emotions, plus I live with Jackson
and Ryan so that's 'one household' (we've had the worry throughout
lockdown of isolating with a key worker so mentally that actually helps us
with this shoot). Jackson and I will crew and double up to play two of the
monsters. Ella Palmer, originally cast for the Tales from Black Tree
Forest film, has agreed to play the wife, Diane, which will be a single
day shoot and we can socially distance sufficient for her scenes during
that. We are also joined by the Dazey Hills Company's Abbie Hills and Jack
White, again a single household, who crewed a feature shot in January, Acting.
You are currently running a
fundraiser for Senseless - so do talk about your campaign for a
this is a recent addition to the slate, and mindful of the need to provide
financial support to other projects which, although delayed, should still
happen, we've taken the opportunity to call for funding support for Senseless. This is also the first of what could become more standard for
Trash Arts as they have an impressive portfolio of feature films, with
distribution, and so moving them towards a future where films can be made
using sourced funding rather than relying on the, limited, budget approach
that HB Films has supported and will continue to support. Of course, it
was very important to make sure the crowd funder is clear on all the
COVID-19 precautions/production guidelines we have set in place, in
consultation between HB Films
and Trash Arts, and also ensuring those who
are looking to support are able to do so to their advantage. In the first
two weeks of the funder, with an initial funding target set deliberately
low, we have been greatly encouraged by having 75% of that target being
funded and have every hope and chance of hitting that target so we know
the shoot will happen. HB Films
had already agreed to underwrite the shoot
so the film could be made, but gaining the support of Guerrilla Girls
Productions (US) as an executive producer is very encouraging and Sam and
I hope that they will see a benefit of their involvement. We are still
hoping for another executive producer to come on board. By having this
additional external funding, we will be able to increase the
computer-generated imagery, increase the practical effects, and have more
freedom to make Senseless the film we set out to make. And then we can
resume work on the other projects on the slate, especially once we get to
2021, which is when we anticipate the 'new normal' will start to happen
(and not in 2020!)
Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule,
and any idea when and where the film might be released yet?
Sam: We have scheduled the shoot for
August 3rd throughout that week, and then post production for the
remainder of 2020, so looking to release in early 2021. One of the perks
of the crowd funder is that we will produce an exclusive edition Blu-ray
of the film for our supporters in the funder so that we can ensure they
receive that perk ahead of any definite distribution arrangements being
made. We've been very fortunate to receive the support of Darkside
Releasing with three previous features - Lonely
Hearts, The Millennial
Killer and, being released later this year, Truth
Will Out - and continue to be in talks with them about
our future output so, as they say, watch this space!
future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Trash Arts is in a very lucky position
with four features that were nearing, or in, post production at the start
of the lockdown, have continued to move closer to completion and being
ready for festival releases in 2021! These are: Decline, a psycho
thriller; Monstrous, a satire set on the European Referendum day which we
hope will be the next 'pig' thing in monster horror; Unwanted, a found
footage ghostly horror set in a music venue; Para-Psych Trauma, a tightly
connected horror story line filmed by five different directors all in 4k
on mobile phones starting from a Ouija board session. We also have
projects requiring just a bit more filming to complete such as Acting, a
dark psycho drama, and at least one other feature that we are looking to
shoot in September/October, Underneath, an arthouse horror about demonic
website, social media, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
Facebook is \trashartsUK
Twitter is @trashartsfilm
The Senseless crowdfunder is at
for the interview!