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An Interview with Simon Pearce, Director of I Am the Doorway

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2016

Simon Pearce on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie I Am the Doorway - in a few words, what is it about?


I Am The Doorway is an adaptation of the original Stephen King story, taken from his 1978 shorts collection Night Shift. It follows a former astronaut Arthur, who returns a broken man from a deep space mission gone wrong, and discovers that he may have brought something back with him - something that makes him the doorway to an alien invasion...


How did the project fall together in the first place?


Stephen King makes a selection of his short stories available every year through his Dollar Baby scheme, and successful applicants can have the rights to adapt them for just $1, provided they make the film within 12 months. I was contacted in 2015 by Jeffrey Stackhouse, one of our three writers, who told me he had acquired the rights to Doorway and asked if I'd be interested to direct. We first met at Shriekfest film festival in LA when I was screening my horror feature Judas Ghost. Jeffrey really liked the film and thought I'd be a good choice for this. I loved his take on it and the original so agreed right away.


With I Am the Doorway being an officially sanctioned Stephen King adaptation - is the man himself at all involved with the making of the movie? And how close are you sticking to your source material?


He isn't, no - but I know he is given a copy of the finished film when we're done, so knowing he might eventually see this one is pretty exciting, albeit nerve-wracking too!

We've stuck pretty closely to the story, but also added some of our own layers (some of which might surprise you!) and expanded on some of its themes. So I think it's something fans of the book will appreciate, but gives you something a little different too that hopefully will provoke some discussion too...


What can you tell us about your screenwriters Jeffrey Stackhouse, Richard A. Becker and Wendy Lashbrook, and what's your collaboration with them like?


I've actually only met Jeffrey in person - but I know their past work. I've read a couple of their feature screenplays, both of which I really liked, and we liaised closely on a detailed treatment for this before they went ahead and wrote the script. It's been a very enjoyable collaboration - they are not only great writers, but very smart and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre too, which is useful when you're trying to craft something that will stand out and resonate with the horror community!


A few words about your movie's approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like)?


I would say it's certainly more about atmosphere - I think there's a real preference amongst what I guess I would call "Hollywood horror" for shock or jump scares - to the point where a lot of people I think define how scary a movie is by how much they jumped! It's not often I see something now which genuinely creeps me out and stays with me long after I've watched it. That's really what we want to try and do with this - as with Arthur in the story, we want to get under your skin, not just with the horror, but some of the other themes we're exploring too.

There is some gore in there as well for good measure of course! But it's all in service to the story, there's nothing gratuitous about it. One of our main focuses as well is in constantly framing the horror, no matter how dark it gets, against beauty - be that in the framing of the camera, location or the action on screen.


From the looks of it, I Am the Doorway seems to demand quite a bit of effects work - so do talk about that aspect of your movie!


It certainly does - and it's FX work I really wanted to do practically. I think audiences today are very savvy to the use of CGI, and sometimes there can be a too polished/digital feel to it. I use the latest Independence Day Resurgence trailer as a reference - admittedly I haven't seen the movie, but it feels off to me because of all the CG in the trailer vs. the model work in the original - it almost looks too 'clean' if that makes sense. Classic body horror movies like The Thing or The Fly say, capture a feeling I just don't think you can achieve with computer animation - we are using some of that too, but only small amounts to supplement the practical. I'm thrilled to say we have a great FX company on board - Illusion Industries, and they've done some amazing work for the likes of Blade, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mask! It's a pretty impressive CV and I have a lot of confidence we can achieve what we want with this film with their team behind us.


What can you tell us about your movie's intended overall look and feel?


As I said, the contrast of horror and beauty is a real recurring motif for us, so as much as some of the events in this film are pretty horrific we want to frame that within gorgeous wide-screen set-pieces and use a lot of vivid colours - as opposed to the oft-seen cool or saturated look you get with a lot of horrors.


Anything you can tell us about your cast yet, and why exactly these people?


I will say watch this space - we have someone for Arthur but I can't announce it just yet! Check out our IndieGoGo - - page for all the latest, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook - @doorway2016 and It's someone I've worked with before and he's the first one I pictured when I read the script, so I'll be thrilled if we get him.  


As far as I know, I Am the Doorway is still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your campaign?


Well the slightly tricky thing with these Dollar Babies is that they are strictly non-profit, so fund-raising becomes a little harder as you can't offer potential investors any sort of return, though admittedly on a short that is limited anyway. It's something you do because you're passionate about it and believe in the final film - it's not a business decision. So the key thing is to hopefully relay that to other movie and horror fans to invite them on-board with you. Having the King name attached to this helps of course, but equally a lot of these films have been made over the years - so why is yours any more or less deserving? I would love for readers to take the time just to watch our 3 minute campaign video and I hope that that will convince them of what I already believe. We have a great team already and a fantastic script to work from and I know have a chance to make something here that is truly special. Check our campaign out at


Once the funds are raised, what's the schedule - and even if it's probably waaay too early to ask, any idea when I Am the Doorway will be released onto the general public?


We're planning to shoot in late May/early June for 5 or 6 days. Post-production I imagine will take us toward the end of the year, so you're looking at a festival run most probably starting in early 2017. That said, it would be great to debut around Halloween this year so hopefully we'll be able to submit a work in progress to a few different horror festivals ahead of that. Watch this space! We will also have a private UK and US premiere, and one of our perks on the crowd-fund can get you tickets to that so do check that out if you're interested!


Any future projects beyond I Am the Doorway?


I'm currently working closely with a good friend of mine here in the UK, Chris Marshfield, on a feature script for a British action thriller. It's a genre I love but haven't really had the chance to play with yet, so I'm looking forward to that. I also produced and wrote a 10 part science fiction web series last year called Horizon, which is available online now, and we plan to shoot our second and final series this summer.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I had a natural interest from a young age as both my parents are in the industry - my mum is a make-up artist and my dad is a camera-man. Then when I was 10 or 11 I started shooting shorts with the family video camera, purely as a way to stem boredom initially! I would just make up stories on the spot with my friends, but I loved the process right away - just something about planning each shot, positioning actors and camera angles... I knew then it's what I wanted to do for a living and slowly the things I made became more and more advanced as I learnt to edit and use things like light and sound equipment.

My only formal training was at a weekly Production Skills workshop here in my hometown that ran for 10 week terms, just two hours on a Monday night at the local TV studio. The tutor, Paul Dudbridge, and I are now great friends - and he taught me a lot of practical film-making techniques early on. I didn't go to university or film school no, I just started taking any job I could, once I was old enough, to get me on a film set - be that as a runner, sound, camera or video assistant - and just worked my way up from there. I think learning by doing is the best way.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to I Am the Doorway?


I guess I'd say it's been varied! It's funny how you plan for one thing or assume your career will take a certain path and then something totally different happens. My first feature was in 2008, I got to that through a 24 fan film I was making at the time, of all things, when one of the actors put me in touch with his two friends who had written it and needed a director. That feature was Shank, a gritty coming of age drama about a young boy in a gang struggling with his sexuality. This was certainly not a subject I'd ever thought I'd be tackling but the writers responded really well to the shorts I'd made beforehand, and stylistically and tonally my work was a good match for their script. That then led to Judas Ghost, my first horror feature, another surprise in many ways as I'd never been a big fan or follower of the horror genre. Of course now I've watched a lot of them as research for that film and am much more into it. I'd love to do another and I Am the Doorway is the perfect opportunity.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


That's quite a tough one - I feel you'd be better off asking other people! I would say I come from quite a technical background, having worked previously as a camera operator and editor, so I approach the things I make very much from that point of view. My preference is to shoot and edit fast and I am a fan of the handheld/documentary style - which I'm sure will have a few readers rolling their eyes as I know it gets over-used these days! We're taking a much more traditional approach for I Am the Doorway though.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


I love quite gritty and dark movies - Paul Greengrass, Michael Mann (Collateral is one of my favourites), Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey), Christopher Nolan, recently Denis Villeneuve after Sicario and Prisoners. Christopher McQuarrie I like too, and Gareth Evans (The Raid).


Your favourite movies?


Collateral, The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum, Narc, Die Hard, Batman Begins, The Usual Suspects - I must admit I'm also a big sucker for the Fast and Furious franchise!


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I don't know if I have any films I actually deplore! I think it's rare for me to truly hate a movie - although saying that the trailer for Grimsby starring Mark Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen makes me want to gouge my eyes out at the moment if that counts??


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


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You can find me on Twitter @cbaproductions, my website is

For I Am The Doorway our social media links are: @doorway2016,, and our IndieGoGo is


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


Shameless plug alert - my first horror feature Judas Ghost is available now on DVD and Digital. You can find it on Amazon. Also, my web series Horizon which I mentioned earlier is available at If you're a horror or sci-fi fan check them out!


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks Michael, I really appreciate it!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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