In my review, I couldn't help but liken the premise of The
Dare to that of Saw - at
all a fair assumption in your view?
suppose it's fair, but with all due respect to Saw, Dominic's motives are
bitterly personal, dating back to childhood, whereas Jigsaw is based on a
macro worldview. Plus, we were careful to ensure that Dominic's methods of
torture were directly related to what he suffered as a child, at the hands
of his prisoners. For example, Kat forced a spider into his ear when they
were kids - so he injected spider eggs into her ear in the basement.
Dare is grounded in Dom's history, on a deeply personal
(Other) sources of inspiration when writing The
Sleepers, for sure. For me, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Doctor
Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novels) were big inspirations. I'm fascinated by the
duplicity of man, and I studied those books as part of my university
dissertation. Frankenstein is my favourite novel.
Now how did the project fall together to begin with?
I had sent Giles my screenplay The Nobodies - a drama screenplay
about the complex relationship between a drug support worker and his
heroin addicted client. He loved it so much that it acted as a sample to
get me the gig on
Dare. Giles sent me a 2 page synopsis of his idea,
which was originally called Welcome to the Last Day of Your Life, which
we agreed wasn't a suitable title. I drafted a first draft in a week or
so, and we went from there. It was a really smooth, quick process
What can you tell us about The
Dare's co-writer and director Giles Alderson, and what was your
Giles is a multi-disciplinary talent. He's pragmatic and logical. I
loved our collaboration and I miss it a lot. I haven't co-written
anything in the same way since. Giles was responsive, and most
importantly we had a very comfortable relationship where we were able to
deliver honest feedback without any tantrums or negativity. We had
plenty of 6-8 hour calls, and I look back with fond, fun memories.
Dare contains its fair share of violence - so were all the bloody
bits in your script to begin with, or were they added during the shoot?
they were there for sure. In fact they were worse. And we had to cut them
to hit an R rating, rather than NC-17! There was one scene where Dominic
forced Jay to eat a live light bulb, amongst other horrific attacks.
talk about The Dare's
approach to horror!
Visceral was the word we always had in mind. We knew this was a midnight
movie, to watch with pizza, beers and friends. One that people talked
about and one that was morally grey. After the UK premiere I could hear
people debating whose side they were on - the prisoners' or Dominic's,
and I loved that. We wanted to be subversive in that way, we wanted
people to question their own morals, and root for Dominic, even if they
wouldn't admit it.
As a writer, have you actually been
present during the film's shoot, and if so, do talk about the shoot for a
I was on set for a week at the start. It was one of the coldest but best
experiences of my life. I loved the collaboration, the comradery, and
watching my work come to life. It was great to re-write scenes on set,
and go through the next day's scenes the night before over a beer.
It truly was a surreal experience and made all the blood, sweat and
tears worth it. I made so many friends in that week, and I'll never
To what extent does what has been brought to the
screen match what you've envisioned for The
I think it's pretty spot on for what we wanted at the time. Though Giles
and I recently had a conversation about how it would sound, look and
feel if we were to start from scratch now, given our experience since
2016, when it was shot. It was a learning curve for sure, but I'm happy
with how it turned out.
The $64-question, where can The
Dare be seen?
platforms: Playstation, X Box, Google Play, Itunes, and I believe the
Blu-ray will be released in the US soon.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of The
The more time passes, the more confident I am that people will like it.
I don't know if there's been a cultural shift as a result of the
pandemic, or if it's just that time has afforded less anxiety around
reception. We received some fantastic reviews on release, Film
Nightmarish Conjurings etc, but because of the divisive nature of the
story, the reviews were mirrored. People appear to love it or hate it,
which is fine by me. I'd rather incite passion than apathy.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I'm working with producer Shaked Berenson - who distributed
Dare - on a
folk horror movie called Nights Gone. We have Richard Brake and Bonnie
Aarons provisionally attached, and we're currently considering potential
female directors. It's quite a departure from
Dare, but I'm really
excited about it. I can see it all in my head and I really hope we get
to see it on screen one day.
got you into screenwriting in the first place, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
I've been writing stories since I was five years old, and even through
school I was writing weekly episodes about a character called Crowman
and sending them to everyone in my class. English was always my
favourite subject, I studied English Literature in college and at
University, then went onto do a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I
graduated with first class honors with distinction, majoring in
screenwriting. So that blend of classic literature and creative writing
gave me a strong footing. I started writing screenplays in 2009, and
I've been honing my craft since.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to The
Dare was my first produced movie - I guess you could call it a
Baptism of Fire!
How would you describe yourself as a
I like to think of myself as a character-focused writer, given
my experience working with people from all different backgrounds. I'm
very much a people person, and I'm fascinated with real life complex
characters - this unconsciously feeds into my work. Naturally pathos
feeds into my work because it's all about relationships. Every one of my
scripts is about parenthood, in one way or another. Even the scripts I
wrote before I became a parent. So I guess I'm a relationship-based
Screenwriters, writers, filmmakers, whoever else
who inspire you?
Storywise, I tend to take a lot of inspiration from sources other than
films - mainly real life people and experiences. I'm a mental health first
aider and historically a drug support worker, so I get a lot of
inspiration from the work I did in my 9-5. In terms of being inspired by
artists, I watch a lot of writer/director commentaries, which really
inspire me to get my ass in the seat. But really there's nothing more
inspiring than seeing my peers do well, and affirm that success in
filmmaking is achievable. Giles Alderson, Jed Shepherd, Matthew and Tori
Butler Hart, Phil Hawkins, all of those guys have made features and it
just shows what can be done with the right mindset. In terms of growing
up, Spielberg was the biggest inspiration - Jurassic Park changed my
life and made me want to write movies - so he's a magician. And writer-wise, Cormac McCarthy, Mary Shelley, and I'd have to say old Bill
Shakespeare, given I learned so much about drama and tension from his
plays in college and university.
Your favourite movies?
My top 5 have been set
in stone in my head since I was a kid. I can't imagine they'll ever
change, until the day I die:
1. Jurassic Park
3. Back to the Future
4. Terminator 2
Though more recently -- Paddington 2 is the most perfect movie of the
century. I love Pixar - I guess I've watched more animated, family-friendly movies than anything else since becoming a parent, and a lot of
them are incredibly well told and written, so there's a lot to learn
from them. Horror-wise I adore Hereditary, It
Follows, The Witch.
Midsommar has grown on me and I love it now. I also love the John
Wick movies, they're such a good time.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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will take you
I can't say I deplore any movies. I HATED Jurassic World at first,
because I was comparing it to Jurassic Park, but I've seen it a lot
since and I forgive it more and more each time. Comparison is the thief
of joy, right? Though I still can't get over that teenager having no
interest in seeing a T-rex... I wish he'd have been eaten by the Mossy,
rather than the aunt.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
Dare's Instagram and Twitter: @thedaremovie
Instagram, Twitter and Clubhouse: @wordswithjonny
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Thanks as always to Giles, Shaked and the rest of
for the interview!