Your new movie The
Stranger - in a few words, what is it about?
Mike: Itís about a mother and daughter, grieving over the loss of their
husband/father, moving to start a new life in a remote bed &
breakfast, only to have a stranger invade their lives who believes he is
being hunted by a group of sadistic and supernatural hunters. It is also
about loss and fractured relationships.
were your sources of inspiration when writing The
Mike: There were many sources of
inspiration, from Hitchcock films, to 80s horror movies, to the Michael
Keaton thriller Pacific Heights, but it mostly came from having
little-to-no money to create a horror. We knew we had to have a limited cast, with only a few
Do talk about The
Stranger's approach to horror!
Paul: It goes
back to what I called imaginative horror. Where the visuals and the
designs are intricately tied into the mythology, and that mythology at its
core is the feeding of fear.
Mike: We had all these fantastic ideas for
stand-out horror moments in The
Stranger, including fifty foot tongue
coming through the letterbox, and the wall paper peeling away as the
horror built up around the family, but they had to be dropped to keep the
costs down. Instead, we still got to show some awesome horror moments, but
we concentrated a lot on building the tension throughout Ė keeping the
characters and the audience on edge.
A few words about
your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Paul: For me
it's about telling a story
within the visuals and creating a new Ďworldí for people to explore. I
want the viewer to leave the film wanting more of the horror fantastical
and craving their horror fix.
Mike: I like to keep the audience guessing.
You show them one hand, but fool them with the other. We also tried to get
natural reactions from the actors whenever possible, Jennifer K Preston and
Lindy Pieri [Lindy Pieri
interview - click here],
who play Amanda and The Old Woman, never met each other before we shouted
action and Jennifer opens the front door to see Lindy stood in the
doorway. It worked.
was the collaboration between the two of you like when shooting The
Mike: It works well. I concentrated on the
performances more and the story, while Paul is all about the visuals.
Paul: We are extremely well balanced. I concentrate purely on imagery and
mythology. It is my pleasure to be able to play with all the tools we
have. The lighting, the tones, the design work. Striving for iconic
artwork. Thatís all my playground.
Stranger isn't the first film you've made together - so what can
you tell us about previous collaborations, and how did the two of you
first meet even?
Ironically it all started after I did Hellraiser: Origins and mutual
contacts pushing us together.
Mike: Yes, Paul did Hellraiser:
while I had just created a short film starring the original
Bradley. A mutual contact put us in touch with each other and we have
worked together ever since, albeit films, comics, and more.
Back to The
Stranger - what can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly
Mike: We were very lucky to find our cast. Damien Ashley, Jennifer
K. Preston, and Isabella Percival are all very talented actors who are
hungry to do a good job and to show the world their skills. They were a
pleasure to direct and work with, and hopefully we can all do it again one
day soon. The rest of the cast did an excellent job, including Tony Moran
as The Unnamed, Lindy Pieri [Lindy
Pieri interview - click here] as The Old Woman, and Phil Gwilliam who we have
worked with on numerous occasions.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and the
Mike: Iíve been on many sets and had a mixture in
terms of experiences with cast and crew. Some great, some awful, but
luckily for us, the atmosphere was fantastic throughout on The
It took a long time to get to the finish line as we didnít shoot it all
in one big block, and we also had to contend with the lockdowns and cast
and crew availability, but once we were altogether, it was like one big
family. We kept our spirits up everyday, including the two week shoot in
the isolated bed and breakfast, where we all had to sleep as well. From
the cinematographer Neil Oseman, to the 1st AC Josh Gwynne, to the extras
playing the Hunters, we all got stuck in and had a laugh too, when we
wrapped for the evening of course.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of The
Mike: You know, we are under no
illusions that this is a low-budget horror movie. Some people will love
it, and some people will absolutely hate it. Still, the reactions we have
had so far have been absolutely brilliant. The critics that have written
about it so far have been glowing, and Iíve had people approach me after
the festival showing just stating that they really enjoyed it. I canít
ask for more than that.
Mike, you've only recently finished
another movie, A Light Through Coloured Glass - so what's that one
Mike: This is a
completely different film. Whereas The
Stranger is horror, A Light Through
Coloured Glass is a gritty British drama about a religious man who wakes
up to find that his wife has left him. Depressed, he searches for answers,
but instead finds a new acquaintance in Tina Ė a brash, and foul-mouthed
twenty something with problems of her own.
Do talk about shooting A Light Through
Coloured Glass for a bit!
Mike: Well, I thought the shoot for
Stranger was tough. A Light Through Coloured Glass was harder. Again,
Covid-19 messed up a lot of the production, then we lost members of crew
along the way due to them having to take up other jobs along with other
personal issues. Still, the two main actors Sophia Leanne Kelly and Kyle
Brookes, who do fantastically by the way, pushed with me to get it
completed. If it wasnít for them, along with a few others I need to
mention like Iain Cash, Jay Ehlen, Luke Greensmith, weíd still be
The $64-question of
course, when and where will A Light Through Coloured Glass be
Mike: We have just finished
post-production, so we are looking to get it out in festivals and in front
of distributors as soon as possible.
You've also recently released a comicbook, Rivals
- so what's that one about?
Paul: We are working on the comic
and developing the TV show. Rivals is about fighting for your loved ones.
Fighting for their survival in an ever corroding world of brutality and
treachery. Rivals is a Mad Max-esque action
TV show set in a post
apocalyptic fantasy world. The show centers around two warriors, one an
elite royal guard, Sago Astar and another, a low level street thief, Bizon
must fight for survival across dusty wastelands, shanty towns and armoured
How does making a comicbook
compare to shooting a movie? And what inspired you to do a comicbook in
the first place?
Paul: It's all
world building, I approach it in the same manner. Creating the look of the
characters, the locations, the costumes, weapons. It's the same process I
used on a 100+mil movies like Hellboy and Indy 5. Only in comics you have
no limitations at all.
Mike: Yes, you can do whatever your imagination
conjures up in comics, and not have to worry about how much itís going
To talk about the artists on Rivals,
and why exactly them?
They all have what I would call a very British look to their art. Hand
drawn, colours that looked painted not digital. I prefer that, 2000AD had
that in times gone by when all artists painted on canvass. Our artists are
also great designers, which is vital when you are world building on such a
I'm wildly guessing that Rivals
isn't intended as a one-shot - so what does the future hold for the
Mike: Itís definitely not
a one-shot, we have a whole arc we want to complete which consists of many
issues. This is a whole world with many characters to get behind and
follow on an epic journey.
Any other future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Mike: Iím working away on a few things at the moment, all of which I
canít really talk about, but Paul and I are also looking to do another
horror movie and are in talks with some influential people to get it off
the ground next year. Watch this space.
movies'/your comicbook's website, social media, whatever else?
for the interview!