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An Interview with Mike Clarke and Paul Gerrard, Co-Directors of The Stranger

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2022

Films directed by Mike Clarke on (re)Search my Trash

Films directed by Paul Gerrard on (re)Search my Trash


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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.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing The Stranger?


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 locations.


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.


What was the collaboration between the two of you like when shooting The Stranger?


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.


The 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?


Paul: Ironically it all started after I did Hellraiser: Origins and mutual contacts pushing us together.


Mike: Yes, Paul did Hellraiser: Origins, while I had just created a short film starring the original Pinhead Doug 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 these people?


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 on-set atmosphere?


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 Stranger. 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 Stranger?


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 about?


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 The 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 shooting now.


The $64-question of course, when and where will A Light Through Coloured Glass be released?


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 citadels.


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 cost.


To talk about the artists on Rivals, and why exactly them?


Paul: 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 large scale.


I'm wildly guessing that Rivals isn't intended as a one-shot - so what does the future hold for the comic?


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?


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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.


Your/your movies'/your comicbook's website, social media, whatever else?


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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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