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An Interview with Pearry Teo, Director of Bedlam Stories

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2013

Pearry Teo on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Bedlam Stories - in a few words, what is it about?


It's a story about Dorothy of Oz and Alice from Wonderland in an asylum battling to steal each other's fantasy lands.


With two main influences on Bedlam Stories rather obviously - if in a twisted way - being Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland - what do you find so fascinating about these stories, and to what extent do you intend to remain true to them (also in style), where will you deviate?


I feel that these characters are 4 dimensional. The stories of Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, on the outside, tell stories of adventure and imagination. However, for the more aware audiences, there seems to be a darker meaning behind all of them. In terms of style, I'm borrowing nothing from the movies of these franchises previously, rather, I'm taking a horror approach to it. I draw from my influences such as Clive Barker, Jean Pierre Jeunet (with Marc Caro) and a little bit from the alternative steampunk culture.


Other sources of inspiration for Bedlam Stories - and while we're at it, what can you tell us about your co-writers and your collaboration with them?


I've worked with Nicole Jones for several years already. She and I have been very close working and we have just completed our first feature film as co-writers together. She really helps bring out the darker sensibilities in me. Christine Converse, who is the writer for the novel, is pretty much given a map of Bedlam Stories and we are allowing her pretty free creative reign on it. In terms of how I collaborate with my writers, I usually come up with what I call the 'Vomit Draft'. It gets the key ideas and the mood in place and from there, we discuss and take turns to really bring our ideas to life.


Judging from the concept art I've seen, you've got quite an elaborate vision for your film - so how do you plan to put that into reality, and what can you tell us about the intended look and feel of your movie as such?


Well, I don't intend to do anything CGI except maybe for some moments of the Cheshire Cat. For the most part, everything is written so that I may shoot it practically. There's heavy focus on atmosphere in the movie. Dark Dreary skies, heavy shadows and creepy corridors. Generally, I'm going for a more desaturated look, as though life has been sucked out of the Asylum. The deeper we go into the Asylum, the more atmospheric we want to make it, such as one would expect if you were to visit Hell.


Jessica Cameron

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


Anna Harr

Currently, I have cast 2 nurses and of course my Dorothy and Alice. I have worked with half of them before. Hannah Ward who was lead in my last horror film was a no-brainer and I've been excited to have her play Dorothy but we went through a long audition process and character work before both she and I were not only happy but convinced we could portray this character in a unique light. Sarah Douglas, a legend in the comic book industry, (Superman 1, 2 and Conan the Destroyer) worked with me on Witchville and she and I were happy to include her as the head nurse. Jessica Cameron [Jessica Cameron interview - click here] and Anna Harr, my first time working with these actors, play Nurse Tilley and Alice respectively. Jessica and me have discussed collaborating for years, but it is Bedlam Stories that I found her to be the best fit for. Anna Harr … let's just say I was delighted to have discovered such a young, bright and glowing talent out of nowhere and by luck. I'm very lucky to have these actors in my arsenal to bring Bedlam Stories into a reality.


As far as I know, Bedlam Stories is still in pre-production as we speak - so what's the schedule, and any idea when the film might be released onto the general public yet (and I do know it might be a little early to ask)?


Yes. I am still committed to shoot two more films for two different studios. Once my contract is done, I intend to start shooting Bedlam Stories. As of right now, I don't want Bedlam Stories to die away, so during my work on my other stuff, I'll be producing Bedlam Stories as a novel and an iPad app. More details can be found on our movie's Facebook-page.


Any future projects beyond Bedlam Stories you'd like to share?


The film I will be shooting this August is top secret. I signed an NDA so I cannot talk about it but very excited to be a part of that franchise. After that, I'm supposed to shoot a movie called Blitzkrieg, a throwback into the 80s monster movies like Aliens / Predator. Very excited to be working with the creature creators of the original Predator / Alien, and we are shooting this right after this current project. In between, I'll be producing my business partner Chad Michael Ward's [Chad Michael Ward interview - click here] feature film debut called Strange Blood, which will launch my new Pearry Teo Presents-label in hopes of producing work from up and coming horror film directors.


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


I think the most formal training I ever got was being on my set and learning my own mistakes as I went along. I think school is actually an informal training as I have yet to meet any teachers qualified to teach anybody in the art of making movies. It's one thing to make movies, it's another thing to be in the movie business. I don't find schools equipped to teach filmmakers about how to be in the film business. They teach them about cameras and how to shoot a movie. But most filmmakers are lost about what happens after that. My hopes is that my new label will change that and streamline the process for these filmmakers.


Now here's a question I'm sure you haven't grown tired of over the years: What caused you to move from Singapore to Hollywood, and what can you tell us about your early Hollywood years?


My ideas were just not accepted in a conservative country such as Singapore. My decision to move wass largely a need to find similar minded people who believe in the art and process the same way I do. My early years were spent learning the process and trying to find a place amongst the sharks. I'm hopeful that I learned enough that I can help those who are just starting out.


Do talk about your filmwork prior to Bedlam Stories for a bit, and your evolution as a filmmaker?


Ha! Well, I've worked in genre films mainly. My first film was a sci-fi film called The Gene Generation starring Bai Ling / Faye Dunaway. I then moved back to my love for horror and made a low budget movie called Necromentia which turned out to be quite a cult film and has garnered quite an interesting fan base. I moved on to do a fantasy film, Witchville, for SyFy Channel and Lionsgate, but found the studio system not to my liking and went back again to a low budget horror film before I took upon another fantasy film, Dracula: The Dark Prince with Jon Voight playing Van Helsing.


You just have to talk about your comicbook DNA Hacker Chronicles for a bit, how did it come into being and what can you tell us about its inherent style!


DNA Hacker Chronicles was created by fans of the first film who wanted to do a comic book and approached me about it. I've always loved comics as a kid and thought that it would be a great expansion to the universe of Gene Generation, where people hacked into your DNA. I never liked the slick science fiction look so I went more for the style of movies like Blade Runner and The Crow and made the comics grungy that way. It was a fun experience, but I got distracted by future film work.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I'm very much a visual director. I like to focus on a  strong sense of visual style and atmosphere. I have most fun in getting my actors to help me paint this picture of a world that I create in my head. To me, films are more than actors and stories (which is the most important). I believe in taking my audiences into another world. From fantasy lands, to dystopian futures and even Hell in my horror films. With Bedlam Stories, I'm really combining every element I love from fantasy to sci-fi (an offshoot genre steampunk is focused more) and definitely horror.


Filmmakers, artists, writers, whatever else who inspire you?


Long list! But my top three has to be Clive Barker, Jean Pierre Jeunet and Guillermo Del Toro.


Your favourite movies?


Another long list! But The Crow ranks as my top, followed by Blade Runner and City of Lost Children.


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


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The Twilight Saga. All the slapstick comedies like Scary Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans etc, and I steer clear from those high school movies like Step Up (John Hughes high school movies are awesome though).


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else? is where I'm most active in.


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


Yes, a thank you to everybody that has been there for me from day one! I really appreciate my supporters and audiences who have stuck with me through my mistakes, trials and tribulations. My promise to you is that I will continue to make better films each time. I am humbled and inspired by each and every one of you!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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
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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