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An Interview with Richard Waters, Director of Bring Out the Fear

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2023

Films directed by Richard Waters on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Bring Out the Fear - in a few words, what is it about?

 

A couple in the dying days of their relationship take a walk in their favourite forest, only to find they canít escape it. Not only that, but no one else is around, the paths lead nowhere, the sun never sets, and something seems to be following them... They have to try to survive an altogether otherworldly experience, as well as each other.

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Bring Out the Fear - and as weird as this may sound, is any of the film based on personal experiences?

 

The forest where the film is set is the root inspiration. My producer, who is also my wife, took me on a walk there years ago, and I was just taken aback by how different every section of the place seemed, and how easy it was to get lost, even though it wasnít actually a very large place!

 

I was very inspired by the tone and mythos of The Blair Witch Project and Silent Hill, where youíre talking about people with friction, whether thatís between a group or of oneís own conscience, being forced into a circumstance beyond comprehension. The futility of J-horror (where you can be cursed and can do nothing about it) and the dream logic of some of the Italian greats like Fulciís The Beyond [Lucio Fulci bio - click here] and Argentoís Suspiria.

 

As for being inspired by personal experiences, I did happen to write this film that is centered around a failed marriage proposal before I was engaged to my now-wife, but Iím sure thereís nothing to that! Iím really drawn to the characters and how they react in a given situation, and I felt there was a lot of territory to take some lived experience where nobody is perfect, people grow, people change, people fail. Thereís definitely a strong throughline about toxic relationships and toxic people, but I felt it would be counterproductive to use that as a shorthand for Ďthis person is good, this person is bad.í There is a part of me and my own fears, and in some cases, my nightmares, throughout, in all the characters, for better and for worse.

 

Bring Out the Fear pretty much follows the logic of a nightmare for large parts - so how easy or hard was it not to literally lose your plot telling your story that way?

 

When I really started diving into horror films as a teenager, I remember watching the Italian horrors, particularly those of Fulci, and being so confused. It took me a while to get my head around what it was that was making me feel so uncomfortable, and once I realised what it was, that nightmare logic, I just loved it. Itís one great part of the cinematic experience where you can bring an audience from reality to dream and back without necessarily signposting it. Itís an exciting adventure that can leave you unnerved and having to be on your toes to see if youíre grounded in reality or not. Once you embrace the unpredictable nature of moving from one to the other, it becomes a lot easier to feel a rhythm and to have a feeling of where you are with it. Itís a lot like jazz or prog-rock, where from the outside it can seem like thereís a lot of chaos and confusion, but on the inside, you are so in tune with what youíre doing, you are able to move between these notes. That said, the scene of Dan discovering the ring did end up disappearing between rewrites, only flagged by lead Tad Morari [Tad Morari interview - click here] during rehearsals. Hey, even seasoned musicians hit bum notes every now and again, right!?

 

Do talk about Bring Out the Fear's approach to horror!

 

Itís all about being psychological! Iím a big believer in the creeping terror of what you donít necessarily see, but what you are anticipating seeing. Obviously from the perspective of being a low budget indie film, you donít want to be showing something you donít have the money to make look good, but even with that, one of my least favourite parts of bigger budget affairs is the tendency to show off the scares. Iíd always intended for this to be a bit more Ben Wheatley Kill List approach, where you might get a shaky glimpse at something, and then I always go back to one of my all-time favourites, The Haunting, where you go into cardiac arrest at the sound design. Itís all about what your mind is seeing, then peppered in with these bits of on-screen horror to unnerve you. Some people might complain there is nothing happening, but itís more that nothing is happening in your face. Itís all about being subtle with the scares, while also not holding back on getting under the skin!

 

A few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

It was all about the characters for me, so having actors who knew the characters they were embodying, then giving them the scenario to play in and just keeping them on track. Initially I wanted a bit of a grungy Kill List approach to the visuals except even rougher, but Rowan Moore, our director of photography, was able to deliver these gorgeous images in this extremely tight time we had to turn it around, so we leaned into that. I didnít want to overshoot it though. Whatís on screen is what was on the page, but I wanted the energy of Ciara Bailey [Ciara Bailey interview - click here] and Tad Morariís [Tad Morari interview - click here] back and forwards to really come out on the screen. I was tracking where they needed to be in the story at all times, and visually, even though the whole thing is set in daylight, I had it get more and more oppressive and claustrophobic. There needed to be a feeling of surreal and unpredictability to the film, but it was all well planned out and mercifully we had the right team to pull it off.

 

What can you tell us about Bring Out the Fear's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Casting was everything with this, and I wrote it with a certain actor in mind for the Rosie role, but then we decided to pivot to Ciara Bailey, who brings a totally different energy to what was initially on the page. Weíd worked with her on a comedy she co-wrote, and knew how talented she was, and when I mulled it over, I really thought she could carry this character. It may have been a different direction than Iíd initially planned, but it was definitely a better one in the end. As for Tad Morari, he came to us through an open casting call and was the only person out of like 60 auditions that grabbed me. It was like the character had come off the page and onto the screen. The poor guy then had to deal with me. I like to talk to people I donít know in person to see if they will gell well with our sets, so we met for a cup of tea and a chat, which led to me insisting on bringing him to the forest we were filming in, deep into it, away from any other people. Just him, me, and a camera. Heís lucky I wasnít some sort of psycho.

 

We rounded out the cast with James Devlin as Eric, who is a friend of ours who isnít necessarily an actor, but I had this strange feeling he would be perfect in the role, and even he will admit now that he was great, and Brian Matthews who plays the character I named Trapped at the top of the film. Heís someone I knew from a local filmmakers group and have a lot of time for.

 

You of course also have to talk about the woods your movie was filmed at, and what was it like filming there?

 

Like I mentioned, they had this great Ďvariedí vibe, where you felt like it was a definitely different section every couple of hundred metres. Itís really a character in itself. Itís an area open to the public, but strangely, we didnít get too slowed down by that. The biggest issue was adorable dogs running up to us in the middle of takes, and who is going to be mad about that? There was also one day where we had this intense mist just caught in the trees on the day we were filming a particularly heavy scene, and it was too perfect. The place was very easy to get turned around and lost in (Iím not going to lie, I got lost recceing the location and recorded a Blair Witch Project style Ďif you find this, I didnít make ití video), and we all put in our steps on the shoot, but all in all, it brought so much to the film and was pleasant enough to deal with.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

Iíd made something a few years ago that had a very negative on-set experience and some awful crewmembers, and it was important to me that Bring Out the Fear was totally different. This was a creative endeavour, and I didnít want to soil that creativity with awful people on set, so I put a lot of thought into who we had with us. Aisling, our assistant director for example, is a really good friend from college who Iíd made loads of shorts with, but had drifted apart from, and rekindling our friendship with this film was just so nice. There were a few faces who I didnít know ahead of the shoot, but everyone ended up being great and bringing the right kind of atmosphere to set. We were moving so fast, we had no time for drama, but we did manage to get plenty of time for joking and laughs without compromising anything.

 

We were trying to get through an overoptimistic amount of script a day, which was my fault and ended up coming to bite us in the ass, including one day where I felt some tension and like the walls were closing in. To be honest, that was probably all in my head, but if things arenít running 100% perfect, which is of course how most film sets are, I become very aware of that. But through producer Alison and her skills are figuring out what we should be doing, we got on track without any issues.

 

It was a great set, probably one of my favourites, and I think most of us could feel we were getting these great performances shot so well as it was happening. I canít stress enough how even though I am writer/director, this is a film made by a team of people. No one phoned it in here, and it may have spoiled me for any future shoots.

 

The $64 question of course, where can Bring Out the Fear be seen?

 

After all that, Bring Out the Fear has landed on VOD in North America, UK, and Ireland in all the usual places. Itís exciting to finally have the film be so readily available after going through delays with pandemics and fest runs and the likes, and weíd really encourage people to check it out and reach out to let us know what they think.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Bring Out the Fear?

 

Blown away. Thatís how we have felt. This is a small indie film made the way I wanted to make it, fully expecting to finish and self-release it, maybe show it in a local cinema for the cast and crew. For it to have been selected to premiere at Frightfest, followed by a load of other festivals we were honoured to be a part of, and even picking up Best Film awards, we just werenít ready for it. Ciara was telling us she was so happy to see how excited Alison and I were when we were in the Phoenix in London after the premiere. The reviews started dropping and were all so positive. We got some extremely kind words from Kim Newman, which just floored me. People coming up to us to let us know theyíd seen the film and liked it was like an out-of-body experience.

 

With the VOD release, it has been so humbling to get this big wave of positive reviews. I know it wonít last, that everyone has different tastes and those who donít like the film will make sure we know, but thatís all a part of it. Right now, to see the film connect with people, to find an audience, to reach the people like me who like something dark and psychological, itís been an unreal experience. Some films are made and disappear into the ether, but to see Bring Out the Fear land with anyone, let alone how many it has so far... Itís hard to put into words, but Iíll simply say Iím grateful to everyone.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Alison and I wrapped photography on a new feature in October that weíve just finished a first cut of. We brought back our director of photography Rowan, James has a non-acting role, and Ciara even makes an appearance! I canít say too much right now, but in a few months, Iím sure you wonít be able to shut me up.

 

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

 

Iíve just always been obsessed with films and stories and remember getting so mesmerised when I started to see behind the scenes of the movie magic. When DVDs became big, I couldnít get enough of the making-of documentaries, until my family got a camcorder and I got to try make films with my friends. Films like Gremlins, Poltergeist and Ghostbusters really sparked my imagination for the fantasy world that could be created on screen, and I was always more drawn to being the magician than just sitting in the audience. I went to college for TV & Film for 4 years (3 in Ireland, 1 in Wales) where Alison and I (yep, we go back that far) really got to spread our creative wings and try different things.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Bring Out the Fear?

 

We ended up making a feature film with our college tutor Michael, who wrote and directed. We are still close and have our production company Weird Pretty Pictures with him, and he was an exec producer on Bring Out the Fear. That film was Sodium Party, which I would describe as if David Lynch made an Irish mystery. The lead from that film, Slaine Kelly, brought us on to do the romcom The OíBriens, which Alison produced and I made my feature directorial debut (if you donít count my awful emo teenage feature film). We made plenty of shorts and music videos over the intervening years, as well as establishing our TV careers as our day jobs. Following a bad set experience, I decided to do one Ďfor meí, and made a found footage horror called In A Strangerís House, which I did almost entirely single-handedly, and it surprised me by connecting to a dedicated audience. That film is the direct reason we were able to make Bring Out the Fear.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I have a vision, and it is almost always best realised by allowing my cast and crew to bring their strengths to a film. I like to have sets where people feel comfortable and can bring their A-game. I talk to everyone and let them know what Iím thinking and then Iíll see how everything is working as a whole. If you have the right people around you, it makes a world of difference. Collaboration is so important to me, that Iím not stuck in my ways if there is a better option out there. Thatís why I wonít put ĎA film by Richard Watersí on the top of my film. Thereís so much talent that goes into these things that itíd be rude to try claim it all for myself.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

A very small sampling but George Romero, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Kevin Smith, John Carpenter, David Fincher, Ben Wheatley, and recently, Benson and Moorhead have been really blowing me away.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Uff, a hard question! Again, hereís a small sampling: Day of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, The Muppet Movie, Disturbing Behavior, The Beyond, Alien, Apocalypse Now, Videodrome, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Poltergeist, King Kong, Requiem For A Dream.

 

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

 

Gosh, I saw this one about a couple in the woods recently... What was it called...?

 

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

 

Feeling lucky ?
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USA  amazon.com

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Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
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Your shop for all things Thai

Iím on most socials as @richmwaters, and you can also find the film at @bringoutthefear. We have a Weird Pretty YouTube channel where you can see some Frightfest interviews and the making of Sodium Party, which I think is a great look at making an indie film.

 

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

 

Did I mention the film is out on VOD now? Because itís out on VOD now. So you should consider checking it out on VOD. Now.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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to the weirdly romantic,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Out now from
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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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD