Hello David, welcome to UK Horror Scene. Before we begin I would just like to thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to chat with us. It’s thanks to filmmakers like you for making the UK Horror industry what it is. Well done!
UKHS – When did you know that filmmaking was your true calling and why did you decide to focus on the horror genre?
David – From a very early age I showed an interest in film and would dissect everything I could. I was lucky enough to have been a child when Cinema was at a high point, the original Star Wars Trilogy and films like Labyrinth and Dark Crystal captured my interest and showed me Fantasy SciFi at its best, a genre I one day would like to partake in. As I grew up visits to my local video store as well as a mobile VHS rental van allowed me to watch a load of the video nasties when they were at their peak. That along with being forbidden to watch the Jason or Freddy films only made me more eager to see then.
I remember when Friday the 13th the Final Chapter came out and I really wanted the poster. Horror films such as The Evil Dead, Christine, IT, Galaxy of Terror and the Omen Trilogy allowed me to see graphic horror and I soon spent my time working out how they were done. Visionaries such as director David Cronenberg and FX genius Stan Winston soon became early inspirations for me. When I first had the chance to make a film at college it was for Art and the brief was to explore colours and textures, naturally I chose to explore these through horror. It was 1995 and I loved the experience. The film was titled Ritual: an artistic journey into colour, texture and ultimate horror. My tutor felt disturbed and failed me.
David – After College my early film career consisted mainly of corporate videos and live event coverage as well as a couple of short horrors I made for fun, it wasn’t until a script was sent to me for proof reading that I stepped in to feature films, that script was ‘Animal Soup’. The script blew me away and I was brought on board by the writer JAK to shoot and edit the film, I ended up working side by side with him, co directing and aiding in all aspects of the film. The crew consisted of he and I, each of us doing numerous roles on set.
Despite not ever having made a feature film before, we planned the film out perfectly before we began filming, sadly unforseen balls ups resulted in cast members dropping out, rewrites and a shooting schedule that spanned over a year. ‘Animal Soup’ took us 26 days and 44 hours of footage, the first edit came in at 83 minutes and after several reviews and a short run of sales, we decided to do a re edit, this one came in at 67 minutes and was a superior edit.
The film was picked up by a company who screwed us on a few things and an agreement was made that they could sell copies online to the US and I could sell copies to whoever. The film still has quite a following and still shocks people. It isn’t perfect in anyway but it stands as a starting point for me as I learned so much during its production, it was ‘Animal Soup’ that got me noticed by a horror magazine with whom I worked with for 14 months.
After the underground success of ‘Animal Soup’, JAK and I began work on a sequel, its working title was Tinned Fruit which then became Cold Harbour, we quickly put the project to rest as we believed that Horror Sequels only really work if the first film is a huge success, so we changed a few things and the sequel element fell away and ‘Monitor’ was created, this film I tackled without JAK due to his work comitments, but it allowed me to learn more about film, I hired a crew and concentrated more on the direction, I ended up having to direct the film when I couldn’t find someone to take it on board, this allowed me to learn After Effects. The film is more thriller than horror but I love how it shows I have grown as a filmmaker.
I then worked on ‘Forest of the Damned 2’ and a few other independent low budget movies.
UKHS – The horror anthology film, ‘Three’s A Shroud’ won the British Horror Award at the British Horror Film Festival 2012, congratulations on this fantastic achievement. You directed the segment ‘Over Developed’. Can you tell UKHS a little about your segment and some of the influences that inspired you to make this?
David – I really enjoyed making ‘Over Developed’ and I thoroughly loved making it. However, the anthology titled ‘Threes a Shroud’, I refuse to comment on as certain parameters were very unprofessional resulting in mine and one of the other directors feeling very let down by the third guy.
I have a final cut of my ‘Over Developed’ which is different to the cut included in the anthology and its available for people to watch if they wish but I no longer associate myself with the piece as a whole.
UKHS – OK, let’s talk about ‘Blaze of Gory’. You are behind the whole project which is written by Blaize Alix Szanto. It all started when you read a short story given to you by a seemingly innocent 12 year old girl. After reading the first story from Blaize how long did it take you to decide you were going to turn her stories into a movie?
David – Yes it all started when I had mentioned that myself and a producer friend were thinking of setting up a website and were looking for short horror content. Blaize’s mum convinced her to send me a story. I read it that week and it instantly lept off the page at me, I contacted Blaize and asked if she had any more stories as I felt this one was strong enough to be a film and if she had others I said we could pitch it on the website. After speaking to Blaize and the knowledge that the website wasn’t going to be ready for at least a year, I though I would pre-produce a series of shorts ready to launch on the site. Blaize had given me the first story in June 2012 and I was ready to shoot the first film that November. I put the project on hold for a short time and then relaunch it in 2013 having hired 9 other directors to undertake the project.
David – Norway was a gamble, I originally thought I should have the film made by a Norwegian cast and crew with English subtitles. It proved quite difficult to have a crew out there without my involvement so I looked at heading over there to direct it myself with an interpreter. `The more I thought about it, the more I felt it wouldn’t work as it would be too difficult for me to direct in a foreign language. I hired a cast from the UK and USA and flew them out to Oslo, my Norwegian crew cancelled on me at last minute so I ended up getting the cast to aide in the production as well, it was a very tight shoot but we managed it. The location was amazing when we eventually got there, (we got stranded in a car in the cold for 4 hours). The cabin had no plumbing, an outside hole in the ground and its solar power generator had managed to store 5 minutes of power. So shooting a film in a cabin in minus 30 degree temperatures was a challenge, but we all survived and we have a great segment done.
The cast were amazing and without us all pitching together I’m sure one of us would’ve died (probably me for getting them all involved).
UKHS – Finally, are you currently working on any other projects which you can tell UKHS about ?
David – Along with keeping control on the 10 shorts that make up the ‘Blaze of Gory’ project I have ‘A Killer Conversation’, a dark comedy ready to be released and a Zombie comedy called ‘Meet the Cadavers’ that I have just finished principal photography on. Both films are comedies but from different sides of the scope, Killer is a very dark film I directed over 2 long days in Wales last year, it was written 20 years ago by Micheal Haberfelner and then Cadavers is a film written by one of the cast members of Snow, it was written 4 months ago and we shot the film over 10 days. ‘Blaze of Gory’ has proved to be the project I’ve been meaning to be part of for years. I was always looking fro a project to bring together like minded people to join forces and through the project I am now going to be working with one of the directors on a film called ‘Six Hot Chicks in a Warehouse’ and I am looking to team up with one of the other directors to be part of their company for a few projects over the next year.
Image courtesy: David V.G. Davies
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