DW) Andrew, you and Julian Hundy (co-producer / co-writer) have made a really great zombie film that belies the budget you had to spend. What was the key in making a little money go a long way?
AG) I think the key thing when it comes to stretching your budget is getting as many people involved as possible, whether it be on screen or off. We wrote a really ambitious script and had a large cast for a first feature on such a low budget I think you should always think big when it comes to writing the script, if you aim high to begin with you can always adjust the script later on if certain things prove to be unattainable, which we did on numerous occasions, although you should try to keep locations in mind when writing an independent film. Added to that we had to find hundreds of people willing to zombie up for us, and had to call in favours from all our friends and family as well as get lots of extras to come along! We were extremely lucky with the cast and crew we had on board for the film and everyone was prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty to help out.
DW) I’ve read somewhere that you, Julian and some of the film’s contributors attended college in Bedford together. Was making a movie something you all aspired to?
AG) Yeah definitely, me and Julian wrote the script whilst we were still studying and we went into pre-production as soon as we finished our final year. We really wanted to work with the guys we’d been at university with for the past three years and once we set the ball rolling Jim, Jaime, and Jed were all happy to get involved and help us out which was great!
DW) One of the aspects of the film that I felt elevated it above many independent films was the confidence you seemed to put in the actors to establish themselves in the movie and portray very realistic characters. How did you and Julian achieve this? was it simply a case of having a relationship with the actors prior to shooting that enabled great performances from presumably inexperienced actors?
AG) I don’t want to take anything away from the cast here, as I think they all did a fantastic job considering their varying levels of experience and I expect some of them to go very far, so it was great to catch them early on in their respective careers. We didn’t get much time to rehearse and most of our rehearsals were probably on the day we shot the scene, but we did have a great relationship with the cast and everyone got on really well which is always a huge bonus on set. When it came to writing the script, we wanted to keep the dialogue as natural and realistic as possible which is no easy feat when making a film about the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and I like to think that aided their performances!
DW) Music plays such a vital role in the film, and often on low budget films the cost can be very prohibitive. The quality of tracks (and score) used in The Dead Inside enhanced the film so much – it was all local people am I right in thinking?
AG) Yes I think we were very lucky when it came to the score and tracks we used, the composer was a guy that me and Julian went to school with who I tracked down, trying to get music from his band only to find out he’d left and become a composer which worked out nicely, Jim put us in touch with An Army of Lights which are based in Northamptonshire, and all the club music was provided by Matt Gill who lived in the same village as me. We always set out to use as much local talent as possible when making The Dead Inside and I think the music is probably our greatest success story in that respect. It all relates back to getting as many people involved as possible as it will open up so many doors, whether it be for actors, crew, musicians, bands or locations. If you’re planning on making a film you need help from everyone you know and then some.
DW) I mentioned in the review the list that author MJ Simpson had created back in 2012 of 140 British horror films that at the time were unreleased – The Dead Inside being one. Were you aware of this? How did you overcome the increasingly difficult task of finding distribution?
AG) No we had no idea we’d been consigned to a list of unreleased films. It was difficult getting distribution without a sales agent, I spent days researching distribution companies and trawling the internet for contact details and just sent out hundreds of emails, asking whether we could submit a screener. For the most part I don’t think distribution companies are interested in low budget British films with no big names, an unknown cast, made by a first time director and we didn’t hear back from most. So I guess we were quite lucky that a few distributors saw its potential and wanted to take it on.
DW) So now that your movie is finally in the public domain, how do you feel? People have described it to me as a mixture of fear and relief.
AG) I think that sums it up quite well, we are very relieved the battle is finally over and the film has been released, but now its in the public domain obviously we’re anxious about how it will be received. I think people can be very harsh when reviewing Independent films and anyone can go online and write a review on Amazon or IMDB so its a little nerve racking, but we’ve been overwhelmed by all the positive feedback we’ve received so far which has defied our expectations. We’re staying very grounded though, we know we haven’t made the next Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity.
AG) We’ve got a short film in post production at the moment which we’re hoping to do a festival run with next year, its a social drama so its a long way away from The Dead Inside. we’re also working on our next feature which we’re very excited about, and we’re planning on shooting a pilot for a TV series next year about the life of a young boxing hopeful turning pro. I’m also writing a treatment for a zombie sequel The Dead Outside, so we have lots of plans, I just hope we can stay focused and carry on working towards our goal of being full time film makers before life gets in the way to much.
My thanks to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions, and for those that have asked – here’s a link to that MJ Simpson piece about unreleased British horror films. In the time that’s passed, some have managed to secure a release.