Interview With ‘Lost A Girl’ director Nicholas Winter by Dean Sills

lag1Interview With Lost A Girl director Nicholas Winter by Dean Sills

Synopsis – Lost A Girl

A new job, a new city, a new start. As Saskia waves goodbye to her ex-boyfriend and sister, with them go the last vestiges of a scarred childhood, and for the first time she feels the excitement and potential of a life away from the demons of her past.

Having settled into the job, Saskia becomes aware of unusual tensions between herself and her colleagues. Animosity and hostility circulate. Feeling isolated and alone, her co-workers appear to be conspiring against her, but all is not as it seems.

A clandestine meeting with her boss sets her mind racing about the possibilities of corporate sabotage and character assassinations and Saskia is plunged into a world of paranoia, jealousy and betrayal.

An outside investigation is launched and Saskia is enlisted as a trusted employee to help with small tasks concerning the security of the company.

With no one to turn to and mounting pressures on her performance at work, the cracks begin to appear. A malignant force permeates the darkness and encroaches on Saskia in ways she never thought possible.

Kate, a co-worker, goes missing, and the police begin an investigation. It seems someone is trying to frame Saskia and she needs to find out who, before it’s too late.

Saskia learns that her actions have terrifying consequences, and as truths are uncovered, an evil is unleashed that she had long forgotten but could never escape.

lag2Now you all know a little about the movie please welcome the director of ‘Lost A Girl’ to UK Horror Scene, Welcome Nicholas and thank you for talking to UKHS about your new movie.

OK, let’s get started with the questions, Nicholas.

UKHS – Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your production company Porcelain Film Ltd ?

NW – I started Porcelain back in 2004, just to give the films I made a genuine legitimate feel, especially when approaching other companies for sales and distribution. The first official Porcelain Film, was a short called ‘Lo-Fi’, shot on the Canon XM2 in awesome Mini DV. The film starred Gina Lyons, who, while working on the film, was very interested in how everything behind the scenes was being set up. So we promptly thought it might be a good idea to start producing films together.

After ‘Lo-Fi’ was made and was eventually sold (which was after about a year of different short film festivals) we set about planning the future for Porcelain Film, with various projects, with a few more short films and then eventually the kamikaze leap to feature films.


UKHS – What was the inspiration behind ‘Lost A Girl’ ?

NW – I saw an opportunity to make a simple film, which would be situational in nature, while trying to brainstorm a few ideas about a year ago (around August 2012). I’d had an idea about a paranoid protagonist whose life is systemically deconstructed, but I didn’t know where to set it. I let that idea brew for a while – the idea slowly morphed into something that I could begin to enjoy creating – with that simple deconstruction idea I could tap into the working world, and the office environment, where you have a nice cross section of personalities. Add to that a sense of unease and tension and I knew I could create a film that had a world of its own and would have a sinister mood and atmosphere throughout, which got me fired up to go off and make it…

The high end corporate world seemed a natural fit and Canary Wharf especially because its very much an island onto its own, nothing like the rest of London, which could add another level of displacement, not just to the lead character, but the world of the film.

lag3UKHS – What kind of Horror movie is ‘Lost A Girl’ and will you be submitting it to any Film Festivals throughout the UK?

NW – ‘Lost a girl’ is very psychological, there’s no blood and gore – its very much up to the audience and their imagination – as to what they believe is happening. There is a world outside the story of the film which is carefully constructed to leave people doubting what they see. Some of the characterisation is purposely ambiguous and the use of language hits a grey area so the audience question the intentions of everyone we encounter during the course of the story.

I’ve started the submission process for a few festivals, so that’s always an ongoing thing.

UKHS – I did enjoy the trailer and the London locations, did you shoot the entire movie in London and how difficult was it actually filming there?

NW – I’d say 95% of the finished film was shot in London, around a few different offices in the Canary Wharf / Poplar area of London, with a few other offices in Liverpool st. Other locations were exteriors for a prologue sequence in Bedfordshire, an interior dark setting in Surrey and then an exterior of a desolate landscape in Huelva, Spain.

The offices were a bit of a challenge. Logistically, getting people in and out of the buildings, along with our equipment, was a bit of a pain. Canary Wharf being fairly hot on security and generally set up for the name-tag brigade of folk who go in and out for work everyday, was not conducive to swift moves from place to place. We also had severe time constraints and were working a standard day from eight till six, rather than a normal film day, which would tend to be longer.

Luckily, shooting in the winter allowed me to get the night interiors from about 4pm onwards, so we’d be finished and out by six, which was bizarre.

The office staff were great and we were very respectful to the other tenants – especially the ones on the same floor as us – the 33rd! Everyone was interested in what we were doing. Our make-up artist had bright pink hair – so everyone knew we were coming a mile away. The locations added the essential level of realism you need for this type of story, so it was well worth the effort.

lag4UKHS – I was impressed with the performance from your leading actress, Natasha James. Can you tell us about the cast and was Natasha your first choice for the role of Saskia Johannessen ?

NW – Natasha was always the number one choice for the role. We’d met on a previous film and so I asked her if she’d read the script. I think initially the role was different to what she had previously been asked to do, that there was an immediate challenge set. The thing about ‘Lost a Girl’ is that the entire narrative is from Saskia’s point of view, not once do we, as the audience, know more than she does. All of the films tension is derived from that device, so subsequently I knew I needed an actress who could hold the screen for 90 minutes! To add to that, you need someone who will go the extra mile for you, so you can push them into dark areas. Natasha delivers an exceptional performance, which of course makes me look good, whereas in reality I’m just saying things like, ‘faster, slower, better, less, even less, a bit more’ – and other very unhelpful adjectives 😉

I’m always fascinated to see how different actors work and this film was no exception, all the cast have very different approaches to their characterisation and their techniques are different too.

I’m lucky enough to work on films also as a cinematographer so I meet a lot of actors, so some of the cast were earmarked from previous films I’d worked on, some from the previous feature film ‘Breathe’ and also new actors from two short casting sessions I did in the run up to the film. The London location did me a big favour in that sense, as it tends to be one of the best places to source your actors.

New actors keep you on your toes, stop you getting complacent, so I’d say the cast is a fifty fifty mix of old and new.

UKHS- What was the most challenging experience during the shoot and did you find this movie easier to shoot considering it was your second feature?

NW – Every film presents you with new challenges, but on the whole this film was easier than ‘Breathe’ both in terms of execution, logistically and working method, now I have a little more experience. It was designed from the get go to be very insular to mirror the behaviours of the main character. Also most of the scenes are two or three handers, which makes things easier. Some scenes in ‘Breathe’ have twelve characters interacting, with cross cut parallel action, so most of the time on that film I was making it up as I went along.

Most of the challenges were thankfully addressed beforehand, during long discussions with the actors as well as time of day planning of the scene order within the office, so the production order of the scenes was quite complicated and this meant lots of costume changes, but the scenes all happen in only a few rooms, so the filming of them was pretty standard.

Most challenging for me was a sequence that happens in the flat, which had a complicated order of in and out of one room, into another, back into the other room and then finally out of a bathroom and into a corridor, sequence, while other action happening with two other actors and quite a lot of intense acting moments and final pieces of exposition too.

lag5UKHS – Finally, will the film be released on DVD or just as a download?

NW – I’ve got all sorts up in the air, putting together some of the special features and the online behind the scenes video (now online ). There’s some commentary to be recorded and some more behind the scenes to be collated before the DVD and possible Blu Ray can be finalised.

We set up some audience test screenings in the Cinema to test the film on the big screen with our surround mix and the 2k master, so the film is of the highest spec you need it to be for exhibition. In terms of release I expect the download will be the first in a long line of options open to the film. I’m excited to start getting people’s reaction to the film and hope they enjoy it.

UKHS – Thank you for your time Nicholas and good luck with your movie. It’s been a real pleasure talking to you.

Image courtesy: Porcelain Film Ltd


Mark Drake Interview by Dean Sills

md3Mark Drake Interview by Dean Sills

Hello Mark, first of all, thank you for your time and welcome to UKHS.

UKHS – Since I first started working as an extra and supporting actor last year, I have had the pleasure of meeting some really great actors, lot’s of decent ones and some really bad ones. Mark, you fall into this first category. You are a highly versatile actor who can perform in anything. When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?

MD – Haha, Thanks for the kind words! Well, as a youngster I was a bit of a nightmare, I kept running away and playing truant at school, and was generally quite a nervous and anti social kid. My Mum sent me off to drama classes to try and give me a bit more confidence and discipline and I just fell in love with acting instantly!

UKHS – Most indie Horror fans will know you as Max from ‘Wasteland’, the Zombie flick directed by Tom Wadlow. How did you get involved in this project and did you find the shoot physically challenging?

MD – Physically no, mentally yes! Basically there was only 72 hours between me seeing the casting breakdown and filming my 1st scene! That quick turnaround made character research and preparation, something I care for very deeply, extremely difficult. Fortunately for me, Tommy Draper (the writer) had constructed a very rich screenplay that was able to give me a lot of clues to help me get under the skin of Max and find the root of the anger that drives him in the film.

UKHS – Are you a fan of the Zombie genre and if so what do you think makes them so popular?

MD – To be honest, not massively at all. When I first read the script for Wasteland, I didn’t see it as a zombie film as such. To me it had a lot more in common with ‘The Road’ and ‘Stake Land’ than it did with a typical zombie film. There are of course zombie films I do really like, but I don’t tend to look at films in terms of genre so much, I will take a film on its merits rather than the type of movie it is. It is an incredibly popular genre though, and I think there are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, people always like a movie that makes them jump, and zombie films never lack that. But I also think it’s a genre you can do a lot with, it isn’t a type of film that will easily get stale

md1UKHS – You have done many recent roles, one film I would like to ask you about which sounds really good is ‘Night Bus’. Can you please tell us a little about the story and your character?

MD – ‘Night Bus is a film I’m really excited about. It’s a real ensemble piece, following the lives of the various characters that frequent a typical London night bus late one evening. My character, Jake is on first glance a typical ‘City Boy’ – quite brash and loud, but he is a man that has been forced into this world by circumstance and hasn’t ever really felt like he belonged. There’s a lot of turmoil in the poor fella that he’s never able to fully reconcile. I think the film is going to really grab people’s attention. It flits in style quickly, reflecting the multitude and diversity of characters that you’d see on a night bus really well. Fingers crossed, anyway.

UKHS – Did you enjoy working on the hit TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ and what was it like filming in Morocco?

MD – Oh yeah, it was only a small part but I had been a fan of the series anyway so when the opportunity came, I jumped at the chance. Everybody was incredibly friendly and really made me feel welcome, and you can never really argue about going out to Morocco during the middle of a freezing British winter can you?

UKHS – You recently worked on ‘Ava’, directed by the very beautiful Daniella Daemy. What can you tell us about your role in this and did you enjoy working for Daniella?

MD – ‘Ava’ is another project that I am very excited about and really hope takes off. I play the role of Martin, the lead’s husband and a very troubled man. He is constantly in fear of losing his wife, and this fear leads him to behave quite abysmally at times. He’s a very unhappy character and it was quite hard to understand him at first but once I was able to find a route in, I found him an amazing character to take on and really hope the project gets the funding it needs so I can revisit him. Working with Daniella was intense in a great way. She is a real force of nature with a very singular and focused vision for her work, and it really helped the atmosphere of the shoot, resulting in some very powerful scenes. The whole crew was amazing really and she put the pieces together expertly.

md2UKHS – What is the hardest role that you have had to play and do you go to extreme lengths to prep for your parts and stay in character?

MD – Well Max could be said to be one of the hardest purely because of the short time frame I had to work on, but to be honest all the roles I have taken on board have presented their own challenges, I don’t like easy roles that have no substance and like to challenge myself. I do remember one of my first pieces of work, a short called ‘The Water’s Edge’ was very challenging though as I lost 2 stone very quickly for it and then carried out a physically very demanding week in Snowdonia in some of the most intense weather I’ve ever worked in. It was awesome! My new feature ‘Backtrack’ a psychological horror was also very challenging, physically and emotionally but again was amazing to go through it – all these challenges can either make you miserable or make you feel a lot richer for having experienced them, depending on how you approach them I like to make sure they all do the latter for me.

UKHS – If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?

MD – I think I would be in Africa, working to eradicate the ivory trade. It is something I’ve been very passionate about since I was young, and when acting has had enough of me and throws me away, that will hopefully be my destination.

UKHS – Do you have a guilty pleasure horror film?

MD – I love ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’, starring Bruce Campbell, which I have found out is not to everybody’s taste, though I would by no means say I feel guilty about telling the world that – it’s an amazing film! The same with ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Tremors’, not for everyone, but definitely for me!

UKHS – Finally, are you currently working on any other projects which you can tell UKHS about?

MD – I have a few feature films coming soon apart from ‘Wasteland’ which include ‘Backtrack’, the aforementioned psychological horror which I feature in alongside the legendary Julian Glover. And I’ve also signed onto a new TV series which comes out next year, but sadly I’m signed to secrecy on that so I can’t tell you any more. Fans of horror should really like it though, so stay tuned!


UKHS – Thank you Mark, it was a pleasure talking to you, good luck with all those and keep up the great work.

Image courtesy:Mark Drake



Interview with Sacrament director Shawn Ewert by Dean Sills

sacra1Interview with Sacrament director, Shawn Ewert by Dean Sills

Hello Shawn, thank you for your time and welcome to UK Horror Scene.

Q1) What got you into filmmaking, writing and acting and did you receive any formal training on any of these subjects?

I have always loved to tell stories. When I was a freshman in high school, writing really became important to me thanks to some great teachers. It grew from telling stories into getting a real kick in the ass from writer/director Adam Green. I met him at a convention when he was first promoting his film ‘Hatchet’. He had some very inspiring words, and I got to work on my first script. All of my experience is by doing it. I have never been to film school, or had any other formal training.



Q2) You are the brainchild behind Right Left Turn Productions. How did the company get started and do you just specialize in the horror genre?

I started RLTP in 2008 when we started working on my first film, ‘Jack’s Bad Day’. I really wanted something that I could use to produce not only horror films, but other genres as well. Since the beginning, the idea was to grow the company to help other filmmakers get their films made, as well as our own. While we are definitely a little ‘horror-centric,’ we definitely love film of all kinds.



sacrament1Q3) OK, let’s chat about your first feature film, ‘Sacrament’. Can you tell UKHS a little about the story and what were the greatest challenges of directing your first feature film?

Basically, the story centres around the lead couple, Lee and Blake, and their friends Lorri, Jennifer, Jeff, Shell and Alex. Jeff and Shell are a couple, Lorri and Alex used to be, and Jennifer is somewhere in the middle of the whole mix. It’s only alluded to, but Blake has just been disowned by the grandparents that raised him because they found out he was gay. The friends decide to take a trip to clear their heads and get away from it all. As they drive through central Texas, they end up in the town of Middle Spring. The town is full up thanks to a religious revival, and the smell of barbecue fills the air. The friends soon start to realize things are not quite what they seem, and they start to disappear, only to reappear as dinner.

I have worked on more than a couple of short films of my own, and definitely help out my filmmaker friends when I can, so I am used to being on set. Taking on directing a feature is a horse of a different colour. The biggest problem I have is delegating. I am so used to managing things on my own, I work myself half to death trying to handle it all myself. This time, I had a great crew waiting to back me up every step of the way.

There are always issues, and this film is definitely no exception, but when everyone works together, it makes it all worthwhile in the end.



Q4) I think it’s real cool that you have horror genre veteran Marilyn Burns, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ starring in your movie. How did she get involved with your film and did you enjoy working with her?

I met Marilyn a few years ago at the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas. She was incredibly sweet, and she and I stayed in touch. About a year later, I let her know that I had a script in mind for her. She loved the script, and was really excited to work on it.

We were also able to bring on Ed Guinn from the original ‘ TCM’ as well to play her husband. I had also met Ed a couple of years ago at another TFW convention. I am proud to say that we brought the two of them back together on film for the first time since 1974. The original survivor girl and her saviour, together again.

Both were an absolute dream to work with. They were both very professional, and by the end of the day I was giggling like a kid watching them onscreen. Sometimes it’s a bad thing to meet people you idolized as a kid. These folks were definitely the opposite. Getting to work with them has been an amazing experience for me.



saca2Q5) Which actors did you cast as the seven friends in ‘Sacrament’ and have you worked with any of them before?

I actually met our seven friends thanks to our casting calls for the film. The only one of them that I knew ahead of time was Amanda Rebholz, one of our producers. She and I have known each other for years. To make sure that I was not biased, I made the other producers and casting director make the decision to cast her. I think she really pushed herself, and made Lorri real. Thankfully, we all agreed that she should play the role.

Most of the seven we were pretty sure about as soon as we saw them audition for the roles.

The first to be cast was Troy Ford. He came to our first day of auditions from Oklahoma (about 5 hours away). He brought a certain attitude and parental glare to the role of Lee that no one else had. He was an almost immediate “yes.” We had him come back several times to read with some of the other actors, but we still hadn’t told him he had the part. It was hard because we still had so many people to see, but ultimately we couldn’t see anyone else in the role.

The second cast was Brittany Badali. Also coming to see us after a good long drive, she brought a certain realness to Jennifer that was lacking in some of the other auditions we saw. Too many of the others were taking her dry wit as bitchy, rather than funny. Brittany really understood it, and brought it to her audition.

Soon after, we cast Henry Pao. Henry put us in a bit of a quandary. He has never done a film, and we were actually his first audition. His first audition did not go well, but after he left we all thought we saw a spark in him. We ran to call him back, and after two more auditions, we took the chance and brought him in to play Alex. He grew into the role, and now I cannot imagine anyone else playing the role.

Our casting director knew a director down in Austin, and asked if his girlfriend Cassandra Hierholzer might be interested in reading for the role of Shell. Cassandra is a model, and has a great punk vibe about her. As soon as she started reading the lines for Shell, we knew we had our girl. She absolutely rocked it.

Avery Pfeiffer was a latecomer to the audition process. We actually saw his first audition via video. Originally, when I received his headshots, I almost dismissed him as too young and innocent. When we saw his video, we knew we had to get him on board. He really brought a playfulness to Blake that we absolutely loved.

Our last of the seven cast was Wesley Kimenyi. Wesley had originally read for Lee, but by that point we were pretty set on Troy. Wesley is a great actor, and I really wanted to bring him in. We cast him in a small part, but later had to replace the actor playing Jeff. Wesley stepped into the role, and we never looked back. He did a great job.

I would happily work with any and all of these actors again. They all put so much of themselves into this film, it nearly brings me to tears. To see the characters I wrote come to life in these people is truly inspiring.



saca3Q6) I love the teaser trailer with the skull boiling in the pot. Will we get to see plenty of gore in your movie plus other tasty treats?

That is actually from our original teaser that we shot a couple of years ago when we were trying to boost interest and get funding. That scene has been reshot, but it is still in the film. While we are definitely focusing on the storytelling, I am a lover of blood and gore. We should have enough to make any gorehound happy, but also keep people interested in the characters. There is a big focus on religion and food in the film. I brought a lot of my religious upbringing into the film, as well as a sense of what it is like to be outcast for not fitting into societal norms. The head in the pot is only the beginning.



Q7) Talking of food, if you could have dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

You have no idea how hard that is. There are so many people throughout history that could be at that table, I have to go with a list that falls a little closer to topic, but I just can’t break it down to three. As much as I wanted to comply, I had to go with these four: Alfred Hitchcock, Clive Barker, Kevin Smith, George Orwell. Basically, all of them have been a huge influence on me and my work. They are all great storytellers, and that is what I really want to be. Whether it be film, paper, music…I just want to get the stories out of my head and in front of other people. I could literally sit for hours upon hours listening to the men on my list. I don’t think I could ever run out of questions for them.




saca4Q8) Can you tell us a little about your previous work as an actor and the two short films you directed ?

My acting work is less than stellar. I have never really been comfortable in front of the camera. I definitely prefer being behind it. The acting that I did was for friends in their films. I played an “Ass Slapper” in a strip club in the film ‘Kodie’, an inept security guard in ‘Devotion’ (both B.S. Entertainment films), and a dirty cop in ‘Hostility Hotel’. The last of which was written and directed by our own cinematographer Justin Powers. Anytime a friend needs a big tattooed guy for a film I’ll happily help out, but I definitely prefer directing.

‘Jack’s Bad Day’ was a learning experience, if nothing else. I had directed theatre casts for years, but never for film. There was so much I didn’t know, and I feel the film suffered for it. I don’t hate it the way I used to, but I am still sad that it doesn’t live up to what I had hoped it would be. Most of that I blame on myself, but all in all I think it is a decent first film. We’ve actually thought about going back and reshooting the film, but doing it right. Regardless, people seem to like it. I still think it’s a good script, and we had a lot of fun making it.

‘The Sleepover’ as our second film, and our first foray into heavy makeup effects and experimental lighting. Ultimately, I was not happy with what we produced, and we scrapped the whole thing. We’ll pick it up again later, but it’s not on the radar right now.

We also did a short called ‘Property Lines’. It was a submission for the Splatterfest film competition. We put a pretty good crew together, and worked our butts off to get the film made in 48 hours. It was a great experience, but it’s a hard way to make a film.



Q9) What’s your favourite scary movie?

I wish I could say that I had just one. Every subgenre has something great to offer, even if it’s the pleasure of watching something absolutely terrible. If I absolutely had to nail it down to one film, it would be Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. As far as I am concerned, it is a perfect film. Hitch was an absolute master, and a huge inspiration to me as an artist.



saca5Q10) Finally, what are your future plans and ambitions?

Honestly, if I can continue making films and telling stories, I’ll be a happy man. I have already started the script for the next film I want to make, and I am really excited about it. Thankfully, some of our cast from Sacrament are already interested in auditioning to be part of it.

Thank you Shawn. I really appreciate your time and this opportunity to interview you for UKHS. Keep up the great work and good luck with your film.

Picture courtesy: Shawn Ewert / Sacrament.

Pictures are as follows:

1 – Marilyn Burns and Ed Guinn on set

2 – Matthew Ash (FX artist) getting ready for gory scene

3 – (Left to Right) Marilyn Burns, Shawn Ewert (Director), Troy Ford (actor), Amanda Rebholz (Producer and actor), Avery Pfeiffer (actor) on set

4 – Cory Ahre (actor) and Justin Powers (cinematographer) on first day of shooting 

5 – “The Feeders” tearing apart a body

6 – Shawn Ewert (director) and Brad Foster (script supervisor) on set



Twitter: @sinners4dinner