An Interview with Emma Dark by Gary Hindley

rsz_ed5Hi there, I’m Gary Hindley, Writer for UK Horror Scene.

Thank you very much for agreeing to speak with me, I hope all is well with you.

I want say congratulations on your success, with the award winning ‘Seize the Night’. It’s a fantastic piece of film, and thoroughly enjoyed. The writing and directing of film, is something you look to be thriving in, and each project you take on shows more ambition and your drive to try new, exciting things.

Q: What were the influences that got you interested in the horror genre?

I’ve always liked horror, from a very early age. My Dad was a butcher, and as a small child I used to go into his walk in fridge in the butchers shop to see the animals. Not in a particularly grim way, I wanted to see if any of the animals still had heads on and stroke them. Thankfully I actually didn’t turn out to be a serial killer, in fact I’m not even a big fan of slasher movies to be honest. The first horror film I saw was Albert Pyun’s “The Sword and the Sorcerer”. Strictly speaking it’s probably classed as a dark fantasy, but the horror elements are very strong, even as an adult viewer it’s pretty horrific in places. As a BBFC 18 rated film, I don’t know how I managed to convince my Dad it was a kids movie in a video store in the 80’s but somehow I did!

rsz_ed2Q: You’re a celebrated alternative model, and multi award winning director, writer, actress and producer. After being so successful with your modelling career, what was it that attracted you to film making?

With the modelling, the end results are great, frankly who wouldn’t want fantastic photos of themselves, however it’s not your art, not really, it’s the photographers. I’m not saying I don’t like modelling, I still do it from time to time, but I certainly wouldn’t devote all of my free time to it again the way I do with the filmmaking, although of course I’m very grateful for the amazing portfolio I’ve built up over the years.

Filmmaking gives you full creative control over telling a story. I guess I could have written a book or started doing more of my own photography (it would have been significantly cheaper), but I love film, I love using my mind to problem solve, and I love a challenge. Producing/Directing (and in my case also editing, marketing and all the rest) presents me with many challenges.

As far as the acting goes I’d really like to be offered a few more interesting serious parts. I do get offered roles fairly frequently but I have the problem of generally being earmarked what I’d call more of the ‘bimbo’ style of Scream Queen roles (being a model looking type I guess), which surprises me really as the character I play in my own film “Seize the Night” is so very far removed from this. I’ve just had the pleasure of acting in Comedy/Horror short film “Frankula” (available on Amazon Prime), co-starring with Hammer’s Caroline Munro and Judy Matheson, TV’s David Barry, “Carry On Screaming” star Fenella Fielding, and newcomer Martin Rudman, so interesting roles are out there. Many thanks to Stuart Morriss of Misty Moon and Jason Read of Robo Films for casting me in that. I’d actually really like to play a serious, smart, take no BS kind of heroine role in a high production value film, think Ripley in “Alien”. Wouldn’t we all, but if it’s out there that’s the ideal kind role for me in all honesty.

rsz_ed1Q: Seize the Night, saw you gain critical acclaim internationally, from some of the biggest horror magazines, and television channels. What has life been like since its release?

It did! It’s been a pretty amazing journey. It’s been covered at various stages of production by the likes of the Horror Channel, Dread Central, Starburst, Digital FilmMaker Magazine etc. It’s had some great reviews, including one from UK Horror Scene (which I actually quoted on the DVD cover). I can’t say I’ve suddenly been propelled into superstardom from one short film (who would be), but I am being taken more seriously as a mind and not just as a face now, I hope. I have signed as an official guest at lots of horror and sci-fi conventions across the UK, including MCM, which I think is pretty unheard of for an indie filmmaker/actor so I must be doing something right! The film’s also just been nominated for a prestigious iHorror award, so we’ll have to see what happens with that. Of course you have to take the good with the bad and the success does garner a certain level of negativity at times, especially (rather frustratingly) from industry peers I’m sad to say. I did let that bother me at one point but there are so many lovely genuine people out there who are extremely supportive that the others aren’t really worth worrying about in the grand scheme of things.

Q: Your next short film is ‘Salient Minus Ten’, is currently in post production. What can you tell us about your new venture?

It is, I’m finishing the edit now as we speak actually. I can tell you it looks absolutely amazing! I was lucky enough to have world renowned Director of Photography and DSLR guru Philip Bloom join my ‘Salient Minus Ten’ team as DoP. Philip is extremely talented and passionate about what he does, and like me is a bit of a perfectionist, so as you can imagine the shots looks amazing. The fact that Philip was requested to work on George Lucas’ feature film “Red Tails” should tell you everything you need to know about his beautiful cinematography style.

rsz_ed3Then there’s the star of my film, the amazing Alan Austen. Alan is perhaps best known for playing one of the Stormtroopers responsible for placing Han Solo in the carbon-freezing chamber in “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”, although his acting career actually spans almost 40 years and he’s had a variety of film and television parts. I’d originally cast another actor in the role (although I won’t go into that here, details are public on my Indiegogo campaign for those who need to know), when it came to recasting and I auditioned Alan I knew that he was the one to play the lead character of Adam Harper. Alan’s performance really blew me away, he’s absolutely fantastic, he really is, and I hope he goes on to win an award for his acting in my film.

I was also very lucky to have onboard named Special Effects artist Mike Peel of Rogue Creations. Mike has worked on a number of high profile films including “The Zombie Diaries”, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, “V for Vendetta” and Jake West’s “Evil Aliens”.

The next stage in the post production process is to now finalise the edit and record the ADR for the film with my Sound Recordist and Designer Chris Collier of 24 Foot Square. I really want the sound design to be very creative and present, as beautiful as the cinematography really, so Chris has a very prominent role on the film.

You can find out more about the rest of my cast and crew (many of whom are ‘Seize the Night’ alumni) on the film’s IMDb page.

As far as the story goes I guess I’ve kept that fairly secretive. It’s a short film after all so I don’t really want to give away the entire plot. My brief storyline reads “Adam Harper is an average man. And on an average day he suddenly finds himself catapulted into the strangest, reality changing game… A game of time and chance, where the stakes are a matter of life and death.” I’ve written a very dark Sci-Fi essentially with horror elements. It’s cerebral, classy and somewhat abstract. I don’t really believe short films have to be any less than features in terms of quality of content, so expect something beautiful with depth.

Q: When can we expect to see the release of ‘Salient Minus Ten’?

A public release won’t be for some time. First it has to do the festival run, which gives it the greatest chance of being seen by those in the industry, and hopefully it will pick up a few well deserved awards along the way. I do hope fans can make it along to festival screenings.

rsz_ed4Q: You are an advocate of ‘Women In Horror’. Were you involved in WiHm 2017?

Yes absolutely, I sat on Jonathan Hughes ‘Women in Horror’ panel at his London based ‘United in Blood’ event talking about a range of film and industry related subjects, and how they affect/what they mean for women in film. You can find video coverage of the panel here http://bit.ly/2mjKwdG. Also MorbidlyBeautiful.com interviewed me as part of Women in Horror Month here http://morbidlybeautiful.com/inspiration-women-horror-3/.

In Autumn last year I wrote a seven page article on ‘Women in Film’ published in issue 39 of Digital FilmMaker Magazine, which talks about my own perspective and the experiences of other prominent UK based female filmmakers. It’s well worth checking out, as an issue of great importance it made the headline article with a dedicated front cover.

Not entirely part of Women in Horror Month but the MMBF Trust have also just opened submissions for the Emma Dark Horror Award. It’s the second year running after a successful 2016 and aims to support all aspiring filmmakers.

Q: What projects do you have planned after ‘Salient Minus Ten’? What are your plans for the future?

I do have another self Produced/Directed short film planned for later this year which has a famous name attached, but if I told you about that I might have to kill you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us!

IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5889089
Website – http://www.emmadark.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/EmmaDarkOfficial
Twitter – https://twitter.com/EmDarkOfficial
YouTube – http://bit.ly/1O5w3aV

UK Horror Scene Frightsight – Hanging With… Emma Dark

seizethenightHanging With…Emma Dark

Welcome to a new series of video interviews as UKHS writer Tony Sands and his crew hang with talented British folk from across the horror spectrum. They will be bringing a number of interviews across 2016 that will hopefully give you an insight into the UK indie horror scene and you will hear just what it takes to get a project to fruition.

Emma Dark enters The Room to join The UKHS Crew for a chat about her short film ‘Seize The Night’, which she starred in, directed and produced along with having a hand in the writing of. Emma tells us about her experience in making the film, her journey into horror and what she has planned next. We discuss sequels, singing, fangs and make-up. What more could a horror film lover want? Enjoy!!

An Interview with Emma Dark by Dean Sills

edark7An Interview with Emma Dark by Dean Sills

*Please welcome Emma Dark to UK Horror Scene. *.

UKHS – Thank you for your time, Emma. How did you get into acting and modelling and what is it about the horror genre that you enjoy so much?

ED – I’ve liked the dark, the macabre, the sinister – horror – from a very early age. I think I naturally have a disposition for horror in all truth but I’m sure my dad working as a butcher throughout most of my childhood years must have added to that. As a child of three or four I used to ask to go in the walk in fridge in the butchers shop to see the animals. Not in a particularly grim way, I wanted to see if any of the animals still had heads on and stroke them, OK that sounds quite grim doesn’t it? Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I don’t particularly see the macabre as something as grim as perhaps those who are not horror fans, and I’m a Goth essentially so it’s all about beauty in darkness at the end of the day.

In terms of modelling I fell into that when I joined a photography meet up and they had assumed I’d joined as a model and not a photographer. For my age and the genres I’ve worked in I’ve been fairly successful but it’s not very cerebral in truth which is why I tend to favour acting and filmmaking.

edark2UKHS – I have seen the trailer for ‘Seize the Night’ and the film looks really good, well done! How difficult was it to make a film like this when you had to take on so much from playing the lead role to directing and producing the film?

ED – It was very difficult. I often worked until very late in the evening most days and even on Christmas day, literally for months on end. I’m still working hard on it with the promotional materials and festival submissions and everything that goes with that. Of course I’ll be attending as many screening festivals as possible too. A film as complex and ambitious as Seize the Night is a tough call on tight timescales and a low budget. However as you may have guessed I’m up for a challenge and I’m not beyond throwing myself in at the deep end. Despite the complex nature of a fast paced action short like this both myself and my cast and crew put 100% and more in, working well together, maintaining a high level of commitment, and I believe that speaks for itself in the result. It does look slick, it does maintain a high production value throughout and more importantly I hope it entertains people and leaves audiences wanting more.

edark8UKHS – You play Eva in the film. Can you tell us a little about her? Who did you base your character on and how much of the real you did you bring to the screen?

ED – The greater world Seize the Night is based in sees all mythical creature (including vampires and werewolves) having been created by early forms of scientific experimentation, hundreds of years ago. These creatures are separated off from human society for their own protection. Although they don’t mix each type of creature has they own military unit of protectors who essentially keep their existence hidden. We don’t see this backstory in the short, all we know is that Eva is a vampire assassin. Holding this responsibility to protect her vampire species for literally hundreds of years has made Eva guarded in the least.

The humans having later rediscovered these creatures have been capturing vampires and werewolves for their own experimental purposes, one of those captured was Eva. She managed to escape but really doesn’t recall her time
spent in captivity clearly. It’s pushed her over the edge, she’s now essentially renegade, she won’t follow orders and kills anyone who gets in her way. She’s lost trust in herself and those around her and she’s putting her own kind in further jeopardy.

There’s a lot of me in her yes. Not from the extreme lack of trust, anger management issues or the sense of tipping over the edge, but I’m a pretty fearless no-nonsense kind of person and that really helps with this kind of role.

edark5UKHS – Ok, lets talk about ‘Island of the Blind Dead.’ It’s a fan film created to celebrate the 1971 Spanish cult classic, Tombs of the Blind Dead. You filmed ‘Island of the Blind Dead’ in Corfu, Greece. How did this all come about and how long did it take to make this 3 min short?

ED – To be perfectly honest this was purely a ‘for fun’ kind of project although it’s been really well received by both audience and critics alike. If half of the trip to Corfu hadn’t meant being trapped indoors while storms hit outside it might not have happened, certainly not in this way. Originally the costume was brought along simply to catch some test shots along the beach. However having some time to think and plan a script on our hands myself and fellow indie filmmaker Merlyn Roberts approached the local amateur dramatic society and asked if they wanted to get involved. St George South has a strong film history with the iconic James Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only (1981)’ having been filmed there, most famous for the dune buggy scene.

The local actors really got behind the project and we just took it from there really. I have to say we were completely unprepared equipment wise, I literally had a compact consumer camera to film on, however if anything the reduced quality only added to the realistic retro effect. Obviously I also aged it in post, paying particular attention to both the original series and other films of that time and taking note of colour, film quality and fonts used. Actually shooting it only took a couple of days and I have a lot of extra footage I might compile at some point too.

A little piece of trivia for you, I later discovered my Seize the Night fight coordinator Roy Scammell did the stunts for For Your Eyes Only in St George South, so a strange little connection there!

edark1UKHS – What would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?

ED – It really depends, what I consider key is probably not what the general movie going audience would. I’m not really one for jumps, gore and screaming women for example. OK, I know doing a homage accurately for something like the Tombs of the Blind Dead series obviously would include two of those elements in the minimum, but for me personally it’s not my key formula. I like a good horror film to have beautiful cinematography, a sense of dread and a great storyline. Most of my favourite horror films have a sci-fi or thriller element as I find those are the films for me that break the traditional mould. Women are stronger, it’s more about what you don’t see than what you do see and there’s a stronger sense of all encompassing doom.

Of course many of the older Italian Giallo and Mediterranean horror films get away with more blood, screaming women and slasher killers as often the cinematography is very well executed and backed up by interesting storylines, often creating works of high quality and beauty despite having been relatively low budget films of their time.

edark10UKHS – Finally, what’s next for you and where do you see yourself in five years from now?

ED – Five years from now I have no idea, apart from putting as much effort in as possible to push my name and work out there it’s really both about public perception and reception of myself and my work that will decide that I think.

Regarding my next projects, I have a few things in the works, including starring in a faux snuff film by cult indie director Dan Brownlie alongside scream queen Jessica Ann Bonner. I’m looking forward to that as I get to be rather sadistic. I also have Fragments of Fear segment to make for horror entrepreneur Richard Gladman. It’s a sort of horror Jackanory story series and features horror greats such as Caroline Munroe and Francoise Pascal among others.

I have my own plans for continuing Seize the Night but I’ll not be able to finalise those until I have a funding plan in place.

UKHS – Thank you for your time, Emma and good luck with ‘Seize the Night’ and your other projects!

IMDB – http://www.imdb.me/EmmaDark

Website – http://www.emmadark.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/EmmaDarkOfficial

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EmDarkOfficial

YouTube – http://bit.ly/1O5w3aV