Film4 Productions

Fright Bites: Old Gal Q&A

 We sat down with director Leigh Dovey to hear about his terrifying Fright Bites short Old Gal, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd just in time for Halloween.

Leigh Dovey's Old Gal

Leigh Dovey’s Old Gal

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? It’s about an old woman who is dismissed by a young woman as a random “crazy old lady”…

Growing old and losing your mind is a common fear, one that makes a lot of younger people avoid the old, or joke about them, particularly if they’re not relatives. I thought it would be fun to make a film about an old gal who’s actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so that this time the joke’s on Jane. I’m also a very nostalgic person. I love old films and I thought doing a story like this would be a chance to reference a few of them.

The dialogue is all spoken by Nicola Wren, while Clare Almond has a mainly silent role – how did the casting process unfold?

Fast. But we were lucky, we had great support. Nicola taped for us and was spot on. Our casting agent Aisha suggested Clare after dealing with her for a very different role on another project. I spoke a lot with Clare beforehand about how I wanted Old Gal to be played because it was a difficult role – to try and imbue a character with so much, with so little in the way of lines and time, but she was up for the challenge and totally nailed it.

There’s a nod to the “spider walk” from The Exorcist – are you a fan of classic horror and what are your influences?

Very much so. The spider walk was originally cut from Friedkin’s Exorcist because they weren’t happy with it, but when Blatty got the chance to make Exorcist 3 they had another go, this time using an old woman scampering across the ceiling, and it’s a really creepy moment. So that was a deliberate nod in Old gal. Horror wise, I’m a big fan of Carpenter, Cronenberg and Jacques Tourneur, and most thrillers and horrors from the seventies. Films were so bleak, hard and unforgiving then. In terms of other genres, I love Sam Peckinpah’s work, though it was often laced with a different kind of horror. And Woody Allen too. I find Nicolas Winding Refn’s work challenging, but mesmerizing.

Leigh Dovey, director of Old Gal

Leigh Dovey, director of Old Gal

The six Fright Bites shorts will be available on All4 from 22nd October

Fright Bites: Night Cap Q&A

20 Oct, 2016 Productions Posted in: Directors, FrightBites, Short films

We sat down with director Jed Hart to hear about terrifying Fright Bites short Night Cap, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.

Jed Hart's Night Cap

Jed Hart’s Night Cap

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from – it feels like it has elements of child-in-peril films like The Shining, Poltergeist or The Babadook in the mix?

I think children are just very vulnerable both physically and mentally, so they make fascinating protagonists in horror films. I’m particularly interested in the psychology of horror, how real events or traumas can potentially impact the way you view the world and really heighten your fears. I wanted to try and present the film from the child’s perspective and really leave it quite ambiguous as to how much of this is happening and how much is in his head. Here Danny is clearly coping with troubles both real and imaginary, but whether the tyrant in this film is really with them in the flat, or whether Danny is struggling with the memory of him is left up to the viewer to decide.

The camera work is really nice – did you always imagine those roving tracking shots as an integral part of the short?

Yeah, I knew from the beginning I wanted the takes to be as long as possible. The film is all about Danny – so I literally wanted the camera to stick to him like glue and allow the audience to experience the events from his perspective. I always think these long takes add a real sense of immediacy because you aren’t compressing time. Everything feels in the moment and the viewer also experiences the location in a much more dynamic way. It was also quite an efficient way to tell our story considering we had one day to shoot it. To be honest, we took a bit of a risk by taking on a 4-minute take with a child actor, but I think Arthur did a fantastic job.

The film plays on a classic childhood fear of things that go bump in the night – why do you think that is such a scary idea?

What’s in your mind is almost always scarier than the reality, so I think anything that essentially provokes your imagination into a response without ever showing you something tangible that you can process and understand fully is going to create fear. I guess it’s a survival instinct kicking in – you stay alert until the danger is averted, but if you don’t quite know what that threat is, then you just can’t relax.

It’s all about that question of reality vs your imagination, and children of course have particularly untamed imaginations. Setting it at night just presents you with this huge cloak of darkness and shadow in which your mind can paint ghastly images. I also think there’s something quite scary in those first moments you wake up, especially if you awake suddenly from a dream or a nightmare. Sometimes it can take a while to get a grip on reality and understand where you’re at – and that’s frightening!

Jed Hart, director of Night Cap

Jed Hart, director of Night Cap

The six Fright Bites shorts will be available on All4 from 22nd October

Fright Bites: Wake Q&A

19 Oct, 2016 Productions Posted in: Directors, FrightBites, Interview

We sat down with director Maria Martinez Bayona to hear about her terrifying Fright Bites short Wake, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.

Wake, from Maria Martinez Bayona

Wake, from Maria Martinez Bayona

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? It’s about a man grieving for his wife beside her open coffin…

I always think there is something terrifying and fascinating about looking at a dead person. Probably because it reminds of our own fragility, but also because it feels like looking at death itself. And yet, on the other hand, there is something that can be even more frightening: death coming alive. Once the threshold is trespassed, it’s as if what comes back could only be evil.

These were the initial thoughts, so I wanted to create a meeting point between them. Then it came the idea of a romantic relationship based on revenge that, somehow, ends up supplanting the roles. A destroying energy that changes life for death – death for life. And I thought that there was something interesting in doing a version of the classic fairy tales kisses like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White which, if you think of it, are truly creepy.

It’s beautifully lit – who was your director of photography and what were your discussions around the look of the film?

Krzysztof Trojnar was the DoP. I met him while studying at NFTS, along with Joseph Comar (editor) and Marina Elderton (composer). Krzysztof and I have worked together before, so we know each other really well and share a base of trust. I would say that we are more visceral than technical when we talk about the look. We usually speak a lot at the beginning, about the story, the characters and the dynamics between them, which is what we like. The script had already a specific tone, so we agreed we wanted something thick, dark and yet delicate.

We’re big fans of Mark Bonnar, who viewers may recognise from Channel 4′s Catastrophe – did you want to cast him specifically, or did he just fit the casting brief?

It was great to work with him! Our casting director, Aisha Walters, sent me his name and I thought he was brilliant and an incredibly versatile actor – hilarious, yet malicious, yet caring. So I offered him the role and he accepted! It was great fun to work with him and Rebecca Calder, both made a good mix as a couple.

Maria Martinez Bayona, director of Wake

Maria Martinez Bayona, director of Wake

The six Fright Bites shorts will be available on All4 from 22nd October

Fright Bites: Squeal Q&A

We sat down with director Lucy Campbell to hear about terrifying Fright Bites short Squeal, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.

Squeal, by Lucy Campbell

Squeal, by Lucy Campbell

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? Are you scared of clowns and/or circus folk?

I love the suggestion of evil that you get from a clown, under the veneer of vulnerability, you wonder if there is pure malevolence and spite. I also wanted to see a bully get her comeuppance. This short is my ideal revenge on all bullies.

Without giving away too much, the conclusion is really dark, kind of in the vein of classic revenge tragedies – what were your influences there?

I love a bit of body horror and the idea of change and transformation. There is no going back for this bully. Her life is changed forever… She should have learned to keep her mouth shut.

Lotte Spencer is a real find – did you know she was the one as soon as you saw her audition?

She looked exactly as I imagined the Carney Girl, and I love the defiance and sullenness she brings to the role. Zachary Street did the most incredible self tape I have ever seen, the role was his after seeing that. And he totally climbed inside the clown character. And Rafaella Hutchinson’s Bully brings the destructive energy and playing to the crowd which was so accurate from my experience of school. I love her performance, and I love her patchy orange foundation. Just right.  Also, Patrick Jack Whelan’s costume designs completely transformed the film into something really special. Those clown shoes are just beautiful.

Director Lucy Campbell

Director Lucy Campbell


Fright Bites: Shortcut Q&A

We sat down with Prano Bailey-Bond to hear about her terrifying Fright Bites short Shortcut, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd,  just in time for Halloween…

Shortcut, starring Danny Devall

Shortcut, starring Danny Devall

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? It’s about a nightmarish comeuppance for a cheating boyfriend…

Ok – I’m going to attempt to answer this without giving away the film’s ending… Conrad Ford, who wrote the script, told me that he had always wanted to write a film in which someone has this ‘end’, which I thought was a pretty exciting starting point. Also the road sign – a powerful red-rimmed warning sign, which could pose a question in the audience’s mind… What really drew me to the script was its twisted sense of humour and the way it plays with our expectations. I interpreted it as being a kind of dreamlike revenge fantasy, which felt like a refreshing, modern take on the horror genre.

Almost the entire short is set in a car – did that present any shooting challenges?

It certainly did! It was a one-day shoot and a tight budget, which made shooting in a moving vehicle an enormous challenge. Shooting on a low-loader was out of the question as it would have cost us too much time and budget. The main character, Kurt, is driving quite dangerously; texting, not looking at the road etc, so we really had to consider safety when shooting as well. I made the decision quite early on to shoot the interior car scenes static – I guess you could call this the old-fashioned way! It’s actually a really cool way of shooting, and means you don’t have the whole crew working on the back of a moving lorry, having to re-set vehicle positions etc every time you go for a take, which can really eat into your schedule. Shooting static presents other challenges though, such as creating a sense of movement and travel. So we used moving lights, revolving trees, composited VFX and sound design to sell this idea. This fused quite well with the overall look of the film, which has a slightly stylised feel; surreal and dreamlike, perhaps hinting towards what Sunshine is dreaming about, and how that ties in with the narrative.

The prosthetics work is quite brutal and wince-inducing – who did you work with to get that effect?

Ha! Good. I worked with Dan Martin – a special effects wizard – on the prosthetics. He crafted it and our amazing SFX Make Up artist Ruth Pease was on set to operate it. I worked with Dan on my last short film NASTY. He’s worked on some amazing titles like Sightseers, Human Centipede 2, Nina Forever, High Rise – it’s always an honour to work with Dan. Again, I don’t want to give away the ending of the film, but I’ve never had so many, um, ‘unique’ conversations about that part of the body as I have working on this film. Dan and I had some very interesting chats, and I ended up on some pretty intriguing blogs too. Another first for me on Shortcut was one of the crew members accidentally being urinated on in the mouth during one of the takes – fake urine luckily. It was a fun shoot, intense, but this aspect was brilliantly fun.

Prano Bailey-Bond

Prano Bailey-Bond

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