Fright Bites: Tickle Monster Q&A

We sat down with director Remi Weekes to hear about terrifying Fright Bites short Tickle Monster, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.

Remi Weekes' Tickle Monster

Remi Weekes’ Tickle Monster

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? Are you ticklish yourself?

When I was asked to write something for Fright Bites, I really wanted to see if I could take something we normally associate with horror films and make it frightening. Recently, a friend was describing an awful experience whereby they were tortured by their lover after learning they were ticklish. It brought me flashbacks of the dread when someone discovers you are ticklish and takes it upon themselves to torment you. How frustrating it is to be forced to laugh when all you want to do is escape. I thought the idea instantly absurd and playful, and was excited about the possibility of making it into something terrifying.

What other influences went into the mix on this piece?

This was also a chance to put together the different elements that intrigue me as a filmmaker. I enjoy stories that involve the many diverse neighbourhoods I’ve grown up around in London. My love of tension and suspense comes from the masters of film like Hitchcock. I also wanted to explore my cynicism about the gender, power and class structures we live our day-to-day lives around.

The cast have a really nice rapport – did you have them read together and cast them as a pair, or just trust the chemistry would work?

Percelle and Rhianne were two names suggested by our casting director Aisha Walters. We saw a lot of great actors, and we auditioned many pairs, but both Percelle and Rhianne really captured my attention. They were actually the only actors we didn’t get to pair together in the auditions, but we felt it was a gamble worth taking to match them. Both funny, intelligent, and talented they were a pleasure to work with. Collaborating with actors is one my favourite parts of the film making process, these are actors who like to be challenged, and more importantly, actors who challenge me and the material.

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

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: 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

Five questions for Jim Gillespie

22 Jun, 2016 Posted in: Directors, Edinburgh, Festivals, Interview

We grabbed five minutes with Jim Gillespie after his Edinburgh International Film Festival directing masterclass to put five burning questions to the man behind I Know What You Did Last Summer, whose Channel 4/BFI short Joyride helped launch his career.



1. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the film industry since you made your Channel 4/BFI short, Joyride?

The rise of the “tent pole” movie to the exclusion of all those (often great) mid budget thrillers and dramas that used to make for a variety of choice for the audience.

2. What would you change about the film industry if you could?

The lack of risk taking and the current bias towards only financing projects based on existing IP. Original stories need to encouraged, irrespective of genre.

3. Which of your own films would you place in a time capsule for future generations and why?

Unquestionably I Know What You Did Last Summer. It hit one of those zeitgeist moments where the intended audience “got it” irrespective of any critical reaction. The title became part of the cultural ether of the time (still is), and being spoofed by The Simpsons (I Know What You Iddly-Diddly Did) was the ultimate compliment. That said, I hope my next film, Deep State (no, can’t tell you what it’s about yet) will replace it in the capsule.

4. Which other director’s body of work would you preserve for posterity and why?

The almost impossible question to answer! So many great filmmakers to preserve: Hitchcock, Wyler, Lean, Sturges, Hawks, and that’s just one small slice of one generation. But I think I’ll plump for Kurosawa. A master (in every sense) of humor, action and (most importantly) humanity. Ikiru is just a timeless classic – one of many in his body of work.

5. What’s the biggest creative risk you’ve ever taken?

Moving to Los Angeles with little more than my 10min short Joyride tucked into my bag, searching for an opportunity to tell stories on film. Changed my life.

Jim’s latest film Take Down is in cinemas 22nd August


Hiromasa Yonebayashi on When Marnie Was There

06 Jun, 2016 Posted in: Directors, Interview

As Studio Ghibli’s latest animation, When Marnie Was There, hits UK cinema screens, Michael Leader speaks with director Hiromasa Yonebayashi…

There are so many emotional aspects interweaving throughout the film, about growing up, friendship, being adopted, about being an outsider to the mainstream culture. But then you also have the time-slip plot and the genre workings of fantasy-tinged melodrama. What was the essence of the film for you?

The central theme of this film is Anna, who closes herself outside of the world. Her gradual change was very important. At the beginning she is expressionless, but through her interchange with Marnie and beautiful nature you gradually see her expression coming back. By the end of the film she’s almost a different girl. To depict that change in one film was very important.

It’s the influential moments in friendship and relationships that create that change.

At first, she closes herself off to others. Anna didn’t notice but her stepmother Yoriko loved her but she didn’t realise. When she moved to the countryside with her auntie and saw Marnie, all the beautiful nature and her peers, she gradually realised that actually the people around her love her.

This and your previous film, Arrietty, are both adaptations of English-language children’s books from half a century ago. I’d like to know what it was that you saw that was relevant about these books to modern day children, and what excited you about retelling these stories.

I think that’s because we depict human beings, not just children, as having to struggle with interaction is relevant through time and people. With Marnie, she is isolated and she hates herself because she has closed herself off from the world. Children these days are connected to friends and others through SMS, they can connect with them anytime, anywhere. Some children feel isolated and tired of it as well though. So for girls like that we wanted to make a film that gives them a enough courage to step forward.

On the other hand, Arrietty is a very outgoing and adventurous child, so I was wondering what was relevant to today’s children from Arrietty?

In Arrietty they were borrowers – they borrow things to live. I saw myself in Arrietty when I was making it because she and her family lived under the house and had to borrow things from big people. In the end her family move out from that hiding place under the house and sail to a different world, into the unknown with hope and looking into the future. I’m not really sure if that was relevant to today, but at the time that I was making it I definitely saw Arrietty in me.

When Marnie Was There is in cinemas from 10th June 2016…