Fright Bites: producer Q&A

We sat down with series producer Fiona Lamptey from Film4 to hear about terrifying new short-form series Fright Bites, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.

Fiona Lamptey from Film4 / Fruit Tree Media

Fiona Lamptey from Film4 / Fruit Tree Media

Tell us about this new strand – what can we expect?

Fright Bites are six short horror films that make the perfect online Halloween snack, perfect for your commute to work or other down-time, but perhaps not when walking alone down a dark alley by yourself… ha! What I love about this year’s selection is how different they all are and how some play on our most basic fears. When I think about the films that scare me the most it’s when the ‘monster’ is recognizable – that person you pass on the street, the intruder…

Some of the films explore this type of fear and others border on the more traditional ‘monster in the dark’ but with a truly unique twist. I promise they will get your heartbeat going – but don’t worry you’ll be able to function for the rest of the day.

How did you go about sourcing the scripts and directors – was it people you’d always wanted to work with, or a case of trying to find exciting new voices?

Initially Film4 development execs Eva Yates, Celine Coulson and I looked for filmmakers we had come across over the years or had watched their films and knew they would be brilliant for the strand. We cast the net as wide as we could with the majority of talent being new talent to Film4. Film4 are always on the look out for new exciting voices and people that Film4 / Channel 4 could go on to build a relationship with. And personally, I’m always on the lookout for a way to put my production management and producing skills to good use.

My production company Fruit Tree Media (as the name might suggest) was set up with the intention to nurture emerging filmmaking talent, so when I was brought on to produce it was a great opportunity to invest in a great bunch of talented individuals.

Tell us a bit about the production process.

It was crazy. Mostly enjoyable but intense. We had a month to pull all the films together and although from my very first meeting with the talent I could tell they were brilliant I didn’t know much about their quirks – for example, were they fast shooters, or directors who were more considered and liked more time to think things through? – so that was the most difficult task I think I had to overcome in the beginning. It sounds obvious now but I had to treat them as individuals, as they all wanted or needed different things from me at any given point. However once we got a momentum going and locations confirmed I felt like we were on our way.

Crewing was another stumbling block as I was keen to ensure the shorts were a new talent vehicle not just for the core creative team but the crew working behind the camera too. I am glad to say we had a crew from all walks of life, with different levels of experience in front and behind the camera, on these shorts – and every single one of them made it all possible. It was pure magic. I also couldn’t have done this without the help of Francesca Chen and Tristan Cope – who went beyond the call of duty. We have some great memories! Of course I’ve made it sound like the most smooth-sailing production ever, I just don’t want to bore you about the long days, broken lifts, dysfunctional urine pumps, fire alarms and lighting worries. I’ll save that for another time.

Fright Bites will be available to view on All4 from 22nd October.

Producer Mark Herbert’s Top Five Stone Roses Tracks

With The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone premiering on Channel 4 this Easter Weekend at 10.50pm on Record Store Day – Saturday 19th April – producer  Mark Herbert shares his top five Stone Roses tracks


1. Don’t Stop

This is apparently Waterfall in reverse but for nearly 20 years I did not know. When I heard Reni play it live and saw his octopus hands make it look easy playing this rhythm, I was in awe. I love Mani and Reni at the end.


2. Breaking Into Heaven

I spent so long waiting for the album, stuck it on and thought “what’s the frig is this?”, then when it kicked in, I was in love with it. I’ve grown to love all of it and was blown away when I heard it for the first time live at Finsbury Park this year.


3. Mersey Paradise

Under 3 minutes of bliss. John’s dreamy guitar intro lulls you in & then the rest of them punch you in the under carriage.


4. Where Angels Play

“Ok, let’s fly she says, this carpet’s made for two.”

What a wondrous poetic line sung in proper Northern from Ian. Up there with “You taste of Cherryade” from Sally Cinnamon. They seem so simple, but the best art does. And both are dead romantic.


5. I Am The Resurrection

When making the film, you think you will tire of hearing the songs. Never did. When the crowd threw the green cushions at this performance last year in Lyon,  it made the hair stand up on the back of my thinning head as much as when I first heard it at 18. It was also played last at my brother’s wedding party this year and the dance floor went mental (in a quaint pub in Peaks)


Click here to buy The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone on 2 disc Collector’s Edition DVD or Steelbook Blu-Ray now

Watch the trailer for The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone:






Nira Park Q&A: Cuban Fury

Penned by Jon Brown and produced by Nira Park and James Biddle, Cuban Fury stars Nick Frost as Bruce, a failed child salsa star who must face up to his demons to win the affections of the woman he loves via the power of dance.’s Catherine Bray visited the set one blazing August day to catch up with the team and have a chat with producer Nira Park about the origins of the film.

Nira Park

Nira Park

Can you talk us through the initial email pitch that landed in your inbox from Nick Frost?

I think we must have been in the middle of doing press for Paul when it arrived, and it was like a dream come true to get that email. Nick always has to wait till he’s really, really, ready before sending an idea, because he knows that if I like the idea then that’s it, he’s doing it! Paul started with a sketch Simon and Nick did whilst shooting the garden scenes during Shaun of the Dead.  It was just this little drawing but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About two years later I said to them “you’ve got to write that.” They’d completely forgotten about it but I said “that’s what we should do next.”

With Cuban Fury, Nick had been thinking about it for about six months before he finally thought  “ok, I think now’s the time to mention it.” I remember my response was simply “I want to see that poster, that is what we’re doing.”

As you say, it was 15 months from email to shoot. How was the development period?

Obviously, we needed a script and a writer. We approached Jon Brown, who’d never written a feature screenplay before, but with whom we were talking about developing a sitcom. We’d just started our conversations about that and I just knew instinctively that Jon would get on with Nick, and visa versa. I think for any writer it’s quite appealing to get the opportunity to write for someone, to have a particular actor in mind, especially someone as talented as Nick.

“When you get a really brilliant first draft, it’s great, and it just felt like a film already”


So we had a couple of initial meetings and Jon plotted out the story together with Nick and Rachael Prior who’s head of development at Big Talk.  Then he wrote this first draft in what must have been about six weeks. Obviously this initial draft was different to the shooting draft, but it was such introduction to the character and the world of the film, and it it was very funny, right from the get go. When you get a really brilliant first draft, it’s great – it just felt like a film already. So from that point on, whilst there was still a lot of work to do, we were basically in the early stages of pre-production. StudioCanal and Film4 committed to the project, and Nick started six months of dance training. It wasn’t like most developments which sort of feel like you could just go on developing forever and you’re never really sure if something is going to happen. I just knew with this one it was going to be made.

Nick was of course involved from the start, but can you tell us about rounding out the cast?

To be absolutely honest we wrote the part of Drew for Chris O’Dowd, so it would have been really sad if he hadn’t have been available. We wrote the part of Julia for Rashida Jones, we wrote the part of Ron for Ian McShane, and we wrote the part of Sam for Olivia Colman. So a lot of them came on board before we even had a director which was an incredible position to be in. With Rashida, we had to shoot around Parks and Recreation, and also her film, Celeste And Jesse Forever coming out, so we had to shoot all her stuff in the first four weeks. Amazingly it all worked out.

Could you talk us through what we’re seeing shot today?

This is the big dance off. Drew’s basically been bullying Nick from the outset of our story and they’re competing for Julia’s affections. It’s all come to a head and Nick has finally told Drew that he can dance, and Nick says “I’ll dance you under the table.”  Then they get in the office lift to the car park and we arrive at this scene. So it’s like a duel for the heart of Julia. It’s the first time Nick’s character Bruce has shown his passion for dance to his rival.

You mentioned Film4 coming on board. Could you talk a little bit more about the detail of that?

Film4 were involved from the outset. We have quarterly meetings with Film4 and StudioCanal where we talk about upcoming projects. It was in one of these meetings that I said “oh, Nick’s just had this idea,” and I remember Tessa Ross’s face, she thought it was a  great concept. So everybody was on board from the outset, and I think that always makes such a difference. Everyone just said “that’s a film we want to see, so let’s do everything we can to make it happen.”

Click here to see more on set videos from the Cuban Fury shoot

Cuban Fury is in cinemas 14th February











The Imposter producer Dimitri Doganis on the film’s lifecycle

As The Imposter garners two Bafta nominations and is released on BluRay and DVD, producer Dimitri Doganis reflects on the film’s journey from inception to awards recognition.

The Imposter’s recent nominations for Best Documentary and for Outstanding Debut were the latest installments of a pretty amazing journey we have been on with the film as first-time film-makers. It was about this time last year that the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival – that evening felt like the end of the struggle to make the film and get it seen, little did I realise at the time it was the start of another cycle – the exhibition, promotion, discussion and (luckily!) celebration of the finished film.

Since then we have been lucky enough to get some amazing responses: Bart’s vision for the film has seen us get some great reviews almost across the board in the UK, US and elsewhere, we’ve been lucky enough to travel around the US and Europe to some amazing film festivals, and even picked up some awards at some of them (Miami, HotDocs in Toronto, Zurich, Cinema Eye Honors in New York).

One year later and the film is no longer in theatres, the DVD is out, and the cycle feels like it’s coming to an end. While I’ve made a lot of documentaries for TV, there is something very different about the experience of the last year. It’s amazing getting the instant feedback from the audience that the cinema allows, but it is also a surprisingly long road to travel – and not just in terms of air miles. From Sundance to the US release and then the UK release, the various film festivals, and the up and coming European premiers, it’s a very drawn-out and time-consuming process!

I am not complaining – I think I’m incredibly lucky to be here, and live in hope that I’ll get to repeat the process with the next film. Bart is being inundated with Hollywood scripts, and there are suddenly all sorts of doors opening. I can see how easy it would be to be distracted by what seem like amazing opportunities, but we are already pretty deep into the next film – another true story you couldn’t make up – and so I guess the cycle is about to start again. I can’t wait…

Click here to read director Bart Layton’s blog about screening The Imposter at SXSW

Click here to buy The Imposter on DVD from Amazon


Producer’s Diary 4: Kill List’s Andy Starke at Film4 FrightFest

Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, produced by Film4, had its world premiere in Texas at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival. Co-producer Andy Starke offers us an insight into the festival madness


I’ve been a horror film fan all my life. Bride Of Frankenstein is still one of my favorite films and my Mum still talks fondly of all the complaints she had from my friends’ parents after I invited them all back to mine for a screening of The Evil Dead (on VHS of course).  The first time I went solo to London was to visit Forbidden Planet in Denmark Street and gaze longingly at the posters for Fulci & Argento films; it was slim pickings in Southampton!

It was at Forbidden Planet that I first “met” Alan Jones. Well – I say met – it was more like receiving a disdainful groan as I pestered him about the Suspiria poster on the wall. Even in 1981 Argento was old news to Alan.

When I finally moved to London I was lucky enough to live round the corner from the legendary Scala cinema. I was also lucky enough to attend a number of Alan’s New Year Shock Around The Clock 24 hour film marathons. For the past ten years I’ve been involved in programming a sidebar at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, one of the world’s best, where Alan is virtually the house critic-in-residence.

All this is a very roundabout way of trying to explain just what a big deal it was to have Kill List’s UK Premiere at Alan’s Film4 FrightFest last Sunday night – to a sold out audience of 1300 horror fans in one of the countries biggest cinemas, the Empire Leicester Square. It was a great screening, and the film ended up winning five awards away from the festival, which was the icing on the cake.

Having a film screening at the festival means there’s a lot on your mind, so I didn’t get a chance to see many other films – which was a shame as there were loads of things playing I wanted to see. But we did manage to catch Theatre Bizarre (standout sections for me from Doug Buck, Karim Hussain & Buddy Giovinazzo) and The Devil’s Business (more Hitmen vs Satanists action, Amicus style, from director Sean Hogan).

Thirty years down the line, I think I’ve finally worked out that there are other types of film out there, but, for me, genre cinema has always been a place where people can push boundries, explore new ways of presenting film and reinvent the form with the comfort of a loyal and interested fans. Without festivals like Frightfest we’d never get the opportunity to see these films on the (very) big screen with an audience. So thanks to Alan – and of course Paul, Ian & Greg – for having Kill List.

I still get the disdainful groans, of course.

(Food update: Those that read our SXSW reports will obviously wonder what we ate over the weekend. Not much time, so we settled on the mixed grill from Gaby’s – highly recommended!)


Watch Film4′s Kill List interview from FrightFest 2011