Short films

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

21 Oct, 2016 Productions Posted in: Directors, Interview, Short films

 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, 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: 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: 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.