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