Your upcoming film Monitor - in a few words, what is it
Monitor is a horror thriller where Alice, a young delinquent, is institutionalised at the
Damocles Foundation - but she soon has to put aside her problems as the
staff have their own issue to work out.
Now where did the concept of
Foundation, a wannabe humanitarian organisation with sinister motives,
While at a hospital with a
broken bone the so-called expert who tended me filled me with zero
confidence, from that moment on the phrase "What happens when Malpractice becomes
Intentional?" stuck in my
head and it later became one of the tag lines for the film.
It lead me to develop the
Damocles Foundation for the Monitor
script, more directly what if all employees of a facility were evil and abusing our trust?
The name Damocles comes
originally from the Greek legend concerning the sword of Damocles and was
the basis of an in-joke I shared with my Grandfather, he was a great
follower of my pursuit in to the film industry and when he died I felt it
only fitting to incorporate it somehow into my project.
Other sources of inspiration for Monitor?
originally started off on paper as a sequel to Animal Soup (my first
feature) and was to be called Cold Harbor, but soon progressed moving away
from the Shock Horror genre and more towards Thriller. Numerous rewrites and several nods to
Alice in Wonderland
later there was the 45 page script
called Alice. More rewrites and eventually a 67 page script called Monitor
emerged. There are still elements of Alice in Wonderland
and One Flew Over
the Cuckoo's Nest, both of which are favorite stories of mine, I even cast
Victoria Broom in Monitor
to play a character similar to that of Louise
Fletcher's from Cuckoo's Nest, Vic did a fantastic job and there are
moments where she really scared me.
would you describe your directorial approach to your subject matter?
have a vision in my head and know how to get it done. I've been told I work
in chaos, but I disagree. There is method in my madness, I know what I
want and I know what I need to do I will put my mind into that of the
viewer and pick at everything. Whenever working on a film I try and stay
clear of watching and films as I do not want to have any outside
influences trying to affect my vision.
few words about your leading lady Yana Kolesnyk, how did you find her and
what made her the perfect choice for the role?
I've known Yana for a while as
she was friends with one of the actresses from Animal Soup, she helped us
to promote that film back in 2008 before the film gained its distribution
The role of Alice was written
with Yana in mind, she's an attractive girl who looks like she could kick
your arse! She's a strong willed, somewhat stubborn person who was
literally the perfect inspiration during the early writing stage.
I'm a huge fan of the strong
woman in film going back to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien and Milla
Jovovich in the Resident Evil-films. I feel a strong female role is
something that is a very firm staple of the horror genre and something I
definitely wanted to include in the film.
She did have a tendency
to burst into song between takes and it was always something by Lady Gaga,
she was always at the front of any comedy moment and there was never a
dull moment on set with her around. I will have to edit together a little
bonus feature of her just for fun.
also features American scream queen Suzi Lorraine [Suzi
Lorraine interview - click here] in a supporting role. Now how did
you get her and what was it like working with her?
with Suzi Lorraine
Suzi is fantastic, I met
her while working at GoreZone Magazine and she has become a great friend,
she is amazing to work with, she has a delicate innocent presence about her
and you'd never think she could be evil, but when the cameras rolled she
turned and became the nasty piece of work I wanted. She has an extensive
resume of horror films and is quite often the victim but I wanted her to
be a criminal mastermind and she was amazing. I have a fantastic sequence
which we shot in Central Park where she is really angry and full of
emotion for the scene, but as soon as I call cut a huge smile forms and it
just proved to me what a fantastic actress she is. I've since gone on to
work with her again on Three's a Shroud and I highly recommend you check
out her film Won Ton Baby, it's definitely worth seeing and shows off her multitude
words about the rest of your cast and crew?
I have been very lucky with both
my cast and crew, I held a casting call and saw a few actors and actresses
for several of the parts of the movie, I was originally going to play one
character myself but on seeing a girl perform a screen test for a
different role, I changed the script and made the character a woman and it
added so much to the narrative.
Rami Hilmi I will definitely work with
again he is an amazing actor and brings to the table a whole list of
talents and he helped a lot with coaching the other performers, some of
which have never acted in the past. Victoria Broom asked me if I had a
role and again she is an amazing actress and a great pleasure to have on
set. Everyone who is in Monitor
has a passion for film and for some they
have told me it was a dream come true working on some of the scenes - even
all the crew members had cameos within the film, I'd love to mention
everyone who has appeared on screen as well as all those behind it as not
only have they become colleagues but family, and we will all work together
For some elements of the movie I
required CCTV footage of patients and I opened this up to the followers on
facebook and had a tremendous influx of footage all of which appears in
the movie so not only the chosen cast but the fans make it into the movie
In the period of
post-production of the film tragedy did strike with our special effects
artist Peter Kinman who passed away, He was a great friend of mine who I'd
known for many years, he and I worked closely on this project and out of
respect for him the film has been dedicated to his memory.
are many gorehounds among my readers - what can you tell us about the
violence in your movie?
Primarily the film is a more
narrative based film than relying on shocks, but I am true to my roots and
do have some horrific moments, Pete and I would sit up for hours trying to
work out what horrible scenes we could achieve on the budget and with the
exception of one we never got to film I'm sure they will please a gore
fan, one scene in particular was definitely uneasy to watch when we shot
I want to keep some mystery so I
cannot tell you about each kill but in one scene inspired by the audition
tape sequence from Fame, we have a topless model being filmed for the
killers own perversions but all is not titillation.
Lauren, who plays the
victim, sits half naked and is repeatedly stabbed for the killer's pleasure.
This was shot on day 5 of our 18 day shoot with five cameras and used 3
liters of blood. As soon as the scene cut, I took a photograph of Lauren
and the poster was born
The $64-question of course: When
and where will Monitor be released, tentatively?
The film has taken some
time in the edit, I had originally planned for the film to premiere in
London November 5th 2011, but have had to teach myself several
new techniques and software in order to achieve the look and feel I
desired along with having a full time job. But rest assured as I write
this the film is 98% complete with just the final colour grading to take
place. It will then be heavily advertised online with an exclusive web
clip and sent to world wide festivals as well as a tour around the UK.
go back to your beginnings for a bit: What got you into filmmaking in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
From a very young age I was
amazed by the film process, my first cinema experience being Return of the
Jedi in 1983 when I was only 5, I was in awe. My parents fondly tell me
that I would sit in front of the television spellbound by all genres of
film and I'd be trying to work out how things were done. I remember being
particularly captivated by The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, I have always
wanted to make a fantasy puppet based film so watch this space.
On leaving school I studied art
and photography, then media and eventually got a degree in new media making
numerous short film projects but spending more time on the structural side
of editing and platforms such as the Internet and CD Rom.
The actual process of
filmmaking has been very much on-the-job training for me as the course I
enrolled on at university was poorly structured and didn't really teach me
what I would have liked so I took it upon myself to learn everything I
could through trial and error. I highly recommend working as a runner and
watching as many 'making of' documentaries as possible as they give you so
many insights to the filmmaking process, also in particular, listen to
Eli Roth's director's commentary on both Cabin Fever and
early short of yours has the beautiful title Rumbleguts. You just
have to talk about that one for a bit!
Rumbleguts was something
that was born out of a joke where my girlfriend at the time was laying on
me asleep and the noises from my stomach woke her up and she accused me of
being "some kind of monster", so
one evening I decided to make her a film where I play a man who is
tormented by a noise he thinks is outside but turns out to be far closer.
It was shot in one evening with no crew, just myself and my camera. It
started as a joke but turned out as a nice little comedy horror and very
much a festival pleaser.
What can you tell
us about your debut feature Animal Soup?
It was about two years after I
graduated that a fellow graduate sent me a script and wanted my help
tweaking it. I loved it so much I became co-creator and helped the film with
all aspects of the production.
Animal Soup was an exercise to
prove that you don't need a huge crew or mountains of cash to make a film.
We also wanted to push the boundaries of taste and really offend the
viewer. The film was
unfortunately hindered with cast drop-outs leading to numerous rewrites.
What evolved was a 83 minute trash fest that cost £1,200 to make. We
punted the film around and had many reviews all stating how offensive the
movie is. We also were commended on the fact we lure the audience into
thinking they will see female nudity and then shock them with male nudity.
Being a firm believer that nudity is a cliché in horror we wanted to
switch it. We also felt that stereotypically its men who will not look
away during a horror film so we wanted to achieve that and if that meant
showing a male penis full screen then so be it.
After a year and a few
more reviews I re-cut the movie to a faster paced 67 minutes and it was
granted a distribution deal. I recently met with the co-creator and we
have been thinking of doing a director's commentary and releasing a 10 year
anniversary edition with all the extras and outtakes as there are so many
you have also directed several episodes of the gameshow GZ Celebrity
Ghost Hunt. What can you tell us about the concept of this show, and
how (if at all) does working on a TV show differ from making movies?
We started with the Movie Massacre-series - 8 episodes of Emily Booth ripping the piss out of indie
films followed by a making of-episode, a DVD game and then a live film
I took over writing duties from
episode 5 and really enjoyed being writer/director on that series, writing
would take 3 days and we would shoot two episodes in an 8 hour schedule,
it would then be a three week turnaround on editing - so it was a very fast
experience compared to features.
On the series I worked closely
with Emily Booth and by the end of the series we were both sad to let it
go, we both would love to revisit that format again and fingers crossed it
will still happen.
The second series for GZ was the
Celebrity Ghost Hunts - unfortunately it was not taken seriously by some
Celebrity Guests, but on the third shoot it was really intense, we had
tables move and voices heard, it was a chilling experience that could have
become a great series had it, along with the magazine, not been axed.
I have gone on to make a
few other paranormal investigation DVDs since the days at GZ and have
definitely become hooked on ghost hunting.
are also currently working on a segment for the anthology movie Three's
a Shroud, right? What can you tell us about that project, and how did
it come into being to begin with?
Three's a Shroud
behind the scenes
Forest of the Damned 2
While at GoreZone I was
checking out indie filmmakers and searching out talent. I met Dan Brownlie
[Dan Brownlie interview -
click here] at a screening of one of his films and he mentioned he'd heard of Animal
Soup and wanted to make an anthology. I told him that idea interested me
and to keep me in mind. We were joined by Andy Edwards who has made a
series of zombie shorts, and we all wrote a short film that would be linked
by a babysitter sequence. My section is born out of a love of Twilight
Zone, it centers around a photographer who has an unhealthy obsession for
a model but his insecurities force his emotions to take on a form of their
own. It stars Emily Booth, Eleanor James who is amazing, Emma Lock from
Human Centipede 2, and Michael Gyekye who did a fantastic performance of a
guy losing his mind. The wrap around story stars Suzi Lorraine [Suzi
Lorraine interview - click here] and Dani
Thompson, who I had both worked with on Monitor
so it was great to see them
Any other films/TV
shows of yours you'd like to talk about? Any future projects?
I have so much on its
way, it's only moments like this where I list everything that it even
shocks me, I have a six part vampire web eries, a vampire short, a
werewolf feature, a comedy, I've also been working on Forest of the Damned
2 and a few other horror projects both shorts and features so it looks
like I'm going to be busy for some time to come which I can definitely not
with Emily Booth
the years, you have worked quite frequently with British horror veteran
Emily Booth. What can you tell us about her and working with her?
I can honestly say I love
Emily Booth, she is so much fun to work with and I class myself very
privileged to have done so on so many occasions. I used to watch her on TV
and think, I'd love to work with her, she seems so cool and in real life
she really is, I could never want to work with a better person, shes very
sexy and really funny, there is never a dull moment when she is on set,
she knows how both studio and
indie shoots work and she is no trouble on set, she even helps out with
carrying equipment and giving advice when needed. I have so many fond
memories of working with her where we would stop and tell jokes or she'd
put on an accent and make us all laugh. I even have a script idea in mind
for her - when I get a chance to write it that is.
from directing and writing, you have also assumed almost every other
position in filmmaking one time or another, including acting, producing,
editing, cinematography, and so on. What do you like the most, which could
you do without?
I never wanted to be a director
but I have enjoyed it, definitely more so on the short projects, but my
passion is editing and writing. I'm fed up with Hollywood kicking out
remake after remake and want to show that there are original ideas out
there if only someone would give indie films the platform they deserve.
I definitely am not an actor but
again have enjoyed the experience I'd like to have a little cameo here and
there so if anyone wants a tubby bald fella to pop up in a film I am
Most of your films are of the horror
variety one way or another. A genre especially dear to you, and why?
I do indeed love horror,
I have to admit though, it was not originally my first intentional
preferred genre, I like fantasy sci fi but there is a reason people start
in horror and it boils down to money. Horror films can be shot with a lot
less money than other genres and do not need a big name or fancy locations
to carry them. But it's not until you work on horror that you realise how
much fun it is, I cant wai't to sit back and watch the final cut of a film
I recently worked on and say "that blood spray was me or that dismembered
hand is me under fake floor". I do want to branch out of horror and do have
a few projects in mind, but I will always love horror and have many more
explorations to make in that area.
who inspire you?
I have so many but in
no particular order there are a few that stand out over the others, David
Cronenberg, David Fincher, Tony Scott, Guillermo del Toro, Alex Proyas and
Your favourite movies?
I love Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, One Flew over the Cuckoo's
Nest, House of 1000
Child's Play series, Enemy of the State, Friday the 13th
Part 3, Alien 3 (director's cut), and on TV the Spartacus series has been amazing.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Anything with Will
Ferrell (sorry dude, but you annoy the hell out of me), The Ring US remake,
actually most US remakes of perfectly good foreign originals, stop doing
it USA, we don't need inferior remakes! Some remakes are good though, but
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have just forgotten to ask?
I think I've gone on too
much already ha ha.
Thanks for the