Your new movie Bring
Out the Fear - in a few words, what is it about?
couple in the dying days of their relationship take a walk in their
favourite forest, only to find they canít escape it. Not only that, but
no one else is around, the paths lead nowhere, the sun never sets, and
something seems to be following them... They have to try to survive an
altogether otherworldly experience, as well as each other.
were your sources of inspiration when writing Bring
Out the Fear - and as weird as this may sound, is any of the film
based on personal experiences?
forest where the film is set is the root inspiration. My producer, who is
also my wife, took me on a walk there years ago, and I was just taken
aback by how different every section of the place seemed, and
how easy it was to get lost, even though it wasnít actually a very large
was very inspired by the tone and mythos of The
Blair Witch Project and Silent Hill,
where youíre talking about people with friction, whether thatís
between a group or of oneís own conscience, being forced into a
circumstance beyond comprehension. The futility of J-horror (where you can
be cursed and can do nothing about it) and the dream logic of some of the
Italian greats like Fulciís The Beyond
[Lucio Fulci bio - click here]
and Argentoís Suspiria.
As for being inspired by personal experiences, I did happen to write this
film that is centered around a failed marriage proposal before I was
engaged to my now-wife, but Iím sure thereís nothing to that! Iím
really drawn to the characters and how they react in a given situation,
and I felt there was a lot of territory to take some lived experience
where nobody is perfect, people grow, people change, people fail.
Thereís definitely a strong throughline about toxic relationships and
toxic people, but I felt it would be counterproductive to use that as a
shorthand for Ďthis person is good, this person is bad.í There is a
part of me and my own fears, and in some cases, my nightmares, throughout,
in all the characters, for better and for worse.
Out the Fear pretty much follows the logic of a nightmare for
large parts - so how easy or hard was it not to literally lose your plot
telling your story that way?
I really started diving into horror films as a teenager, I remember
watching the Italian horrors, particularly those of Fulci, and being so
confused. It took me a while to get my head around what it was that was
making me feel so uncomfortable, and once I realised what it was, that
nightmare logic, I just loved it. Itís one great part of the cinematic
experience where you can bring an audience from reality to dream and back
without necessarily signposting it. Itís an exciting adventure that can
leave you unnerved and having to be on your toes to see if youíre
grounded in reality or not. Once you embrace the unpredictable nature of
moving from one to the other, it becomes a lot easier to feel a rhythm and
to have a feeling of where you are with it. Itís a lot like jazz or
prog-rock, where from the outside it can seem like thereís a lot of
chaos and confusion, but on the inside, you are so in tune with what
youíre doing, you are able to move between these notes. That said, the
scene of Dan discovering the ring did end up disappearing between
rewrites, only flagged by lead Tad Morari [Tad
Morari interview - click here] during rehearsals. Hey, even seasoned
musicians hit bum notes every now and again, right!?
Do talk about Bring
Out the Fear's approach to horror!
all about being psychological! Iím a big believer in the creeping terror
of what you donít necessarily see, but what you are anticipating seeing.
Obviously from the perspective of being a low budget indie film, you
donít want to be showing something you donít have the money to make
look good, but even with that, one of my least favourite parts of bigger
budget affairs is the tendency to show off the scares. Iíd always
intended for this to be a bit more Ben Wheatley Kill List approach, where
you might get a shaky glimpse at something, and then I always go back to
one of my all-time favourites, The
Haunting, where you go into cardiac
arrest at the sound design. Itís all about what your mind is seeing,
then peppered in with these bits of on-screen horror to unnerve you. Some
people might complain there is nothing happening, but itís more that
nothing is happening in your face. Itís all about being subtle with the
scares, while also not holding back on getting under the skin!
A few words
about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
was all about the characters for me, so having actors who knew the
characters they were embodying, then giving them the scenario to play in
and just keeping them on track. Initially I wanted a bit of a grungy Kill
List approach to the visuals except even rougher, but Rowan Moore, our
director of photography, was able to deliver these gorgeous images in this
extremely tight time we had to turn it around, so we leaned into that. I
didnít want to overshoot it though. Whatís on screen is what was on
the page, but I wanted the energy of Ciara Bailey [Ciara
Bailey interview - click here] and Tad Morariís [Tad
Morari interview - click here] back and forwards
to really come out on the screen. I was tracking where they needed to be
in the story at all times, and visually, even though the whole thing is
set in daylight, I had it get more and more oppressive and claustrophobic.
There needed to be a feeling of surreal and unpredictability to the film,
but it was all well planned out and mercifully we had the right team to
pull it off.
can you tell us about Bring
Out the Fear's cast, and why exactly these people?
was everything with this, and I wrote it with a certain actor in mind for
the Rosie role, but then we decided to pivot to Ciara Bailey, who brings a
totally different energy to what was initially on the page. Weíd worked
with her on a comedy she co-wrote, and knew how talented she was, and when
I mulled it over, I really thought she could carry this character. It may
have been a different direction than Iíd initially planned, but it was
definitely a better one in the end. As for Tad Morari, he came to us through an
open casting call and was the only person out of like 60 auditions that
grabbed me. It was like the character had come off the page and onto the
screen. The poor guy then had to deal with me. I like to talk to people I
donít know in person to see if they will gell well with our sets, so we
met for a cup of tea and a chat, which led to me insisting on bringing him
to the forest we were filming in, deep into it, away from any other
people. Just him, me, and a camera. Heís lucky I wasnít some sort of
rounded out the cast with James Devlin as Eric, who is a friend of ours who
isnít necessarily an actor, but I had this strange feeling he would be
perfect in the role, and even he will admit now that he was great, and
Brian Matthews who plays the character I named Trapped at the top of the film.
Heís someone I knew from a local filmmakers group and have a lot of time
of course also have to talk about the woods your movie was filmed at, and
what was it like filming there?
I mentioned, they had this great Ďvariedí vibe, where you felt like it
was a definitely different section every couple of hundred metres. Itís
really a character in itself. Itís an area open
to the public, but strangely, we didnít get too slowed down by that. The
biggest issue was adorable dogs running up to us in the middle of takes,
and who is going to be mad about that? There was also one day where we had
this intense mist just caught in the trees on the day we were filming a
particularly heavy scene, and it was too perfect. The place was very easy
to get turned around and lost in (Iím not going to lie, I got lost
recceing the location and recorded a
Blair Witch Project style Ďif you find
this, I didnít make ití video), and we all put in our steps on the
shoot, but all in all, it brought so much to the film and was pleasant
enough to deal with.
Do talk about the shoot
as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
made something a few years ago that had a very negative on-set experience
and some awful crewmembers, and it was important to me that Bring
Out the Fear was totally different. This was a creative endeavour, and I didnít
want to soil that creativity with awful people on set, so I put a lot of
thought into who we had with us. Aisling, our assistant director for
example, is a really good friend from college who Iíd made loads of
shorts with, but had drifted apart from, and rekindling our friendship
with this film was just so nice. There were a few faces who I didnít
know ahead of the shoot, but everyone ended up being great and bringing
the right kind of atmosphere to set. We were moving so fast, we had no
time for drama, but we did manage to get plenty of time for joking and
laughs without compromising anything.
were trying to get through an overoptimistic amount of script a day, which
was my fault and ended up coming to bite us in the ass, including one day
where I felt some tension and like the walls were closing in. To be
honest, that was probably all in my head, but if things arenít running
100% perfect, which is of course how most film sets are, I become very
aware of that. But through producer Alison and her skills are figuring out
what we should be doing, we got on track without any issues.
was a great set, probably one of my favourites, and I think most of us
could feel we were getting these great performances shot so well as it was
happening. I canít stress enough how even though I am writer/director,
this is a film made by a team of people. No one phoned it in here, and it
may have spoiled me for any future shoots.
The $64 question of
course, where can Bring
Out the Fear be seen?
all that, Bring
Out the Fear has landed on VOD in North America, UK, and
Ireland in all the usual places. Itís exciting to finally have the film
be so readily available after going through delays with pandemics and fest
runs and the likes, and weíd really encourage people to check it out and
reach out to let us know what they think.
Anything you can tell us
about audience and critical reception of Bring
Out the Fear?
away. Thatís how we have felt. This is a small indie film made the way I
wanted to make it, fully expecting to finish and self-release it, maybe
show it in a local cinema for the cast and crew. For it to have been
selected to premiere at Frightfest, followed by a load of other festivals
we were honoured to be a part of, and even picking up Best Film awards, we
just werenít ready for it. Ciara was telling us she was so happy to see
how excited Alison and I were when we were in the Phoenix in London after
the premiere. The reviews started dropping and were all so positive. We
got some extremely kind words from Kim Newman, which just floored me.
People coming up to us to let us know theyíd seen the film and liked it
was like an out-of-body experience.
the VOD release, it has been so humbling to get this big wave of positive
reviews. I know it wonít last, that everyone has different tastes and
those who donít like the film will make sure we know, but thatís all a
part of it. Right now, to see the film connect with people, to find an
audience, to reach the people like me who like something dark and
psychological, itís been an unreal experience. Some films are made and
disappear into the ether, but to see Bring
Out the Fear land with anyone,
let alone how many it has so far... Itís hard to put into words, but
Iíll simply say Iím grateful to everyone.
Any future projects you'd like to
and I wrapped photography on a new feature in October that weíve just
finished a first cut of. We brought back our director of photography
Rowan, James has a non-acting role, and Ciara even makes an appearance! I
canít say too much right now, but in a few months, Iím sure you
wonít be able to shut me up.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
just always been obsessed with films and stories and remember getting so
mesmerised when I started to see behind the scenes of the movie magic.
When DVDs became big, I couldnít get enough of the making-of
documentaries, until my family got a camcorder and I got to try make films
with my friends. Films like Gremlins, Poltergeist and Ghostbusters
sparked my imagination for the fantasy world that could be created on
screen, and I was always more drawn to being the magician than just
sitting in the audience. I went to college for TV & Film for 4 years
(3 in Ireland, 1 in Wales) where Alison and I (yep, we go back that far)
really got to spread our creative wings and try different things.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Bring
Out the Fear?
ended up making a feature film with our college tutor Michael, who wrote
and directed. We are still close and have our production company Weird
Pretty Pictures with him, and he was an exec producer on Bring
Out the Fear. That film was Sodium Party, which I would describe as if David Lynch
made an Irish mystery. The lead from that film, Slaine Kelly, brought us
on to do the romcom The OíBriens, which Alison produced and I made my
feature directorial debut (if you donít count my awful emo teenage
feature film). We made plenty of shorts and music videos over the
intervening years, as well as establishing our TV careers as our day jobs.
Following a bad set experience, I decided to do one Ďfor meí, and made
a found footage horror called In A Strangerís House, which I did almost
entirely single-handedly, and it surprised me by connecting to a dedicated
audience. That film is the direct reason we were able to make Bring
Out the Fear.
How would you describe yourself as
I have a vision, and it is almost always best realised by allowing my cast
and crew to bring their strengths to a film. I like to have sets where
people feel comfortable and can bring their A-game. I talk to everyone and
let them know what Iím thinking and then Iíll see how everything is
working as a whole. If you have the right people around you, it makes a
world of difference. Collaboration is so important to me, that Iím not
stuck in my ways if there is a better
option out there. Thatís why I wonít put ĎA film by Richard
Watersí on the top of my film. Thereís so much talent that goes into
these things that itíd be rude to try claim it all for myself.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
A very small sampling but George Romero, David Cronenberg, David Lynch,
Kevin Smith, John Carpenter, David Fincher, Ben Wheatley, and recently,
Benson and Moorhead have been really blowing me away.
a hard question! Again, hereís a small sampling: Day
of the Dead, Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, Evil
Muppet Movie, Disturbing
Behavior, The Beyond,
Now, Videodrome, Ghostbusters,
Gremlins, Poltergeist, King
For A Dream.
... and of course, films you really
Gosh, I saw this one about a couple in the woods recently... What was it
Your/your movie's website, social media,
on most socials as @richmwaters, and you can also find the film at @bringoutthefear. We have a
Weird Pretty YouTube channel where you can see
some Frightfest interviews and the making of Sodium Party, which I think
is a great look at making an indie film.
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
I mention the film is out on VOD now? Because itís out on VOD now. So
you should consider checking it out on VOD. Now.
Thanks for the