Your new movie A Killer Next Door - in a few words, what is
a thriller based on the true story of John List, a man who killed his
entire family and then disappeared for 20 years before being captured
after an appeal on the TV show America's Most Wanted. His case was also
the inspiration behind The Stepfather franchise.
Now I haven't seen A Killer Next Door,
but I feel I have to address the elephant in the room right away: Reading
the synopsis I can't help but being reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear
Window - now has that movie (and Hitchcock in general) at all been an
influence on your film, and if so, in what way?
the real life case a neighbour recognised John List many years after he
killed his family despite him changing his name and appearance. The
neighbour was instrumental in turning him into authorities, so when it came
to writing the script that element seemed tailor-made for a Rear Window
type scenario. I think it would be tough to make any kind of thriller
without a Hitchcock influence considering he's such a pioneer in the
sources of inspiration when writing A Killer Next Door?
like Body Double and Disturbia were also inspirations. Brian DePalma's
early work in particular as there's a voyeuristic aspect to some of his
thrillers and voyeurism is definitely a central theme in A Killer Next
talk about A Killer Next Door's approach to the thriller genre as
made a lot of horror and B-movies which are often of a tongue-in-cheek
nature. I've also done a few true crime films in recent years which were
more serious, but this is the first film I've made which makes a conscious
effort to work within the tropes of the thriller genre. It was interesting
to play with some of those tropes as there are factors which aren't that
far removed from horror, such as the need to generate tension. But I think
the main difference is that in horror you can alternate tone, often
between horror and humour, whereas in a thriller I tried to maintain a
more consistent serious tone throughout.
A few words about your overall directorial
approach to your story at hand?
think the key thing is trying to make the characters interesting enough so
the audience will care about the outcome of the story. The protagonist
Stephanie has relatable relationships with her father and boyfriend which
contrast well with a very sinister, controlling relationship the
antagonist John List has with his second wife. I feel maintaining
interesting character dynamics is just as important as plot when it comes
to trying to get an audience emotionally invested in a film.
What can you tell us
about A Killer Next Door's key cast, and why exactly these people?
Andrew on set
recruited quite a few actors on this one who I had worked with before
because it's nice to have a familiarity and shorthand with people. That
really helps when you have such a short shooting schedule. We shot this
film in 11 days. William Meredith, who plays John List, did a fantastic
job portraying Reverend Jim Jones in a previous film I made called The
Jonestown Haunting. William is one of the nicest guys you could meet but
he has a great talent for playing villains! Harriet Rees, who plays
Stephanie, has worked on numerous previous films of mine and I think she
will go on to great things in the future. I also got to work again with
actors like Nigel Barber, Patrick O'Donnell, Phillip Roy, Ed Allenby,
Jason Gregg, Tessa Wood and Derek Nelson. All very versatile and
experienced performers who I can always rely on to bring interesting
interpretations of a character to the table.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
set in America (and we did utilise a lot of exterior footage shot there)
we filmed most of our interiors for the film in the Pembrokeshire area of
South Wales, which is one of my favourite regions as I spent a lot of
childhood holidays there. I've worked with pretty much the same crew for
the better part of a decade so there's always a family atmosphere on our
sets. Every shoot involves unforeseen challenges and long hours, but our
team is one of the hardest working and friendliest in the business so it's
rare that we don't all have a great time on a shoot.
$64-question of course, when and where will A Killer Next Door be
film will make its debut in North America on 21st July. The DVD will be
available at retailers such as Walmart and the film will also be available
on digital platforms such as Amazon Video and iTunes. It'll be released in
the UK and other international territories later this year.
Anything you can tell us about audience and
critical reception of your movie yet?
see the first reactions after the US release but I always find it's most
interesting to look back on a film about a year after release to really
assess whether it had legs commercially or critically. Most of my films
don't get well reviewed, I think they are considered by critics to not be
particularly classy and perhaps a bit calculated in their intention to be
commercially appealing. But the vast majority of them generate excellent
sales. In the UK for instance seven of my films have reached the Top 30 of
the national DVD chart and twelve of them placed in the Top 5 of best
selling Direct-to-Video titles in their first week of release. I think
it's amazing that our micro budget productions manage to compete with much
higher budget films in the mainstream market place all over the world.
Ultimately the sales success
of a film impacts my life far more than critical reception because
generating a regular profit for distributors and investors is the main
thing filmmakers need in order to continue to make more movies.
Another film of
yours that will be released later this year is The Haunting of Margam
Castle - so what can you tell us about that one?
story focuses on a group of American parapsychologists who travel to Wales
to investigate a haunted Castle and of course all hell breaks loose when
they encounter the ghosts! It's our highest budget film to date and we
were fortunate to be able to shoot at the historical Margam Castle in
Wales which is the best location we've ever had access to. It gives the
film a very gothic atmosphere. We had a great cast of established
character actors such as Caroline Munro [Caroline
Munro bio - click here], Derren Nesbitt, Jane Merrow,
Vernon Dobtcheff, Judy Matheson, Garrick Hagon and Simon Bamford. It was
really cool to work with actors I grew up watching in classic Hammer and
Bond films. The film will be out on DVD and digital platforms later this
other future projects you'd like to share?
Jonestown Haunting has recently been released in North America, the DVD
is available at retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy and the film is
also available on many streaming platforms. It's an often strange hybrid
of true crime drama and supernatural horror so worth checking out if you
like unusual films. It'll be released in the UK on August 17th.
What got you
into filmmaking in the first place, and did you recieve any formal
education on the subject?
fell in love with filmmaking at a very young age when I first saw Friday
the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm
Street in the same night when I was
five years old. I grew up in the 1980s when the VHS boom was in full swing,
so I rented movies religiously. I always wanted to be a filmmaker but it
didn't seem possible until the digital technology evolved in the early
2000s. I didn't go to film school, I pooled whatever resources I could,
arranged film shoots and learnt from the experiences. I think film school
and media courses are great things to do but there's no substitute for
being on a film set gaining practical experience.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to A Killer Next Door?
made 28 feature films since 2012 and I'm proud of every single one because
it took the blood, sweat and tears of a great team of people to make them.
Creatively, every filmmaker is their own worst critic so there is an
element of that, but overall I'm happy to have built such an extensive body
of work. I'm particularly
proud we managed to make a franchise out of the Robert the Doll
character. To date we've made five films in the series and it's attracted
a dedicated cult following all over the world. But most gratifying for me
has been to have my wife Sharron Jones alongside me on this journey. She's
fulfilled so many roles on each production over the years, going from
being my assistant to being the costume designer and now a frontline
producer on the projects. I wouldn't have managed to make so many films
without her support.
through your filmography, one can't help but notice that you never stray
too far from the horror genre - so is that a mere coincidence, or is
horror a genre especially dear to you, and why (not)?
definitely have a personal love for the genre, it carries a great
nostalgia for me having watched a lot of horror since childhood. The early
experiences of seeing subversive things like the twist ending of Sleepaway
Camp had a really profound impact on me! As a filmmaker I love
the unique freedom the genre offers to veer between different tones and
reflect some of the darker aspects of human behaviour and social issues.
It's a very broad genre to work in.
would you describe yourself as a director?
see myself as a facilitator. I try to be the calm in the eye of the storm
rather than a dictator. I aim to be a solid presence who enables the cast
and crew to do their best work in a relaxed, creative environment, there
to keep the ship steady and be collaborative. I love to hear new ideas
from people and I consider the process of making a film to be a team game
rather than an ego-led auteur scenario.
who inspire you?
business model is very much inspired by Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here] and Charles Band.
Those guys are great inspiration for producers seeking longevity in the
industry. They've both managed to evolve through different eras and stay
the course. I'm not really into many mainstream directors, I find more
inspiration in the guys who have worked in the independent and B-movie
arena such as David DeCoteau, Fred Olen Ray, Greydon Clark, William
Girdler and Jeff Burr.
Your favourite movies?
tough to narrow it down but I always want to champion underdog films that
not many people appreciate. Rather than the mainstream version of a movie
everyone knows I often prefer the rip-off mockbuster version! Also, so
many people think sequels always fall short but I absolutely love them.
Horror sequels became such a staple in the 1980s and I think many of them
even match the quality of the
original films such as Psycho II, Day of the
Dead and A Nightmare on
Elm Street 3. I actually really like the much maligned sequels like
Hills Have Eyes Part II and Exorcist II: The Heretic as well! I'd say
the films I've probably watched most in my life are the Friday the
movies. I've been watching those for thirty years now and I still enjoy
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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is subjective so I don't really hate any film, some are just not my
personal taste. But I do think when it comes to modern mainstream films
you can tell with some that a lot of people had conflicting opinions on
the direction of the material so the films don't feel like they have a
distinct authorship, for better or for worse. I think you need a team of
people on the same page creatively, otherwise a film can end up feeling
like it lacks a soul.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
For updates on my film
projects people can follow me on Twitter -
- or at my production company North Bank
Entertainment's Facebook page:
for the interview!
thanks to Richard S Barnett, founder of IIWYK!!!