Your new movie Remnants
of a Disaster - in a few words, what is it about?
narrative is about two assassins who are in a combat simulation as part of
an experimental drug therapy being run by a(n evil) corporation, however
the scientist running the experiment is insane.
Needless to say everything goes horribly and psychedelically wrong
for everyone concerned. Thematically
itís about mistakes, albeit in quite an abstract, metaphorical way.
How personal and professional mistakes bring you to a point in your
life you donít really want to be and how you can turn that to your
did the project come into being to begin with, and to what extent does it
relate to your earlier short of almost the same title, Remnants (Of a
just wanted to make a feature length film to see if I could do it.
It doesnít really relate to the short except the script I adapted
to make the feature was developed from the short, but what I ended up
making isnít like either of those stories.
What can you tell us about your movie's
screenwriter Barry Nyle, and what was your collaboration like?
two answers to this one:
Barry Nyle is the main character in a 2010 Canadian film called Beyond The
Black Rainbow which was a massive influence on Remnants
of a Disaster, hence me
misappropriating the name. Basically the script is developed from an
earlier version I wrote a couple of years ago based on the short I did in
2011. It was about an assassin
whoís had an enough but canít kill herself so tries to get killed by
various other people and ends up in a house with a psychopath.
A guy (who I thought was a friend, letís call him JP) came in as
co-writer and producer in early 2013, he had access to an amazing derelict
building in Leeds so I agreed to let him adapt Remnants
of a Disaster to work in a
single location instead of a village. But
basically he couldnít write films, he tried to do it in Quark Express
page setting software and the page count was all wrong not to mention what
heíd written was shit. JP
expected that was what would get shot without any revision or
improvisation because thatís how weíd done a short film. He was also
putting half the budget in consequently he spat his dummy out and walked
out on the project two weeks before shooting taking half the budget with
him. Luckily Iíd already had
the notion of exaggerating mistakes and went back to a previous draft of
mine and improvised that with the actors.
hereís answer two:
Iíve never actually met Dr Nyle, heís a very
mysterious Canadian psychologist who did a lot of experimentation with
psychotropics and hallucinogens on patients with dissociative disorders
and himself and got in a lot of trouble. A lot of people think died in the
80s when he was attacked by one of his patients, but he was just badly
injured and became a recluse. He
contacted me via the internet during the latter stages of the shoot (after
heíd seen the images on the filmís website and Facebook page) and
thatís how his contributions and collaboration continued.
He filmed himself (or possibly someone else) and sent me the video
files (heís the strange coloured head in the film) and lots and lots of
notes as the edit progressed, we really didnít have a script, but his
influence on the film was so great I felt he deserved the sole writing
of a Disaster is associative rather than linear in its narrative
approach - so how difficult was it to not just lose your story? And do
talk about your associative approach for a bit to begin with!
had the idea of trying to make a film where the viewer puts the story
together themselves based on clichťís and tropes of the genre and a few
deliberate scenes to point them in the right direction, itís quite
common at the minute (Iím thinking of Only God Forgives, Beyond The
Black Rainbow, A Field In England). Part
of the idea came from Bram Stokerís Dracula, where the story isnít
written as a straight narrative but collected together in diaries, letters
and memos. What really
crystalised the process was Beyond The Black Rainbow, the director Panos
Cosmatos said the film was based on when he was a child and how he
imagined what films (The Exterminator, Blade Runner etc) were like based on
the VHS box artwork because his father (George Cosmatos director of Rambo
and Cobra) wouldnít let him watch violent films. So
of a Disaster is an attempt at combining those somewhat disparate
ideas into a process.
For me, Remnants
of a Disaster has a very experimental, maybe even nouvelle
vague air to it - can you agree to any of this, and what can you tell
your directorial approach?
do agree though Iím not massively familiar with nouvelle vague
although I remember watching Alphaville,
ņ Bout de Soufflť and Le Samourai on a famous cult film TV show called
(presented by Alex Cox [Alex Cox
bio - click here]) over twenty years ago and the existentialism and
style really stuck with me. My
directing of the actors was very lacking because I was doing camera or
sound and supervising whichever one I wasnít doing so I wasnít able to
fully focus on the acting. Consequently
the post production process (which was holistically editing/sound/vfx)
effectively became me re-directing the actors, a lot of the scenes are in
a different order to the rudimentary shooting script and dialogue is
replaced or cut up or rearranged. In
one scene I even turned a character into a blob to reshape the narrative
and mitigate a particularly bad bit of acting.
According to my
of a Disaster was made on a very low budget - so what were the
challenges but maybe also advantages of that, and would you have done
anything differently with more money at hand?
shooting budget was around £2000. Most of that was fuel and food, I
already had the equipment and the locations were free.
With more money I would have paid the actors and shot it all in one
go instead of over several months. The advantage of having no money is I
could do whatever the fuck I wanted so I experimented and learned.
about your locations/sets for a bit!
The main location was Queens
Mill in Castleford West Yorkshire, they basically let us shoot whenever we
wanted sporadically over a two month period in return for me running a
filmmaking workshop with local high school students.
The location in the opening sequence is a community theatre (that
was shot in 2012). Two of the
the other locations were houses where I lived and one was my current
office before we moved into it. Basically
I used whatever I could get into and made it fit.
What can you tell
us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
the exception of Laura Louise Whitehurst Iíd worked with everyone else
before and being completely honest they were the only people who would do
it for free. Waleed lived near
me at the time (he was in the short film as well) and Laura OíDonoughue
had agreed to do the original version of the Remnants
of a Disaster feature (as K, the
Ďbadí assassin) after we worked on music video together, the others I
done various short film projects with.
words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
set atmosphere was really good 90% of the time, positive and upbeat
despite the fact the temperature inside the Mill was pushing 30C, it was
the hottest summer in years and the building was wood so it became like a
sauna and incredibly energy sapping.
was one day where one actor/crew member was particularly negative and
abusive to another actor (not the two Lauraís who were both incredibly
professional), which resulted in a really bad atmosphere on set all day.
Ironically the scenes we shot that day were particularly good,
particularly the final fight scene in it which we shot in 55 minutes.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of your movie so
Mixed, itís won an award
at a small festival, most people just donít get it but even then
theyíve been engaged. Some
people have hated it (including someone who worked on it because their
role got cut down) and it got flamed on Facebook by another film producer
who obviously just didnít get it but thatís cool as long as it
provokes a reaction.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
Iím part of a film making
collective in my home town with some friends, as part of that Iíve just
produced a feature which Iím also editing.
Weíre working on a dark sketch show pilot which weíre shooting
in the new year and also developing a horror feature (probably a slasher)
film which Iím going to direct. Doing
the score and sound design for Remnants
of a Disaster has got me back into music
production in a big way so Iím buying hardware synths and drum machines
to use instead of the software Iíve been working on for the past few
years. Keep an eye out for new
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
When I failed all my high
school exams and realised I wasnít going to be a fighter pilot or
astronaut I decided I wanted to make films. About the same time I got into
cannabis and didnít do much for the next ten years except stack shelves,
make techno music and write down the odd film idea.
Unfortunately it took me another ten years after that to teach
myself the skills to do it, I have no formal training, Iím completely
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Remnants
of a Disaster?
In 2010 I started a
production company called StudioLAX and Iíve lost count of the number of
shorts and music videos Iíve made. I
made my first short in 2002 at university (I was a mature student) - although I studied IT I borrowed a video camera and used their computers
to edit on. In 2003 I got a
job editing football highlights for small football clubs and in 2005
became a cameraman and editor at Blackburn Rovers football club when they
were still in the English premiership.
The run and gun ENG style of gathering content I learned there has
really influenced how I work now, fast, efficient and cutting in the
How would you describe yourself
as a director?
Dangerously unqualified but
learning on the job.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Takeshi Kitano, Daniel
Myrick, Robert Rodriguez, Ben Wheatley, the Coen Brothers.
Blade Runner, Sonnatine, Drive,
Beyond The Black Rainbow, Blair Witch
Project, The Objective, Dredd, Kill List.
... and of course, films you really
hate the Lord Of The Rings films, theyíre really dull (or at least the
one I half I could be bothered to watch were) and people rave about them
like theyíre this amazing achievement and cultural event when theyíre
just really average and a waste of effort.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
was a mess, a massive insult to the Alien fan base and I like
Alien: Resurrection. However I was
surprised after twenty years of average and disappointing films when
Ridley Scott made The Counsellor which I consider to be up there with his
Nolan is incredibly overrated, I just donít get it.
His films are superficially interesting but lack any real depth or
intelligence, but because theyíre ever so slightly offbeat and use
practical effects people go nuts for them.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Just to say thanks for the opportunity to promote
such a niche film as Remnants
of a Disaster and I look forward to reading your reviews
of Ďotherí films old and new.
Thanks for the interview!