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An Interview with SJ Evans, Director of Dead of the Nite

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2013

Films directed by SJ Evans on (re)Search my Trash


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Your movie Dead of the Nite - in a few words, what is it about?


A group of ghost hunters investigate a haunted manor and start getting killed one by one and we have to work out who or what is slaughtering them.


Since one of the central elements of Dead of the Nite is a ghosthunt, what is your personal take on paranormal investigations and the like?


I am a big believer, Sousila (the producer) and I regularly go ghost hunting around the UK and have experienced some freaky shit.


Also, you take a stab at so-called "celebrity" in Dead of the Nite - care to elaborate?


No matter what the genre I always try and make some social comment in my films and I think this is a serious issue plaguing our society at the moment. We seem to care and worship Z-list celebrities from reality TV shows more than firemen etc. who put their lives on the line to save ours.


Any other inspirations when writing Dead of the Nite?


Carpenter’s Halloween is always an influence on my work, and I try to pay a little homage to it with the smashing of the cupboard door scene.


Even though your story might suggest it, your film thankfully largely stays clear of the "found footage"-approach of shaky handheld cameras and a disregard for aesthetics. So how would you describe your directorial style on Dead of the Nite?


I had a clear idea that I wanted to try and create the found footage style of film without making audiences motion sick. My directorial style is also quite slow and steady, I hate that a generation of filmmakers feel that the MTV video style has to be used on every project when a static camera with great acting can be much more effective.


Dead of the Nite features horror legend Tony Todd in a very prominent role. So why him, how did you get him, and what was your collaboration like?


We had met Tony several years before and hit it off and he said he wanted to work with us, so when I was writing the part of Ruber, Tony just jumped out as the obvious choice. Luckily he responded very positively to the story and came on board, it was a real capture for us as it was his first EVER UK shoot. His performance is immense and lifted the entire production to a new level, and I honestly think he is on Candyman form in the film.


Cicely Tennant, Tony Todd

What can you tell us about the rest of your key cast, and why exactly these people?


All credit has to go to fellow producer and casting director Sousila Pillay who did a tremendous job on casting the film. She not only got Tony but also Joseph Millson of Dead 2: India fame and Simon Bamford from the Hellraiser franchise. Sousila also managed to get Paul Fox who was just coming off George Lucas’ Red Tails and Claudio Pacifico who literally stepped off Pirates of the Caribbean 4 onto our set. Our leading lady Cicely Tennant puts in an amazing performance as Amanda, she is a total bitch and I think audiences will love to hate her.


Do talk about the actual shoot for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot was three weeks in South Wales and we had the pleasure of shooting in a real haunted house (at one point we had to stop filming as a ghost tour was going on!). We all experienced something paranormal and our batteries constantly were getting drained within seconds, even the non-believers quickly became converts.

All the night stuff was shot in the pitch black, the cast and crew couldn’t see their hands in front of their face so it made interesting for them to hit marks etc. plus they said it heightened their senses as they couldn’t react to their fellow actors expressions.

Bizarrely once we finished, everyone couldn’t adjust to being in rooms with light!


What can you tell us about critical and audience reception of Dead of the Nite so far?


It seems to have gone down well so far, I think people have appreciated that we’ve tried to punch above our budgetary restrictions. Everyone has commented it has plenty of jumps and tension which is all the things you want to hear. People have also commented how surprised they were that they are invited to laugh during the film without it being an obvious horror comedy.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Well Dark Art Films have a wide range of projects on the go from a romantic comedy with John Rhys-Davies & Vinnie Jones to a claustrophobic thriller with a few horror greats so stay tuned, 2014 will hopefully be a busy year.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and what can you tell us about your formal education on the subject?


Simply put, none! I never studied film but always had a passion for films so taught myself. I was fortunate to then get some training from Stephen Frears and Ken Russell. I just continue to learn on the job.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Dead of the Nite, and your growth as a director?


I started off doing short films with a heavy focus on social issues such as domestic abuse and the homeless. I then directed the feature documentary Tattoos: A Scarred History with David Carradine looking at why tattoos had become so popular in Western society. We presented it to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival and received dozens of offers for the film, but it really helped open my eyes to the whole process of filmmaking from inception to taking it to market. I think that sometimes affects when I’m planning something as it forces me to question what is the market value of doing something. It’s all well and good being a creative ideologist but the harsh reality is this is a business run by accountants, so you need to create films that have a certain marketability to them whilst trying not to compromise your creative approach.


Is it true that you once worked as a professional wrestler, too? Do talk about that era in your life for a bit, and how does the wrestling world compare to the filmmaking world?


Yes, I was known as ‘the Pitbull’. In fact I am working on a documentary about my training for one final match. We already have interviews with RVD, Lita, D-Lo Brown and Chavo Gurrero and is great fun getting back in the squared circle.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find SJ Evans
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find SJ Evans here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find SJ Evans at

I have a massive man crush for John Carpenter… Halloween, The Fog, Prince of Darkness are all of my go to films. Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio - click here]. I also study Hitchcock and David Lean who both specialise in allowing the audience to use their imaginations rather than spelling everything out to them.


Your favourite movies?


Apart from Halloween and Jaws, my favourite film is Clue with Tim Curry, love it. Also love Dark Knight, Scott Pilgrim, Elf, Leon, Arsenic and Old Lace, Avatar, the old Universal horrors, etc etc etc…


... and of course, films you really deplore?


John Woo films, he’s so overrated - as are the Cohen Brothers!!


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


You can search for Dead of the Nite on Facebook and @deadofthenite on Twitter. You can also check out and


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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