Maniacs, monsters, demons, creepy kids, apocalyptic visions, phobias, heavy metal meltdown and snails - yes, it's the FrightFest International Short Film Showcase, an eclectic mix of worldwide cutting edge short films, which is once again being presented by Horror Channel. It will kick-off at 1pm on Sunday 26th August at the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square.
FrightFest is all about covering every aspect of the horror genre no matter how dark and challenging. Tokophobia from Evrim Ersoy, James Pearcey and Russell Would is a prime example of how horror can confront the viewer by covering a controversial topic rarely discussed in the most unforgettable way. We chatted to all three directors about this raw and uncompromising short.
HC: How did you all get together?
TD: Very simply: through FrightFest. It's ironic that the Festival that introduced us is also the place where we keep ending up with our films. (James/Russ had produced To My Mother And Father which screened in 2010) Evrim met James through the festival - Russ who was working as a projectionist at the Odeon at the time knew James already and they had even produced a feature together in Australia. Three very different people with similar interests: it was inevitable that for good or bad we'd try to create something together.
HC: Are you all big fans of the horror genre?
TD: Yes, we are and although there are a lot of titles we all love, it also benefits us that we can wildly vary in our approaches to the genre.
HC: Where did the idea for Tokophobia come from?
TD: We wanted to do something that'd count as a short, sharp nasty shock to the system but at the time we were concerned of ending up with something that would be one-dimensional. James was especially adamant that the film was not made for the sake of just upsetting the audience: that it had to have something more. We discussed the initial idea where everyone helped build the skeleton – then Evrim went and wrote the script which combined all our approaches: something that worked on more than one level but still retained the power to shake the audience.
HC: Did you deliberately set out to make something so challenging?
TD: In a way, yes. Our aim was not to confront the audience but to present a familiar scenario through a different viewpoint: taking away the 'victim' status of someone who would most of the time be portrayed as tragic. And the responses have proven that whilst some people love it, others find it hard to accept and some can't even see beyond their automatic response which makes for a great debate amongst everyone.
HC: How did you go about casting the movie?
TD: We held auditions. All three of us agreed we wanted someone who could give as minimal as performance as possible rather than relying on grand hysterics. We found exactly what we were looking for in Carla Harrison-Hodge.
HC: What was the atmosphere on set like as it’s a pretty dark piece?
TD: Funnily enough, not as dark as you'd think! It got intense in places, no doubt, but because Evrim had spent the previous night rehearsing every move and gesture with Carla and because our technical crew was so professional, it went quicker and smoother than any of us could've really hoped for. We'd wrapped up before we even had time to realize how intense the subject matter really is.
HC: It's sure to be one of the more controversial pieces showing this year would you agree?
TD: To be able to answer that we'll have to wait and see the rest of the short films. There are some talented directors on the list who can, no doubt, bring some truly impressive films to the big screen and at the end of the day it's only the audience who can dictate how the film will be perceived.
HC: Are you nervous about it being shown at FrightFest?
TD: Yes and No. On one level Frightfest is like a second home to us and James and Russ have already done the whole thing once before, however on another Frightfest is such a respected, brilliant festival that it's hard not to get excited and nervous about being on that big screen.
HC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to make their own horror movie short?
TD: Persevere, really. Nothing ever happens the way you plan it: the challenge is to be able to deal with the obstacles as they happen. Oh and find a talented and intelligent crew who make you look far better than you ever thought possible.
HC: So, what projects are you working on at the moment?
TD: Well, we have our Daddy Cross web series which is currently on-going. We're also prepping for another short film for the end of the year which we're very excited about as well as two feature projects which are at a very early stage of development.
HC: Evrim Ersoy, James Pearcey and Russell Would, thank you very much.