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By James Whittington, Monday 25th August 2014
More creature feature horror today at FrightFest with the world premiere of Jeremy Wooding's Blood Moon.
We chatted to this talented guy about this fright flick and what else he has planned.
HC: You made your name directing many of today’s most popular TV shows, how did these prepare you for Blood Moon?
JW: I think in terms of my TV work the highest profile programmes have been Peep Show and Derren Brown, both of which I helped create. They were risky, innovative and stylish shows. Childrens’ TV was really an extension of my TV comedy work. Blood Moon has an arch sense of humour and having done both slapstick and black comedy on TV (and in my football feature The Magnificent Eleven) I think I’ve learnt to pitch the tone of comedy. That said, you just hope you’ve got it right!
HC: How did you come to direct Blood Moon?
JW: The original script was sent to me by the writer Alan Wightman about two years ago. Along with my fellow producer Michael Vine I developed the script with Alan over about twelve months, for me to direct.
HC: Did you have a cast in mind when you read it?
JW: Ideas for cast came later during the development period. First off, after reading the script, I invited a group of actors, who I knew, to a table read to road test the script. Three of those actors actually appear in the film: Shaun Dooley, Raffaello Degruttola and Tom Cotcher.
HC: How did they research their accents?
JW: I told them it was set in Colorado, but that the nature of immigration at the time would mean there was scope for other regional/international accents. I told the actors to check out the TV series Deadwood. The rest they worked on themselves, often with voice coaches.
HC: Did you have much of a budget to play with and did the era in which it was set cause many problems?
JW: The budget was tiny for an ambitious period piece, with a creature, prosthetics and stunts... I couldn’t have achieved what we did without having Heads of Department who I had worked with before and who knew how to magic something out of nothing. And the location was key. I found this fantastic Wild West town built in the middle of the Kent countryside. It’s run by an historical recreation group and they really helped to make the whole thing possible.
HC: It’s a slow burner, with tension building ever so slowly in a claustrophobic atmosphere, was this difficult to create?
JW: The film is a bit like The Thing meets Stagecoach, so I was aiming for the same kind of claustrophobia you find in those films. I think if you can put the audience in a situation with characters who are ‘surrounded’ or ‘isolated’ mentally and physically, then you can create that atmosphere. But it needs time for the audience to get to know the characters and invest in their stories. Plus the oppressive character of the location helped. Originally Blood Moon was set in the desert, but once I found the Wild West town I got Alan to re-write the script for the environment there. And suddenly the whole thing became more gothic.
HC: What difficulties do you encounter when making a creature feature?
JW: The closest I had got to filming creatures was doing a childrens’ puppet show. And the challenges of lighting, camera angles and credibility are pretty much the same – and, of course, getting the biggest bang for your bucks. With creature features I think you inevitably get to the same place as Jaws or Alien. That is if you show too much of the creature you run the risk of over-exposing the threat. The general thinking here is ‘less is more’. But how much ‘less’ or ‘more’ will the audience accept. In the end I think that if the story is good enough the audience will buy into your creature whatever the budget. And can you ever get it right? Look at the new Godzilla film, as soon as the fans saw it they immediately thought the creature was too fat. It didn’t stop people enjoying the film though.
HC: The epic score adds much to the atmosphere with plenty of nods to traditional Western soundtracks. How did you choose the composer?
JW: I had worked with the composer, Toby Pitman, before on a comedy pilot. And he’s a mate. So I knew we would be on the same page creatively. I would normally put a temporary soundtrack (taken from other similar genre films) onto the film in the edit stage. But with Blood Moon nothing worked. So we just sat down together and worked our way through the film talking about the action and mood etc. In fact, as we did that, Toby would try ideas out to picture. It was magical, almost like a pianist playing to a silent movie. Its Toby’s first fully-fledged feature score, and he wrote it in two weeks!
HC: So what are you working on next?
JW: Blood Moon 2 is being written, but I think the next one will be a supernatural slasher film with a stylish twist. I’ve got the taste for blood now! Ha ha.
HC: Jeremy Wooding, thank you very much.
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