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Interview with Damien Power, director of Killing Ground
By James Whittington, Monday 25th September 2017

One of the best from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was a superior thriller, Killing Ground. This tension packed movie looked incredible on the big screen so we decided to chat to its director, Damien Power.

HC: Did Killing Ground take a long time to write and did it change as you progressed?

DP: It took eleven years from the germ of the idea to stepping onto location to start shooting. Luckily I wasn't working on it full time! Once we had a draft we were happy with, it took five years to put the financing jigsaw together. It's a long journey! The biggest change was that for a number of years it didn't really have a third act. It ended very abruptly at the moment of maximum jeopardy. Fortunately, I figured out a third act that just keeps ratcheting up the tension.

HC: Was it written with the cast in mind?

DP: No. I had no actors in mind when I wrote it. We were funded without cast attached, so I was free to cast the best actors for the role.

HC: Speaking of the cast they are superb and bring the suspense to life, what was the atmosphere like on set?

DP: We shot largely in order, so the first two weeks of the shoot felt like a holiday camp. The atmosphere changed considerably when Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane (who play German and Chook) turned up. They're great guys, and so much fun to have on set, but the tone of the shoot shifted with the tone of the film. Their appearance also heralded the arrival of stunties and the armourer - things got serious quickly.

HC: What was the trickiest sequence to shoot?

DP: The trickiest sequence was perhaps the final fight which occurs at night. It was the last thing we shot and we were running out of time. I remember my DOP Simon Chapman asking me how I was going to get it in two shots because that's all we had time for. Nothing like the rising sun to focus the mind.

HC: The film, though violent in places, is all the more suspenseful for just suggesting what atrocities have occurred, would you agree this helps it stand out?

DP: I agree. The audience can imagine much worse than I would ever want to show. And every time you show gore it breaks the suspense.

HC: Killing Ground is your first feature, were you nervous at all?

DP: I was terrified. Hopefully I hid it well!

HC: So then, what are you up to at the moment?

DP: I'm working on two feature scripts, one a teen horror/thriller, the other a female-driven thriller: my reworking of those 90s women-in-jeopardy films.

HC: Damien Power, thank you very much.

Killing Ground is available on digital download and in select cinemas on 29th September.


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