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Interview With Dan Berk and Robert Olsen Directors Of Body
By James Whittington, Friday 28th August 2015 Body is one of the real stand-out movies of FrightFest 2015. Its a strong mix of suburban horror and traditional thrills that combine to make a film that's outstanding. Here directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen chat about this brilliant movie and plans for the future.
HC: When did you two first work together?
We met as randomly assigned roommates our freshmen year of college. When we graduated, we started a production company with a few close friends with the goal of one day making feature films. We eventually started to write together and it just kind of grew from there. We realized that we were better when working together, so our partnership expanded to include, writing, directing, editing - now we share a credit on anything we do.
HC: Who came up with the idea for Body?
As with everything we do, it was a team effort. We never pitch fully formed ideas to one another. We share our thoughts very early on in the creative process. That way we can both influence what the final outcome is. Many times the film we wind up with only barely resembles the initial idea. Body is no different - we wanted to make something in a limited location and just bounced ideas back and forth, taking bits from every idea and letting it snowball into a final product.
HC: How long did it take to write?
The writing was relatively quick. Once we had the concept, the story kind of wrote itself. We went through a few drafts, sent it out for some notes, did a few more, but the entire process was only a few months long.
HC: Did you have specific actors in mind whilst writing it?
Helen Rogers (Holly) was a close friend. We've always been huge fans of her and try to work with her whenever we can. That role was absolutely written for her. Other than that, we had always hoped we could get Larry Fessenden for Arthur, but that was more of a long shot because we'd never worked with him before and he's a busy guy. Luckily it worked out. Having his veteran presence on set really made everyone involved, cast and crew, really step their game up.
HC: What sort of budget did you have for production?
A very, very small one. We knew that would be the case as we would be raising the money ourselves. So we tried to make a film that had limited locations and focused more on performance than effects.
HC: Was it a long shoot?
It was a particularly short shoot actually. We shot the whole film in 11 overnights. We were able to do that because the vast majority of our film took place in one location. That allowed us to not have to load in/out every day. Being able to just walk off set and walk back on the next day and start shooting basically turned our 11 day shoot into a 15 or 16 day shoot in terms of effective shooting hours.
HC: This is your first full length feature, what lessons did you learn about the craft during the production?
The biggest difference is the physical grind over a longer shoot. When you're shooting a short film/music video/commercial, you don't have to take that into account as much. The days can be as long as they need to be because there's only a few of them and everyone involved would rather just get everything done in as few days as possible. It's tempting to do the same when you're on a feature, but it doesn't work that way. You have to make sure that everyone is getting enough rest. Otherwise you'll get to the 6th or 7th day and your entire set will be out of gas.
HC: What would you have done if you were the female characters in this movie?
That's the question that we want the audience to be asking themselves. We really wanted to explore the moral gray areas involved in a situation like this. Who the viewer sympathizes with (and if those feelings change) is a big part of the viewing experience. All that being said, I think we'd most likely chicken out, then again, we don't have a friend like Cali...
HC: Do you get nervous before your work is shown at a festival?
We definitely get butterflies every time. You never know how a certain audience is going to react and you have this recurring nightmare of half the audience walking out or some other AV disaster taking place. Luckily that has yet to happen, but any time people are seeing your work for the first time, it's a nerve wracking experience. A lot of nail-biting and knee-bobbing from the two of us.
HC: What advice would you give to budding directors and writers who want to make their own movies?
Know your limitations. You want to accentuate what you can do well at this point in your career, both creatively and financially. If you get too ambitious with the story you're trying to tell, it can blow up in your face. Try to base your characters on real people. We can write people in their mid to late twenties much easier than we can write young children or older characters because that's who we spend most of our time with. Maybe you work at a preschool or an old folks home and it's the opposite. Just try to stay in your comfort zone early on. You can experiment as you continue your career, but you might only have one shot at making a feature, so you have to put your best foot forward. Financially, the same method applies. You only have 50 grand to make your feature? Make sure you come up with a concept you can execute. A small, limited location thriller is going to be easier to pull off than an elaborate, effects heavy movie about a jewel heist. We're not saying you can't be ambitious, just don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Use whatever edge you can to make your film look better. For instance had a connection to this incredible mansion, so we got permission to shoot there and tried to showcase that whenever possible. We built a film around a resource that was available to us. Maybe your good friend is an SFX make-up artist, or your dad works at a diner you could shoot in - use whatever is available to you that would otherwise cost someone else more money and lean into it. You've gotta stretch your dollars early on.
HC: What shape would you say that the horror movie industry is in?
We think it's in great shape. Unlike some other genres, it's very concept and execution dependent; you're not required to have stars in it. It can be a lot easier to find distribution for an independent horror as opposed to an independent family drama. This is probably because there are a whole slew of moviegoers who want a more visceral experience and only go to see things that make them laugh or scare them. Whether that's a good thing or not is a different argument, but it's a pretty clear that that's part of the reality of this industry.
HC: Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, thank you very much.
MORE FRIGHTFEST FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2019 line-up
Posted on Thursday 10th January 2019
It's full scream ahead as Arrow Video FrightFest, the UK's favourite horror fantasy event, returns to Glasgow Film Festival for a 14th fearful year, from Thursday 28 February to Saturday 2 March.
Presenting a stunning and resonating two days of trauma, terror and tantalising thrills, this year's line-up, once again housed at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embraces the latest genre discoveries from around the world, spanning four continents, with two world, two European and six UK premieres.
Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, commented: "Currently at its most vibrant and popular, the horror fantasy genre is constantly garnering critical acclaim, pushing boundaries and asking tough questions o...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Hyett director of Peripheral
Posted on Friday 2nd November 2018 Paul Hyett is a firm FrightFest favourite. His work jumps from genre you genre with ease but still retains that "Hyett" feeling in each piece. His latest work, Peripheral is having its UK Premiere at the FrightFest Halloween 2018 event so we decided to chat to Paul about this and his view on technology.
HC: How did the project of Peripheral come together?
PH: Peripheral was bought to me by the original producer, he thought I'd be a good fit. Originally he had pitched me a one woman in a room, contained location about bad technology theme. It didn't feel appealing as after Howl, which was a big film in terms of cast, VFX, stunts etc and I was looking for a more challenging film logisticall...SHARE: READ MORE Slay bells ring in Secret Santa!
Posted on Sunday 21st October 2018
Christmas dinner turns bloody in Secret Santa, the ferocious, gore-soaked horror comedy from the creators of Jason Goes To Hell and Texas Chainsaw 3D.
A Christmas Eve gathering takes an unexpected turn after a family guest spikes the punch with a military grade version of truth serum sodium pentothal. The already dysfunctional group comes unstuck in a blizzard of drug-induced, painfully candid outbursts, and upset soon turns to carnage after the head of the family runs amok with a fork, triggering festering loathings and savage reprisals.
The second film to be released under the FrightFest Presents label, the new venture from leading independent distributor Signature Enter...SHARE: READ MORE FrightFest announces line-up for Halloween 2018 event
Posted on Thursday 4th October 2018
FrightFest unleashes an intoxicating six-pack of horror, sci-fi and fantasy for their popular Halloween all-day event, now at the Cineworld Leicester Square on Saturday 3rd November. The 12-hour monstrous marathon embraces four continents and includes two world premieres and four UK premieres.
The day kicks off with Julian Richards' latest chiller Reborn, a Carrie for the Z Generation, starring the First Lady of FrightFest, Barbara Crampton, and featuring a stunning performance from rising newcomer Kayleigh Gilbert. Richards, famous for The Last Horror Movie, will be at this World Premiere screening.
Next up is the UK premiere of Parallel, direct...SHARE: READ MORE First film to be released under the FrightFest Presents label - The Dark.
Posted on Tuesday 18th September 2018
The first film to be released under the FrightFest Presents label, the new venture from leading independent distributor Signature Entertainment and leading genre festival FrightFest, The Dark received its UK premiere at this year's prestigious FrightFest in London, and is perfect for genre fans who love nothing more than a backwoods shocker featuring ghouls, gore and flesh eating, but one done with panache and poignancy.
An undead young woman, Mina, stalks the 'Devil's Den' woods where she was killed. If anyone enters the woods, she kills them and feasts on the body. But when she stumbles upon a young blind boy named Alex in the back of a car, who shows signs of horrifying abuse, she can't bring herself to kill...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, the creative forces behind Crystal Eyes
Posted on Saturday 15th September 2018
FrightFest 2018 exposed attendees to horror from all over the world and one that made an incredibly stylish and retro impact was the superb giallo inspired shocker, Crystal Eyes. Here the co-writers and co-directors Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano tell us all about this affectionate love letter to the classics of the 80s.
Where did the idea for Crystal Eyes come from?
Crystal Eyes was supposed to be the third episode of our web-series called No Podras Dormir Esta Noche (You Won't Sleep Tonight) which paid homage to different horror sub genres in each episode, and eventually it turned into a feature film. We love Giallo si...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?
TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: Your last movie, The Creature Below was two years ago, what's life been back since then?
SS: Since The Creature Below premiered at Frightfest in 2016 things haven't really stopped for myself and my collaborator Paul Butler. We were lucky enough to have the film released on DVD and VOD in over eight countries under various names. I think my favourite has to be Japan's Leviathan X: From the Deep! The film even had a theatrical release in Taiwan which was quite surreal as it was playing opposite Thor Ragnarok over there so overall, we've been completely blown away by everything that's happened. Paul and I are always coming up wit...SHARE: READ MORE Less dialogue, more sound. Sennheiser presents 3D audio thriller, Final Stop
Posted on Friday 31st August 2018
The rustle of a newspaper, the sound of the bus engine far away, the steps of the stalker in the pitch-black night: The hairs on the back of every neck will stand up, thanks to the incredibly realistic 3D sound in Sennheiser's short film Final Stop. Writer and director Roxanne Benjamin uses the soundscape to create a thrilling atmosphere, with stunning audio recorded using Sennheiser's Ambeo Smart Headset. The result is a gripping 3D audio thriller which was shown at FrightFest 2018 to a very appreciative crowd and which you can view here.
In Final Stop, the protagonist played by Australian actress Phoebe Tonkin is on her way home from the city on a night bus. She soon notices a m...SHARE: READ MORE Fancy a western themed slasher? Lasso will be for you!
Posted on Friday 31st August 2018
Epic Pictures' horror label Dread Central has unleashed the trailer for their latest picture, Lasso, Evan Cecil's Western-themed slasher which premiered at FrightFest last week.
From Dragonfly Films, Lasso, produced by Elaine Gibson, Todd Myers and Evan Cecil, stars Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints), Lindsey Morgan (The 100), Karen Grassle (Little House on the Prairie) and Andrew Jacobs (Paranormal Activity).
The horror flick centers around Kit (Morgan) and Simon (Jacobs), two young leaders of an Active Senior Tour group, out on an adventure to a small-town Rodeo festival located deep in the woods. It's a great experience for the group... until they try to leave. Simon and Kit must save themselves...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ferdinando D'Urbano actor, writer, producer of The Laplace's Demon
Posted on Tuesday 28th August 2018
A stand-out movie from FrightFest 2018 tested the brain power of those who saw it. The Laplace's Demon is an incredibly powerful piece so we chatted to one of the creatives behind it, Ferdinando D'Urbano.
HC: I'd never heard of Laplace's Demon theory before, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is?
FDU: The Laplace's Demon is a philosophical theory of the early 1800s. Pierre Simon Laplace was a French mathematician who in his work "Essai philosophique sur les probabilites" (A philosophical essay on probabilities), theorized that if there were an intellect capable of knowing al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andre Gower director of Wolfman's Got Nards
Posted on Monday 27th August 2018
HC: You had already starred in a lot of stuff before The Monster Squad came along, did you think that this was just "another" acting job?
AG: At the time, it was just that. The next audition, the next project. However, once on set and seeing what you were a part of, we realized quickly that this was something bigger and more unique than anything we had done before or may even get to do in the future.
HC: Were you a fan of the Universal monsters at that time?
AG: I always had an appreciation for the classics even as a kid. As you mature, you keep that appreciation and learn more about it and how it affects the present and realize these were very important...SHARE: READ MORE Frightfest Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 PICK OF THE WEEK
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