Interview With Dan Berk and Robert Olsen Directors Of Body
By James Whittington, Friday 28th August 2015
Body DVD CoverBody 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.

Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018

Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.

HC: How did 88 Films start?

RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...

Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018

One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?

PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...

Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018

There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan?

AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...

Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018

Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.

HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?

KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more ...

Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018

There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.

HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?

PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...

Interview with Gabriela Amaral, writer and director of Friendly Beast
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018

As we get ready for the trip to Scotland for this year's Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow I've been lucky enough to chat to Gabriela Amaral about her powerful movie Friendly Beast which is getting its UK Premiere at the event.

HC: Was there a certain piece of work or person that inspired you to work in the industry?

GA: Yes, there was. I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and I decided to study cinema because of him. In the beginning, I didn't know what would I do with movies. Would I be an academic? A film critic? A director? I just knew I had to live doing something that had to do with movies. I graduated in Communication Studies in Brazil where I studied horror movies and literature (specific...

Interview with Ruth Platt, director of The Lesson
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017

On the eve of Horror Channel's network premiere screening of The Lesson, director Ruth Platt talks about the decision to quit RADA, why her film isn't 'torture porn' and what the future holds.

The Lesson received its World Premiere at FrightFest. How did you react when it was chosen? And what was the experience like?

RP: I was really excited when I found out we'd been picked - we got a call from the team, and they were passionate about the film, and they are such a knowledgable and experienced small team, Greg, Paul, Alan and Ian, and it meant so much. Especially when the making of it had been such an arduous and difficult process! I had no idea how people would react to the film - it was su...

Interview with John Shackleton director of Panic Button
Posted on Wednesday 15th November 2017

As social media horror feature Panic Button gets a remastered DVD and Download release, writer and producer John Shackleton reflects on the film's inspirational journey.

To start at the beginning, what was the genesis or the seed of the idea for Panic Button?

JS: The model of how to make a film actually came before the concept. I'd made a short film with a group of trainees using a bunch of self-imposed restrictions for practicalities sake, to make sure we completed and delivered within the three-week timeframe of the training scheme, who were my employers. The rules were quite simple - no more than five minutes' walk from the office (we couldn't afford a van), no dialogue (we did...

Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
Posted on Saturday 28th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event today, director Damien Leone talks about the 'Art' of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience...

Art, The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow's Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?

DL: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art's potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows' Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who's done so little, he seems to really resonate with horr...

Interview with Mathieu Turi director of Hostile
Posted on Wednesday 25th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his debut feature Hostile at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Mathieu Turi shares his admiration for Tarantino, describes the challenges of filming in three continents and reveals his 'magic hour'.

You were born in Cannes so you grew up with film all around? When did you know for sure you wanted to direct?

MT: I think it's always been there. As a child, I used to steal my dad's VHS camera to make mini-movies. They were basically all about my Jurassic Park toys eating my dog or invading the garden. Later, I did more elaborate short films with friends, instead of studying. Then, I remember watching Braveheart and the making of the ...

Interview with Marko Makilaakso director of It Came From The Desert
Posted on Tuesday 17th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film It Came From The Desert at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Marko Makilaakso shares his admiration for Roger Corman, love of B-Movies, spoofing and overcoming homeland obstacles.

It Came From The Desert is inspired by Cinemaware's cult 1980s video game, which in turn was motivated by the giant creature feature craze infesting 1950s Hollywood. What was the main inspiration for you?

MM: There's so many movies and makers which inspired ICFTD, but the main inspiration was exactly that; creature feature infested 1950s Hollywood films, and the legendary Cinemaware Desert games and creature features and action comedies I grew up with in the 19...

Interview with Can Evrenol director of Housewife
Posted on Thursday 12th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Housewife at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Can Evrenol tells us why film is a 'pervert's art' shares his feelings for Fulci and reveals his contribution to Horror anthology, The Field Guide To Evil.

Was it important to make your follow-up film to Baskin in the English language?

CE: I wanted to make the film available for a wider audience and to test myself with a different language movie. I thought it was a fun thing to do.

How do you describe Housewife? What would be your perfect pitch line?

CE: Man, I had this crazy f****d-up dream last night! Do you want to see it?

Like Baskin, Housewife shares man...

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End Of The World
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