FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Interview With Dan Pringle Director Of K-Shop.
By James Whittington, Wednesday 20th July 2016
Horror is often best when it’s used as a mirror to reflect on society, no matter how exaggerated some of the sequences can be. K-Shop from Dan Pringle is one such movie which takes a look at the world around us and injects a large amount of brutal shocks into it. The movie is released this Friday so we decided to chat to Dan about this much talked about movie.
HC: Where did the initial idea come from?
DP: The initial idea came largely from being based in an office that overlooked a street full of nightclubs and bars in Bournemouth town centre. Working late most nights, we would see the full spectrum of party goers and clubbers on nights out and initially it was fairly amusing watching their drunken antics from a sober perspective high above. As time moved on however we became more and more shocked at the relentlessness of the culture and the frequency of unsavoury events. It became clear that nightlife had slowly grown out of control over time and the emergency services had become too stretched to adequately police it. As a film maker, I was fairly inspired to comment on the culture and the ‘Sweeney Todd in a kebab shop’ concept came to fairly quickly after that.
HC: How much did the script change during the writing process?
DP: Quite a lot actually. In fact, the film was originally written as a short, presenting the conflict between a vigilante kebab shop owner and one incredibly abhorrent and intoxicated racist. We quickly came to the realisation however that there was little point building an authentic looking set just for 20 minutes of content and subsequently the scale up job to full length feature happened and we developed the backstory of how said kebab shop owner would ultimately descend into vigilantism.
HC: Did the budget restrict you from doing anything you wanted to?
DP: We knew from the get go we were going to have little money to play with but in a way that kind of played into the overall aesthetic of the film really well. Kebab shops on the whole are quite cheaply decorated, tacky environments so the corner cutting and bodge jobbing of the set design strangely gave it a striking authenticity! Not having to invest in higher stylised environments therefore gave us the flexibility to focus the little money we did have into really well-crafted special effects and a decent camera in the red epic.
HC: Did you write with any cast in mind?
DP: I knew what I wanted for Salah quite early on but I never had anyone in particular in mind. Likewise for most of the other characters. That said, once we had auditioned Ziad for the role it was almost impossible to envision the character as anyone else. There really was no one we saw that had anywhere near the level of understanding that Ziad had obtained from just reading a couple of pages of the script. The same could probably be said for Darren Morfitt. His audition was explosive and we were literally left wiping saliva from our faces!
HC: Ziad Abaza gives an outstanding performance, how did he prepare for playing such a deep and emotional role?
DP: Ziad is an exceptional talent, not just because he knows his craft impeccably but also because he approaches roles with an incredible level of emotional intelligence. His prep ranged from observing wasted punters on the streets of Watford town centre for nights on end to reading in depth studies on modern serial killers and when he arrived on set for the first day of filming he knew everything there was to know about the world of his character.
HC: Are you trying to say something about popular culture and society as it seems to pinpoint a lot of its negative areas such as anti-social behaviour, racial tension and council penny-pinching?
DP: Whilst I strongly believe film should be used more to encourage societal reflection and debate, I’m incredibly conscious about preaching ideas to an audience. I think with K-Shop my intention was to try and observe more than comment and provide the viewer with the opportunity to draw their own conclusions. If I had to draw my own personal conclusion from the film it would probably be that maybe we’ve become a little too reliant on alcohol as coping mechanism for dealing with the stresses and strains of modern life. With regards to racial tension, I think that in the wake of Brexit the film I guess feels (maybe unnervingly) relevant and I just hope as a society we’re able to filter out the extremes of opinion that are starting to bubble over into our streets.
HC: What was the shoot like and did you use any real footage as it does look pretty real at times for the street shots?
DP: The shoot was gruelling and at times felt like our own personal war with the nightlife! The set was based in the centre of town and whilst we tried to avoid filming on the busiest nights of the week, we found ourselves chasing off drunken revellers trying to interrupt proceedings on a nightly basis! The flipside of course being that I really wanted the montage sequences in the film that portray the nightlife to look as genuine as possible! In the end we staged about 40% of the drunken carnage with the remaining 60% being shot actuality with us tucked around street corners filming real people as they staggered around and misbehaved in public!
HC: The effects are superb, did they take long to get right?
DP: I’m conscious that most low budget horror movies live and die by the believability of their effects and therefore wasted no time in bringing my old Uni SFX pal Jen Nelson on board with her extensive experience working on the likes of Casualty and Holby City. She’s a meticulous SFX guru and she spent hours with the actors taking casts to ensure her replacement effects looks identical to their actual body parts. I remember watching her sewing the hairs into a prosthetic arm one day and just being in sheer awe of the detail she pumps into her work.
HC: The soundtrack plays an important part, powerfully driving the narrative forward, was it hard choosing the right tracks?
DP: I was advised quite early on to stay away from licensing non-original music from bands as the financial and contractual affairs involved for an indie movie of this size can be a real chore. Our producer Adam certainly went through a great deal of heartache chasing bands, labels and management companies for their approval but in the end I think it was totally worth it as the soundtrack really helps to elevate the film above your usual cheap as chips indie flick. Huge kudos also has to go to the guys who worked on the score for the film Nina and Glen who were able to blend the whole musical beast into one seamless experience.
HC: So what are you working on at the minute?
DP: I’ve got a few new projects spinning but my main focus is going into a British dystopian thriller that I’m currently developing with the script editing guru Toby Rushton of Monsters and Welcome to the Punch acclaim. It’s set in a not too distant Britain in which the borders have been closed and follows the journey a fascist border cop who discovers the immigrants she is deporting are actually being experimented on in an underground government facility! If all goes to plan hopefully we’ll shoot that in Wales Spring of next year and you can definitely expect more of the same dark K-Shop tones again!
HC: Dan Pringle, thank you very much.
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