LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Eitan Gafny Writer, Producer And Director Of Cannon Fodder
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th August 2013
Cannon Fodder is a powerful new zombie movie from Isreal. It deals not only with the horrors of a zombie outbreak but the emotional consequences of loyalty and politics. Here the multi-talented Eitan Gafney chats about this superb film which is showing at FrightFest today.
HC: Have you always been a big fan of horror movies?
EG: Yes, although I'm a "spoilt" horror fan - I give a lot of attention to the cinematic work, and I really don't like "torture porn" horror, except a few gems. My favourite horror director is John Carpenter, and I watch his films over and over again, to learn whatever I can from them, and I enjoy them a lot. Having said that, I will never decide not to watch a movie based on a misguided premise - and that goes to all genres, not only horror. In fact, one of my favourite genres is Romantic Comedies, I'm a sucker for them.
HC: How did you get started in the movie business?
EG: Since I was 5, I knew that I wanted to tell stories. I guess it was after watching Jaws, Halloween, Jurassic Park, Vertigo, Citizen Kane, North by Northwest, The Exorcist, E.T., Pale Rider and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (all that before the age of 10), it was then I realized that I'm going to be a film director. I studied film in High School, and after 3 years in the IDF as a combat fighter, I spent a year in NYC. and that's when I decided to take my first steps into real filmmaking. When I got back to Israel I directed 2 independent shorts, and some other stuff, and then went to film school, to polish my skills. During Film School, I continued to make a lot of shorts, and always trying something different. After I directed a 45 minute romantic Horror Comedy called Open Stitch, I decided to move on to my first feature film, which is Cannon Fodder.
HC: Where did the idea for Cannon Fodder come from?
EG: When I was 11 years old, after watching George A Romero's Night and Dawn of the Dead, I thought to myself: “Wouldn't it be cool to see IDF soldiers fighting Zombies in Lebanon?". Fast Forward a few years, and I've finished the first draft of a feature film which I thought would be my first feature, but then I realized it will too expensive and too complex (theme in story wise) to be the first feature, so I sat down and wrote Cannon Fodder as a simple, small movie. Reality turned out to be a bit more difficult, and Cannon Fodder transformed to be very complicated movie when you take in consideration the fact that it was made for a very small budget, and has way too much ingredients that can or can't - on the paper - blend in together with that budget, but we succeeded in that, and the film is out there, as kind of a "Calling Card" for me and my partners.
HC: Did it take long for you to write?
EG: Not that long. The first draft was written in 2 weeks, and then it went into rewrites and etc. If I had to sum up the entire time I've worked on it (including rewrites and script editing) I'd say about 3 months.
HC: How did you go about casting the movie?
EG: When I write, I try to imagine actors I know can pull off the different characters. Sometimes I write for specific actors, and of course it helps a lot. In Cannon Fodder, I wrote Noelle's part for Yafit (then my girlfriend, today my wife) who also went on to be one of the producers of the film. The part of Avner was written exclusively for Gome Sarig, a good friend of mine and one of the best actors I've ever met. After the first draft, Yafit asked me who should play Doron, the lead, and I said "It wasn't written for him because I don't know him, but it's obvious that only Liron Levo can pull it off", and we were lucky that Liron did play that part. Yafit was the one who recommended Roi Miller for Daniel. They went to Acting School together, and she vouched for him (and she was so right) and Roi was the one who recommended Emos Ayeno for Moti, and I'm so glad he did. With Gideon's character, played by our script editor Amit Leor, it was a different story: Amit began as an actor, and moved on to screenwriting, and now he's the chairman of Israel's screenwriters guild. We thought of a number of actors who can play Gideon, and met with a few when all this time I knew it should be Amit, because he was really right for it. Eventually, I decided to ask him, expecting a "NO" (because he's busy and all that) but we were really happy when he agreed and he really nailed it.
HC: There is a lot of social comment in the film, was it important to you that the film contained such elements?
EG: Of course - It's a Zombie film! All good zombie films have a social commentary in them, and I really wanted Cannon Fodder to be more than just another zombie film - otherwise, what's the point, right? I also mentioned that I love Carpenter's films, and he never made a film (except maybe Dark Star) that didn't say something, even if the commentary was very subtle. In addition, it was important to me that if I'm making a zombie film, it should be rooted in contemporary Israel, and the characters should represent different aspects of Israeli society - again, like in Romero's films, for instance. So yes, it was a conscious effort. No one is kidding himself - we know we can't change the world with a small, low budget horror film from Israel, but we do believe that we can make a stand through it, and we feel that the overall message of Cannon Fodder is a positive one (in a weird twisted way) so it was important to us to make that statement.
HC: The film is very serious and at times incredibly bleak. What was the atmosphere like on set?
EG: Well, if to continue the last topic, Cannon Fodder does have its bleak moments, but it was said in a number of films - "It's always darkest before dawn"... Put that aside, and you have to remember that it's a low budget and ambitious film, and we all had to be super prepared for anything that might go wrong. And as it always goes - a lot went wrong. But we had an amazing crew and cast, and everyone knew we're doing something special, and we shot almost everything we had to in order to make the film work and live up to the expectations. The atmosphere on the set was all about working hard and achieving our goals - all the actors knew everything they had to know, they were all super professional, and we had our own humour and vibe to everything. So even the bleakest moments were all about having fun and doing something that no one has ever done in Israel so far, but in the same time, we all took it very seriously. It helps when you have a great crew and great cast, but it's even better when some of them are really close friends and consider themselves to be part of one big family. That was the case in Cannon Fodder - one big, screwed up family.
HC: There are some quite impressive SFX scenes, did these use up much of your budget?
EG: First of all, thanks. And let's say that if we hadn't done our research properly, it would have taken a huge chunk of the film's budget. Luckily, the script was written with SFX in mind, so every scene was written with knowing what can or cannot be achieved with SFX. So when it came down to shooting a scene with a lot of effects - practical or CGI, we we're very much in tune to what we should do and how. So when we came to work these effects in the movie, we had little, if any, surprises. We always knew that the budget for this film won't be high, and we knew where we're going with the genre and it's requirements, so we knew when to push the envelope and when to let go because we're running out of money.
HC: What is the horror movie scene like in Israel?
EG: At the moment, There's no Horror industry per say, but there some exceptions, and I hope the future will bring new and good things. The closing film of Frightfest is Big Bad Wolves, which is the second feature film by the guys who made Rabies (the first real Horror film in Israel), and after Rabies, there was an attempt to make a trashy horror films like Peter Jackson's Bad Taste, and now there's us with Cannon Fodder. So no, there's no Horror industry, but there are attempts. I know there's another Post Apocalyptic Horror film Being made in Israel, and some friends of mine just produced a "Found Footage" zombie film in Jerusalem. We have a lot of talented film makers in Israel, and a lot who want to make Genre movies (Horror, Action, Sci fi and more), and you revolutions take time, but we feel that there is a small revolution coming to Israeli cinema, and it's only a matter of time until it happens.
HC: Are you nervous about the movie getting its European premiere at FrightFest?
EG: No nervous but kind of overwhelmed. It's a huge honour for us to be a part of one of the world's most prestigious horror festivals, and we're really excited to be a part of the Frightfest family. It won't be a European premiere, since Cannon Fodder was screened in a number of film festivals in Europe (and even won an award in Russia, one of four), but this is the big league, and I'm very honored to present my small and crazy film in such a platform. I just hope that the British crowd will find Cannon Fodder to be a fun movie, and I hope it will get a good reception and reaction from the crowd.
HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?
EG: I'm polishing the script I wrote before Cannon Fodder, and this will be our next project. After that, we have another horror/fantasy film in the works, after that a comedy, after that a drama, and we hope that while doing all that, we'll get working on our kick ass television series that we're developing, and maybe even Cannon Fodder's sequel, which requires about 10 times the budget... Cannon Fodder is just the beginning for us at White Beach Productions, so beware world! :-)
HC: Eitan Gafny, thank you very much.
EG: Oh no, good sir- Thanks you!
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Jessica McLeod, star of The Hollow Child
Posted on Friday 8th June 2018
If you like your horror movies to have a strong paranormal theme to them you'll need to look out for The Hollow Child when it gets released later this year. It stars the incredibly talented Jessica McLeod so we decided to have a chat about this and her career to date.
HC: Was there a certain person you saw who inspired you to become an actor?
JM: I don't think I had seen a movie by the time I had wanted to be an actor. But Reese Witherspoon continues to inspire me, although my career has been entirely different from hers at my age.
HC: Can you recall what it was like to be on a movie set for the first time?
JM: I believe I got to wear a prin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Steeve Leonard co-director of Radius
Posted on Monday 21st May 2018
In the chilling movie, Radius, a man wakes from a car crash with amnesia and what's more anyone who comes into contact with him instantly dies. This FrightFest favourite is receiving its UK TV premiere on Friday 25th of May so we chatted to its co-director and co-writer Steeve Leonard about this celebrated and cerebral movie.
HC: How long did Radius take to write?
SL: Radius took about 4 years to write, on and off. We had the radius of death idea first but we didn't know what to do with it, and so we shelved it for a while. Later we came up with the more interpersonal twist we have now and we weaved it together with the radius idea.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
SL: No....SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive: Director Johannes Roberts talks 'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2018
This weekend sees the release of a long-awaited sequel to one of 2008's most beloved slasher films. Yes, nine whole years after The Strangers premiered, UK cinema-goers will be met once again by Dollface, the Man in Mask and Pin-Up Girl in The Strangers: Prey at Night.
Starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, and Lewis Pullman, son of the late Bill, the film sees a family of four being stalked and tormented shortly after arriving on what was supposed to be a quiet family trip to a remote mobile home. The family must decide whether to take on the dreaded strangers hell-bent on wreaking havoc, or to run for their lives.
We had a chat with the film's direct...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andy Nyman, co-writer, co-director and star of Ghost Stories
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018
I've met Andy Nyman on many occasions over the last decade or so, and over that time I've watched his career constantly go from strength to strength. To call him multi-talented would be an understatement and along with Jeremy Dyson has created the must-see horror movie of 2018, Ghost Stories. Here he chats about the stage play, Ghost Stories as well as how it changed on its way to the big screen.
HC: When did you first meet co-writer and co-director Jeremy Dyson?
AN: Jeremy and I met at a Jewish Summer Camp in 1981, and you just get thrown together in dorms of four people and Jeremy is from Leeds and all my family are from Leeds so I used to spend most of my weekends up in Leeds so we instantly ha...SHARE: READ MORE John Krasinski talks directing and starring in 'A Quiet Place'
Posted on Friday 6th April 2018
In case you hadn't heard, A Quiet Place has opened in cinemas nationwide.
The film, starring real-life couple, John Krasinski (US adaptation of The Office and 13 Hours) and Emily Blunt (Sicario, Wind Chill and The Devil Wears Prada) takes place in a post-apocalyptic(-ish) environment, in which strange wild creatures that hunt by sound have destroyed a significant amount of the population.
Krasinski and Blunt's characters, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn try to lead a life with their family as quietly (and by that we mean literally) as possible, in able to ensure their survival.
We sat down with the director and one half of Krasinski-Blunt to talk about the film, what scares him the most, and which...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with David Howard Thornton, star of Terrifier
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018
If you're a fan of slasher movies then you'll have to check out the bood-splattered shocker Terrifier. The movie is a full-blown, hair-raising homage to grindhouse slashers that introduces a new murderous icon in the form of Art the Clown. Art id surely destined to become a true horror anti-hero and here David Howard Thornton, the guy who plays art, chats about this brilliantly brutal movie and what he's up to at the moment.
HC: What movie or person inspired you to want to work in the film industry?
DT: I would say that would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit film wise. I was obsessed with that film when it first came out, and still watch it at least once a year when I need some inspiration. It meshe...SHARE: READ MORE 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...SHARE: READ MORE 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...SHARE: READ MORE 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...SHARE: READ MORE 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 ...SHARE: READ 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...SHARE: READ MORE 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...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Friday 29th June
Sunday 24th June
Friday 29th June