Interview With Farren Blackburn Director Of Hammer Of The Gods
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th August 2013

Hammer Of The GodsThe best thing about FrightFest is the varied programme of movies the four guys create. This year has an exceptionally wide-ranging selection and one that stands out is Hammer Of The Gods (pictured). Here its director, Farren Blackburn chats about this and other areas of his career.

HC: How different is directing a movie to TV?

FB: At the lower budget end its not much different at all, infact in many ways its harder because the chances are the tv budget will be higher. With Hammer Of The Gods for example I had less than half the budget I had when directing The Dr Who Xmas Special. But in terms of creative vision I don’t approach film and television any differently because I always set out to push the visual ambition of the project as much as possible. There used to be a notion that big cinematic images didn’t work on a small screen and television was reliant more on mid shots and close ups but we watch movies on the TV all the time and so I don’t really buy into that.

HC: What attracted you to Hammer Of The Gods?

FB: When I first read the script for Hammer Of The Gods I knew instantly that version of the film could never be achieved on the budget but I saw a Hearts Of Darkness theme running through it and felt if we pushed it more in that direction, made it more of a psychological journey for our main character we could scale things back a bit in a way we could afford and make a kind of Apocalypse Now with Vikings and who wouldn’t want to do that!!!?

HC: How much pre-production went into it?

FB: We had 8 weeks pre-production on Hammer. During this time I had to work on getting the script as good as it could be, developing a visual take on the material, the mood and the tone of the movie, cast it, work with my Heads of Department on Production Design, Costume, Make-Up, Locations, plan fights and stunts, the lot and the time is never enough!!!

HC: Was it a difficult movie to cast?

FB: Casting is crucial so in that sense every project is difficult to cast. But my approach is less prescriptive, I don’t look at someone the minute they walk through the door and decide whether they are the character or not, I work with them in the audition to see what the character could be in that particular actor’s hands. For Hammer I wanted a diverse band of Vikings, each with their distinctive look and personality but who would work as a cohesive unit so it was challenging. But I was really pleased with everyone in the movie. What was also key on Hammer was that everyone had to be prepared to get their hands dirty. We didn’t have the budget to pamper anyone, there were no luxuries, sometimes no toilets and on certain days we were all dropped at the bottom of a mountain and had to walk for 2 miles to get to where we were shooting, all of us carrying kit, actors included. I needed everyone to know what they were in for but my lead Charlie Bewley lead from the front and when your main man is mucking in no-one else has any right to complain!

HC: It must have been a tough shoot on the actors due to all the fights?

FB: Hammer was a tough shoot for many reasons least of all the challenge that many of our locations set us but choosing those landscapes was a way to achieve real production value on a low budget. It was a very physical shoot for everyone but when you factor in the number of fight sequences, the actors really needed to be at the height of their fitness. The stamina required to keep the level of intensity up was insane but what young male actor wouldn’t relish the chance to ride horses and get involved in some serious fight action?

HC: A lot of the effects are practicle; do you prefer to CGI?

FB: The way we approached the visual effects in the movie was partly down to budget but also down to the fact that I like to do as much as I can in camera. The movie has an offbeat tone to it, a strangeness, almost supernaturally heightened at times but I didn’t want it to feel fantastical, I still wanted it rooted in a reality and I think that would have been lost had it been very heavy on CGI.

HC: Are you nervous the movie is playing at Frightfest?

FB: I am nervous and excited at the same time. I am delighted the movie is playing at Frightfest as it means tonally what I set out to achieve, I must have to a certain degree. As a filmmaker you always want your project to be seen by a committed and passionate audience and I think without doubt it will find that amongst the people who attend Frighfest.

HC: What will be the next thing in Horror?

FB: Tough question and in honesty I don’t know. I guess we had the latest take with movies like Paranormal Activity. Horror has infinite possibilities but for me you can’t beat a good old fashioned Ghost story!!

HC: Farren Blackburn, thank you very much.

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...

Interview with Dominic Bridges, director of Freehold
Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2017

One of the stand out movies from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was the psychological chiller, Freehold. Dark and at times truly unnerving, the film caused quite a stir and will be released onto DVD on October 9th. Here the film's director Dominic Bridges talking about this superb debut.

HC: Where did the idea for Freehold come from?

DB: Based on personal experience my wife and I suffered a miscarriage whilst trying to buy a house in London whilst the Estate Agents had us bidding against ourselves... I reacted badly which was embarrassing to my wife and myself it all felt like too much fighting for a roof over our heads just tainted the whole of London for us and we moved also the realisation...

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