LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Gabriela Amaral, writer and director of Friendly Beast
By James W, 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 (specifically Stephen King) I got an M.A. studying Stephen King films adapted from their novels. And then I discovered I wanted to make my own movies. I studied at Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV from Cuba (a famous cinema school founded by Literature Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and since then I never stopped writing and directing films.
HC: Was Friendly Beast a difficult film to write and where did the idea come from?
GA: Surprisingly it was not a difficult piece of text to write. Long story short: I was about to direct my first feature film (which had become the second one - and it's ready to premier) when politics in Brazil went crazy (we faced the unfair impeachment of our legitimate elected president Dilma Rousseff in 2015, the same year I wrote and directed Friendly Beast). I was pretty angry with the whole political situation and my first film was going to be postponed. I wanted so hard to work on something that expressed my feelings - anger ruled my world back then. So I paired with a friend (a long-time collaborator and the art director of all my shorts, Luana Demange) and we thought about a plot which dealt with both Brazilian reality and our feelings. Restaurant robberies had become a common thing in the city of Sao Paulo, and back then a friend of us had gone through this situation. So, we began to imagine the scenario you see at Friendly Beast. And the other layers of the story came into the screenplay naturally.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
GA: The main characters were written with the two main actors in mind: Murilo Benicio (who plays Inacio) and Luciana Paes (who plays Sara). Benicio is a wonderful actor best known from his work on Brazilian TV; he came as a suggestion from my producer (Rodrigo Teixeira, from RT Features) and it totally made sense. Luciana Paes is an amazing theatre actress, a genius with whom I had work before. She inspires me a lot. The rest of the cast came together as the several drafts from the screenplay were coming to life. It was a beautiful collaboration between director/writer and producer.
HC: Murilo Benicio and Luciana Paes are outstanding together, did they rehearse much?
GA: Yes, they rehearsed a lot. I mean A LOT really (laughs). They are amazing. If only I had recorded the whole process... will do it next time.
HC: It's a strong film, often uncomfortable to watch, what was the atmosphere like on set?
GA: We shot the movie in just 20 days. But I had rehearsed with the cast for a month, everyday, before start the shooting. So, it was like having everyone together for a long time. Besides, I filmed chronologically (which is a luxury, when you think about the cinema logistic). That gave us the opportunity to really experience the scenes day after day - which was more than great for the actors. The atmosphere on set: pretty calm, I must confess. I knew I had to maintain everyone as calm as possible because it's so easy to make a circus of everything when you think about a whole story developing in a single (and all closed!) set. Think about a brain surgery (laughs) that's what it was - quiet and focused. But we also had a lot of fun as we reached our goals, day after day. And all that sticky blood (made of honey) on those actors... we have a lot to laugh and a lot to say "Oh, these were the days we were young and crazy, my friend".
HC: You've used subtle amounts of pale colours that are in contrast with the red of the blood, was this hard to achieve?
GA: Extremely hard. I worked with a very collaborative and talented production designer (Denis Netto) alongside with my favorite DP (director of photography) in the world, Uruguayan Barbara Alvarez ("Whiskey", "The Headless Woman" etc.). We worked together to give life and flesh to every corner of that scenario (which was entirely built in order to fulfill the dramatic needs of the story - when a story is set just in one place you have to create different landscapes within this structure. It's a very delicate and challenging thing to do). The film took one year in post-production where we researched and found the exact tone of our main color palette. A lot of rotoscopy work after, we reached the final look.
HC: The soundtrack is superb (especially during the end scene), did you have a clearance issues getting the pieces you wanted?
GA: Turns out I am married to the film's composer, Rafael Cavalcanti, who is attached to all my films from the first drafts of the final screenplay. The way we think soundtrack together is pretty organic (and not common) He thinks music dramatically and I usually film knowing his early thoughts on music and soundtrack. He also is attached to the editing process, which is pretty much influenced by his work.
HC: This is your first full length feature, what did you learn about the art of directing during the shoot?
GA: Sleep and eat well. Love your actors and crew members. When everything seems out of control, focus only on what you see through the camera, "shrink" the world around you and you'll be OK.
HC: Do you have a favourite shot or moment in the movie?
GA: I love so many moments of it. When chef Djair tells Bruno her grandmother's stew recipe - that used to be my grandmother's best dish. I also love the interrogation scene, where the thief is slaughtered and Inacio reveals himself as a true monster. There are so many lines of tension on that scene - and developing them with cast and photography and visual effects (which were made on set; old fashion style!) brings me wonderful memories.
HC: There has been a lot of press recently about how the industry treats women, do you think now we're entering an age where women are treated with equality or do you think there's still a long way to go?
GA: I think both ways. Yes, we are beginning to recognize women were (and are) treated like s**t when it comes to leadership. We have to keep on showing the world we kick-ass. But we still have a long, long, long way to go. I will be doing it till I die, I suppose.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
GA: I just finished my second feature film "The Father's Shadow" (it's the story of a girl who tries to bring her mother back from the dead). And I am writing my next project, which is sort of a contemporary exorcism tale... Devil, love and friendship.
HC: Gabriela Amaral, thank you very much.
GA: You are more than welcome!
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Hattie Smith, star of The Axiom
Posted on Sunday 24th June 2018
The Axiom is a tense and disturbing chiller from director Nicholas Woods. The film concerns a woman who travels into a National forest, in search for her missing sister. Once in the wilderness, they discover they have entered a multi-dimensional world full of monsters. The film is an adrenaline infused experience with some cool effects and a smart story. We chatted to lead actress Hattie Smith about The Axiom.
HC: How did you become involved with The Axiom?
HS: I went to school with Nicholas, the director. We both graduated from Chapman University, and I was a year or so behind him in the film school. At some point, I was recommended to him as an actress for the 48 Hr Film Festiv...SHARE: READ MORE 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 Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday 29th July
Thursday 2nd August
Thursday 2nd August