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Interview With Joanne Mitchell Writer Of Shell Shocked
By James Whittington, Wednesday 28th August 2013

Joanne MitchellFrightFest 2013 gave us some incredible horror movie shorts. A real stand-out was Shell Shocked which was written by Joanne Mitchell. Here she chats about this and another piece she was involved with, the superb Before Dawn which is coming to the Horror Channel in November.

HC: How nervous were you when Before Dawn was shown at Frightfest 2012?

JM: I felt a mixture of overwhelming nerves and utter excitement. I had no idea what to expect either, but the fact that there would be a paying audience felt like a big responsibility. Something I had never experienced before...luckily it seemed to go down well.

HC: Did the very positive reaction spur you on to think of more horror plot lines?

JM: Well, we already had a few ideas anyway of other stories, but I think the whole Frightfest experience, watching so many great films there, meeting so many talented people from all areas of the industry, really inspired me and I started looking at the whole genre thing in a new light. And hopefully at the beginning of next year we will start filming our new feature.

HC: What was the best comment about the film you were given?

JM: That's difficult because there were some really interesting and thoughtful comments, it's hard to just pick just one and I can't remember any word for word quotes or comments. However, I liked the fact some said they didn't feel like they were watching a 'zombie movie' as such but more of a Mike Leigh movie with zombies in it; that the zombies were secondary to the story. I also liked what Alan Jones (from Frightfest) said, 'it puts the gore back into allegory'.

HC: How did the writing process for Shell Shocked begin?

JM: The original idea was really from our six year old son. Dominic then asked me to write something along the lines of his idea. It actually took no time at all to write, as I had to send the script off to the other producer within an hour or so...it's amazing how one can work under that pressure and get things done. Otherwise I'm sure I would have been procrastinating for a lot longer. However, in saying all that, it is a Short with limited dialogue, so a lot easier than writing a full length feature!

HC: Do you have a strict writing regime, say 9-5 or do you just do it when the feeling grabs you?

JM: I'm way too disorganised to have any strict regime! I would say if a story, situation or feeling grabs me then I can immerse myself and hopefully things come naturally...otherwise a bit of pressure sometimes does the trick!

HC: Were you on set during filming and did the story change at all?

JM: Yes I was on set for the most part, but had to go when my excited kids turned up as they couldn't keep quiet on the takes. And as time was running out I had to whisk them away, much to their disappointment! The story stayed the same, but there were some lovely bits of improvisation between the two actors (Geoffrey Newland and Anthony Streeter) especially as Geoffrey could speak fluent German too. They both worked so well together, it was a treat to watch them.

HC: Without giving anything away how did you come up with the end twist?

JM: To be honest it just happened, it was the only way it could have ended I think. We wanted that genre element in the film and the fact that it's very naturalistic and real at first and then that certain thing happens and takes it to a totally different place. It's just a bit of fun really!

HC: You're a multi talented person, are you at your happiest, writing, acting, producing?

JM: Ah, that's very kind! I'm still pretty much a novice at writing and producing and as much as I am enjoying learning about both those skills, I think I would have to say that acting is where I'm happiest.

HC: What else are you working on at the moment?

JM: I've just finished filming a feature, White Settlers, in which I have a small part, due for release next year. We've also just filmed another short, The Mighty Witch Killers, and next year we will start filming our new feature. I am presently working on a boxing script in collaboration with another writer.

HC: Joanne Mitchell, than you very much.


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