ARTICLES

FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG

Interview With Producer Jonathan Sothcott
By James Whittington, Saturday 18th April 2015

JSFans of British cinema will need no introduction to Jonathan Sothcott. This prolific producer of movies (pictured here with Martin Kemp) is carving out an exciting resume of movies that cross genres and always deliver. So as we’ve recently shown his movie Devil’s Playground recently we decided to catch up with one of the busiest men in the industry.

HC: How did you start off in the business?

JS: With great difficulty! In my pre-Internet teens the film industry was a closed shop - but I got very lucky when Allan Bryce at The DarkSide Magazine bought a couple of articles off me. Suddenly I was a film journalist! This was exciting. Then I got really lucky and worked in the blossoming DVD industry, producing bonus material. These two opportunities introduced me to a lot of film industry legends and I was very fortunate to count David Wickes, Bryan Forbes and Brian Clemens amongst my early mentors. The latter two have sadly left us recently but David is thankfully still very active and indeed came to the premiere of my new film Age Of Kill the other week. David gave me an opportunity to work for him and I learned the ropes of producing. I then met the actor Martin Kemp and we became fast friends. He wanted to direct and we put together a short film with that aim -- it starred his brother Gary and Adele Silva. From that we managed to put together our first feature - Stalker - starring Jane March and Colin Salmon. Nearly a decade on I still work closely with Martin and consider him one of my best friends. I also owe a lot to Billy Murray who starred in Stalker and went on to become one of my partners and really put his faith in me and backed me. Billy also introduced me to Danny Dyer and I've had a very successful working relationship with him, which has spawned more than half a dozen films, a football video, a book and a stage show. And Danny and Billy have both become very close friends of mine. I think people on Twitter think we all live in a cave together in Whitstable, we've become a little gang.

HC: How did Devil's Playground come about?

JS: I met two other young producers, Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills who were looking to make a feature. Bart had written a short which formed the basis of DP and it was decided to expand that into a feature. In a lot of ways I was as much a casting director on the film as a producer: they were running the development, financing and distribution and I was essentially securing the talent. I like Bart and Freddie and was recently Executive Producer on their new zombie film World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen.

HC: Did the script change much?

JS: Oh massively. We went through at least a dozen drafts I'm sure. It was conceived as a one location £200,000 zombie siege film a la Night of the Living Dead with a Martin Kemp cameo and no other star names... And ballooned into a £1.5 million zombie action film with an all-star cast! At one point the virus was going to be a sneaky chemical attack by North Korea!

HC: How did you get such an interesting cast together and was it a tough shoot?

JS: Danny Dyer, Lisa McAllister and Jaime Murray were friends of mine. Danny of course was Mr DVD at the time, which helped and hindered the release in equal measures. Lisa and Jaime have both gone on to huge TV success in Sherlock and Dexter etc. Sean Pertwee and Colin Salmon graciously did cameos for me. Anna Buring and Craig Conway both auditioned and were of course superb. The toughest part to cast was Cole. Everyone was on the list from Vinnie Jones to Dominic Cooper. One day Lisa McAllister, who I lived with at the time, and I were out with our actor friend Craig Fairbrass. Lisa had a eureka moment - Craig *was* Cole. And she was bloody right - nobody on our radar had that blend of genuine physicality and the chops to pull off the sensitive acting required. Sadly Craig and I haven't found another film to work on together since which is a shame as I love him. I still see him pretty much every week but it's just finding that bingo project we both love. The shoot was a bloody nightmare - we were filming in the worst winter I can remember and the film was plagued by financing problems which Bart and Freddie took a lot of flak for. I think Bart actually remortgaged his house. But they got it all together and made a very good film.

HC: How difficult is it to get a picture into production these days?

JS: Well if it was easy everybody would be doing it! Horror is getting harder and harder because the market is so saturated, though quality will always find an audience.

HC: You are described as being one of the most prolific producers around, how do you balance so many projects at once?

JS: With a very steady hand! My film business inspiration had always been Hammer who turned out 6-8 films per year. I've not quite matched that yet but expect to this year. I'm lucky to have great support from my producing partners Neil Jones and Billy Murray and our amazing regular team lead by the indefatigable Trish. We've just taken on our own studio too in Docklands, more details about which we'll be announcing soon.

HC: Censorship has been making headlines recently, where do you stand on this subject?

JS: On the fence, but slightly on the anti-censorship side... The biggest problem of course is that everyone has a different opinion on what should or shouldn't be censored. To put it in perspective, I thought The Human Centipede was hilariously daft. But on the other hand nothing in the world would make me want to watch A Serbian Film. But I think if parents exercise sensible judgement then the current system kind of works. And hey - it always makes for a good debate!

HC: What condition do you think the British film industry is in?

JS: Bitched, buggered and bewildered but hanging on in there. It's so hard to make British films travel and consequently for them to make a profit. What works here, particularly on DVD, rarely translates into good business overseas. My business model works on low budget films purely down to volume: if I was making one of these films every two years it wouldn't work. But 4 or so per year works out OK. We're now making some bigger budget films with WWE studios, which is an amazing opportunity to boost employment in the UK film industry.

HC: What advice would you give to budding film-makers?

JS: Try and be commercial! And nail your budgets to the floor! I think one of the most inspirational film-makers around is Andrew Jones in Wales. This guy is making micro budget horrors which get full supermarket distribution here and sell all around the world. I have so much respect for him. He's now branching into action movies with Kill Kane starring Vinnie Jones and directed by a very talented lad called Adam Stephen Kelly. At this rate I'll be asking Andrew for a job soon.

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

JS: I've just wrapped Bonded By Blood 2. That was fun, I really enjoyed working with director Greg Hall and breaking some new film talent like Sam Strike and Casey Batchelor who are both great in the movie. Sam has just got the lead in the Texas Chainsaw reboot. I'm starting We Still Steal The Old Way in a few weeks which is the sequel to my film We Still Kill The Old Way which was a success on DVD at Christmas. I love this little franchise: director Sacha Bennett and leading man Ian Ogilvy are a joy. Then it's onto Eliminators which we're making with WWE and which stars Scott Adkins and WWE superstar Bad News Barrett. Working with WWE is a fantastic experience. I've another great director on that in Jimmy Nunn who did Tower Block. After that there's 52 Pickup, Vendetta 2 and hopefully Age of Kill 2: Rogue. And I have the first Age of Kill out in June, which is a sort of British Taken with Martin Kemp as a kind of North London Bryan Mills if you will. I'm very proud of that - it premieres at the Southend Film Festival next month. It's a really strong movie, not your typical Britflick. And a holiday would be nice!

HC: Jonathan Sothcott, thank you very much.


MORE ARTICLES
Horror Channel FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2018 line-up
Posted in Frightfest, News, Thursday 11th January 2018

Be prepared to feast on a chilling cornucopia of savage shocks, unsettling surprises and devilish delights as the UK's favourite horror fantasy event returns to the Glasgow Film Festival for its 13th year, from Thursday 1 March to Saturday 3 March 2018.

This year's bold line-up, once again housed at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embraces the latest horror, fantasy and sci-fi discoveries from ten countries, spanning four continents, reflecting the world-wide popularity of the genre.

Ghost Stories remains one of the scariest stage shows ever seen and on Thursday night FrightFest kicks off with a special screening of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's smash hit phenomenon. Starring Martin Freedman, ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson join judges panel for FrightFest and Glasgow Film Festival's 90 Second Film Challenge
Posted in Frightfest, News, Tuesday 9th January 2018

Ghost Stories writer and director team Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson will join Hex Studio's Lawrie Brewster, FrightFest's Paul McEvoy and Glasgow Film Festival head honcho Allison Gardner on the judge's panel for the FrightFest Glasgow 90 Second Challenge.

Aspiring filmmakers living in Scotland are invited to create an entertaining Horror, Sci-Fi or Fantasy film within just 90 seconds.

Films must be shot in Scotland by Scottish residents and entries must not currently be available online. All submissions are free and must be received by Tuesday 13th February 2018. Filmmakers of entries selected to be screened will be notified by 23rd February 2018.

Here's where to apply and read terms and condi...

SHARE: READ MORE
Grimmfest and Horror Channel bring Wes Craven classics back to the big screen
Posted in News, Friday 5th January 2018

This January, Grimm Up North and Horror Channel will be celebrating the work of the late great Wes Craven.

Join team Grimmfest on the evening of 18th January for a double-bill screening of two highlights from the legendary Elm Street franchise - the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and its postmodern sequel, Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), the latter of which will be shown from an original 35mm print.

The screening is at the Plaza in Stockport (less than 10 minutes by train from Manchester city centre) - an amazing art deco super-cinema that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. They're also be a Grimm stall selling lots of horror goodies and competition prizes on offer throughout...

SHARE: READ MORE
Wes Craven - The Nightmare Man
Posted in Features, Thursday 4th January 2018

"Horror films don't create fear. They release it."

Wesley Earl Craven, Wes to his friends, was born in Cleveland, Ohio August 2nd 1939 and became one of the most respected and acclaimed creatives of his generation. When he died on August 30th 2015 it came as a huge shock to all, especially those of us who heard the news whilst attending FrightFest. Gone was the man who gave the world Krug Stillo, Pluto and Horace Pinker as well as the career defining creation of Freddy Krueger. He made stars of Michael Berryman, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund and rejuvenated the horror genre not once but twice.

Horror will be celebrating the work of Wes Craven throughout January so here's a quick look at...

SHARE: READ MORE
The games are about to begin again. Jigsaw coming to HE
Posted in News, Wednesday 3rd January 2018

One of the highest grossing horror franchises of all time is back, taking Jigsaw's signature brand of twisted scenarios to the next level.

Yes folks, like it or loath it the Saw franchise gets a sort of a reboot and the infamous Jigsaw killer is back with his own brand of justice.

After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement find themselves chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade and embroiled in a new game that's only just begun. Is John Kramer back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own? Modernised for new fans, Jigsaw is also highly satisfyin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror's Top 10 Films of 2017
Posted in Features, Thursday 21st December 2017

It's been quite the year for horror. From home invasions to adult nappies and right through to cannibalism and dancing clowns, the genre has seen a slew of critical and commercial success over the calendar year. But which were our favourites?

Below, take a look at Horror's favourite films of 2017. We couldn't bare to rank the excellencies, so we settled for alphabetical order. So kicking off with A, we have:

Attack of the Adult Babies

If you're after a movie that's almost beyond description, then Dominic Brunt's Attack of the Adult Babies is for you. At first this satirical shocker seems like Benny Hill on acid with plenty of leggy nurses dressed in seductive uniforms, but the movie...

SHARE: READ MORE
FrightFest and Glasgow Film Festival send out challenge to aspiring Scottish filmmakers
Posted in Frightfest, News, Wednesday 20th December 2017

FrightFest, in association with Glasgow Film Festival, are delighted to announce an exciting new initiative to discover the next wave of emerging Scottish talent. FrightFest has always championed new film-makers since its inception in 2000. Now, for the very first time they are encouraging talent to rise to the challenge of creating an entertaining film within just 90 seconds.

The winning shorts will be screened both at the Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow Film Festival event, held at the Glasgow Film Theatre on the 2nd/3rd March 2018 and FrightFest's London event in August 2018.

The rules for submission are that films should be no longer than 90 seconds and be in the Horror, Thriller, Scie...

SHARE: READ MORE
Elvis Returns in Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers
Posted in News, Wednesday 20th December 2017

Hail to the King, baby! Prior to the events of the original Bubba Ho-Tep cult story, Elvis was enlisted by President Nixon to defeat an alien threat unlike anything he's faced before. IDW and award-winning writer Joe R. Lansdale present Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers!

"Bubba Ho-Tep was an accidental story that turned out to be my first film adaptation, and it's still going strong in story and film," said Lansdale. "And finally, it has inspired a background story that was first a novel, and is now represented in the medium that first made me want to be a writer: comics. Graphic novels. What we used to call Funny Books. I'm excited and looking forward to readers discovering it all in color and looking ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Wes Craven Season welcomes in 2018 on Horror
Posted in Features, Friday 15th December 2017

Throughout January, Saturday nights at 9pm will be devoted to a Wes Craven Season as Horror Channel presents a retrospective of the late great genre director's career. Four of his supernatural shockers and scream-filled slashers will be broadcast, including the network premieres of serial killer chiller My Soul To Take, his macabre masterpiece The Serpent And The Rainbow, his diabolically electrifying Shocker and the goofy, gory satire The People Under The Stairs.

There are also network premieres for Franck Khalfoun's superior psychological horror Maniac, starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-loving serial killer, David S. Goyer's pulsating possession thriller The Unborn, starring Gary Oldman and Ham...

SHARE: READ MORE
PICK OF THE WEEK
King Kong Lives
KING KONG LIVES
Saturday 27th January
6.45 PM
The People Under The Stairs
THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
Saturday 20th January
9.00 PM
The Dyatlov Pass Incident
THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT
Friday 19th January
9.00 PM