LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Producer Jonathan Sothcott
By James Whittington, Saturday 18th April 2015
Fans 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.
Related show tags: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND 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
Monday 25th June
Friday 22nd June
Monday 25th June