Interview with Simon Rumley Director of Fashionista
By James Whittington, Monday 6th February 2017

Simon Rumley FashionistaAhead of the UK premiere of his latest film Fashionista at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow, Simon Rumley reveals why he's a fan of drugs in film and his planned foray into London gangster land...

HC: Fashionista finds you back in Austin after Red White & Blue. What excites you about Austin so much? Could Fashionista have been set anywhere else?

SR: I had such a great experience on Red White & Blue for so many different reasons that it was only natural that, at some point, I'd return to Austin. With Tim League (exec producer), Paul Knauss (co-producer) and Karen Hallford (casting director) I've got a great bunch of friends who also happen to be great collaborators and they form the core of both films' Austin based crew and most probably without them neither films would have happened. Beyond that, I love the unique style of Austin, the food, the music, the cinema, the clothes, the neon lights, the bars and of course the people. And although it's a place which is constantly growing, it still feels it has an intimacy which places like LA or New York or London lack. Fashionista's evolution was very much a response to when I went back there in 2014 for a few days after spending a time there in 2009 and 2010 and noticing how much it had changed. Like most interesting places in the Western World over the last 5 years, it's become gentrified; there's more sky rise flats, more traffic, more upmarket restaurants and less locals. And, like most places which have been gentrified, there's an erosion of some of the things that made it exciting in the first place. The whole vintage shop phenomena was such a massive part of the Austin that I knew in 2009 and although there are still a lot of these shops, there's definitely less - even the one we shot in had to relocate literally two weeks after we shot there so the lead character's obsession with clothes in the film and her transition from vintage mash-up to designer clothes is probably not something that could believably happen in many places; I'm not sure Fashionista could have been set anywhere else in that case...

HC: It's a film about addiction, from sex and body image to clothes and identity, but not anything drug-related. You didn't want to throw that into the mix?

SR: I'm a big fan of drugs in films but, to be honest, I think all that needs to have been said has been said so I'm not sure what I would have been able to add to the genre. I've always been interested in a period drug film - Alastair Crowley's Diary of a Drug Fiend for example would offer a different perspective on the subject and I'm currently reading Johny Barleycorn by Jack London which is about his relationship with alcohol - not memoirs of an alcoholic as he's keen to point out but alcoholic memoirs, set in 1913; fascinating to consider the power of alcohol through the ages. I watched Christiane F again as research for this film and films like Requiem For A Dream and Trainspotting offer definitive investigations into contemporary drug addiction so I'm not sure what the point would have been but more importantly, the film is about consumerism and clothes are something that everyone can relate to. It's so easy to buy anything these days and clothes seem to be the epitome of the consumer's purchasing power. Given that it's a phenomenon that hasn't been explored in cinema it felt ripe for investigation.

HC: All your movies are so unique, your subject matters, locales and atmospheres feel so new and virtually unexplored. Is that the only way you can personally approach film as an artistic medium?

SR: Ah, thanks! From an early age, I've always thought that to make a mark, you should try to do something different, individual and unique. I think this belief is ultimately mis-founded; it might have worked at the beginning of the Midnight phenomena for people like Lynch and Jodorowsky and Waters in the early/mid 70s but we're living in such a culturally anodyne time that increasingly, people really just seem to want things that are similar to things they already know and understand and are thus non-challenging. In terms of my own creative evolution, I definitely have tried to make every film different from the previous one and much of this is done through structure, editing and the visual aesthetics of the film. The structure to The Living and The Dead, RWB and Fashionista are completely different from each other as is the editing and the visuals. It keeps it interesting for me as I continue to explore what cinema is and what can be done with it as a medium. That said, I've been trying to do more straight forward, linear films for a while now but things just haven't worked out that way... fashionista - Ethan Embry and Amanda Fuller

HC: Once more you completely pull the rug out from the viewer's feet with some major surprises. Do you think of them first and build your story around them, or do they evolve organically?

SR: Yes; interested to see how people react to these moments! They all evolve organically to be honest although there were a few deliberate decisions to make some reveals as late as possible in the film.

HC: This contains flashbacks, flash-forwards, in fact flashes everywhere! How did you cope continuity wise?

SR: Ha! Good question. The script was written exactly how it ended up on screen so I'm not really sure anyone really knew what was going on apart from me and so continuity was a big issue. Continuity is an incredibly tough job and I usually find continuity people incredibly annoying and often not very good at their jobs. The only great continuity person I worked with was a woman called Helene Oosthuizen who did Club Le Monde and The Living And The Dead with me and I'd love to work with her again but generally I try not to have continuity people on my film since they slow the whole process down and often confuse it. On RWB we didn't have one, on Crowhurst we didn't have one and perhaps somewhat recklessly we didn't have one on Fashionista. This could have been a massive disaster since there are many scenes which chronologically flow on from each other but appear in the script in a non-linear fashion. The producer and I spent a lot of time making sure the shooting schedule accommodated this and we were also incredibly lucky to have an amazing Costume Designer, Olivia Mori, who not only sourced all these incredible and different clothes (I think Amanda Fuller's character had over 100 changes) but also spent a lot of time working out the exact linear chronology of the piece. We met up two or three mornings and went through her interpretation of the script, just to make sure it was correct. By the time we finished this, it was watertight in her mind but even then things could have gone wrong but, thankfully they didn't. But yep, this was an incredibly challenging film but everyone, Olivia, especially, came through with flying colours.

HC: How would you crystallise your own directing style?

SR: Every script is different so I try to direct the script in order to get the maximum drama/tension etc. from it, using editing, music, camera angles etc. as a means to do this. This is probably why every film looks and feels slightly different.

HC: You give director Nicolas Roeg a name check in the end credits. And you gave Amanda Fuller and Ethan Embry Bad Timing to watch before shooting. Is he your main inspiration here?

SR: Yes - I watched a few films such as Safe by Todd Haynes, Christiane F by Uli Edel, A Woman Under The Influence by John Cassavetes and Lost Highway/Mullholland Drive by David Lynch. But yep, Bad Timing was the main one and I gave it to Amanda and Ethan to try to offer a rough idea as to how the film would end up visually. As far as I remember, that jumps pretty much back, forward and everywhere else. I've always been a massive fan and was incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to work with him on my previous film Crowhurst, which he exec'd produced. I'd always wanted to try to make a film which has the kind of structure he's best known for and having spent some time with him, I thought it was a now or never kind of situation.

Fashionista Amanda Fuller

HC: You're working with Amanda Fuller again, why do you rate her as an actress, because she fits into your own weird universe the best?

SR: Not specifically that per se, but most actresses wouldn't have had the courage to do what she did in RWB or even Fashionista so now you come to mention it, that must be something to do with it! She's absolutely fearless which helps and she's a complete natural, able to turn the emotions on and off like a tap which also helps. Added to this, she's a lovely person and completely reliable so it's always a pleasure to work with her and the results are always fantastic. I'm sure we'll work together again sometime!

HC: Do you prefer being a resolutely cult director? Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word was a departure for you. How do you plan balancing artistry with future commercial opportunities?

SR: After The Living and The Dead, RWB, Little Deaths and my ABCs of Death, I made a decision to go more commercial, something I'm still working on but hope to crack with my forthcoming films. Johnny Frank Garrett was supposed to be the first film in this direction but for various reasons, that didn't work out exactly how I'd hoped. That said, I've been very lucky to make 8 feature films and 2 anthologies and generally had the freedom to do what I wanted with them. If you keep the budgets low enough, these films are still "commercial" in as much as they make their investors' money back. That said, I'd like to work on a larger canvas, get paid more and get the films seen by more people so that's definitely my intention henceforth.

HC: And finally, what's next?

SR: I've got three projects which are shaping up well. The first which we're planning on shooting towards end of March is a period based London gangster film about two guys called Jack The Spot Comer and Billy Hill. They're the missing link between Peaky Blinders and The Krays and there's a fantastic story to be told about the ups and downs of their relationship and who, ultimately, was the King of The London Underworld. Given how this country maintains a fascination with gangsters, it's incredible this story has never been told before because it's ripe for dramatisation. Of the two projects after that, one is a revenge thriller set in post Brexit England and the other is a thriller set in the Mojave desert about a couple who are being shot upon by a sniper, based on an excellent novel called Eyeshot by a very talented young writer called Taylor Adams.

Fashionista is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Saturday 25th February, 11.45am as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017.

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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Tales From The Darkside
Sunday 25th March
7.30 PM
Wednesday 21st March
9.00 PM
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Friday 23rd March
7.00 PM