Exclusive Interview With Dominic Brunt Actor And Director Of Before Dawn
By James Whittington, Sunday 19th August 2012

Dominic BruntDominic Brunt, better known as Paddy Kirk in Emmerdale, has directed the much talked about zombie movie Before Dawn which is showing on the Discovery Screen at FrightFest the 13th. This stunning debut contains everything you want from a horror movie and stars himself alongside his wife Joanne Mitchell and was written by Mark Illis from a story from Dominic and Joanne. We chatted to Dominic about his love of horror cinema and what other projects he has lined up.

HC: Are you a big fan of the horror genre?

DB: I'm a massive geeky nerd of a horror fan! My mate's dad owned Accrington Video in the 80s and we trawled through everything. This was before the video nasties purge so we had free reign. It never did us any harm what so ever and we laughed our arses off. It's the news and Jeremy Kyle that scares me.

HC: How did this whole project come together?

DB: Before Dawn was just an extended friendly row between my wife and myself. She hates certain things about zombie films such as, readily available guns even in British zombie films, the lack of characterisation, bad make up, bad actors in army/police costumes. She's a huge fan of world cinema, specifically French cinema and she though it would be interesting to build a zombie film, which was grounded in a very English setting with very English characters. We let the film breath but at the same time filled it with suspense and of course violence and gore.

HC: Did you have much of a budget to play with?

DB: We managed to grab fairly generous private funding. Using friends and ourselves in the casting saved a lot of money. I produced along side Marc Price and Helen Grace, which meant Marc brought all of his gang up north to make up 3/4 of the crew and Helen is a lawyer and sales agent. I think everyone had at least two jobs on Before Dawn. I produced, directed, acted and edited and learned so much along the way. We slept where we filmed and knocked on doors for the locations. In postproduction, which was a surprisingly long and extended part of the job, I was fortunate enough to be able to call on some Emmerdale friends. The sound was so important and took up most of the time because Chris Grieves is an absolute perfectionist. Foley was done by a clever chap called Michael Nowaki who was brilliant and also did the Foley sound design on Inbred.

HC: How would you describe Before Dawn as its a mix of genres isn't it?

DB: I think Before Dawn is a human drama at heart. The zombies are there as a tool for the characters to do what they have to do in order to serve the story. They could have been vampires but I hate modern movie vampires. We thought it would be interesting if the zombies were there to offer a chance of redemption and hope in some perverse way and to particularly offer someone a second chance in their predicament. We went for wild, feral, virus riddled zombies or what is commonly known as "running zombies".
I also liked the fact that one character might be forced to protect something which could kill in a moment.

HC: Was it a hard film to cast?

DB: The film was easy to cast, as there are only three main characters in this scenario. Nicky Evans was a godsend. He's a great actor and we were lucky to grab him. He's a total one off as a human being and he lives a really interesting life of work and world travel on his motorbike. He turned up jet lagged from one of his trips and had made all these really interesting choices for his part. At the point in the film where it could have taken a dip he managed to brighten it all up again and bring freshness to a section full of plot information. I just think he did it a really great job in a difficult situation. I had to be in it because we couldn]t afford a leading man and I knew what I was doing with the part; I'd been there from the beginning so it made sense really. I met my wife Jo at drama school and she's brilliant in Before Dawn and without giving anything away, her character has just the best journey for an actor to play. Obviously, we live together so we could rehearse it and talk about what Jo wanted from the characters. We were lucky that we were all professionals and we approached it in a very serious way even though we'd never made a movie before. Hopefully we succeeded but that's for other people to decide.

HC: Most of it seems to have been shot handheld, was this to create a more realistic feel?

DB: The hand held feel was there but only in certain scenes. The plan was to keep it steady then as the situation crumbled we would come off the tripods a little. We also did this with the grading and colouring where it's almost technicolour at the beginning then we bleed it out as the story progresses.

HC: It is a dark piece of cinema, what was the atmosphere like on set?

DB: The atmosphere was always quite jolly throughout the shoot despite the subject matter. I had scheduled the film with Nader Mabadi, the scheduler at Emmerdale who is a genius at working these things out mathematically. This meant as long as we stuck to the schedule we didn]t have to panic. Also, it has to be said that if you're not going to enjoy it then why do it in the first place?The gorier the scene, the more fun it was to set up. Some of the cellar scenes are brutal to watch and very serious but we were rolling about with laughter at the sheer excitement of throwing the blood around the walls and placing the body parts.

HC: The score plays a big part in the film, how did you choose Thomas Ragsdale for the job?

DB: Tomas Ragsdale is one half of the band Ghosting Season and he made such a strong musical score. It's got everything and it's very hard to believe it's one chap in a room creating all this beauty and atmosphere. I think he nailed it and added so much to Before Dawn.

HC: You have been part of Emmerdale for sometime now; do you worry about typecasting at all?

DB: I think the typecasting question only ever gets leveled at soap actors. I have done enough of a variety of jobs - cleaning, waitering, market selling, foundry work, bar work, fruit picking, welding etc to realise that I'm on to one of the best jobs on this earth. I'm lucky and I know it. I absolutely LOVE Emmerdale and as long as they'll have me I'll give them everything I have. Its long hours and can get pretty stressful but that's what I enjoy.

HC: Do you prefer acting to directing and is it hard directing yourself?

DB: I prefer acting but I found a new passion in directing and editing. I would never choose to direct and be in anything else, ever again though. It's too much to ask of yourself. I would direct again at the drop of a hat but it's not as immediate as acting. I loved planning shots and working out the camera positions. I watch too many films and I remember tricks, which they use, and favourite scenes etc so I had a deep well to draw/steal from. The day job allows me to be with TV directors every day and I know that the calmer you are in a situation where everyone is expecting from you, the better. If the director is stressed and unfocused then the crew and cast are all over the place. I was given this opportunity and I didn't want to mess it up so I planned it to within an inch of its life so I could then enjoy and indulge in the process.

HC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to make their first horror movie?

DB: Get as much independent advice as you can. Your mates will tell you every thing is great, as they should, that's why they are your mates. You need someone who will tell you what's not working and more importantly, why. Plan everything and try and be one step ahead. Alex Chandon (Inbred) was great at knowing what was next and every one felt safe and secure in the knowledge that Alex knew what he was doing. You can't polish a turd. Be gracious to those who are working for very little or in some cases, for free. You owe them and you are in their debt. Watch films in a technical way. Your favourite films are just that for a reason. No matter what the budget, if the story is strong enough, it will travel. If you look at John Carter against Colin one is infinitely more superior than the other and it has nothing to do with budget and everything to do with heart, intelligence and imagination.

HC: So what's next for you, would you like to direct another horror movie?

DB: Being in a situation that meant being able to work with my wife was thrilling and we want to keep the ball rolling so we are planning our next assault...

HC: Dominic Brunt, thank you very much.

Arrow Video FrightFest 2022 announces bumper Glasgow Film Festival line-up
Posted on Thursday 20th January 2022
FrightFest Glasgow 2022 - headline banner

The UK's No.1 horror and fantasy film festival is back in person at the Glasgow Film Theatre, which for 17 glorious years has been FrightFest's second home, as part of the internationally renowned Glasgow Film Festival.

From Thursday 10th March to Saturday 12th March, FrightFest opens its terror trove to present twelve tasty treasures; an extravaganza of the dark arts, embracing the latest genre discoveries from around the globe, spanning eight countries in three continents, which includes World, International and UK premieres.

Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest commentated: "It's with great delight and with every single b...

Interview with Sean Nichols Lynch writer and director of Red Snow
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

Final film of Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition 2021 is a fangtastic (sorry) twist on the vampire movie, Sean Nichols Lynch's Red Snow. We had a quick chat about this blood-splattered shocker which has a deep vein of humour running through it.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Snow come from?

SL: I was trying to get a different horror feature financed and was struggling to get it off the ground. It was a frustrating period for me, and I honestly felt like I'd never get to make another film. I happened to run into Dennice, who I knew from my film school days at San Francisco State. We got to talking and I started to think about how great it would be to just drop everything and ...

Interview with Alex Kahuam writer and director of Forgiveness
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Alex Kahuam 1 Forgiveness

Director Alex Kahuam has brought to Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition a brutal and intelligent film, Forgiveness. Almost devoid of dialogue, it's an excursion into the raw side of reality. Here he chats about this movie and his plans for the future.

HC: Was there one movie you saw when growing up which made you want to go into filmmaking?

AK: When we were kids my brother and I my parents took us a lot to the theaters and this is where everything began for me. I just loved the experience so much and till this day I thank them because they triggered this on me and for many years filmmaking has been my life. While growing up Hollywood films have always be...

Interview with Sarah Appleton co-writer and co-director of The Found Footage Phenomenon
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Sarah Appleton

The final documentary of FrightFest Online Edition looks to one of the most misunderstood genres out there. The Found Footage Phenomenon dissects this often over-looked type of movie with interviews from many key players. We chatted to co-writer and co-director Sarah Appleton about this very informative piece.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

SA: Yes, I grew up watching Hammer horror movies and Japanese horror because my dad was a film critic, so I used to look through all his VHS tapes he'd taped off the late night tv and pick something to watch. Evil Dead II was one of the first horror movies I ever saw, aged about 8.

HC: Can you recall the first fo...

Taxi rides and crumbling hotels - Day 5 of Arrow Video FrightFest Online Edition: Part 2
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

As we enter the final evening of Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition 2021 there's still plenty to look forward to starting with a belter from directors Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon, Night Drive. Ride-share app driver Russell picks up his Hollywood fare Charlotte... and his whole life turns upside down. Slipping him a wad of cash, she hires him for the rest of the evening. Their first stop at her ex's place sees Charlotte running out the door clutching a tiny suitcase being chased. They make their escape, but accidentally run over a pedestrian, setting in motion a chain of gruesome events that will go to places Russell could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. What starts off as a simpl...

Interview with Josh Stifter director of Greywood's Plot
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

There are a number of monochrome movies at FrightFest this year and one of the stand out ones is Josh Stifter's Greywood's Plot so we had a quick chat with him about it.

HC: Was there one movie you saw when you were younger that made you want to be in the filmmaking business?

JS: Beetlejuice. I saw it when I was 5 years old. My family all got the flu and my mom went and rented it. This was back in the day when you didn't have access as easily to movies so if you rented a movie, it often would get watched a couple times before it was returned. Since we had nothing else to do, we all just laid around sick watching Beetlejuice over and over. I became obsessed. It was the first tim...

Interview with Conor Stechschulte writer of Ultrasound
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

Based on his own graphic novel 'Generous Bosom', Conor Stechschulte has written a tight and tense script for Ultrasound which is showing today at Arrow Films Fright Online Edition. We chatted to him about the process of bringing his original idea to the big screen.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to become a writer?

CS: I did! At about 7 or 8 I went from wanting to be a fighter pilot to wanting to be a writer. My formal education is in visual art, but I've always had narratives at the heart of all the creative work that I make and have never really stopped writing in one form or another.

HC: Was there any one person who inspired you?

CS: I can't...

Interview with Rob Schroeder director of Ultrasound
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

The feature debut of Rob Schroeder, producer of Sun Choke and Beyond The Gates, Ultrasound is a startling puzzle box Sci-Fi mystery and playing today at Arrow Films FrightFest Online Event. We chatted to Rob about this chilling movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be in filmmaking?

RS: Not really. When I was young, I loved going to the movie theatre every week, but I didn't see filmmaking as a career because in my town I didn't know any filmmakers. The movies were always so special for me and even sacred, so at a young age I did sense the magic.

HC: How did become attached to this project?

RS: I developed the project, by reaching out to Cono...

Interview with Peter Daskaloff director and co-writer of Antidote
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Peter Daskaloff Anitdote

Peter Daskaloff has brought his nerve-jangling movie Antidote to FrightFest Online Eidtion 2021 so we chatted to him about this complex and intriguing movie.

HC: What is your writing method when working alongside someone else?

PD: I usually write alone. But for Antidote, I had to hire a co-writer because the subject was complex. I needed another set of eyes to look at it from outside my box. Matt Toronto was recommended to me by my executive producer, Ian Michaels, who has worked with Matt before. The collaboration was a bit bumpy, but the resulting script turned out pretty good.

HC: How did you go about casting the movie?

PD: I had a casti...

Interview with Francesco Erba writer and director of As in Heaven, So on Earth
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Francesco Erba As In Heaven director

As In Heaven, So On Earth mixes the found footage genre with incredible animation to deliver a truly unique take on the format. The movie effortlessly moves from its gothic animation to cutting edge technology footage and brings together a tale which is emotional and utterly heart breaking in equal measure. We chatted to its writer and director Francesco Erba as it plays at FrightFest Online Edition 2021.

HC: Where did the idea for As in Heaven, So on Earth come from?

FE: As in Heaven, So on Earth was born not only from one specific idea but, as very often occurs, from many different ones, different influences and life experien...

Interview with Casey Dillard actor and writer of Killer Concept
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

If you managed to catch Driven the other year at FrightFest then you'll need to catch Killer Concept today. Writer Casey Dillard is back alongside director Glenn Payne but this time serial killers are the target. We chatted to Casey about this movie.

HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted, apart from Killer Concept, what have you been up to?

CD: Mostly avoiding Covid and trying to find work-arounds so that I can still perform safely.

HC: Where did the idea for Killer Concept come from?

CD: Glenn wanted to make a simple movie with minimal people while our core filmmaking team was unable to go to work so we kicked around a lot of ideas and KC wa...

Interview with Glenn Payne director and actor from Killer Concept
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

If you managed to catch Driven the other year at FrightFest then you'll need to catch Killer Concept today. Director Glenn Payne is back alongside writer Casey Dillard but this time serial killers are the target. We chatted to him about this movie.

HC: It's been a couple of years since you brought the superb movie Driven to FrightFest, how was that movie received across the world?

GP: Thank you for the kind words! We've felt very blessed by how warm the reception's been for Driven. We knew the story was different, given the entire thing takes place inside one vehicle, but the characters really seemed to resonate with people. I think that's a huge testament to the per...

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