INTERVIEWS

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Steve Barker and Rae Brunton Writers Of Outpost 2: Black Sun
By James Whittington, Saturday 25th August 2012

Outpost II CoverA few years ago the film Outpost was released to great critical acclaim. This atmospheric and dark piece gave the Nazi Zombie genre the serious kick that it needed.

Now the characters are back in Outpost 2: Black Sun so we decided to talk to the writers Steve Barker and Rae Brunton about this and future Outpost movies.

HC: How did you two first meet?

RB: Well, I had written a half-hour script called Karma Cowboys, which was commissioned as part of a series showcasing new talent on Channel 4 and I first met Steve when he was brought aboard to direct that. Out of all the writer and director teams put together on that series, I think we were the only two who genuinely got along. When Steve moved to Scotland, I rode shotgun in a car full of all his belongings and - between him listening to cricket on the radio and me nearly getting us killed on a slip-road near Glasgow - we talked about doing something else, feature film shaped. It always seemed inevitable that we’d work together again…

SB: I think Rae's summed this one up perfectly, other than that it was probably my fault that we nearly died on the slip-road.

HC: Where did the idea for the original Outpost come from?

RB: It was kind of born out of necessity. Steve had moved to Scotland with the intention of making a film there with our producers, Kieran and Arabella. Film financing being what it is, though it’s very hard for first-time film-makers to get stuff off the ground. When one project stalled, Kieran was casting around for other ideas and, because it's often the way that low-budget genre movies are many people's route into film-making, he started toying with horror stories. So the original idea for Outpost came from Kieran. He came up with this very simple high-concept of a bunch of modern day soldiers who find themselves surrounded by an army of undead Nazis. Within those parameters, Steve and I were invited to do pretty much whatever we wanted. I came up with the idea of this weird machine that gave the story an engine and the whole thing grew from there.

SB: Wow, Brunton's answers are unusually thorough today. That's exactly what happened.

HC: Did you decide that from the start it would be a serious Nazi Zombie movie?

RB: I think so. As a writer, my instinct is always to try and mine a bit of humour but, while they were never against the odd laugh, I remember that Kieran and Steve were both keen that Outpost should never be tongue-in-cheek. And I agreed with that, because, unless it's done with surgical wit, I tend not to like stuff that winks too hard at its audience. All three of us absolutely revered the whole kind of B-movie horror that we were working in - it was exactly the kind of stuff that had thrilled us in the past - and I think we wanted to honour how seriously all those films took themselves. And in an odd way, I think playing such a lunatic story with a straight face is actually its own kind of fun.

SB: I think simply because I saw the initial concept as something that would give me an opportunity to make a love letter to certain movies I loved as a kid, it genuinely never crossed my mind for a second that we would do anything other than play it straight. At the time we made the first movie the torture-porn explosion was in full swing and I really wanted to make something the harkened back to early John Carpenter or Alien, something that did everything with light, shadow and suspense so the idea of going for a more Sam Raimi, Evil Dead 2 style or what the Dead Snow guys did later just never came up. That tone worked so well in those movies but at the time I don’t think we ever even discussed going that way.

HC: It was a critical success so why a four year gap between that and the follow up Outpost: Black Sun?

SB: There's really no one simple answer to that. At first we never really considered the possibility of a sequel and for maybe a year we looked at doing other movies, then when the first movie turned out to be a bit of a success, not just in the UK but also abroad, then people started pushing for it. After that it became a long to-and-fro around writing the script, where the money would come from, and how much money we'd eventually have. All of which would always mean looking at the script again. Then finally, at the end of all that it took about a year to actually make the movie. The film industry and independent film financing in particular has always be very unpredictable so when you factor in that this film got put together in the midst of a global economic meltdown and then the recession that followed I'm still a little amazed that we got there at all.

HC: How did you approach writing this much anticipated sequel?

RB: Well, it's awhile since we wrote Black Sun now, but as I remember it there were a lot of different ideas kicked around. The one thing we all agreed from the outset though, was that we wanted our sequel to be distinct from its predecessor. None of us wanted to do a simple, bigger and badder re-tread of the first film. We wanted to expand the world some, reveal a bit more about the history of the machine and, I think in general, deliver something that felt altogether more epic in scale. Early on, we didn’t even know whether we wanted to go back to the same bunker at all. We had ideas for an entirely new story set elsewhere. In my initial treatments, Wallace was very much the lead. It was very much Steve’s idea to run with a female protagonist and all the Nazi Hunter stuff that fleshed out Lena's character came from him. After that it was a thousand conversations and just as many rewrites…

SB: Like Rae says, all the initial ideas came from not wanting to repeat the first movie. In that film we’d tried to use mystery and suspense to steadily crank the atmosphere through the first half of the picture and we could do that because the movie was fresh and the audience wasn't entirely sure what was coming. Going into Black Sun my feeling was that if I simply tried to do that again it would quickly become tedious because the audience had already seen what was ultimately around the corner. The sequels I've always admired are the ones that try and do something new, you risk alienating your original audience but I thought it was a risk worth taking, so once we’d decided to shift genre slightly and try something that was tonally different it became about trying to introduce elements into the narrative that would force us keep those promises to ourselves. So the character of Lena came from the fact that there were no female characters and there were no civilians in the first movie. Simply having her there was going to force us to write and shoot things differently. So yeah, pretty much everything in life that caused Rae pain around that time was totally my fault. I'm frankly amazed that he still talks to me, although I didn’t get a Christmas card this year.

HC: Did you have more budget for this instalment?

SB: We had a tiny bit more. Unfortunately the film was so much bigger in scope that it always felt like we had less. It really was an insanely small budget for the kind of scale we were trying to put on screen and it's a testament to the dedication and skill of everybody that worked on it that people seem to think that it cost five or ten times more than it actually did. In the end I think we made the movie for less than an episode of Doctor Who.

HC: How did you go about casting?

SB: Well outside of Julian Wadham and Johnny Meres coming back we had to find a new cast since we'd killed everybody in the first movie. We cast Lena first and I probably saw 70 girls in 2 days for her, but Catherine came in on the first morning and just smashed it. Richard Coyle was somebody I'd loved in so much other stuff and the financiers let me offer the role of Wallace to him. He was away shooting Grabbers at time so we couldn’t meet, but thankfully it turned out that he really liked the first movie and after we’d had a long chat on the phone he took the role. I think everybody else auditioned in the traditional way and just like the first movie I think we got really lucky with who we got.

HC: It retains the very dark and intense atmosphere of the first, was this hard to achieve?

RB: I can't speak to the production or directing side of things at all, but in terms of the writing, once our story was set the tone was pretty much dictated. We had a Nazi army on the march in modern day Europe - the atmosphere couldn’t be anything but dark!

SB: You'd think that making something that dark would be easier but actually it's really hard work. You have to be very careful about the colour palette which means production design, costume and even make-up have to work very closely together and be planning way ahead of the shoot. I also tend to use a lot of smoke (probably because I saw too many Ridley Scott films as a kid) and that’s really time consuming on a tiny budget. Add all that to the fact that the script was so different and I started out feeling pretty nervous about the tone on this movie. Then it became obvious that my usual DP, Gavin Struthers who shot the first movie wouldn’t be available because he was already committed to a long running job and I got really scared. Thankfully the brilliant Darran Tiernan rode to my rescue. I'd seen two movies he’d shot and even though they looked nothing like I imagined this film looking it was obvious that he had a wonderful eye. Thankfully he really liked the first movie and from the moment we met all of my nerves simply evaporated. What I love about his work on this movie is the way that without ego getting in the way he seemed to instinctively understand where we should retain ideas about light, colour and shadow from the first movie and where to bring something new to the table. I really do think that he’s an amazing talent.

HC: What was it like shooting this and the third part back-to-back?

RB: In fairness, there has actually been a substantial gap between the production of the second and third film, almost a year between shoots.

SB: I'm not making part 3 and what's cool is that since Rae and Kieran were writing and putting it together whilst I was away finishing Black Sun I’ve managed to stay pretty much spoiler free. That means I'm finally going to be able to watch one of these films like a regular movie rather than something I'm sweating or agonising over which is pretty exciting.

HC: When part 3 is released will you move away from horror for a while or will you stay within the genre?

SB: Well I've just finished one script and am about to start work on another. Neither are straight horror but both certainly contain very, very dark elements. I've always loved genre movies and my instincts usually take me towards dark thrillers, sci-fi and horror so I think that even if I move away a bit, the work will probably still be within spitting distance.

HC: Are you nervous about the movie showing at FrightFest?

RB: Terrified!

SB: I am literally too frightened to properly answer.

HC: What advice would you give to people wanting to make their own horror movie?

RB: None. I'd wish them the very best of luck!

SB: Always make what you want to see, not what you think others might want you to make. And then give it all the love, thought, care and attention that you've got.

HC: Steve Barker and Rae Brunton, thank you very much.

SB: No, thank you


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Stewart Sparke, director of Book of Monsters
Posted on Friday 29th April 2022
Director Stewart Sparke watches a scene

A birthday bash becomes a bloodbath when monsters escape from a supernatural storybook, leaving a group of teenagers to fight for their lives and shut the party down in the UK TV premiere of Book of Monsters on May 16th on Horror. We chatted to its director, Stewart Sparke about this fun, retro-filled fright-fest.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a film director?

SS: I remember first realising that I wanted to make films during one of many viewings of The Mummy (1999) on VHS in my bedroom on an old 15" TV. I became quite obsessed with the film and tried to make all my friends come over to watch it ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Hyett, director of Peripheral
Posted on Wednesday 16th February 2022
Paul Hyett

Paul Hyett is a multi-disciplined creative whose work is as inventive as it is imaginative. His latest movie is a dark sci-fi chiller named Peripheral and it will have its UK TV premiere on Horror, Friday 25th February at 11.05pm.

Here he chats about this incredible movie and his plans for the future.

HC: How did you become attached to Peripheral?

PH: The producer Craig Touhy and I had been friends for a while and had nearly done another movie together and he'd liked the claustrophobia and tension of The Seasoning House so we met up to discuss Peripheral. When he pitched it to me, very much a low budget, contained movie, in one apartment. I must say I was a little hesitant. I...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Abigail Blackmore, writer and director of Tales From The Lodge
Posted on Tuesday 14th December 2021
Abigail Blackmore 1

Ahead of Horror Channel's Xmas Day broadcast of her horror comedy feature Tales From The Lodge, director Abigail Blackmore recalls the brutal weather conditions, the challenges of casting and the joy of playing at FrightFest.

HC: Thanks to Horror Channel, Tales From The Lodge finally gets its UK TV premiere on British TV. Excited or what?

AB: So excited! I know a huge amount of people watch the Horror Channel so I'm hoping it opens TFTL up to a whole new audience.

HC: Looking back to its showcase screening at FrightFest in 2019, what are your abiding memories?

AB: It was a wonderful experience! FrightFest has long been one of the highlights of my ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barbara Crampton, star of chilling horror Sacrifice
Posted on Wednesday 8th December 2021
Sacrifice Image 1

Barbara Crampton is a Horror Channel favourite. This much loved and much admired creative is starring in the UK TV premiere of Sacrifice, which is showing December 12th at 9pm on Horror so we chatted to her about this movie and her plans for the future.

Note that there are some spoilers for Sacrifice in the interview.

HC: Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?

BC: Yes, I remember the first time I was ever on a television set, it was for the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, "Hi. I'm your cousin Trista from Colorado". It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had w...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Michael Mayer and Guy Ayal from the acclaimed movie Happy Times
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
thumbnail_HT_set_Marie Alyse Rodriguez

Happy Times, which is showing at Grimmfest Online, is a movie that takes the home invasion genre and turns it inside out! Directed by Michael Mayer and co-written with composer Guy Ayal, the movie is a bombastic, bloody and hilarious piece of cinema. I chatted to them both about this dinner party from hell.

HC: Where did the idea for Happy Times come from?

MM: The idea for the movie started forming when I was invited to a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year's) dinner in Los Angeles. It was the first year of Trump's presidency and wherever you went all people wanted to talk about was politics. One thing to know about the Israeli expat com...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with D.M. Cunningham, writer and director of The Spore
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
DMC_SetPic copy

If you like your horror with a huge lashing of gruesome effects and a strong story then The Spore is for. Showing at Grimmfest Online, the movie from D.M. Cunningham is a smart take on the body horror genre. Here he chats about this movie which is guaranteed to get under your skin.

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

DM: I started out wanting to be a makeup effects artist. After seeing Night of the Living Dead and discovering Fangoria magazine I was hooked. Tom Savini was a huge influence on my trajectory toward becoming a filmmaker. It wasn't until later that I discovered that you could boss the monsters around on set being the director. That's...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Ben Charles Edwards, co-writer and director of Father of Flies
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
Father of Flies director

A vulnerable young boy finds his mother pushed out of the family home by a strange new woman in Father of Flies, and he must confront the terrifying supernatural forces that seem to move in with her. This intense and chilling movie is showing at Grimmfest Online Edition so we chatted to director and co-writer Ben Charles Edwards about this movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Father of Flies come from?

BE: It came from my childhood experiences. When my good friend and journalist Dominic Wells was talking to me about my next project, he told me to draw on real life experiences. So, I did. My own experiences were neither as heightened nor as traumatic as they may...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Marcel Sarmiento co-writer and director of Faceless
Posted on Friday 15th October 2021
Faceless Director

Showing at Grimmfest Online Edition is the incredibly inventive horror/sci-fi hybrid Faceless. Here, co-writer and director Marcel Sarmiento speaks about this superb movie.

HC: Have you always been a big horror movie fan?

MS: Definitely as a kid. My first movies made with my Betamax were all about scaring one other and how gross we could push makeup effects. We mostly strangled, stabbed, and threw each other off buildings. I think as I got older, I appreciated what you could do with horror more than horror for horror's sake. I love that you can make characters do things that in any other genre you couldn't make them do and still come out the other end liking them and routi...

SHARE: READ MORE
Tom Paton, director of G-LOC chats about his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman
Posted on Tuesday 14th September 2021
Tom Paton on the set of G-Loc-3-1

Ahead of the Horror Channel premiere of his sci-fi action thriller G-LOC, director Tom Paton reflects on why making movies is like solving a puzzle, his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman.

Horror Channel will be broadcasting the UK TV premiere of your Sci-fi adventure G-LOC. Excited or what?

It's honesty so strange to me every time Horror Channel debuts one of my movies. The channel has been such a big part of my life growing up and informing my taste in films, that it's always a "pinch myself moment" when I see something that I've made appear on their TV listing. G-LOC is much more of a SCI-FI adventure than any ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Alexis Kendra-4

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of The Cleaning Lady on June 26, the film's star, writer and producer Alexis Kendra talks about playing a 'Goddess', coping with lockdown and why she can't watch horror films on her own.

HC: The Cleaning Lady is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

AK: I love you guys. Always have, always will. I'm honoured.

HC: It's a very disturbing film, dealing with abuse, addiction and hidden rage, yet the characters are sympathetic and have real depth. It's horror with a twisted heart. As a co-writer, alongside your director Jon Knautz, what were the main challenges in getting the balance right between acting and writing? <...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
Soska sisiters-WEB-1

Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Rabid on June 12, Jen and Sylvia Soska reflect on the challenges of re-imagining Cronenberg's body horror classic, meeting the great man and their new monster movie, Bob.

HC: Rabid is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?

SS: The Horror Channel has supported us and our work since the beginning, so it's a special treat to have the newest film premiere there!

Js: We are so excited. Having Rabid on Horror Channel feels like coming home. They've been very kind to us. We are happy to have so many of our films on there.

HC: We all, of course, remember that Rabid was one of David Cronenberg's earli...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Mickey Fisher 1

Horror Channel will be continuing its commitment to bringing cult and classic sci-fi to its audience with Seasons 1 and 2 of the CBS Studios/Amblin Television production of Extant, starring Halle Berry as astronaut Molly Woods, who returns home to her family, inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.

The series begins on Horror May 11th so, we decided to chat to its creator, Mickey Fisher about how the series came to be produced and what it was like working with Hollywood royalty.

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

MF: From the time I was maybe five or six years old I wanted to be an actor. Going to see Star...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
She Never Died
SHE NEVER DIED
Wednesday 29th June
9.00 PM
Prey
PREY
Monday 27th June
9.00 PM
Space: 1999
SPACE: 1999
Wednesday 29th June
7.00 PM