ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS


Brand New - Exclusive Interview With Jon And Howard Ford Directors Of The Dead
By James Whittington, Thursday 2nd September 2010

FrightFest Jon And Howard FordHoward and Jon Ford brought their movie The Dead to FrightFest 2010 and it played to a very appreciative crowd. Its an intelligent and apocalyptic zombie movie, taking this well plundered genre to new heights. Horror Channel had the chance to speak to these rising stars about their movie and what inspired them to make it.

HC: Did you and your brother always want to work in the film industry?

Jon: Interesting question. The very term film industry implies a sausages factory mentality which I think is the problem with most movies. The Dead has been made from the heart rather than the pocket, a very rare thing these days. So in answer to your question...no not really. I didn't make The Dead because I wanted to make films I made films because I wanted to make The Dead! If that makes sense. This movie is the reason I started filmmaking! It's been my lifetime ambition! That sounds a bit dramatic but it is the truth!

Howard: I remember being completely obsessed when I was about 10 years old as to how what I was seeing on the TV or movie screen actually got there - I had no idea how films were made back then but for some reason I was hooked on being a part of that creation. I nagged our parents for a camera for my birthday & Christmas combined but at the time they couldn't afford it. When Jon got a part time Job after school I helped convince him the best use of his hard earned cash was to buy a Super 8mm camera and we went out and shot little movies with friends as actors etc. I remember wanting to make films so badly that I couldn't sleep just thinking about it! I also tried to convince some friends to cut up their clothes for a zombie short but thankfully no one wanted to be a part of it - at 13, with almost no experience it would have been shockingly bad!

HC: Do you have any favourite directors that have influenced your work?

Jon: If I had to credit one director as my main influence it would be Sergio Leone. A true master of composition and attention to detail within an epic context.

Howard: I agree with Jon, Sergio Leone was incredible but I also feel that even though some directors are not necessarily consistently good, I can still feel inspired by some of their creative choices on particular movies or even particular sequences even if the whole movie isn't good and I cant help making a mental note of lenses/camera moves, composition etc as I’m watching a film and hopefully those moments that resonate with me a director add additional inspiration to my own instincts when on set. For example, some of David Fincher’s work is beautiful and also M. Night’s The Sixth Sense contained fantastic choices, with subtlety and power.

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

Jon: I'm a massive zombie fan especially the 70s and early 80s ones. Romero, Fulci, Grau etc I'm almost embarrassed to admit it but I can recite the dialogue off by heart for several of these movies.

Howard: I have always been a huge horror fan and The Evil Dead is probably the reason I got into film making! The original Dawn of the Dead blew me away too but my tastes in film run from the obscure to the mainstream depending what mood I’m in on any given day!

HC: Where did the idea for The Dead come from and why set it in Africa?

Jon: I started making notes on the script for this movie in the 1980s almost as a backlash to watching too many crap zombie movies, in a way I was writing the zombie film I always wanted to see. The Africa thing came about because we were looking for a stunning visual canvas in which to set our scenes, a place which could provide a threat as dangerous as the zombies themselves. We wanted beauty as well as horror on screen in the same frame! Yin and Yang.

Howard: Setting it in Africa was the hook. To be honest, I would never have wanted to make ‘The Dead’ had it not been for the setting that makes it so unique. It had to be different somehow and also give audiences something different even when there are no zombies on screen. Jon and I had shot many TV commercials in Africa and felt it was the ideal place to set it.

HC: The Dead is a very tense movie, sometimes edge of your seat stuff, was this important to you so it didn’t just become “another zombie movie”?

Jon: Thanks very much! There have been some very bad zombie movies made lately. We had to try and make this one something special. We wanted a moment by moment tension to give the audience a taste of what it might be like to be in this horrific situation

Howard: Very relieved the tension worked for you! Thanks. The film had to pay off in this respect. I hope that the film has a little bit of a rollercoaster ride about it and gives you a jolt when you least expect it, but also at times exactly WHEN you expect it to. I was very conscious of this when editing the film because its all very well being clever in the shock moments but sometimes you just want it to happen when it should happen and also I hope you think its going to happen but you’ve just been lead down the garden path..

HC: I can sense nods to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters, is this deliberate?

Jon: Yes there are some nods of honour to those movies that inspired us. I kind of had the music to Zombie Flesh Eaters going round in my head most of the time while shooting this film! Howard and I would also quote lines from various horror movies to relieve the tension while filming.

Howard
: There are also nods to such an insane mix of movies it could geek people out if they spot them! We must have been 8 or 10 years when we saw a movie one night on TV called Lost in the Desert about a young boy who survives a plane crash and finds himself isolated in harsh elements without food or water. Some of the vibes of that movie never left us... Also films like Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear). Some of our other inspirations are so random sometimes from such an obscure horror movie it’ll be fascinating to see if audiences pick up on them.

HC: The zombies are traditional; meaning they are slow moving but driven by their taste for flesh. Why did you go for this zombie style?

Jon: Howard and myself agreed right at the start that our Zombies would creep up on their victims rather than run like Olympic athletes, fly, disappear and re-appear or some other ridiculous movement that a reanimated corpse might make. In our film once you're with the concept that the dead are coming back to life and searching for human flesh everything else is gritty and real! Come on! They're dead! Rigor mortise is setting in! It's enough to ruin anyone’s chances of a sprinting career.

Howard: Yup, at very best they should only stand a chance at the burger eating contest! The other important thing is that when you show fast moving zombies running at you, the scene instantly has to become an action sequence whereas the tension you gain through creating suspense is much a much more powerful tool and ultimately a more satisfying experience.

HC: Was it a hard movie to cast, especially the two lead characters? (I would just like to say they give stunning performances)

Jon: Thanks I agree we were very lucky to get these guys! Rob Freeman was the only guy for the job! An incredible actor and in hindsight I seriously think he is probably the only actor on earth who could have survived the suffering that he did, to make this film! Prince is a fantastic guy and the most talented up and coming Ghanaian actor. David Dontoh we had worked with before on a Guinness commercial and from then always wanted to get him in this movie.

Howard: It was logistically hard as we cast from various different continents but we are extremely happy with our choices. Rob was destined for this role, such a fantastic actor but also he refused to quit - and when I say that, I quite literally mean it. After he got Malaria and almost died, I offered Rob a way out. Jon & I would re write the script but Rob absolutely refused to quit, and I’m grateful for that as he’s fantastic to watch and I can’t imagine the film without him. Also Prince was an incredible discovery. We scoured for his role in the UK, Nigeria even the US but in he walks to the Lintas ad agency in Ghana and just nails it! I found his original audition the other day and it gave me goose bumps!

HC: It’s a character driven movie rather than effects driven; did the script go through many drafts?

Jon: Even though I had been adding to the script since the 1980s, when Howard and myself actually sat down together to write this thing through, it was very quick and we knew that we wanted to keep the raw energy it had and that if we messed about too much it might lose some of that spontaneity. Also neither of us are fans of big effects movies! You can't get emotionally moved by CGI so we wanted characters you can believe in; once you're emotionally involved then you're hooked.

Howard: Absolutely agree. We were also very conscious of not overloading it with dialogue. We wanted it to be a visual piece and avoid chit chat or cheesy dialogue - we also wanted it to be sparse as it was also about loneliness and isolation and how death strips every comfort zone away from you. Often one of us would suggest a line of dialogue and the other would shoot it down unless it was ABSOLUTELY necessary. What was great about it was we had total creative control, apart from the production nightmares of course!!

HC: Talking of effects these are remarkable and very well realised, was most of these achieved on location?

Jon: We wanted to achieve as many effects on location as possible to keep it feeling real. This also gives the actors something to work with. The problem with CGI is that even after all this time it's still in its infancy.

Howard: also, the human eye is so sharp audiences notice when something is fake. Even though they might not be able to identify what is wrong with the image. It just doesn’t sit right and that’s the problem with CGI. It was so important we did as many things as we could organically, so the audience can feel they are really in this land and on a real journey… Once you get past the fact that the dead are returning to life, everything else has to feel real!

HC: The film is at times as bleak as the landscape even apocalyptic in theme; did you fear that it might become a bit too intense?

Jon: Never! Too much tension is never enough! You're right the theme is a bit apocalyptic. To be honest if the dead do start to come back to life and attack the living it would be very apocalyptic! LOL

HC Would you like to return to the zombie genre?

Jon: There were so many things we had in the original script that had to be abandoned that these could easily fill another script. So if the fans like it then absolutely!

Howard: Yup, if the fans want it and this film proves successful then that will pave the way for more… The Dead 2 is already being talked about…. If we do do it, it will be with more money and with more armed guards!!

HC: Jon and Howard Ford, thank you very much.


MORE FRIGHTFEST
Arrow Video FrightFest announces August 2020 Short Film Programme
Posted on Saturday 8th August 2020
FrightFest August Short Film -logo2

The films may be short, but there is no shortage of scares as Arrow Video FrightFest 2020 showcases the best new short films from the UK and around the world, with six countries representing three continents. From under-the-bed monsters to monsters in front of your eyes, from the sinister and the creepy to the wickedly human and the not-so-human, this year's selection shines a spotlight on upcoming filmmakers.

The UK is represented with a record eleven entries. There are world premiere screenings for Werewolf, where game night just got dangerous, A Bit Of Fun, where a girls' night in brings out the dead and The Beholder, in which you'd be wise to ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
Airell Hayles

FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.

HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?

AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
Toby and Fionn Clapper 1

FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.

HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?

FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest announces August Digital Edition line-up and Horror Channel sponsors talent-seeking First Blood strand
Posted on Tuesday 28th July 2020
FrightFest Online-Logo-3_NEW

The UK's most popular horror and fantasy film festival celebrates its 21st bloody year with a special Digital edition, showcasing twenty-five films, from Thursday 27th August to Monday 31st August, including seven world premieres and sixteen UK premieres. Ten countries are represented from four continents in a deadly, daring and diverse programme exclusively presented to UK audiences.

Passes and tickets will go on sale Saturday 1 August and details on how to access the event and choose which films to watch are on the FrightFest website. All film screenings will be geo-locked to UK audiences and only accessible from within the United Kingdom.

The men...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror Channel highlights six summer weekend shockers in its August premiere line-up
Posted on Thursday 16th July 2020
Horror Chanel - Aug banner

August is a wicked month on Horror Channel, as the UK's most popular small-screen destination for genre fans presents six summer weekend shockers, five FrightFest hits including the UK TV premieres of Julian Richards, Reborn, a Carrie for the Z Generation, starring horror icon Barbara Crampton, Jordan Barker's Witches In The Woods, an unrelenting assault of pure terror, Alistair Legrand's highly unusual genre-blending chiller, The Diabolical and Milan Todorovic's sharp-teethed, seductive Killer Mermaids. All these films received FrightFest premiere screenings.

There is also a channel premiere for another FrightFest title, The Windmill Massacre, where Friday The 13th...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
Volition

FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.

HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?

TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.

HC: Did you know from an...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest to present August digital edition
Posted on Wednesday 24th June 2020
FrightFest 2020 Banner

Arrow Video FrightFest will go virtual over the August Bank Holiday, presenting up to twenty-five films from Friday 28th August to Monday 31st August inclusive.

There will also be additional online content including special guest intros, Q and As, and a short film showcase. Plus, some free Live events are at the planning stage. Passes and individual tickets will be available and go on sale early August. The films will be geo-blocked for viewers in the UK.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks, alongside the line-up of films.

Ian Rattray, FrightFest co-director said today: "Although we can't recreate the special atmosphere of our public gat...

SHARE: READ MORE
Important news from team FrightFest
Posted on Tuesday 2nd June 2020
FrightFest Halloween 2020

Due to the continuing Covid-19 restrictions on social distancing, Arrow FrightFest's traditional five day event in August has been regretfully put on hold. Instead, the organisers are planning to expand their traditional all-day Halloween event at the end of October.

Alan Jones, co-director, said today: "Sadly, we won't be able to come together and celebrate our 21st year in the summer but rest assured, we will make our London Halloween event one to remember. FrightFest has always been about the genre community joining together, not just to embrace films but to demonstrate our unique spirit of supportive closeness".

Details on dates, venues, films and tick...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020

Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.

It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?

JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.

When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...

You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?

AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...

SHARE: READ MORE
Arrow Video FrightFest announces Glasgow Film Festival 2020 line-up
Posted on Thursday 16th January 2020

Welcome the transgressive, the traumatic and the terrifying as Arrow Video FrightFest, the UK's favourite horror fantasy event, returns to Glasgow Film Festival for a 15th fantastic year, from Thursday 5 March to Saturday 7 March, 2020.

Thirteen is lucky for some as that's the number of new films being presented at the iconic Glasgow Film Theatre, embracing the latest genre discoveries from around the globe, spanning four continents, including one world, two European and seven UK premieres.

Alan Jones, FrightFest co-director, commented: "Welcome to another banner FrightFest and another invitation to explore the horror fantasy genre's fertile harvest bursting with creativity, ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Cameron Macgowan, director of Red Letter Day
Posted on Friday 1st November 2019

FrightFest 2019 exposed a lot of new talent in the movie industry and one of the stand-out pieces was Red Letter Day from Cameron Macgowan.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Letter Day come from and did it take long to write?

CM: I have long been a fan of the 'Humans Hunting Humans' subgenre of film (Battle Royale, The Running Man, Hard Target, etc.) and was inspired to set one of these films in what many people consider the 'safe' location of the suburbs. Suburban communities feel like the perfect setting for a horror film as you can walk for miles without seeing a single soul all while knowing that you are surrounded by many people. This mixed with a desire to satirise the current socio-political climate ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
House At The End Of The Street
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
Wednesday 19th August
9.00 PM
Tales From The Darkside
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE
Sunday 16th August
8.30 PM
Boo
BOO
Sunday 16th August
10.35 PM