Brand New Exclusive Interview With Alex Chandon Director Of Inbred
By James Whittington, Monday 29th August 2011

Alex ChandonAlex Chandon is a writer and director of numerous award winning short movies, and SFX wizard and director of cult titles Pervirella and Cradle Of Fear. At FrightFest 2011 he brought his latest movie Inbred with him to give it its World Premiere. Alex took time out to speak to us about his varied career and his plans for the future.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan and if so what was the first horror movie to really grab your attention?

AC: Hi. Yes, ever since I was very young. I still call Jaws a horror film and I was taken to see that on its first release, aged 6. It freaked me out, gave me nightmares, and kick started my obsession with movies. My cool mum then let me watch the first half of BBC 2's horror double bills in the late 70s... the first film was usually an old Universal horror film like Lugosi's Dracula or Karloff's Frankenstien. I was then allowed to watch the more garish and gory Hammer horror films which would follow. I was about 8 or 9 when I started buying Hammer House of Horror Magazine and 12 when I first bought an issue of Fangoria with the Maniac scalping cover. I have always been artistic and was fascinated by the articles about how the films were made and more so how the special effects were achieved. I was given a Super 8mm camera aged 10 and immediately started making my own short horror films.

HC: Do you have a favourite director?

AC: In the early 80's I had many favourites: Steven Spielberg, George Romero, David Cronenberg, John Landis, John Carpenter, Lucio Fulci, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Joe Dante. Then I saw The Evil Dead and became Sam Raimi's biggest fan. Peter Jackson was my next hero after Bad Taste came out. Then I discovered Martin Scorcese (I was late to his greatness) and he remained a solid favourite through my twenties. I have admired so may directors over the years, very few of which have managed to sustain greatness over their careers, and so have fallen of my favourites perch. In the 90s I embraced Hong Kong action movies and directors. I still have a lot of time for Spielberg, Raimi, Jackson and Scorcese though.

HC: Your first two features, Pervirella and Cradle Of Fear were some time ago, what have you been doing in between these movies?

AC: Cradle Of Fear was finished in 2001 and I spent a couple of years after that marketing that title and attempting to use it as a foundation for another film project which fell through after a long years development (this was a full length version of The Sick Room story from Cradle Of Fear which Impact Pictures (Resident Evil) were interested in making). I became somewhat disillusioned with the industry and the hurdles placed in my way to making another feature and so concentrated on music promos to keep filming and being creative. Around 2005 I was shown my good friend Dominic Hailstone's film The Eel and it blew my mind. He told me he'd made it single handedly in his loft using this software called After Effects to create the mind-blowing visual effects imagery. I had to get into this! And so I embarked on a project which ended being called Borderline. Its a short film which took me over a year to complete and while making it I taught myself After Effects, with guidance from Dom. It was completed in 2006 and was a real success at some short film festivals, was shown worldwide and was chosen by the BFI for the UK National Film Archive... probably my greatest achievement to date. This lead to me getting chosen by Saatchi and Saatchi for their 'new' directors showcase (I didn't tell them I'd been directing all my life!), which in turn led to some very cool visual effects jobs. I loved working with After Effects, my forte being compositing various filmed elements together to create something totally believable yet fantastically unreal. For the first time I was able to truly make my imagination come to life on screen by using my PC in my bedroom and not relying on 1000s of pounds and complicated film shoots. So I thrived on doing visual FX for films by friends and contacts, and it earned me just enough to continue living and being creative. I've never lost the dream to direct features, but I lost the passion for the hard struggle and sacrifices one has to make on no-budget films. I think that's why I was away for so long. After so many years of slumming it from Bad Karma to Cradle Of Fear (and seeing the films do well for distributors but not for me) it becomes difficult to commit to up to 2 years on another no-budget film project. I needed the break and needed to earn a few quid. Seeing the power of my visual effects in others films, and having access to the technology to make something on a par with Hollywood on little money were the catalysts to deciding I wanted to make features again... big time. I totally got the buzz and passion back in Jan 2009, and spent the year writing scripts, one of which turned out to be Inbred.

HC: Where did the idea for Inbred come from?

AC: A treatment I wrote back in 2001, right after Cradle Of Fear. That was a little more ambitious than this Inbred and the basis for this script, which I barn stormed with Paul Shrimpton in late 2009, wrote a couple of drafts, then got Paul back in to fine tune the third draft. The basic premise was never intended to be very original... it was the way story develops that is where the fun lies. All my ideas must derive from something I've seen, read, thought or experienced and I guess Inbred, in its original form, was a warped homage to Hooper's Texas Chain Saw Massacre , American Werewolf In London's opening scene, Straw Dogs, Deliverance and The Evil Dead. The new Inbred is similar, but more Monty Python than The Evil Dead.

HC: Was it a hard film to cast?

AC: Not as hard as I thought. We had a very good script which people really enjoyed, and this was key in securing some great talent. It was the script that got Jo Hartley interested and Jo's involvement made it easier to attract other great actors. It was hard as in a lot of work and travelling around the country went into the various casting auditions, but not hard to choose once I'd seen some auditions. We also had great help in castings from Ian Smith at Nottingham's TV Workshop, where we cast James Burrows (Tim) and Terry Haywood (Zeb). I have to say that working with the ensemble of brilliant actors we got for Inbred was the highlight for me, I absolutely loved it. It's the first time I've used pro's in all the lead positions and it paid off big time I think. The performances are wonderful and strong and rich and we all worked brilliantly together. I would love to work with all our actors again and think they feel the same. It was like a big family at times.

HC: You used actual locations for the shoot, did this create any real problems for you and the crew?

AC: No, quite the opposite. The locations were all so brilliant we hardly had to do any set dressing or art department work on them. Some locations were really small and the RED camera is really big, and so space was sometimes a problem. A lot of my storyboards were drawn before we secured locations and work was done on them to compromise for the lack of space to manoeuvre or do tracking shots. Having these limitations was good though and helped focus everyone and we all excelled, especially Ollie Downey, DoP, and his camera team who worked miracles in some cramped conditions! The weather was the only really annoying thing... in Yorkshire they can have all four seasons in one day and we had to work around that. Amazingly when you watch the film you'd hardly know if might have been pissing down moments before or after a shot. I hated the time spent watching for gaps in clouds to shoot.

HC: The film boasts some ambitious set-pieces so could you give us a hint as to what to look out for?

AC: We have lots of 'head-trauma' going on... so expect lots of juicy exploding, crushings and poppings. My favourite set pieces though are two deaths... don't want to give anything away... but one has elements of key moments in Alien, Brittania Hospital and The Thing and the other is Monty Python's Meaning Of Life's Mr.Creosote meets Street Trash!

HC: Did the effects take long to complete?

AC: Not too long on set, we've learned many lessons over the years about shooting gore and blood scenes which were put to good effect here to ensure the make-up fx shoots went smoothly and quickly. Preparation and experience was key. But all the on-set make up effects involved some visual trickery to compliment them: composite effects and/or special photographic effects to finish them off, and it was this post production process that took many months to complete. We only have one true CGI effect , the rest being clever, and we hope, original combining of various filmed elements.

HC: Dave Andrews created the soundtrack, how did he get involved with the piece?

AC: I met Dave in 2009 at the premiere of Day Of Violence which he scored, and I was impressed with his score and we got chatting, had a lot in common and then Dave joined our CRUB film nights, where we watch films so bad they are good. So we became mates first and I loved his work, especially the pieces he'd done for FrightFest over the years and knew he was the right man for the job from early days.

HC: Is it true you refer to Emily Booth as a good luck charm for your movies?

HC: I have, and she might well be... everything we've done together has turned out well (fingers crossed for Inbred) and we enjoy working together and she's always a great person to have on set.

HC: Are you nervous that Inbred is getting its World Premiere at FrightFest?

AC: Yes. Four weeks before the festival a key member of our post production quit due to personal issues leaving us in the sh*t, so its been a bit of a nightmare hitting the deadline. Luckily that decision led to us getting some amazing talent on board who have worked true miracles to get us where we are today. FrightFest will be the ultimate litmus test to see if we pulled it all together... I think we have but always use an audience reaction to really know if we'd done it justice. We have an opportunity for any final tweaks after the screening and that takes some of the worry and nerves off my shoulders, now worn to the bone with the burden of the last weeks!

HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?

AC: We literally finished mastering for FrightFest yesterday so I will be working on having a few days break before thinking about the future. But I have so much energy and passion to make another film and I wrote 4 other scripts in the year I wrote Inbred, three of which I love and would love to make. I also have a head full of more ideas and so just want to be able to pursue those ideas ASAP with companies and individuals who share my passion and commitment. I was very happy with the freedom allowed to me by New Flesh Films on Inbred and they have said they'd like to make another film very soon and so I hope and pray Inbred does okay and that I have options and so I can finally live my dream of having a (paid!!) career directing films.

HC: Alex Chandon, thank you very much.

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