Exclusive Interview With Doghouse Writer Dan Schaffer
By James Whittington, Sunday 7th June 2009
Dan Schaffer is one of the most talented comic artists and writers around. His creation, Dogwitch became a huge critical success when it was released in 2002 and he has progressed to unleash even more creative pieces on a public that has lapped up every piece. On June 12th Doghouse, which Dan wrote hits UK cinemas so we decided to have a chat with this creative to discover what exactly makes him tick.   ZH: Were you a big comic book fan when you were growing up?   DS: I used to like 2000AD.   ZH: Did you have a favourite artist at the time?   DS: I was fascinated with detailed black and white art, so artists like Brian Bolland, Bryan Talbot, and Glenn Fabry were a big influence on me.   ZH: Is it true you got your big break as a cartoonist for a teaching union?   DS: Yes. I worked as a political cartoonist on the Career Teacher Newspaper for the NASUWT for five years.   ZH: You're best known for the amazing series Dogwitch, how did the idea come to you?   DS: Touched by the muses, I guess. Dogwitch is a big mixing pot of ideas that’s flexible enough to handle anything I felt like throwing at it. Its themes would change from one issue to the next. So one month you might get an outrageous splatter comic, but the next issue might be a neo-feminist fable, or an observation on fame and the media, or a revisionist take on some aspect of the horror genre. It was good fun to do and it put my name on the map.    ZH: Is the lead character of Violet Grimm based on anyone you know?   DS: She looks a bit like my girlfriend and certainly has her snarky sense of humour, but other than that, she pretty much came to life on her own. I used to say that drawing Violet always felt more like applying her make up.   ZH: She has added real vogue to the Goth movement, was this intentional?   DS: Well, it seemed like Goths were missing out on polka dot underwear as a fashion statement, so I wanted to put that idea out there!   ZH: You've also been involved in The Scribbler and Indigo Vertigo, how do you prepare and approach such differing projects?   DS: I just write about what interests, concerns or outrages me at the time. Indigo was a very personal book that grew out of my friendship with rock Singer Katie-Jane Garside, who wrote the words for it. The Scribbler is probably closer to the real me than anything else and comes from my general sense of outrage at modern hive mind bureaucracy. Indigo Vertigo was mostly guided by Katie's words but was very Lynch inspired on my side, the art. The Scribbler, which I wrote and painted, has its influences in old black and white episodes of The Outer Limits, and the films of Cronenberg and Shinya Tsukamoto.   ZH: Doghouse opens this week, how did you and Jake West first meet?   DS: We were introduced by a journalist who was interviewing us both for the same magazine. She thought we'd get along and hooked us up.                    ZH: Was it long before you formed the idea for the movie?   DS: The weird mix of gender politics, comedy and horror in Doghouse was something I'd been doing for a long time with Dogwitch, so I wasn't really in any rush to do it again, but my girlfriend dared me to write something with male leads, which was something I’d never done before (in comics I'm generally thought of as a bit of a feminist writer). So, Doghouse was going to be a comic for a while, but then I decided to write it as a screenplay as I’d somehow got myself a Hollywood agent off the strength of Dogwitch. But, sometime during the writing, it became clear that I this film needed to be made in the UK with a British cast and crew, so I offered it to Jake. We'd become good friends by then, and, obviously, he went spacky for it.   ZH: Did the script take long to write?   DS: Ah, that old impossible question. It took about three months to "type", but maybe a whole lifetime to gestate. It came from all the research into feminist theory I did for the Dogwitch comic. I wouldn’t have attempted something like this if I thought I wasn’t at least partially qualified for the job. I don’t even touch the keyboard until I’ve collected and insane amount of notes and ideas. How long this one took is anybody’s guess.   ZH: The movie has already gained many favourable reviews, how do you feel about this?   DS: Relieved, probably. Doghouse is, at its heart, a satire on male behaviour, it just happens to use "zombies" to reflect that. Writing a satirical piece in this genre was always going to be risky. If your audience misses the irony or takes this film at face value as a celebration of laddism, then what they’re going to see is the opposite of what its really about. That's why getting Danny for the role of the dick head misogynist was so great - he willingly and generously parodied his own public image for this film. Most critics seem to be reading between the lines and acknowledging the subtext, which is important for me as the writer because it means that at least some of that stuff has survived the process of going from script to screen.     ZH: The film has a great cast, were you on set at any time?   DS: I was there most of the time, sorting out script logistics, running lines with the actors, doing last minute re-writes to navigate the crap weather. It was an "all hands on deck" kind of production. I finally escaped halfway through post-production after painting those character intro stills (something Jake somehow talked me into).   ZH: Tell us about your next project, Stingers?   DS: It's a dark, psychological thriller, nothing like Doghouse. It’s like a demented, deconstructed neo noir crime thriller. It’s a real character freak show, everybody’s out to kill everybody else, and there are some dangerous plot ideas in terms of the way it’s written. It's my most well received script to date and has an amazing cast already attached. It's in pre-production now.    ZH: Will you move away from comic books and concentrate on scripting or will you always return to your comic book roots?   DS: I had to give up art but I'll still write comics if I can, or if they'll let me. I'm putting together the complete Dogwitch series in one big book at the end of the year, so that'll be my next little dance with the comic business.   ZH: Dan Schaffer, thank you very much   DS: Anytime, mate.
Tom Paton, director of G-LOC chats about his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman
Posted in Features, Interviews, 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 ...

Escape From New York score to be released on blue vinyl
Posted in News, Wednesday 8th September 2021

Originally released on the 31st of July 2015, the vinyl edition of John Carpenter's classic 1981 thriller, Escape From New York mirrored the expanded CD release from 2000, with over 20 minutes of previously unreleased music plus music from scenes deleted from the final print and original dialogue highlights.

The masters for that CD were re-mixed from the original multi-track session tapes by long-time Carpenter associate Alan Howarth.

This is the first time on coloured vinyl for this LP, all previous pressings having been on black vinyl and will be released January 21st, 2022 thanks to Silva Screen Records.

Interview with Sean Nichols Lynch writer and director of Red Snow
Posted in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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 in Frightfest, 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...

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