LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS 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.
MORE INTERVIEWS 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
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
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
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
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 Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.
HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?
GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?
CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020
On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.
HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?
SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.
Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!
HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?
SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020
A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.
HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?
SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ryan Kruger, writer and director of Fried Barry
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Anyone who as been to Grimmfest will know that the team behind the event try their very best to bring to their audience films that challenge and push as many envelopes as possible. Fried Barry from director Ryan Kruger is such a movie. Packed with mind-bending imagery and and emotional punch, this polarizing movie has to be seen just for its creativity and strong storytelling. Here, Ryan chats about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?
RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?
DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Faith Monique, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Grimmfest 2020 is packed with world premieres and none so bold as Charlie Steed's Death Ranch. We chatted to one of its main stars, Faith Monique about her role in this brutal and brilliant movie.
HC: Was there one person you saw at a young age who inspired you to want to become an actress?
FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.
HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and e...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Tuesday 28th September
Wednesday 22nd September
Wednesday 29th September