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.
Interview with the legendary actress Lin Shaye about being part of The Horror Crowd
Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2020
Lin Shaye and Ruben PlaLin Shaye is an actress that need no introduction. Her screen work over the last few decades has seen her appear in countless movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters or more recently the Insidious series of movies. Here she chats about her career and her why she appeared in Ruben Pla's superb doc, The Horror Crowd.

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

LS: No, I never had the dream. Ever. I had the need to tell stories and from a very young age and my dad, when he tucked me in a night we would tell what we would call "Candyland Stories" and they were stories about a little girl named Linda, and they would start when she was just falling to sleep...

Interview with Steve Villeneuve, director of Hail to the Deadites
Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2020
HailToTheDeadites-1FrightFest 2020 delivered some incredibly entertaining and informative documentaries. Hail to the Deadites from Steve Villeneuve is a celebration of the the Evil Dead series of movies and truly gets under the skin of what the franchise means to those who created it and those who are mega fans! Here Steve talks about this amazing doc.

HC: Can you recall the first time you saw an Evil Dead movie and what it was that grabbed your attention?

SV: I guess I was 13. I actually saw Army of Darkness first on television. Years later, spot the cover of Evil Dead 2 in a video store. Then, rent Evil Dead one without knowing it was the first film because here in Quebec, The Evil Dead is ca...
Interview with our very own Emily Booth who stars in UK TV premiere of Shed of the Dead this Friday on Horror
Posted on Wednesday 2nd September 2020

The UK TV premiere of outlandish Brit Zom Com Shed of the Dead takes place Friday 4th September at 9pm. The movie stars Ewen MacIntosh, Lauren Socha, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman, Brian Blessed and our very own Emily Booth. Here, Emily chats about this movie and what it was like to work with the legendary Michael Berryman.

HC: Are you a big zombie movie fan?

EB: If I'm completely honest it's not my favourite sub-genre within horror only because the genre has been so massively mined for all it's worth and I've never been particularly scared of them! However, there are certain stand out zombie films or even certain scenes that make me lo...

Interview with Guillaume Lubrano, director of Dark Stories
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Guillaume Lubrano image 1

There's been a number of anthology movies at FrightFest 2020 but one of the strongest is Dark Stories from director Guillaume Lubrano. Here he chats about this fun piece.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

GL: I'd say I've always been a fan of genre titles, being it horror, science fiction, fantasy, every subgenre that plays with the ability to push our imagination forward always fascinated me. And this was born mostly with the 80s I think and the birth of modern era special effects... those comforted writers and directors in the fact that they could try to tell stuff about anything... and well that's what they did: anything... and among all this...
Interview with Michael Lee Joplin, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

We've already heard from the director of Blinders, Tyler Savage and one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn so we thought it would be cool to chat with its other star, Michael Lee Joplin.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

MJ: I started acting in middle school really, but I had a wonderful theatre teacher in high school in Austin Texas, a Brit from Manchester, named Beryl Knifton. She instilled a love of acting and Shakespeare for me at an early age. I'm lucky to have had a lot of great teachers and mentors along the way. My acting teacher in college, the late Mr. Stephen Gerald pushed me along and more recently the Meisner teachings of Laurel Vouvray-Smith. My dad al...

Interview with Vincent Van Horn, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

The tense psychological movie Blinders is showing on the Horror Channel Screen at FrightFest today so we chatted to one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn about the movie and his character, Andy.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

VH: I can't say there was one person in particular but more of a love for movies in general as a kid. Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers were definitely early influences with their physical comedy.

HC: When did you get your acting break?

VH: Hmm have I gotten it already? Ha ha. This is by far the biggest role I've had to date so maybe this is it? But as far as my first time acting in anything at all was when I was asked t...

Interview with Tyler Savage, director and co-writer of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

Psychological horror is always well represented at FrightFest and this year is no exception and one of the stand out pieces is Blinders from director Tyler Savage. Here he chats about this emotional and atmospheric movie.

HC: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

TS: The original idea for the movie came from an unsettling rideshare ride I took. Something about the driver made me uncomfortable, and I hated the fact that he now knew where I lived. From here, Dash and I started talking about the many ways in which technology makes us all incredibly vulnerable. There's a dark flipside to the convenience technology brings into our lives, and we wanted to highlight that idea in a way that was ...

Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

One of the big hits of Glasgow FrightFest was Adam Stovall's A Ghost Waits. This acclaimed movie is back and has been through an edit so we chatted to Adam about this paranormal piece of work.

HC: Where did the idea for A Ghost Waits come from?

AS: The two main inspirations were a video game and a web comic. "P.T." was a first-person haunted house puzzle game designed by Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima. My friends Brian and Jenn wanted me to play it because it had scared the bejesus out of them, and when I did I had them cracking up laughing. When Jenn started filming me with her phone, I thought there might be a movie in someone like me having to deal with a haunted ...

Interview with Justin McConnell, director of Clapboard Jungle
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

A couple of years back, at FrightFest 2018 a movie named Lifechanger played. This deep, engaging and original movie was a thought provoking and intelligent piece of work. Its director, Justin McConnell is back at FrightFest but this time with a rather different piece of work, looking at how the industry works and showing people just how hard the film making business can be. We chatted to him about this look at the business.

HC: What was it you saw or read about that made you want to have a career in the industry?

JM: Maybe it's a thread of insanity of some kind? I honestly can't remember the exact "ah ha" moment, more of a generally growing love of film when I w...

Interview with Kapel Furman, co-director and SFX master on Skull: The Mask
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
Kapel Furman Image 1

FrightFest always tries to show the very best from around the globe and one of the stand out titles for 2020 is Skull: The Mask from directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman. Here, Kapel chats about the movie and his stunning SFX work.

HC: Is there a strong horror movie following in Brazil?

KF: Brazilian cinema, in general, comes and goes every ten years or so. Because our so called "film industry" is directly dependent on economic and political situations. So, we have to relearn how to be able to get a film done each and every time, and that applies to horror movies as well. Of course, in the past we had Jose Mojica Marins, our Coffin Joe, who did extremely import...

Interview with Majhid Heath, producer of Dark Place
Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020

HC: Where did the idea for Dark Place come from?

MH: Dark Place came from an initiative through Screen Australian and ABC Television to find the next generation of Aboriginal auteurs, asking them to tell their stories in the horror genre. After a number of workshops with Colin and Cameron Cairnes (EPs), Hayley and Majhid jumped on to shape the scripts and draw out themes as diverse as the treatment of Aboriginal women, (Scout) displacement from country and community (Foe), cultural genocide (Vale Light), identity (The Shore) and germ warfare during colonisation (Killer Native). The hook being that all filmmakers wanted to say a something about the treatment of Aboriginals ...

Interview with Phillip G. Carroll Jr. writer and director of The Honeymoon Phase
Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020
Honeymoon Phase-poster

More new talent comes to FrightFest 2020, this time its a husband and wife team Phillip G. Carroll Jr and Chloe Carroll. Here, Phillip describes how this intense and emotional, psychological movie came about.

HC: Where did the idea for The Honeymoon Phase come from?

PC: My wife, actress Chloe Carroll (Eve), and I got married in March 2016. We wanted our first feature film to be a marriage of both of our creative loves. I love sci-fi, thrillers, and drama films and Chloe is a horror nut. We thought a psychological thriller would be the perfect blend of both of us to create our first film baby together! We were lying in bed one night, trying to come up with a concept...

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The Row
Sunday 4th October
10.50 PM
Village Of The Damned
Thursday 8th October
9.00 PM
The Reef
Tuesday 29th September
10.50 PM