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Exclusive Interview With Geoffrey Cowper Director Of Cargols!
By James Whittington, Saturday 11th August 2012

Geoff CowperManiacs, monsters, demons, creepy kids, apocalyptic visions, phobias, heavy metal meltdown and snails - yes, it's the FrightFest International Short Film Showcase, an eclectic mix of worldwide cutting edge short films, which is once again being presented by Horror Channel. It will kick-off at 1pm on Sunday 26th August at the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square.

One of the pieces showing is Cargols! (Snails!) from Geoffrey Cowper. This hilarious and affectionate kiss to the classic B-movies of old will satisfy the FrightFest audience's quench for a creature feature. We chatted to Geoffrey about this piece and where the idea came from.

HC: Cargols! is an inventive mix of schoolboy humour and classic B-movie monster movies, did the script take long to write?

GC: If I want to direct, I have to write, because if I don't write I don't have anything to direct! It was the final project in my last year of film school. So I did my best in a couple of months. Obviously during the shooting I was re-writing the script.

HC: Did you have much budget to play with?

GC: ESCAC, the film school, gave us 4500€ to shoot it. I spent 5000€ more to shoot it the way I wanted. Pipo, the producer gave me 1000€. And to finish it, ESCANDALO gave us 4500€ more after they had seen it. So, around 15000€.

HC: Who designed the creatures?

GC: First of all I wanted to shoot a giant African snail, but we realised they were a terribly invasive species and they were poisonous, so... finally a good friend of mine, Marti Pujol did the first design. He wanted to do the whole post-production, but realised it was a bit too much. So luckily we got in touch with a VFX School in Barcelona (FX ANIMATION 3D School) and together (and for free) their students with the help of their teachers re-designed the snail and did all the other digital effects.

HC: How did you cast the movie?

GC: For the scene at the beginning, a friend of mine and his then girlfriend agreed to do it because we've done things before. For the young cast, we did a casting at ESCAC, and only eight people came. Out of them the three main guys were cast, and first one to arrive ended up being the protagonist. Eva, the girl, was a friend of mine. She isn't a trained actress but I thought that next to Marc Ayala (Joey) they made a good couple. The painful boyfriend is a well known Catalan actor, who agreed to do the role for free. And George Goode, the Barman is a good friend and colleague of my dad. They both teach English. And since he is a Jamaican-English DJ/Rugby player I thought he had to be in it.

HC: There's some nice nods to classic monster films, are you a fan of these?

GC: Yes, indeed. My favourites are Jack Arnold's Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man and They Came From Outer Space, Gordon Douglas's Them! (that's where the exclamation mark came from) and of course Nathan Juran's The Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman (and also the Daryl Hannah remake).

HC: Have you considered making this idea into a feature?

GC: Finishing the short film was tough enough (I had hair before the shooting). But, if a producer or a production company wanted to make it into a feature I would love to do it. Although I'm worried about what might happen to me.

HC: Are you nervous that the film is showing at FrightFest?

GC: Yes. It seems like an awesome festival. I hope I can make it there. Although Spain is in deep financial sh*t. But the idea of it being shown at the Empire Theatre makes me very happy.

HC: What advice would you give to someone who is making their first horror movie short?

GC: Well, in film school they said to me to take a risk with my final project short. Maybe I went too far. But the idea of making whatever comes out of your brain is pretty cool, so I would encourage any youngster to go for it and shoot whatever they want.

HC: Do you think its time for the giant monster movie genre to make a come back?

GC: Why not? At Sitges, I was able to see Joe Cornish's Attack The Block, and it was awesome, people loved it, so yeah I think there should be a come back. Of the modern monster movies I'm a huge fan of Cloverfield. And these films are a great way to criticise the social and political system, so f*** yeah!

HC: With reference to the movie how good are you at Guitar Hero?

GC: At the time of the shooting I could play any song at the expert level (my personal favourite Weezer's My Name Is Jonas). Right now I’ve lost it, and I'm more of a FIFA guy, I guess I'm getting old...

HC: Geoffrey Cowper, thank you very much


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