Exclusive Interview With Steve Barker and Rae Brunton Writers Of Outpost 2: Black Sun
By James Whittington, Saturday 25th August 2012

Outpost II CoverA few years ago the film Outpost was released to great critical acclaim. This atmospheric and dark piece gave the Nazi Zombie genre the serious kick that it needed.

Now the characters are back in Outpost 2: Black Sun so we decided to talk to the writers Steve Barker and Rae Brunton about this and future Outpost movies.

HC: How did you two first meet?

RB: Well, I had written a half-hour script called Karma Cowboys, which was commissioned as part of a series showcasing new talent on Channel 4 and I first met Steve when he was brought aboard to direct that. Out of all the writer and director teams put together on that series, I think we were the only two who genuinely got along. When Steve moved to Scotland, I rode shotgun in a car full of all his belongings and - between him listening to cricket on the radio and me nearly getting us killed on a slip-road near Glasgow - we talked about doing something else, feature film shaped. It always seemed inevitable that we’d work together again…

SB: I think Rae's summed this one up perfectly, other than that it was probably my fault that we nearly died on the slip-road.

HC: Where did the idea for the original Outpost come from?

RB: It was kind of born out of necessity. Steve had moved to Scotland with the intention of making a film there with our producers, Kieran and Arabella. Film financing being what it is, though it’s very hard for first-time film-makers to get stuff off the ground. When one project stalled, Kieran was casting around for other ideas and, because it's often the way that low-budget genre movies are many people's route into film-making, he started toying with horror stories. So the original idea for Outpost came from Kieran. He came up with this very simple high-concept of a bunch of modern day soldiers who find themselves surrounded by an army of undead Nazis. Within those parameters, Steve and I were invited to do pretty much whatever we wanted. I came up with the idea of this weird machine that gave the story an engine and the whole thing grew from there.

SB: Wow, Brunton's answers are unusually thorough today. That's exactly what happened.

HC: Did you decide that from the start it would be a serious Nazi Zombie movie?

RB: I think so. As a writer, my instinct is always to try and mine a bit of humour but, while they were never against the odd laugh, I remember that Kieran and Steve were both keen that Outpost should never be tongue-in-cheek. And I agreed with that, because, unless it's done with surgical wit, I tend not to like stuff that winks too hard at its audience. All three of us absolutely revered the whole kind of B-movie horror that we were working in - it was exactly the kind of stuff that had thrilled us in the past - and I think we wanted to honour how seriously all those films took themselves. And in an odd way, I think playing such a lunatic story with a straight face is actually its own kind of fun.

SB: I think simply because I saw the initial concept as something that would give me an opportunity to make a love letter to certain movies I loved as a kid, it genuinely never crossed my mind for a second that we would do anything other than play it straight. At the time we made the first movie the torture-porn explosion was in full swing and I really wanted to make something the harkened back to early John Carpenter or Alien, something that did everything with light, shadow and suspense so the idea of going for a more Sam Raimi, Evil Dead 2 style or what the Dead Snow guys did later just never came up. That tone worked so well in those movies but at the time I don’t think we ever even discussed going that way.

HC: It was a critical success so why a four year gap between that and the follow up Outpost: Black Sun?

SB: There's really no one simple answer to that. At first we never really considered the possibility of a sequel and for maybe a year we looked at doing other movies, then when the first movie turned out to be a bit of a success, not just in the UK but also abroad, then people started pushing for it. After that it became a long to-and-fro around writing the script, where the money would come from, and how much money we'd eventually have. All of which would always mean looking at the script again. Then finally, at the end of all that it took about a year to actually make the movie. The film industry and independent film financing in particular has always be very unpredictable so when you factor in that this film got put together in the midst of a global economic meltdown and then the recession that followed I'm still a little amazed that we got there at all.

HC: How did you approach writing this much anticipated sequel?

RB: Well, it's awhile since we wrote Black Sun now, but as I remember it there were a lot of different ideas kicked around. The one thing we all agreed from the outset though, was that we wanted our sequel to be distinct from its predecessor. None of us wanted to do a simple, bigger and badder re-tread of the first film. We wanted to expand the world some, reveal a bit more about the history of the machine and, I think in general, deliver something that felt altogether more epic in scale. Early on, we didn’t even know whether we wanted to go back to the same bunker at all. We had ideas for an entirely new story set elsewhere. In my initial treatments, Wallace was very much the lead. It was very much Steve’s idea to run with a female protagonist and all the Nazi Hunter stuff that fleshed out Lena's character came from him. After that it was a thousand conversations and just as many rewrites…

SB: Like Rae says, all the initial ideas came from not wanting to repeat the first movie. In that film we’d tried to use mystery and suspense to steadily crank the atmosphere through the first half of the picture and we could do that because the movie was fresh and the audience wasn't entirely sure what was coming. Going into Black Sun my feeling was that if I simply tried to do that again it would quickly become tedious because the audience had already seen what was ultimately around the corner. The sequels I've always admired are the ones that try and do something new, you risk alienating your original audience but I thought it was a risk worth taking, so once we’d decided to shift genre slightly and try something that was tonally different it became about trying to introduce elements into the narrative that would force us keep those promises to ourselves. So the character of Lena came from the fact that there were no female characters and there were no civilians in the first movie. Simply having her there was going to force us to write and shoot things differently. So yeah, pretty much everything in life that caused Rae pain around that time was totally my fault. I'm frankly amazed that he still talks to me, although I didn’t get a Christmas card this year.

HC: Did you have more budget for this instalment?

SB: We had a tiny bit more. Unfortunately the film was so much bigger in scope that it always felt like we had less. It really was an insanely small budget for the kind of scale we were trying to put on screen and it's a testament to the dedication and skill of everybody that worked on it that people seem to think that it cost five or ten times more than it actually did. In the end I think we made the movie for less than an episode of Doctor Who.

HC: How did you go about casting?

SB: Well outside of Julian Wadham and Johnny Meres coming back we had to find a new cast since we'd killed everybody in the first movie. We cast Lena first and I probably saw 70 girls in 2 days for her, but Catherine came in on the first morning and just smashed it. Richard Coyle was somebody I'd loved in so much other stuff and the financiers let me offer the role of Wallace to him. He was away shooting Grabbers at time so we couldn’t meet, but thankfully it turned out that he really liked the first movie and after we’d had a long chat on the phone he took the role. I think everybody else auditioned in the traditional way and just like the first movie I think we got really lucky with who we got.

HC: It retains the very dark and intense atmosphere of the first, was this hard to achieve?

RB: I can't speak to the production or directing side of things at all, but in terms of the writing, once our story was set the tone was pretty much dictated. We had a Nazi army on the march in modern day Europe - the atmosphere couldn’t be anything but dark!

SB: You'd think that making something that dark would be easier but actually it's really hard work. You have to be very careful about the colour palette which means production design, costume and even make-up have to work very closely together and be planning way ahead of the shoot. I also tend to use a lot of smoke (probably because I saw too many Ridley Scott films as a kid) and that’s really time consuming on a tiny budget. Add all that to the fact that the script was so different and I started out feeling pretty nervous about the tone on this movie. Then it became obvious that my usual DP, Gavin Struthers who shot the first movie wouldn’t be available because he was already committed to a long running job and I got really scared. Thankfully the brilliant Darran Tiernan rode to my rescue. I'd seen two movies he’d shot and even though they looked nothing like I imagined this film looking it was obvious that he had a wonderful eye. Thankfully he really liked the first movie and from the moment we met all of my nerves simply evaporated. What I love about his work on this movie is the way that without ego getting in the way he seemed to instinctively understand where we should retain ideas about light, colour and shadow from the first movie and where to bring something new to the table. I really do think that he’s an amazing talent.

HC: What was it like shooting this and the third part back-to-back?

RB: In fairness, there has actually been a substantial gap between the production of the second and third film, almost a year between shoots.

SB: I'm not making part 3 and what's cool is that since Rae and Kieran were writing and putting it together whilst I was away finishing Black Sun I’ve managed to stay pretty much spoiler free. That means I'm finally going to be able to watch one of these films like a regular movie rather than something I'm sweating or agonising over which is pretty exciting.

HC: When part 3 is released will you move away from horror for a while or will you stay within the genre?

SB: Well I've just finished one script and am about to start work on another. Neither are straight horror but both certainly contain very, very dark elements. I've always loved genre movies and my instincts usually take me towards dark thrillers, sci-fi and horror so I think that even if I move away a bit, the work will probably still be within spitting distance.

HC: Are you nervous about the movie showing at FrightFest?

RB: Terrified!

SB: I am literally too frightened to properly answer.

HC: What advice would you give to people wanting to make their own horror movie?

RB: None. I'd wish them the very best of luck!

SB: Always make what you want to see, not what you think others might want you to make. And then give it all the love, thought, care and attention that you've got.

HC: Steve Barker and Rae Brunton, thank you very much.

SB: No, thank you

Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020

Butchers is a superb piece of horror cinema from Adrian Langley. Here he chats about this grim and gruesome piece and his plans for the future.

HC: Where did the idea for Butchers come from?

AL: Butchers came from two of Daniel Weissenberger's old screenplays - he writes a lot - and I remixed them with some ideas that had been kicking around in my head after having read those scripts a long time ago.

HC: Did it take long to write?

AL: Not at all. Because Dan's scripts were so full already, the initial working draft only took about two weeks to put together and then I did a lot of rewriting during the prep process to streamline it to what...

Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
Spare Parts

FrightFest is all about the diversity of movies, none more so than Spare Parts from director Andrew Thomas Hunt. This superb mash-up of gladiator-style fighting and a scorching soundtrack is desitined to become a cult classic so we chatted to Andrew about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AH: I did - from the age of 16. I was a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, and when I discovered that he was not only from Toronto, but made his films here, it made me realize you didn't have to be from Hollywood to make movies.

HC: How did you become attached to this wild project?

AH: It was pitched to me at TIFF (Toronto Int'l ...

And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted on Monday 26th October 2020

The winner of the FrightFest Horror Channel First Blood Award 2020 is... Benny Loves You!

Here, Channel Manager Stewart Bridle chats to its very talented director, Karl Holt.

Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020

FrightFest Digital Edition 2 concludes tonight with an out-of-this-world premiere, SKYLIN3S. Here its writer and director Liam O'Donnell talks about this and the other entries in this sci-fi series.

HC: You've been involved with the Skyline series of movies from the start, where did the initial idea come from?

LD: Initially the idea just came from, we were sort of do it ourselves film makers and I had been living in the building we ended up shooting in. We had already been illegally shooting on the rooftop helipad for a pitch that we were developing and when Greg's (Greg Strause, director of Skyline) unit on the top floor and he walked in and saw this big, expansive view of LA...

Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Prolific creative Paul Tanter has delivered a real treat for FrightFest pass holders today, the blood-splattered shocker, The Nights Before Christmas. Here he chats about this cracker of a movie.

HC: Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?

PT: Absolutely. One of my first cinema memories is my dad taking me to see Fright Night in 1985 and there being a promotional pack of vampire teeth on every seat. I was five at the time so I'm not sure how he snuck me in there, considering it's rated 18. I grew up watching The Omen films, in parts enthralled and terrified by them. I still can't pass that church in Fulham without keeping an eye on ...

Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Seasonal slashers are once again coming into vogue but none as brutal as The Nights Before Christmas. Here, its star and co-writer Simon Phillips tells all about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

SP: I don't know if I ever was sure I was going to be in the film industry but as a child I sure liked talking a lot and my teacher once shouted at me "They'd better pay you to talk when you grow up, because you sure like the sound of your own voice"... So perhaps it was always on the cards!

HC: Are you a fan of horror movies?

SP: To be honest they terrify me... not the o...

Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
SLAXX_Elza_(C)photoB-Calmeau_0125FrightFest is all about originality and new talent and 2020 has been a belter of a year for such things. Slaxx from Elza Kephart is a prime example of the new and exciting creative talent that's out there at the moment. We chatted to Elza about this superb shocker.

HC: Are you a big horror movie fan?

EK: Yes, huge! I started my horror adventure when I was a pre-teen, reading Agatha Christie, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Anne Rice. If there wasn't a death I wasn't interested. From that, I migrated to horror films; when I was about ten, I watched Aliens, the Fearless Vampire Hunters, Exorcist 2. I might have been a little too young, I remember being re...

Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020

We reach the final day of FrightFest but what awaits us will ensure that the event ends not with a bang but with an alien invasion!

It's always exciting when new creatives release work and The Stylist from Jill Gervargizian is no exception. Everyone dreams of being someone else... but for Claire that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Her job as a hairstylist allows her to move through other people's worlds, but when the right target sits in her chair, she does more than observe the client's life - she ends it, and keeps a permanent souvenir. Her lonely life, meticulous method and shocking secrets are suddenly thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia, asks her to s...

Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020

Hosts is a dark, brooding and sinister movie from two very talented creatives, Adam Leader and Richard Oakes. Here they chat about this outstanding movie.

HC: Have you always been fans of this genre?

AL: Yes, the first film I ever watched was the original Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eight years old. That turned me on to the horror genre, and since then I became absolutely horror obsessed. Every weekend, my dad would take me to the video store, and I'd choose the most messed up movie I could find for him to rent for me.

RO: Yes, coming from a family with a sister 7 years older than me, I was always fascinated by the films her and her friends used to watch. I walked in...

Interview with Barry Keating, writer of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Barry Keating at NIGHTWORLD on 25/08/2017Barry Keating is a scriptwriter who has had quite a number of movies at FrightFest over the years. He's back with another shocker for 2020, this time the truth might be out there in Embryo. We chatted to him about this sci-fi chiller.

HC: We show another of your movies on Horror, Nightworld, what's it like writing a script, which has horror legend Robert Englund in it?

BK: When I found out they'd cast Robert in the role that was a very surreal day. At first I didn't quite believe it, but when the producer forwarded a message from Robert to me saying that he really dug the script I completely geeked out. I'm a hug...

Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low ...

Interview with Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, directors of Alien on Stage
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020

FrightFest always has a fine selection of documentaries showing, but none have touched hearts like Alien on Stage. This warm and loving look at an amateur stage production of the classic movie Alien has been placed in the running for the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award so we chatted to directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer about this wonderful project.

HC: How long have you worked together and are you fans of the film, Alien?

We met working on a no budget British indie film in 2006 (I think) both working for free. Danielle was a camera trainee, I was the costume stylist. It was like going through a war together, it cemented our friendship and Danille...

Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Tales From The Darkside
Sunday 16th May
8.30 PM
Battlestar Galactica
Monday 10th May
8.00 PM
The Devil's Candy
Thursday 20th May
9.00 PM