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Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th October 2020
hosts-poster

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 on them watching Peter Jackson's Brain Dead at about 6 or 7 years old and fell in love with the darker side of cinema from then on.

HC: Where did the idea for Hosts come from?

AL: One night, my ex complained of seeing a strange blue orb outside the window that backed on to the garden. I went outside to check and took a knife with me just in case. Obviously, nothing was there but that experience really inspired me and I thought it'd go down well as a scene opener for a film. So, Rich and I jumped on the phone and put a rough storyboard together of scenes, combining all the weird and wonderful ideas we could think of.

HC: Did you write it with a cast in mind and what is your writing process? Do you split up the script or lock yourselves away in a room?

RO: We'd always had Neal Ward and Nadia Lamin in mind for Hosts. They're our best friends and we wanted to give them the opportunity to shine with their incredible talents. Those parts were essentially written for them. The rest of the cast were bought in via recommendations or auditions that we held, and each and every single one of them absolutely nailed it. We wouldn't have changed any of the cast for the world!

AL: As for the script, I went away and put the first draft together over ten days, essentially locking myself away, yes. We then both read through, made notes and suggestions to each other or how we could improve it, make it more visceral, add things, take things away etc and I'd keep going away and coming back with new and improved versions until we both agreed we were happy, had a solid story and could move forward with the project. I think there were seven or eight versions in total.

HC: How did the rest of the cast react with Neal Ward and Samantha Loxley who play the "possessed" couple?

Well, this is testament to Neal and Samantha when we say that as soon as we called 'action', everyone felt a sense of intimidation and uncomfortableness in front of and behind the camera, which created the vibe on set that we wanted the overall film to inflict on the audience when they watch it.

HC: The movie has some really subtle effects such as eyes reflecting/glowing light, how was that achieved?

RO: We originally wanted to do it all in camera by using the reflective technique used in Blade Runner but it didn't lend itself the silhouette nature of the cinematography we had planned for Hosts as it added too much light to the actors face. So, I ended up sitting down for 6 months and added them in frame by frame in post.

HC: What was the atmosphere like on set?

Amazing. We were doing long hours through the night and the scenes were physically and emotionally draining for all of us, but the fact we were all so close with each other from so early on meant that the moment we called 'cut' we were all laughing and joking together. We were and still are like one big happy family.

HC: The film contains the most brutal table scene since Robert De Niro played Al Capone in The Untouchables, what was it like shooting such a brutal sequence?

AL: Never did I ever think that we could have so many laughs and so much fun shooting something so downright disturbing and horrific. Some points during shooting, both Rich and myself just shut up and couldn't take our eyes off some of the cast, particularly Sam as she was gearing up to pounce!

RO: You know what, that scene never even occurred to me until you mentioned it. But yes! That scene in The Untouchables I saw when I was about 7 years old and it really disturbed me. Maybe it stuck in the back of my mind more than I realised. On set it was so much fun to shoot but also had a constant feeling of being grossed out as well ha ha.

HC: Will you be nervous when the film has its world premiere at FrightFest?

AL: I don't think so. I'm more excited for such a labour of love, blood sweat and tears to finally premiere at a festival we've only dreamed of being part of for a long time.

RO: Yeah, we are just excited to show people our disgusting creation!

HC: Do you believe in paranormal happenings?

RO: Nope, I think I find the home invasion side more scary, I lock my doors at night because there are real monsters out there in the form of humans. I don't lock my doors for ghosts. But mixing that fear of mine with Adams love of paranormal films is what makes Hosts such an original take on the home invasion genre.

AL: No. I don't believe in ghosts, god or the devil. But the idea of writing about fictitious and fantastical things in order to help elevate the emotion or metaphorical message of a particular story excites me. It's always fun.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

We've got two feature film screenplays completed and another in the process of being written. So it all depends on who wants to take on which script in terms of which film we do next. But rest assured, each film is just as messed up as the next.

HC: Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, thank you very much.


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