Interview with Airell Anthony Hayles, writer of Heckle
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th October 2020
Heckle poster

Airell Anthony Hayles takes us to the darker side of stand-up in the brutal movie Heckle which is having its world premiere at FrightFest today. Here he talks about this script and his future plans.

HC: What inspired you to write Heckle?

AH: I was going to a lot of stand up comedy and found the dynamic exhilarating. In that dark room there was complete freedom of speech and a purging of things somehow. It was a great environment for a story to be told. The way comedians took on hecklers was the purest head to head form of conflict, and having enjoyed over the years films like Phone Booth, Cape Fear and Play Misty for Me, I thought it would be fun to see a seemingly unstable heckler stalk a comedian after a gig. To heckle his whole life...

HC: It's a very raw and uncompromising look at stand-up comedy and fame itself, were your characters based on anyone famous?

AH: A bit, yes. Russell Brand's strutting, peacocking nature influenced Joe Johnson, and the way Frankie Boyle shot his hecklers down in a flurry of verbal bullets (that edged on him going slightly too far at times) influenced the nastier comedian/ heckler moments. The entertainment industry in general is full of larger than life characters, and I wanted a lot of our characters in this film to feel slightly exaggerated in an almost Dickensian manner.

HC: When you were writing the script did you think of who would play the parts and did you get who you wanted?

AH: Nicholas Vince's cameo yes. But mainly on our casting sessions we found some amazing people. Dani Dyer was always great playing Lucy. Toyah Willcox was great as Julie. Madison Clare was super sharp as our leading lady and Guy Combes had that cheeky flair about him as Joe. Clark Gable had a relaxed menace to him, and Helena Antonio has the right level of craft required for Joe's slightly unhinged ex-/8girlfriend. Was of course amazing to have Steve Guttenberg involved. As a kid our family hired out Cocoon, Three Men and a Baby, and Short Circuit on VHS over and over. Actually, we may have just illegally recorded the tape from the video shop. I love eighties cinema, so to pay homage to that era with Heckle and for Steve Gutenberg to play a bad guy in it, after having played so many nice guys, really is so much fun!

HC: The character of Ray Kelly really doesn't have a decent side, do you think a lot of comedians are bitter towards their audience as they bay for more?

AH: Well, I've heard it said that comedians off stage are not very funny people. Of the comedians I know, I've found them to be a lot of fun off stage too. It really does strike me as being the toughest career path in the world. Especially now with Covid, and an increasingly politically correct culture. Shout outs to Joe Rogan and Dave Chapelle for keeping it real. I think comedians love the audience wanting more from them- so long as they are on stage. There is something inherently tragic about comedians though and perhaps a little scary, that can be traced back to the unsettling image of the clown. With Heckle we wanted to dive a little into that. Though clowns are maybe a little bit cliche, they continue to have a universal timeless power.

HC: Would you dare attempt stand-up?

AH: I did. Open mic night at the comedy Store in London, where you get gonged off if you suck. If you survive five minutes you get through to a final 'joke off' segment. It's gladiatorial, and after interval drinks the audience are baying for blood. It was scary. We were a double act called 'Gin and Tonic' and we survived about a minute. That said, a comedy booker asked us to play his East End venue. We took his card but never called him. As we thought we might somehow end up dead in the back streets of the East End for telling bad jokes. Who knows. I feel now that we should have done it...

HC: 2020 has been pretty good for you, career wise, must be a bit surreal having two movies in two consecutive FrightFest events?

AH: FrightFest is my number one annual event so to be a part of it twice feels bloody brilliant. Wish it were live but the world is what it is right now, and I think we need these horror films more than ever. I buy the Wes Craven theory that horror cinema lets us examine our fears in a safe way. Robert McKee (screenwriting guru) cites that films are 'equipment for living' so along with home gyms, it's essential we log on to digital horror festivals just now...

HC: Will you be nervous when Heckle plays at FrigthFest?

AH: Of course. The FrightFest audience is like a giant pulsating horror brain. They've seen everything, have wide open minds, and are the best audience in the world. You always want people to have a good time with a film in the way I've had an amazing time with so many previous FrightFest films. Martyn Pick has directed the film with such vibrant visuals that I feel the audience are in good hands. FrightFest also attracts the press- which is a bit scary but mainly it's all fun. They're just films. There's lots of them. And it's such a joy to have had a shot at making stuff, that it outweighs anything else. It's all good.

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

AH: We are in post product with a horror feature called Frost Bite, in which Santa turns into werewolf on Christmas Eve. It features Mark Arnold in his first werewolf comedy since he starred alongside Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf 1985. It also features a special voice cameo from Joe Bob Briggs. Emily Booth has a fun role in it too. And in just a couple of weeks we start filming Advent, the Haunted Cinema's new supernatural horror film about a cursed advent calendar. It forms the third part of a three-part found footage trilogy, the first two films being They're Outside and Frost Bite. Exciting times!

HC: Airell Anthony Hayles, thanks you very much.

Interview with Sean Nichols Lynch writer and director of Red Snow
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

Final film of Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition 2021 is a fangtastic (sorry) twist on the vampire movie, Sean Nichols Lynch's Red Snow. We had a quick chat about this blood-splattered shocker which has a deep vein of humour running through it.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Snow come from?

SL: I was trying to get a different horror feature financed and was struggling to get it off the ground. It was a frustrating period for me, and I honestly felt like I'd never get to make another film. I happened to run into Dennice, who I knew from my film school days at San Francisco State. We got to talking and I started to think about how great it would be to just drop everything and ...

Interview with Alex Kahuam writer and director of Forgiveness
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Alex Kahuam 1 Forgiveness

Director Alex Kahuam has brought to Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition a brutal and intelligent film, Forgiveness. Almost devoid of dialogue, it's an excursion into the raw side of reality. Here he chats about this movie and his plans for the future.

HC: Was there one movie you saw when growing up which made you want to go into filmmaking?

AK: When we were kids my brother and I my parents took us a lot to the theaters and this is where everything began for me. I just loved the experience so much and till this day I thank them because they triggered this on me and for many years filmmaking has been my life. While growing up Hollywood films have always be...

Interview with Sarah Appleton co-writer and co-director of The Found Footage Phenomenon
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Sarah Appleton

The final documentary of FrightFest Online Edition looks to one of the most misunderstood genres out there. The Found Footage Phenomenon dissects this often over-looked type of movie with interviews from many key players. We chatted to co-writer and co-director Sarah Appleton about this very informative piece.

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

SA: Yes, I grew up watching Hammer horror movies and Japanese horror because my dad was a film critic, so I used to look through all his VHS tapes he'd taped off the late night tv and pick something to watch. Evil Dead II was one of the first horror movies I ever saw, aged about 8.

HC: Can you recall the first fo...

Taxi rides and crumbling hotels - Day 5 of Arrow Video FrightFest Online Edition: Part 2
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

As we enter the final evening of Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition 2021 there's still plenty to look forward to starting with a belter from directors Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon, Night Drive. Ride-share app driver Russell picks up his Hollywood fare Charlotte... and his whole life turns upside down. Slipping him a wad of cash, she hires him for the rest of the evening. Their first stop at her ex's place sees Charlotte running out the door clutching a tiny suitcase being chased. They make their escape, but accidentally run over a pedestrian, setting in motion a chain of gruesome events that will go to places Russell could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. What starts off as a simpl...

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Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

There are a number of monochrome movies at FrightFest this year and one of the stand out ones is Josh Stifter's Greywood's Plot so we had a quick chat with him about it.

HC: Was there one movie you saw when you were younger that made you want to be in the filmmaking business?

JS: Beetlejuice. I saw it when I was 5 years old. My family all got the flu and my mom went and rented it. This was back in the day when you didn't have access as easily to movies so if you rented a movie, it often would get watched a couple times before it was returned. Since we had nothing else to do, we all just laid around sick watching Beetlejuice over and over. I became obsessed. It was the first tim...

Interview with Conor Stechschulte writer of Ultrasound
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

Based on his own graphic novel 'Generous Bosom', Conor Stechschulte has written a tight and tense script for Ultrasound which is showing today at Arrow Films Fright Online Edition. We chatted to him about the process of bringing his original idea to the big screen.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to become a writer?

CS: I did! At about 7 or 8 I went from wanting to be a fighter pilot to wanting to be a writer. My formal education is in visual art, but I've always had narratives at the heart of all the creative work that I make and have never really stopped writing in one form or another.

HC: Was there any one person who inspired you?

CS: I can't...

Interview with Rob Schroeder director of Ultrasound
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

The feature debut of Rob Schroeder, producer of Sun Choke and Beyond The Gates, Ultrasound is a startling puzzle box Sci-Fi mystery and playing today at Arrow Films FrightFest Online Event. We chatted to Rob about this chilling movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be in filmmaking?

RS: Not really. When I was young, I loved going to the movie theatre every week, but I didn't see filmmaking as a career because in my town I didn't know any filmmakers. The movies were always so special for me and even sacred, so at a young age I did sense the magic.

HC: How did become attached to this project?

RS: I developed the project, by reaching out to Cono...

Interview with Peter Daskaloff director and co-writer of Antidote
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Peter Daskaloff Anitdote

Peter Daskaloff has brought his nerve-jangling movie Antidote to FrightFest Online Eidtion 2021 so we chatted to him about this complex and intriguing movie.

HC: What is your writing method when working alongside someone else?

PD: I usually write alone. But for Antidote, I had to hire a co-writer because the subject was complex. I needed another set of eyes to look at it from outside my box. Matt Toronto was recommended to me by my executive producer, Ian Michaels, who has worked with Matt before. The collaboration was a bit bumpy, but the resulting script turned out pretty good.

HC: How did you go about casting the movie?

PD: I had a casti...

Interview with Francesco Erba writer and director of As in Heaven, So on Earth
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Francesco Erba As In Heaven director

As In Heaven, So On Earth mixes the found footage genre with incredible animation to deliver a truly unique take on the format. The movie effortlessly moves from its gothic animation to cutting edge technology footage and brings together a tale which is emotional and utterly heart breaking in equal measure. We chatted to its writer and director Francesco Erba as it plays at FrightFest Online Edition 2021.

HC: Where did the idea for As in Heaven, So on Earth come from?

FE: As in Heaven, So on Earth was born not only from one specific idea but, as very often occurs, from many different ones, different influences and life experien...

Interview with Casey Dillard actor and writer of Killer Concept
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

If you managed to catch Driven the other year at FrightFest then you'll need to catch Killer Concept today. Writer Casey Dillard is back alongside director Glenn Payne but this time serial killers are the target. We chatted to Casey about this movie.

HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted, apart from Killer Concept, what have you been up to?

CD: Mostly avoiding Covid and trying to find work-arounds so that I can still perform safely.

HC: Where did the idea for Killer Concept come from?

CD: Glenn wanted to make a simple movie with minimal people while our core filmmaking team was unable to go to work so we kicked around a lot of ideas and KC wa...

Interview with Glenn Payne director and actor from Killer Concept
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021

If you managed to catch Driven the other year at FrightFest then you'll need to catch Killer Concept today. Director Glenn Payne is back alongside writer Casey Dillard but this time serial killers are the target. We chatted to him about this movie.

HC: It's been a couple of years since you brought the superb movie Driven to FrightFest, how was that movie received across the world?

GP: Thank you for the kind words! We've felt very blessed by how warm the reception's been for Driven. We knew the story was different, given the entire thing takes place inside one vehicle, but the characters really seemed to resonate with people. I think that's a huge testament to the per...

Interview with Chad Crawford Kinkle writer and director of Dementer
Posted on Sunday 5th September 2021
Chad Crawford Kinkle Dementer Image 2

A movie which is bold not only with its storytelling but its casting is playing today at FrightFest. Dementer from Chad Crawford Kinkle, is an emotional, raw and very real feeling movie built around a care home which delivers some of the most effective acting you'll see at the event this year. Here he chats about this superb film.

HC: Where did the idea for Dementer come from?

CK: The idea was really years in the making. I had always wanted to do a film with my sister but my mind always went to doing a documentary of some sort. Then one year at Sundance, I watched the movie The Tribe and it sparked an idea that I could set a narrativ...

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