LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
By James Whittington, Wednesday 17th February 2021
Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?
CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a mission style movie. The idea of individuals sacrificing themselves for what they believe in and for the greater good. From there the initial idea for 'Redcon-1' was born, the story of 8 soldiers who are assigned on a suicide mission amist a viral outbreak to find the scientist who may be responsible for the outbreak and the key to finding a cure. I wanted to create an enemy these soldiers were confronted with that would be unlike anything they had ever seen before. What initially starts as an invasion movie gets turned upside down, however when the soldiers realise that the enemy they are confronted with is not quite what it seems.
HC: Did the script take long to complete and how much did it change from first draft to last?
CKC: The first draft was written in a few months, but the re-writing took much longer, working and re-working the script over a year along with my co-writer and also co-producer Mark Strange and also writer Steve Horvath as well as working on the challenges of putting the film together, finding the right partners who connected with the vision and also figuring out the right locations for the tone of the film and creating the set pieces that what was on paper. I also had the entire film storyboarded. The script I'd say changed more when it came to the shooting and the practicalities of trying to fit everything in and executing the ambitious and grand scale on paper along with some of the action set pieces which we weren't able to fully incorporate due to budget restrictions but I think that's the nature of independent filmmaking, you have to be flexible and amenable and be able to adapt to the surroundings and the resources available to tell your story. The essence however didn't change in terms of the journey of the soldiers and the core relationships with the soldiers and the survivors they encounter which I feel is the heart of the film.
Was it written with a cast in mind?
CKC: It wasn't written with anyone specific in mind as I was keen to keep an open mind on the casting. The challenge I knew was the balance of finding a cast for the 8 soldiers who could both deliver the acting performance as well as the physical aspects of the roles such as the stunts and martial arts. I didn't want to use doubles and was keen for the cast to be able to execute themselves where it was realistically possible. I spent around 8 months looking for the cast and the core team. It was a real ensemble. That process was a movie in itself. I saw literally hundreds and hundreds of showreels, CV's, working alongside the casting director Gaby Kester. I was really pleased with the cast that came together for the film from Oris Erhuero, the lead who plays Captain Marcus Stanton who I felt brought great charisma and empathy to the role particularly with his relationship with the young talented actress Jasmine Mitchell who plays Alicia in her debut film role. Other cast included Carlos Gallardo who is perhaps most known for his iconic role on Robert Rodriguez's 'El Mariachi' which was amazing to have onboard, Mark Strange who I'd worked with on my previous two films I'd directed, 'Underground' and 'Bodyguard: A New Beginning' and most recently seen in 'IP Man 4', Katarina Waters (former WWE and TNA wrestler), Joshua Dickinson (Mirror), Akira Koieyama (Street Fighter Assassin's Fist, Sense8), Martyn Ford ('The Nevers', 'Final Score') and Michael Sheehan ('River City'). Other cast included Douglas Russell ('Let Us Pray') and Euan Macnaughton ('Pride and Prejudice and Zombies') and Robert Goodale playing the scientist.
HC: It's a bold movie, action-packed with plenty of special effects, was there a moment where you thought you'd been too ambitious in your vision for the movie?
CKC: That tended to be a thought I had every day on set. I think independent films can sometimes be a little safe and I wanted to make something which could be a real calling hard and push the boundaries of independent filmmaking and what's possible. There were certainly enough people telling me what I wanted to achieve was impossible and I had endless meetings with people trying to find the right combination to help bring the vision alive. I was fortunate that along with Mark Strange who I had worked with on my previous films, I also had Producer Ioanna Karavela who I knew back from film school join me on this crazy ride to make the impossible possible as well as Carlos Gallardo joining the team and supporting. Carrlos was a great source of inspiration with his film 'El Mariachi' and what he had achieved with that in making things happen and that became a driving ethos with 'Redcon-1'. The crew were really key and in particular my DOP, Lorenzo Levrini was instrumental in capturing what was in my head so vividly and with a strong visual style, along with our Make Up and SFX Designer Agnieszka Kukulka and her extensive team which included Make Up Supervisor Keleigh Thomas and also Special Make Up Effects Artist Dean Garner working alongside Special Effects Co-ordinator Mike Knights. There was no shortage of fake blood used in the making of Redcon-1. Literally gallons and gallons. Every day was surreal, whether it be hundreds and hundreds of extras on set, to tanks, helicopters, hummers, speedboats to explosions and blowing up cars. I guess I was keen to try and make as much noise as possible. We had over 1500 extras in total playing a mixture of survivors, soldiers and zombies and filming across 14 different cities in the UK and a 12 week shooting schedule. I think what also key to making the film possible was the tremendous amount of goodwill and support from each city we filmed in and the local communities and all the incredible background artists who came out to get made up as zombies. That was a tremendous feeling seeing everyone come together and was also very humbling. I can't thank them enough. They were all so generous with their time and so many great friendships were developed through the process. We even had two zombies find love on the set of Redcon-1 and I believe a Redcon-1 baby was delivered the following year. That's the great thing about filmmaking. It's not just about one person, it's a collective pulling together to make things happen and I'm very proud of what we all achieved together and thankful and grateful for the faith and belief people had in me and for being part of this crazy journey.
HC: Without giving too much away, which sequence was the hardest to shoot?
CKC: Every day was tough and presented its own challenges but one day in particular I remember a sequence involving a helicopter or lack of. Often on shoots, you plan and plan as much as possible but things can conspire against you. On the day the helicopter was supposed to arrive sadly it was grounded and couldn't reach us due to the weather. We filmed the reverse side with the actors where they see the helicopter (on a bright sunny day) and thought we'd return and film the other side on a later date. When we returned it was pouring it down with the rain and we had zombies and a helicopter that we only had a limited time with. That was pretty manic but you just have to roll with the punches and be creative to get the shots needed. On another day during filming in a quarry, heavy rain caused some of our set to get washed away. It started to feel a little like Terry Gilliam's 'Lost in La Mancha'. It tended to be usually down to the external elements.
HC: Did the cast have to train for their roles as you put them through the mill a bit!
CKC: Yes, the cast got quite a work out. They were put through two weeks of training. One week was military based, going through movement, handling weapons trained by our military advisor Terry Crosby, a former Sergeant Major in the British armed forces who served in Iraq. We also worked with Jason Rhodes on the training. The second week was martial arts based training with Mark Strange and Kiran Pande, crafting a style for each of the 8 soldiers. The training (and the shoot) wasn't easy and I certainly asked a lot of the cast and was pleased and grateful for the level of commitment they all showed. It definitely wasn't for the faint hearted. For our zombies, we had set up zombie training camps working with various scare event companies to help deliver. There were a few overly ambitious zombies. I think one of our key cast actually got bit for real during one of the action sequences. He was fine though. Our zombies were a great group of people who came from all walks of life, from doctors, accountants, teachers, lawyers, forensic detectives. A lot of families came down and took part. It was a real community feel and it was nice to see people helping each other, and giving the support and confidence. It's not easy initially as everyone gets a little self conscious when they get asked to play a zombie but once they got over it, they all had a great time.
HC: You must be pleased Redcon-1 is having its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel, how would you sell it to our audience?
CKC: It's an incredible honour. I'm so grateful to the Horror Channel. As a filmmaker you always hope that when you make a film, people will get to see it and I'm thankful we have such a tremendous platform as the Horror Channel for the UK TV Premiere to reach audiences. As to how I'd sell it, I'd say it's an action packed, roller coaster ride filled with a lot of action, blood, guts (literally) as well as a lot of heart and humanity.
HC: You're a man of many talents; director, writer and producer to name just a couple, do you have a favourite role?
CKC: That's very kind of you to say and it can certainly be a challenge juggling all three and wearing multiple hats. I do really enjoy Directing and the creative process but often the roles of a director and producer can go hand in hand particularly on an independent film when one has to be more aware than ever for the need to adapt and find creative solutions to problems but it's a great feeling taking a film from conception to script to onscreen. Seeing everything come together and come to life after years of planning and development is incredibly rewarding.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
CKC: I've been writing a few screenplays and I have two feature projects I'm attached to direct which I'm really excited about, one in the US and one in the UK and hopefully they can start soon once things ease with Covid.
HC: Chee Keong Cheung, thank you very much.
CKC: It's been a real pleasure and I'm grateful to you James for the support you have shown for 'Redcon-1' as well as being one of the first journalists to get behind and review the film, so thank you!
Related show tags: REDCON-1 MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Michael Mayer and Guy Ayal from the acclaimed movie Happy Times
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
Happy Times, which is showing at Grimmfest Online, is a movie that takes the home invasion genre and turns it inside out! Directed by Michael Mayer and co-written with composer Guy Ayal, the movie is a bombastic, bloody and hilarious piece of cinema. I chatted to them both about this dinner party from hell.
HC: Where did the idea for Happy Times come from?
MM: The idea for the movie started forming when I was invited to a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year's) dinner in Los Angeles. It was the first year of Trump's presidency and wherever you went all people wanted to talk about was politics. One thing to know about the Israeli expat com...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with D.M. Cunningham, writer and director of The Spore
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
If you like your horror with a huge lashing of gruesome effects and a strong story then The Spore is for. Showing at Grimmfest Online, the movie from D.M. Cunningham is a smart take on the body horror genre. Here he chats about this movie which is guaranteed to get under your skin.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a director?
DM: I started out wanting to be a makeup effects artist. After seeing Night of the Living Dead and discovering Fangoria magazine I was hooked. Tom Savini was a huge influence on my trajectory toward becoming a filmmaker. It wasn't until later that I discovered that you could boss the monsters around on set being the director. That's...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ben Charles Edwards, co-writer and director of Father of Flies
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
A vulnerable young boy finds his mother pushed out of the family home by a strange new woman in Father of Flies, and he must confront the terrifying supernatural forces that seem to move in with her. This intense and chilling movie is showing at Grimmfest Online Edition so we chatted to director and co-writer Ben Charles Edwards about this movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Father of Flies come from?
BE: It came from my childhood experiences. When my good friend and journalist Dominic Wells was talking to me about my next project, he told me to draw on real life experiences. So, I did. My own experiences were neither as heightened nor as traumatic as they may...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Marcel Sarmiento co-writer and director of Faceless
Posted on Friday 15th October 2021
Showing at Grimmfest Online Edition is the incredibly inventive horror/sci-fi hybrid Faceless. Here, co-writer and director Marcel Sarmiento speaks about this superb movie.
HC: Have you always been a big horror movie fan?
MS: Definitely as a kid. My first movies made with my Betamax were all about scaring one other and how gross we could push makeup effects. We mostly strangled, stabbed, and threw each other off buildings. I think as I got older, I appreciated what you could do with horror more than horror for horror's sake. I love that you can make characters do things that in any other genre you couldn't make them do and still come out the other end liking them and routi...SHARE: READ MORE Tom Paton, director of G-LOC chats about his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman
Posted on Tuesday 14th September 2021
Ahead of the Horror Channel premiere of his sci-fi action thriller G-LOC, director Tom Paton reflects on why making movies is like solving a puzzle, his passion for survival stories and being compared to Roger Corman.
Horror Channel will be broadcasting the UK TV premiere of your Sci-fi adventure G-LOC. Excited or what?
It's honesty so strange to me every time Horror Channel debuts one of my movies. The channel has been such a big part of my life growing up and informing my taste in films, that it's always a "pinch myself moment" when I see something that I've made appear on their TV listing. G-LOC is much more of a SCI-FI adventure than any ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of The Cleaning Lady on June 26, the film's star, writer and producer Alexis Kendra talks about playing a 'Goddess', coping with lockdown and why she can't watch horror films on her own.
HC: The Cleaning Lady is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?
AK: I love you guys. Always have, always will. I'm honoured.
HC: It's a very disturbing film, dealing with abuse, addiction and hidden rage, yet the characters are sympathetic and have real depth. It's horror with a twisted heart. As a co-writer, alongside your director Jon Knautz, what were the main challenges in getting the balance right between acting and writing? <...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Rabid on June 12, Jen and Sylvia Soska reflect on the challenges of re-imagining Cronenberg's body horror classic, meeting the great man and their new monster movie, Bob.
HC: Rabid is having its channel premiere on Horror Channel. Excited?
SS: The Horror Channel has supported us and our work since the beginning, so it's a special treat to have the newest film premiere there!
Js: We are so excited. Having Rabid on Horror Channel feels like coming home. They've been very kind to us. We are happy to have so many of our films on there.
HC: We all, of course, remember that Rabid was one of David Cronenberg's earli...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Horror Channel will be continuing its commitment to bringing cult and classic sci-fi to its audience with Seasons 1 and 2 of the CBS Studios/Amblin Television production of Extant, starring Halle Berry as astronaut Molly Woods, who returns home to her family, inexplicably pregnant after 13 months in outer space on a solo mission.
The series begins on Horror May 11th so, we decided to chat to its creator, Mickey Fisher about how the series came to be produced and what it was like working with Hollywood royalty.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be a writer?
MF: From the time I was maybe five or six years old I wanted to be an actor. Going to see Star...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.
HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?
GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020
On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.
HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?
SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.
Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!
HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?
SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020
A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.
HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?
SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Monday 1st November
Monday 1st November
Wednesday 27th October