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Interview With Dominic Brunt Director Of Bait
By James Whittington, Saturday 29th August 2015 Though Dominic Brunt is well known on TV as Emmerdale's super vet Paddy, he's making big waves as a director. His first movie, Before Dawn is a huge Horror Channel favourite and his latest movie, Bait is getting a special preview today at FrightFest.
Here Dominic chats about his movies and his future directorial plans.
HC: Your first movie, Before Dawn was a huge success, were you tempted to do another horror movie?
DB: I'll definitely make more horror movies. We're in pre-production with two over the next four years at the moment. That's where my heart is. I think even though "Bait" is a thriller, there's enough show off gore and violence to entertain the horror crowd.
HC: What pressure did Before Dawn’s success create when you were looking for your next project?
DB: None really. I look at Before Dawn now with fondness but I'd like to completely re-film the whole thing (I never will) with all the knowledge and confidence we've gained as film makers over the last five years. It was done on the cheap and supposed to be released on a tiny label but then FrightFest, the Horror Channel and Metrodome got hold of it and it sailed happily away. I am proud of the film and it taught us so much. I like to think "Bait" is a huge step forward from there.
HC: How did you decide that Bait was right to be your second feature?
DB: Paul Roundell's writing just jumps off the page and is so truthful and authentic. It gave us the confidence to approach potential backers. I just knew someone would bite.
HC: Did you add or take anything away from the script when you first read it?
DB: The story is inspired by three real life situations involving loan sharks. It was just a case of embellishing what had actually happened. Paul then wrote this as the screenplay which really didn't need touching.
HC: The central leads give astonishing performances that lift this way above your standard revenge film, how did you go about casting the film?
DB: Joanne Mitchell (Dawn) and Victoria Smurfit (Bex) where at drama school together and have been best friends ever since. I knew if we could get them both, the relationship they have on screen would be organic and palpable from the start. There's love there and they deeply care for each other in real life. I like the fact that Paul wrote them as chalk and cheese but Bex allows Dawn to be herself without judgement and vice versa. You already empathise with them before it all goes terribly, terribly wrong for them. Jonathan Slinger (Jeremy) has spent ten years playing all the main parts for the RSC and is in fact one of the best stage actors this country has produced. I knew he'd be great on film too. As I found, it's always worth asking.
HC: What sort of a budget did you have?
DB: A big one.
HC: The script is incredibly strong in tone, what was it like on set?
DB: It was very professional and strict which was important if we wanted to get it finished on time and within budget. Working with other people’s money does wonders to concentrate your mind. But it was also great fun and I laughed an awful lot. Working with such a great cast and crew was utterly thrilling. 73 of us all together! There are so many locations involved with the film. It never stops moving from one place to the next. We were a travelling circus until the last week which was studio bound special effects and fights.
HC: There are some moments of unflinching violence, how important was it to you not to cut away?
DB: Well, the first show of violence in the pub, we do cut away on purpose to lull the viewer into a false sense of security. From then on we keep the camera there to show everything. You need to want the baddies dead. You have to see what these bastards are capable of doing, every day, as a job.
HC: How do you prepare for and direct such violent sequences?
DB: The dichotomy is that violence is huge fun to film. There are then questions as to whether we stick to a moral duty or ethics and still show off what we can do. All the violence is within the context of the story and everyone pays the consequences for their actions.
HC: I feel that the film has something to say about today’s society and the dangerous situations people can get themselves in, would you agree?
DB: It's exactly about that and also allegorical of the bigger picture with the banks and their impact on society. When economics rule a land without a shred of empathy or an inclusion of philosophy. Also a huge theme for me was the production of sociopathy in society and the way we excuse extreme behaviour as being "Evil". This lets us all off the hook. "It's nothing to do with us, they are simply evil". Well evil does not exist. So, what then?
HC: Are you nervous that it’s getting a special preview at FrightFest?
DB: Yes. Very. We have three showings on the main screen on Saturday 29th August 11am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.
HC: Will you watch with the audience?
DB: The first ten minutes then the last ten.
HC: So, what projects are you working on next?
DB: Jo is working on the pre-production for Attack Of The Adult Babies which is a very British satirical slapstick horror feature in pre-production. Also something next year as a hired director which I so wish I could tell you more about but I can't. Yet.
HC: Dominic Brunt, thank you very much.
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