Interview with Karl Holt, writer, and director of Benny Loves You
By James Whittington, Saturday 24th October 2020
Karl Benny loves you

Want to see a movie that's described as "Child's Play meets Fatal Attraction"? Benny Loves You from director Karl Holt is for you. We asked this talented creative about this superb movie aqnd about being nominated in the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award.

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

KH: At the age of 9 or 10 I watched Halloween and got into horror films in a big way. I've wanted to be a director since then really. The problem was, growing up in the 80's film was expensive and VHS camcorders just didn't cut it. I went to Uni in Watford, but even after leaving there really weren't any opportunities unless you knew someone in the industry, which I didn't. Like most people I got a job and it's something I've toyed with for years, making shorts and sketches here and there in spare time. Now the technology is affordable for anyone to make a movie, it just happened a little later in life for me. I'd reached a point where I thought I could put something together myself with a very small crew with a comparatively low budget.

HC: Where did the idea for this come from and from first word of the script to locked picture, how long did it take?

KH: This is loosely based off a short I made in 2006, which seemed to get a good reaction on the horror festival circuit at the time. So I always had it in mind to turn that idea into my first feature. I wrote it in 2013, quit my day job, and shot it in 2014/15. It took till the end of 2019 to finish it. It's been a much longer slog that I ever thought it would be. It's probably good that I was a bit naive and didn't realise how long it would take. I would have never started if I knew.

HC: How did you go about raising the money to make it as I can imagine the pitch to any backers was bizarre?

KH: I didn't, I took all the money I had saved as a freelance video editor for the last 15 years and used that to make it. I left a bit in the bank because I didn't know how long it would take me to complete the postproduction, I guessed about a year and a half lol. So not putting every penny into the film was the best move I made because I needed the rest to fund me living through 4 years of post.

HC: Was it a hard movie to cast?

KH: I had a lot of responses from the initial casting, so it's a case of watching all the show reels and narrowing down the search. For certain roles I put out a few scenes to audition which they could film on their phones and send to me, and I made my final decision on that. Hiring a hall and have everyone come down on the same day to audition just wasn't practical, and too expensive for us. The final decision is always hard and is never really about talent, just about someone seeming to fit the role you've written in your head. I got very lucky with all my actors.

HC: The effects are superb; did they take long to realise?

KH: Thanks, yeah it was a very long time because Benny is CG for 95% of the film, and of course most of the other toys are totally CG. I had a rough edit done a few months after shooting in 2015, and then began the hard work of progressing through each empty backplate and creating the effects. Sometimes the PC could take 3 days to render a shot after I'd animated it, so I got into a process of taking weekends off and left my PC to batch render each weekend. I'd work very late into the evenings in the week, leaving the computer to grunt from Friday night to Monday morning. My poor PC was on 24/7. It never goes to plan either, often you spend the weekend rendering a shot, and there's an issue with it you need to fix and start it all again. It was all finished visually in about July 2019, and then I turned out a score pretty quickly and submitted it to festivals that autumn.

HC: You have been included in the First Blood strand which is being sponsored by Horror Channel, how does that feel?

KH: The Horror Channel sponsoring First Blood is crucial in helping first time directors to get exposure. FrightFest do a great job of being such an important platform for UK horror, but this strand elevates that further. All you want is for your work to get out there, and this section really helps to create the space for first time directors, who often don't have access to a big budget. That means they have to bring something different to the table instead and be more creative with their resources. It's really important to nurture home grown talent and give it a platform to be shown.

HC: Will you be nervous when it shows at FrightFest?

KH: Ha, a little. We just played in Sitges Festival and we are being shown alongside other movies with 40x our budget, but of course, the audience don't know that. So the reviews that came in have ranged from positive, some brutal, some middling, and some very glowing. It's unpredictable, so I'm beginning to take it all less personally. My view is, if there's enough people that really love it, it doesn't matter about those who don't. You don't make a film for everyone. This is a comedy first and a horror second, that's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. At the moment it seems there is definitely enough of a good reaction to justify making it. People seem to fall for Benny himself, but I'm obviously very interested to see how the Brits respond, as I think the humour is very dry. I'm excited for the actors to finally see it, family and friends. This has been a long wait for anyone who starred or took part in this back in 2014, so I expect I'll be texting people most of the day on Saturday once it's shown.

HC: Did you have a favourite toy when you were growing up?

KH: Too many. I definitely used to get sentimental about some, one I had since I was 4 or 5 and he lost his squeak, which made me upset that he'd got old. Then others I used to practise my Taekwondo on lol. They all had their own personalities in my head, and there's something quite sad about the last day you ever play with a toy. It's not sad at the time, just when you look back. I think you lose a part of yourself when that happens. On some level that's reflected in this film too.

HC: You're a man of many talents, do you have a favourite job?

KH: I'm probably best at editing, I really enjoy the process of having the raw material and then starting to fashion what's in your head using the right pacing, beats and sound. A great film can be destroyed with bad editing and a bad film can be elevated with the right editor. I'd always want a hand in that process. Directing is fun, but it's actually the really exhausting part. Well, maybe at my level when we're running around doing every other job on set it just feels that way. For my next film the goal would be to narrow down the tasks, so I can focus on the important stuff like directing.

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

KH: I would love to make something very creepy and scary next. I've been dictating notes into my phone for the last 2 years about the kind of mood or style I want, but I'm someone that's always written to my available resources, so right now, it's let's wait and see what that is. My next film could be another film shot at a friend's house, or it could be something more, either way I hope it's something that doesn't take me 5 years.

HC: Karl Holt, thank you very much.

Arrow Video FrightFest 2022 announces bumper Glasgow Film Festival line-up
Posted on Thursday 20th January 2022
FrightFest Glasgow 2022 - headline banner

The UK's No.1 horror and fantasy film festival is back in person at the Glasgow Film Theatre, which for 17 glorious years has been FrightFest's second home, as part of the internationally renowned Glasgow Film Festival.

From Thursday 10th March to Saturday 12th March, FrightFest opens its terror trove to present twelve tasty treasures; an extravaganza of the dark arts, embracing the latest genre discoveries from around the globe, spanning eight countries in three continents, which includes World, International and UK premieres.

Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest commentated: "It's with great delight and with every single b...

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
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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...

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