LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Producer Jonathan Sothcott
By James Whittington, Saturday 18th April 2015
Fans of British cinema will need no introduction to Jonathan Sothcott. This prolific producer of movies (pictured here with Martin Kemp) is carving out an exciting resume of movies that cross genres and always deliver. So as we’ve recently shown his movie Devil’s Playground recently we decided to catch up with one of the busiest men in the industry.
HC: How did you start off in the business?
JS: With great difficulty! In my pre-Internet teens the film industry was a closed shop - but I got very lucky when Allan Bryce at The DarkSide Magazine bought a couple of articles off me. Suddenly I was a film journalist! This was exciting. Then I got really lucky and worked in the blossoming DVD industry, producing bonus material. These two opportunities introduced me to a lot of film industry legends and I was very fortunate to count David Wickes, Bryan Forbes and Brian Clemens amongst my early mentors. The latter two have sadly left us recently but David is thankfully still very active and indeed came to the premiere of my new film Age Of Kill the other week. David gave me an opportunity to work for him and I learned the ropes of producing. I then met the actor Martin Kemp and we became fast friends. He wanted to direct and we put together a short film with that aim -- it starred his brother Gary and Adele Silva. From that we managed to put together our first feature - Stalker - starring Jane March and Colin Salmon. Nearly a decade on I still work closely with Martin and consider him one of my best friends. I also owe a lot to Billy Murray who starred in Stalker and went on to become one of my partners and really put his faith in me and backed me. Billy also introduced me to Danny Dyer and I've had a very successful working relationship with him, which has spawned more than half a dozen films, a football video, a book and a stage show. And Danny and Billy have both become very close friends of mine. I think people on Twitter think we all live in a cave together in Whitstable, we've become a little gang.
HC: How did Devil's Playground come about?
JS: I met two other young producers, Bart Ruspoli and Freddie Hutton-Mills who were looking to make a feature. Bart had written a short which formed the basis of DP and it was decided to expand that into a feature. In a lot of ways I was as much a casting director on the film as a producer: they were running the development, financing and distribution and I was essentially securing the talent. I like Bart and Freddie and was recently Executive Producer on their new zombie film World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen.
HC: Did the script change much?
JS: Oh massively. We went through at least a dozen drafts I'm sure. It was conceived as a one location £200,000 zombie siege film a la Night of the Living Dead with a Martin Kemp cameo and no other star names... And ballooned into a £1.5 million zombie action film with an all-star cast! At one point the virus was going to be a sneaky chemical attack by North Korea!
HC: How did you get such an interesting cast together and was it a tough shoot?
JS: Danny Dyer, Lisa McAllister and Jaime Murray were friends of mine. Danny of course was Mr DVD at the time, which helped and hindered the release in equal measures. Lisa and Jaime have both gone on to huge TV success in Sherlock and Dexter etc. Sean Pertwee and Colin Salmon graciously did cameos for me. Anna Buring and Craig Conway both auditioned and were of course superb. The toughest part to cast was Cole. Everyone was on the list from Vinnie Jones to Dominic Cooper. One day Lisa McAllister, who I lived with at the time, and I were out with our actor friend Craig Fairbrass. Lisa had a eureka moment - Craig *was* Cole. And she was bloody right - nobody on our radar had that blend of genuine physicality and the chops to pull off the sensitive acting required. Sadly Craig and I haven't found another film to work on together since which is a shame as I love him. I still see him pretty much every week but it's just finding that bingo project we both love. The shoot was a bloody nightmare - we were filming in the worst winter I can remember and the film was plagued by financing problems which Bart and Freddie took a lot of flak for. I think Bart actually remortgaged his house. But they got it all together and made a very good film.
HC: How difficult is it to get a picture into production these days?
JS: Well if it was easy everybody would be doing it! Horror is getting harder and harder because the market is so saturated, though quality will always find an audience.
HC: You are described as being one of the most prolific producers around, how do you balance so many projects at once?
JS: With a very steady hand! My film business inspiration had always been Hammer who turned out 6-8 films per year. I've not quite matched that yet but expect to this year. I'm lucky to have great support from my producing partners Neil Jones and Billy Murray and our amazing regular team lead by the indefatigable Trish. We've just taken on our own studio too in Docklands, more details about which we'll be announcing soon.
HC: Censorship has been making headlines recently, where do you stand on this subject?
JS: On the fence, but slightly on the anti-censorship side... The biggest problem of course is that everyone has a different opinion on what should or shouldn't be censored. To put it in perspective, I thought The Human Centipede was hilariously daft. But on the other hand nothing in the world would make me want to watch A Serbian Film. But I think if parents exercise sensible judgement then the current system kind of works. And hey - it always makes for a good debate!
HC: What condition do you think the British film industry is in?
JS: Bitched, buggered and bewildered but hanging on in there. It's so hard to make British films travel and consequently for them to make a profit. What works here, particularly on DVD, rarely translates into good business overseas. My business model works on low budget films purely down to volume: if I was making one of these films every two years it wouldn't work. But 4 or so per year works out OK. We're now making some bigger budget films with WWE studios, which is an amazing opportunity to boost employment in the UK film industry.
HC: What advice would you give to budding film-makers?
JS: Try and be commercial! And nail your budgets to the floor! I think one of the most inspirational film-makers around is Andrew Jones in Wales. This guy is making micro budget horrors which get full supermarket distribution here and sell all around the world. I have so much respect for him. He's now branching into action movies with Kill Kane starring Vinnie Jones and directed by a very talented lad called Adam Stephen Kelly. At this rate I'll be asking Andrew for a job soon.
HC: So what are you working on at the moment?
JS: I've just wrapped Bonded By Blood 2. That was fun, I really enjoyed working with director Greg Hall and breaking some new film talent like Sam Strike and Casey Batchelor who are both great in the movie. Sam has just got the lead in the Texas Chainsaw reboot. I'm starting We Still Steal The Old Way in a few weeks which is the sequel to my film We Still Kill The Old Way which was a success on DVD at Christmas. I love this little franchise: director Sacha Bennett and leading man Ian Ogilvy are a joy. Then it's onto Eliminators which we're making with WWE and which stars Scott Adkins and WWE superstar Bad News Barrett. Working with WWE is a fantastic experience. I've another great director on that in Jimmy Nunn who did Tower Block. After that there's 52 Pickup, Vendetta 2 and hopefully Age of Kill 2: Rogue. And I have the first Age of Kill out in June, which is a sort of British Taken with Martin Kemp as a kind of North London Bryan Mills if you will. I'm very proud of that - it premieres at the Southend Film Festival next month. It's a really strong movie, not your typical Britflick. And a holiday would be nice!
HC: Jonathan Sothcott, thank you very much.
Related show tags: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND 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 Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on 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 m...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 Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Tuesday 14th December
Saturday 18th December
Sunday 12th December