Interview with Robert Woods, director of An Ideal Host
By James Whittington, Saturday 10th October 2020
Robert Woods

Ever had the dinner party from Hell with people you don't really relate to and seem alien? Well this is the premise of the the hilarious horror comedy An Ideal Host from director Robert Woods. Here he tells Horror about this cracking movie.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what made you decide that this would be your first project as a director?

RW: Tyler and I had been writing theatre together for a decade, but movies are our first love and we wanted to give it a crack as well. Tyler came up with the initial idea but we worked on the story together and it evolved a great deal from the initial pitch. As it was my first time directing, I think we were just trying to create something that we would watch, fun and contained, that wouldn't cost money.

HC: The cast are superb and really bounce off each other, did they have much rehearsal time?

RW: I play music for an improv comedy troupe here in Perth called The Big Hoo-Haa and pretty much all of the cast are members that have been performing fast paced off-the-cuff comedy together for many years, which was a huge help. They're all great actors, comedians and writers themselves and we knew they would all get along and just have a fun time with it. Evan Williams (Jackson) and Naomi Brockwell (Daisy) were the only ones that didn't know everyone else but they slotted right in. We shot for almost 2 weeks, generally starting in the afternoon and going to about 10pm and we all stayed together at the farm that was our location. In the mornings or between scenes I would often find the cast just running lines for upcoming scenes whilst having a meal or playing games which was encouraging to see because we certainly didn't have any time to rehearse whilst shooting the scenes.

HC: Were you nervous on your first day on set?

RW: I was very nervous on my first day on set. And it never went away. But it was definitely an excited nervousness. I remember we had scheduled a day off in the middle of the shoot and I drove to a local town and went to the cinema to unwind. But driving back to the farm and entering through those gates I was suddenly struck with a huge sense of dread at the realisation of what I had to get done now and not having any idea how to do it. I guess years of theatre has taught me to just embrace that and drive in head first. It's the only way to get anything done.

HC: Was there any time during the shoot that you thought you'd taken on too much?

RW: It never felt like I had taken on too much during the shoot, it just felt like there was never enough time to do all the things I needed to. The times where it felt like I might have taken on too much were before the shoot when I realised we had no producers so we'd have to organise everything ourselves and after the shoot when I realised I had to make something out of the crazy mess of footage I shot. The danger there was that I had NO time limit. It took about a year to put it all together, but that's including 3 or 4 months where I would just get so frustrated, I refused to even look at the footage anymore. But encouraging words from close friends that saw rough cuts helped push it through to the end.

HC: The movie plays lime Friends meets The Thing, was it hard balancing the comedy and horror elements?

RW: I liked the way the tonal shifts worked in the script and we shot so quickly and out of order that we all just relied on that and that it would all work when it was put together. Actually, the biggest struggle and one of the longest stumbling blocks came when I had an edit I was happy with and wanted to start composing some music. We watched the opening scenes with soundtracks from great comedy and horror films playing and it was really surprising that they all felt like they would work but they drastically changed the way you read the scene. Figuring out the sound of the music took a long time because it would easily pus the comedy or the horror too far that the shifts wouldn't work anymore.

HC: What's the most valuable lesson about directing you learned during the making of An Ideal Host?

RW: I guess the most important thing I learnt was you should have a producer, because I think I spent more time organising things than actually directing. I guess the other thing would be if you've got a good cast and a good script, that's 90% of the job done. I was reliant on them and just always trusted that it would be fun enough to watch these characters that my direction wouldn't derail it enough to be a problem.

HC: Will you be nervous when the movie gets its European premiere at Grimmfest?

RW: I'm not nervous, I'm excited! I'm just happy the film is finally getting out into the world and being seen by strangers, especially because there was never a certainty that would happen. We started this project as an experiment to see what we could do and made a rule that we would forge ahead no matter the setbacks, even if we only managed to shoot a few scenes we'd just use them on showreels and as experience for the next project. So, to have actually finished it and have it be seen by people feels like such a great accomplishment. I look forward to reactions to it, good and bad, I welcome them all.

HC: What's the worst dinner party you've been to?

RW: I think I avoid most dinner parties so thankfully there's been precious few incidents. If I go out, it's to the cinema and if I have people over it's to watch movies. The worst dinner party I went to had vegan desserts and they were all gross. You can totally get good vegan deserts but this was not them. To think you're going to get chocolate mousse but it's this bland soy bean paste stuff... It was very upsetting, I've never recovered.

HC: Do you believe in aliens?

RW: I don't know, I go back and forth, but either way it's an existential nightmare. I do like to think that if there is life out there, it's just as stupid as we are.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

RW: I'm back to my usual routine of work and going to the cinema, I'm lucky enough to live in part of the world that's back to relative normalcy. Finishing the film and getting it ready for festivals has taken up much of my time but I'm just now freeing up time to start the next project. Tyler and I have been meeting with producers and applying for funding, two things we didn't have the first time around, so we'll see how that goes.

HC: Robert Woods, thank you very much.

Interview with Michael Mayer and Guy Ayal from the acclaimed movie Happy Times
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
thumbnail_HT_set_Marie Alyse Rodriguez

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...

Interview with D.M. Cunningham, writer and director of The Spore
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
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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...

Interview with Ben Charles Edwards, co-writer and director of Father of Flies
Posted on Saturday 16th October 2021
Father of Flies director

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...

Interview with Marcel Sarmiento co-writer and director of Faceless
Posted on Friday 15th October 2021
Faceless Director

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...

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
Tom Paton on the set of G-Loc-3-1

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 ...

Interview with Alexis Kendra, the writer and producer of The Cleaning Lady
Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Alexis Kendra-4

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? <...

Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Rabid
Posted on Tuesday 1st June 2021
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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...

Interview with Mickey Fisher, creator of sci-fi series Extant
Posted on Thursday 6th May 2021
Mickey Fisher 1

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...

Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Gary J. Tunnicliffe doing SFX make-up on the set of Hellraiser Judgement

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...

Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Director Chee Keong Cheung

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...

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...

Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Concrete Plans poster

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 ...

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