LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Tim Van Dammen director of Mega Time Squad
By James Whittington, Tuesday 14th August 2018
You played a Street Demon in director Jason Lei Howden's FrightFest favourite Deathgasm. Is the New Zealand film community that small?
I didn't play a street demon; I am a street demon. The film community in NZ is small enough for most active people to know most other active people - but the genre scene is small enough for us all to know each other by at least one degree of separation. Many of my friends worked on or acted in Deathgasm and they needed a night shoot of 'street demons' so I donned my tie-dye and offered to help out. It was a lot of fun and I think Jason and the team did an incredible job.
Have you met Peter Jackson and do you see him as the ultimate Kiwi role model?
I have met some of his major long-time collaborators like Richard Taylor (production designer) who put me in touch with Jamie Selkirk (editor/post supervisor) who mentored me through the postproduction of Romeo and Juliet, so I spent a lot of time at Park Road Post but I have never met Peter Jackson. He is certainly one of the great Kiwi legends and for filmmakers he would be the ultimate role model. His work has inspired me since I was five years old and living in a caravan when I saw a news piece about Bad Taste being selected for Cannes. I remember my dad laughing his arse off about the sheep being hit by the rocket launcher and ever since then I wanted to be a filmmaker. Then when Braindead came out I realised that filmmaking was something I might be able to do - I just needed to find a fresh approach. I still remember gagging as Tim Balme pulls the dog tail from his mother's throat... Braindead is so good.
Not many people get to write with William Shakespeare as you did with your 2013 feature debut Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song. That must have been a great experience?
Haha, yeah, I think that credit was a legal thing. Shakespeare really didn't deserve it, after all he only wrote the verse. I'll give you a moment to recover after that hilarious joke... It was fun trying to Kiwify Romeo and Juliet but the difficult part was filming it as an opera. Coming from music videos I was used to shooting to music but to shoot the full play in its entire original text, all set to a series of songs, and to try to make it emotionally moving was a major challenge. It taught me that I had a lot to learn in terms of storytelling.
You've directed over 180 music video for some top Kiwi and international acts. Can you name some we would have seen?
It's hard to tell which videos you may know because the music scene varies so vastly from country to country. My band, Collapsing Cities, was signed in the UK around 2008/9 and we toured and did the big festivals so maybe you saw something then. I used to make at least a video a week so it's hard to remember them all. My most popular videos were 'Just a little bit' - Kids of 88, 'Standing in the Rain' - Sola Rosa, 'Autumn - Artisan Guns, some The Naked and Famous stuff... but these were more popular in Aus, NZ, Germany and the US... the UK is pretty unique in its music scene; when my band supported the Artic Monkeys I was surprised to see that they had platinum records hanging on the wall at XFM... so antipodean.
Where did you get the idea for the Mega Time Squad script?
I wanted to do a time travel movie and I thought it would be cool if it were about a guy who went back in time to hang out with himself. But then I wondered if it would funny if he jacked himself off... Then he would feel weird about it and go back in time again to stop himself from jacking himself off and there would be this weird love triangle between a series of copies of the same guy. Then I came to my senses and realised that there was a better way to approach this idea. What if he helped himself commit a crime or escape the punishment for committing a crime? What if he time travelled to help himself steal a bunch of cash but once he got it he didn't want to share the cash with himself? What if he time travelled so much that the various versions couldn't remember which version was which? Then what if they started killing each other? This seemed like a better angle than a w*nkfest.
Time travel stories can often be so convoluted, how did you avoid that?
I drew a kind of map of the time travel and decided that the only "rule" was that when John time travels he moves in time but not in space. I was more focused on how to make time travel new again or at least address it from a less familiar perspective. I felt like we'd seen enough time travel movies where we follow the same character going back over and over again so I wanted to show the story from more of a third person point of view. We travel with John the first couple of times but after that we follow whichever version of John is driving the story. It's not really about time travel, it's about a lovable idiot with a time travel device who thinks time travel is cool because he gets to hang out with earlier iterations of himself.
Any favourite time travel movies you looked at for inspiration?
I watched as many as I could find and I loved most of them but the one that influenced the way this film worked was Time Crimes. Mega Time Squad is a very different film in both tone and premise but it's similar in that there are multiples of the same guy in the same timeline and that's what Time Crimes achieved very well. You'll notice a dozen or so nods to various movies in the Mega Time Squad but they are not so much influences on the film; instead they are films that I imagine that John (the main character) thinks he's in.
Did your script have to be so vulgar, or is that the NZ way?
I didn't notice it was so vulgar until the sound designer played it to his kids. While I was writing it I was spending a lot of time with my dad and that's how we talk. A big chunk of the dialogue is made up of direct quotes from my dad and his mates. I wouldn't say 'it's the Kiwi way' but I do think New Zealanders and Australians have a more relaxed and cheerful attitude towards vulgarity than many other parts of the world. Etymology section of answer: I was recently in Rome where I saw an original 'vulgar' fresco on the wall of a church from 150AD depicting the Emperor instructing slaves who were dragging St Clemente out of the ocean and the text in the fresco read "Hurry up you sons of bitches!" That's where the term 'vulgar' comes from.
Mega Time Squad features some amazing special effects considering, one assumes, the low budget. How did you manage it?
I've been deep into VFX software since I started my career as a video artist showing in art galleries until my band was signed and I moved into making music videos and then into making films. After spending years making VFX-heavy content and then doing the VFX on Romeo and Juliet and some more on Deathgasm I have a pretty good command of the discipline. I understood that there were going to be a lot of constraints around the formal aspects of the film because, as you mention, we had no money. So I needed to work around that with regard to camera movement, for example, while still being able to pace the film and give it a cinematic feel. It was a challenge, and if my past endeavours hadn't taught me the limits of what I could pull off competently at this budget level, I probably would've felt that I'd bitten off more than I could chew. As far as conceptualisation, my only rule on Mega Time Squad was that I wanted the VFX to be inherently silly while remaining cool and being something that I hadn't seen before. Hopefully that's what James and I achieved.
How would you best describe Mega Time Squad?
Its an absurd time travel crime comedy with a big heart about a lovable rural idiot with modest aspirations who uses a time travel bracelet to steal the money needed to fulfil his dream of moving to the neighbouring town... but he f*cks up the time travelling bit.
Mega Time Squad plays at FrightFest on Thursday 23rd August, Cineworld Leicester Sqaure.
Related show tags: DEATHGASM MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.
HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?
AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.
HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?
FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.
HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?
TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.
HC: Did you know from an...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2020
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...
HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?
AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lukas Feigelfeld, director of Hagazussa
Posted on Friday 17th April 2020
The themes of witchcraft and the occult are making a bit of a come back at the moment. Movies such as The Witch and Midsommer have brought the genre back into focus and now Hagazussa from writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld takes the genre to another, even darker level. Here he chats about this incredibly atmospheric movie which is being released on May 11th thanks to Arrow Video.
HC: Where did the idea for Hagazussa come from and how long did it take to write?
LF: I had been living with the idea of doing something witch and folklore related for many years. Part of my family originates from this particular area in the Austrian Alps, and from a young age on I was greatly fascin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Posted on Monday 30th March 2020
Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".
Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.
(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?
NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.
HC: What...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Vendetta
Posted on Thursday 19th March 2020 Vengeance Season on Horror contains the UK TV premiere of Vendetta, the superb all-male maelstrom of mayhem from Jen and Sylvia Soska. We chatted to these incredible talented creatives about this action-packed thriller and what they have planned for the future.
HC: Have you always been wrestling fans and if so, when growing up, who were your faves?
Sylvia: We got introduced to wrestling during the epic Kane brother storyline during the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid feud that led to the first ever Hell in a Cell. I mean after that kind of an introduction; how doesn't the magic of wrestling have your heart for the rest of your life? If it isn't obvious, I'm a Shawn Michaels fan.
Jen: Und...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...
You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?
AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.
His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.
HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?
SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.
HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?
JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
Posted on Friday 20th December 2019
The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.
HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?
SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lo...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Wednesday 12th August
Friday 14th August
Thursday 13th August