LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Short Cuts To Hell 2 Finalist Interview: Michael Down - All Inclusive
By James Whittington, Saturday 4th October 2014
This year’s Short Cuts To Hell competition saw some incredibly inventive entries.
Here we speak to one of the finalists, Michael Down who is behind the surreal and disturbing short All Inclusive.
To vote for All Inclusive click here.
HC: Where did the idea for All Inclusive come from?
MD: The idea is based on a true story. My brother and I went to Tenerife on a last minute all inclusive break a couple of years ago. The hotel we were in already had a threatening atmosphere but on the second night when out at a local bar, we had our drinks spiked, were attacked on the way home and woke up to find our apartment had been cleaned out – money, passports, everything. We had to cope with the situation while dealing with the side effects of whatever we were given, we couldn’t eat or sleep and it led us to become extremely paranoid about who had done this to us. Whether it was other guests, the staff even? The film is about that descent into that nightmare. I’ve expanded the idea to feature a young couple who book a last minute getaway to so as to heighten the juxtaposition between the idyllic and the horrific, and to incorporate deeper themes such as class, war even.
HC: Did it take long to write?
MD: The idea was already there, it was just a case of expanding it, so has not been that much of an effort. I have an excellent script advisor in my brother as he went through the original experience with me!
HC: How much of the budget did you use?
MD: I spent £450 on an all inclusive holiday in Turkey over 5 days - that is all. The budget limit we were given was £666 so as much as I would have liked to have taken someone with me I couldn’t have within these restrictions. So with the exception of a small scene at the start I was on my own throughout the whole process.
HC: The film plays like a surreal, found footage piece, was this your intention?
MD: Surreal maybe, but found footage? No. The fact that I was on my own lead me to shoot a lot of footage P.O.V but it is a style I have been developing for a while - a kind of immersive filmmaking if you like. The whole feature wouldn’t be shot in that way but I do like it, it gives a certain tone and I like the covert aspect that drags the viewer into the situation. Also the fact that they are real events being filmed rather than staged only adds to the atmosphere. The feature would be a combination of staged scenes and real life footage but has no real bearing on the found footage genre per se.
HC: Did it take long to shoot and edit together?
MD: I only had 6 days in total as I had been out of the country and only found out about the competition with a week to go. A friend said “You have to enter this” and the next day I was on a plane. I took a day to write and shoot the first scene, 4 days shooting in Turkey and one day editing - the deadline was the following day so I had to cut it in my hotel room in 42 degree heat with broken air con and my composer sending me files over the Internet. I also had to compete with the fact that there was a pool and free bar outside! It was so ridiculously last minute but somehow all just came together.
HC: What was the hardest part of creating All Inclusive?
MD: Trying to convey my idea with such limitations. I decided to take a risk and effectively make it as a trailer. Luckily some of the judges could see what I was trying to do - or were at least willing to give me a chance to explain.
HC: What did it feel like seeing your work on the Horror Channel?
MD: Great, I would have obviously would have liked more time to polish it up but feel I stands up with its own unique lo-fi quality.
HC: Do you have a plan as to how to extend this idea if it wins Short Cuts To Hell 2?
MD: Indeed, that was the point of the competition! I am hoping people can see beyond what is essentially a very raw piece of filmmaking and see how the bigger picture would develop. I have big plans that could be executed even on such a small budget. Without going into too much detail I’d have a small cast and crew and flown out to a real resort, find a suitable run-down hotel, stay there and essentially live the film!
HC: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
MD: Yes I have two films in production that have a similar vibe. Monument is about an architecture student who goes to the Balkans to study brutalist monuments and ends up losing his mind. The other, Ritual is the story of a greedy, exploitative City banker who buys up property in Bulgaria and ends up on the wrong end of some Pagan shenanigans in return. They are kind of modern-day horror fables I guess. They both have that first-person immersive style and again have feature written all over them. I am also writing a feature script that is a very personal account of me and my friends’ relationships with our favourite horror films. It’s a pretty unique idea so don’t really want to reveal too much at this stage.
HC: Michael Down, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Barbara Crampton, star of chilling horror Sacrifice
Posted on Wednesday 8th December 2021
Barbara Crampton is a Horror Channel favourite. This much loved and much admired creative is starring in the UK TV premiere of Sacrifice, which is showing December 12th at 9pm on Horror so we chatted to her about this movie and her plans for the future.
Note that there are some spoilers for Sacrifice in the interview.
HC: Can you recall how you felt the first time you stepped onto a TV or film set?
BC: Yes, I remember the first time I was ever on a television set, it was for the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, and it was my very first job, and I had one line, "Hi. I'm your cousin Trista from Colorado". It was to the character Marlena Evans and subsequently I had w...SHARE: READ MORE 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 Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Saturday 11th December
Monday 20th December
Monday 20th December