Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Jo-royal-hannes

Accepted wisdom within the Charmed Apocalypse office is that there were two really great films at FrightFest 2010.

The first was Monsters; Gareth Edwards’ road-trip romance through Central America, with a back-drop comprising an alien invasion cooked-up entirely on the director’s laptop.

The second was F.

F came at us out of nowhere and smashed us in all the right places. Demon parkour hoodies creeping around a school at night and picking off the teaching staff. Quietly menacing, with an excellent central performance by David Schofield, and absolutely beautifully lit and filmed.


For those of you that haven’t seen it, stop reading this and go do so. Shit, I’ve just about talked myself into another viewing.

The film is essentially a template for Resurrection – hand-held camera-work throughout, heavily de-saturated with subdued lighting, filmed in a single location, and with a middle-aged protagonist. Can we have one of those, but with zombies in, please?

So, it was with no small amount of excitement that Jake and I hooked up with veteran writer / director and low-budget horror legend Johannes Roberts for a pint, a chat and a session of brain-pickery.

Johannes has been round the mill a number of times (F is his fifth movie), and it is safe to say that if he doesn’t know something about getting a film made, it probably isn’t worth knowing. Jake and I tried to tap as much of this font of knowledge as ninety minutes in an Aldgate boozer allowed.

In this time we found out that we shouldn’t ever be paying for our locations. And we need to make sure we don’t miss our audience – if we insist on having a middle-aged lead, make sure we surround him with hot girls. And a whole load of gore.

And we need to learn how to direct actors.

This last point is key. Of all the low-budget horror I’ve watched over the last few months, there have been only a handful of individual performances that weren’t shocking. I’m not talking about a limited amount of great acting, I’m talking about a limited amount of acting that didn’t suck out loud. And completely against the grain, F doesn’t put a foot wrong.

There’s a simple answer, it seems. Make it all about the performance, and the camera comes second. Obvious really, but it evidently doesn’t stop so many film-makers getting it wrong. Show the actors respect; don’t treat them like props; let them make their own choices and decisions.

Jake and I have been instructed to get moving; to get whatever money we can raise and just go for it. Mr. Roberts – your message is received and understood. A massive thank you again for your time yesterday, and if anyone can get SyFy on their TV and might have a Jake-and-Andy shaped space on their sofa on April 23rd they should let us know now. Impatient.

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