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JM - How did you get your start in making films Barry, where did you get that first training?
BH - I suppose my first foray into movie-making was when I was about fourteen when myself and a friend of mine used to mess about with his Dads camcorder and improvise loads of stuff. It was all rubbish, mind. If I was to be honest, we were only really hoping for one of us to have an amusing accident on camera so we could net £250 from "Youve Been Framed".
After that I went on to do a broadcasting course at college in Aberdeen, where I met co-founder of Bonnie Haddock Productions, Kevin Dellaquaglia. We produced our first feature during the summer, and Im currently locked away editing at the moment.
JM - How did the idea of your trilogy of shorts, Zombie Love Stories, come about?
BH - Out of necessity, really. Kev and I had spent the three years since we left college buggering about, talking about how we were going to start a production company one day, and make a movie. After a while, we both got fed up talking about it and decided to go and do it. And so I wrote a script that we could shoot as cheaply as possible. First of all we were going to make it about vampires, but then vampires usually fly, or turn into mist or stuff, whereas zombies just tend to walk about a bit fairly slowly, so zombies it was. I knew a few actors who would lend their talents for free. That is to say, I knew one very persuasive actor by the name of Tommy Donbavand, who has lots of actor friends. Since two of them are in the West End, and could only get a short time off work, we decided to make three shorts with three different sets of actors, and cut the lot together to make a multi-plotted feature. We didnt have a single actor with us for more than five days, I dont think.
JM - So, spill the beans on the love-life of Zombies, Highland style. What happens in your Zombie trilogy?
BH - Each of the three stories is done in a different genre. Theres a comedy, a tragedy, and an action piece. The action piece originally had Elvis in it, but I took him out. Dunno why I put him in in the first place, truth be told.
Anyway, as well as being genre pieces, each of the sections is a love story of some description each one focusing on two main characters. Im not really a fan of gore, so its got more tension than blood. You hear a lot more than you see. Partly its because the audiences imagination is often much better than that of the director, but mostly because its cheaper to make low moaning noises into a microphone than it is to show a decomposing corpse shuffling along a street.
I cant really say much more than that without giving away the twists. Id like to stress though, that its in no way necrophiliac porn, as one rather worried investor feared.
JM - Lovely though the Highlands of Scotland are, it is a remote community, not exactly brimming with film crew. Was it difficult to recruit crew and cast for your films?
BH - The cast was made up for the most part by actor friends, though we did recruit one leading actress through a hasty ad in Shooting People, after the original actress had to pull out about a fortnight before shooting started. We got a huge response to the Shooting People ad, and while we would have loved to have had the time and money to audition everyone, we wound up with an absolute gem of an actress, Caroline Frewin, who endured a week of living in a house with four strange, smelly men, walking through bogs, sitting on wet rocks, being shouted at by a terrifying old man, and not blinking (her character was blind). Really struck it lucky there, so we did.
Crew was dead easy we went for the quick and compact approach, because we only had one car for the whole production. There was myself on camera, various people on various days on sound (who all usually doubled as zombies), and Kev. No one really knows what Kev did, but he was always holding a script and looking serious, so no one liked to ask. Make up was handled by the actors themselves, and everyone really mucked in to get everything done.
Amazingly, though, as soon as it became local knowledge that we were shooting this thing, loads of people called up to offer assistance. Not just people keen to get into films, either. We had the guy who was the armourer for Cuthroat Island, The Mummy and for Braveheart phone us up and offer his services for free! And another guy who was a stuntman on 999 phoned up and said if we needed anyone to fall of anything high without dying, he was the man for the job. Very handy.
JM - What sort of budget did you need and how did you finance the film?
BH - Because Id deliberately written it round locations I knew we had access to for free, and because everyone worked for nothing, we pulled the whole thing in for under £15,000. The cast stayed in my house, apart from on their last night of shooting, when we put them up in a hotel as a little thank you. It was a cheap hotel, mind, we didnt go overboard or anything.
We raised the money mostly through private investors. My Dad had just taken early retirement, so between him and my Mum, they chucked in £4000 from redundancy money and savings (which Ill never hear the bloody end of). A couple of local businesses forked out some cash, too, and the rest came as an advance from our sales agent and from the Scottish Youth Princes Business Trust.