I trained as an actor many years ago and though I'd dabbled in Theatre directing only started to go for the idea of making my own films after working for the BBC on a series call, 'For Amusement Only'. The director was having a torrid time with a multi strand program - I was playing a character called Judge Jugular (Don't laugh!!!!) - My strand was going along like clockwork, but another strand was falling way behind due to the lead actress not getting along too well with the other characters.
To cut a long story short - He left his PA in charge of seeing through our strand. The girl hadn't a clue. I keep explain the "how's, what's and where's" and finally she gave up and let me direct my self and the camera crew. At the end of the last program section - both cameraman and sound man came up to me and said - You should be a director - you're a natural.
After having such a frustrating time, I decided to make my first short entitled, The One We Came In For. It was taken from a series of short nodal scenes I had written and then woven together. The outcome was a relative success as I managed to get it in the 1999 San Francisco Film Festival, after that, I made films as often as I could afford to. With this in my background I began shooting and writing corporate films, which has propped up the habit.
It has taken a long time to get to complete a feature, I've always admired the Americans - they grab a camera and shot - IT - Anything. I could do this I wanted to know I could produce a really good story and deliver every dollar of the cost onto the screen.
Q: How did the script for CALL OF THE HUNTER come about? As an American, I had never heard of Herne the Hunter before and found the legend very interesting...
A very dear and old friend of mine is a UK legends oracle - Stephen Gawtry. He'd been moaning and bitching about writing a script and I'd been moaning and bitching about making a feature.
And so over lunch one day he said, "You give me the parameters you want to work to and I'll write it around a folklore tale.
So there it was - One old house, one forest, no more than eight characters.He'd been looking at Herne the Hunter for some time - Only the BBC had tackled the tale and that was done very badly under the guise of the Robin of Sherwood series with Michael Praed.
Herne never went to Nottingham! It's a fascinating tale and I think we have managed to serve up an accurate and historic account of what happened.
Q: Was the script written with a low budget in mind? And why do a horror movie?
Absolutely, I had a really good associate John Slocombe, an astute businessman who was game to take a loss on the project - He placed 50% of the finance and the rest was made from about four other people including myself. The total budget on the film was £25,000 (36,000 US$)
The reason for doing a horror movie is quite simple - I love the genre, I love the way that independent horror film making has pioneered so many aspects of mainstream film making - IE - Driller Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blair Witch Project to name but a few.
My collection of horror DVD's numbers around 500 - and in there are some pretty sad, funny and stupid films - but it makes me laugh and helps me escape.
Q: I like that the movie escalates in intensity as it progresses, with most of the "gore" effects in the last third of the movie. Who did the special makeup effects?
I was really, really luck to meet a young woman called Sally Alcott who was fresh out of college and as eager as a puppy looking to bit off it's own tail. She brought such enthusiasm to the special effect and would work for days upon days trying to work out how to keep the costs to a bare minimum. After making Call of the Hunter we made a tease film for a Vampire Series and she made and produced the custom-made vampire teeth for three characters. They not only looked and fitted amazingly, but she found a way of manufacturing them really cheaply. She is just fabulous and very clever.
Q: How did you go about casting the movie?
We shot the whole film in one location over 12 days. We slept, ate and worked in the farmhouse every single day, so I needed to be confident that my cast wouldn't suffer from the heebie-jeebies!
At first I cast parts to actors that I had worked with a number of times both in shorts and in corporate work - Michael Instone, Don McCorkindale, Katrin Riedel-Kelly and Angelique Fernandez. They knew how I liked to work and understood the difficulties I would have in making the whole film work.
The rest came through an on-line casting service in the UK called Shooting People. I had worries whilst doing this because I hadn't cast the main lead of Tamsin from my Posse! Luck was on my side and I found three fantastic actors Sarah Paul who is outstanding as Tamsin, Julia Curle as Elaine and Johnny Hansler as Max.
Q: You're an actor as well (and portray Herne the Hunter in the movie). For you, is this something that helps you in directing?
I am an actor and on the other hand I am a director, but I can say this hand on heart, there are far to many wannabe actor/directors. There is only one Clint Eastwood… I loved making a cameo in the film, but to play something like Max would have made the film fail.
The night we shot the Herne footage, I wanted to makes sure that I had covered all of the other actors scenes. By the time I put the costume on it was 4:30 in the morning and we had been working since 10am.
When you are on a tight budget and schedule you need all the concentration you can must to make the whole project work. We had a crew of eight people - in part you are the Director, the 1st AD and A.N.Others!
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of making the movie?
The most challenging part of making low budget independent films is putting every dollar on the screen and working to get a really professional product. It will always have flaws, because of lack of time and money, but if you use great actors - we did, if you get a really good script as Stephen wrote and you assemble professional people, you have at least a fighting chance. I'm proud of what we have achieved… not me… but WE. Everyone gave everything in the making of Call of the Hunter.
Q: What is your favorite scene?
After all I have said about being a horror addict, one of my very favorite scenes is between Dan (Michael Instone and Natasha (Katrin Riedel-Kelly) when he visits her in her room to try and comfort her. It is shot and lit beautifully by Dennis Morgan the DOP and the dynamic between them is first rate.
I also like the hallway scene when Natasha screams out of her room and that brings them all together in a very Hammer House way.
Q: How can people see CALL OF THE HUNTER?
Currently the DVD and VOD etc is being distributed in the states and around the NTSC world by RSquared Films and is available through amazon.com
We have also just about sealed an agreement with Gruenberg Films, Germany for the European PAL distribution.
Other than that copies and merchandise can be purchased through the website
Q: Are you working on any new horror projects?
I have a self-penned script called, 'Stan' another very British film centered on a psychotic Box-Cutter knife. Also Stephen Gawtry is finalizing a really nice ghost story entitled,' Theatre of Mirrors' set in an old Theatre in the North of England. Details about them can be found on the website.