Alex Chandon is a modern jack of all trades. A rare blend of both old school horror techniques and modern understanding. His new film INBRED has been haunting me for over a year. So much so that I needed to exorcise the demons with a t-down called 13 Question Marks of Horror!
1.What was the first film or experience that started your love affair with horror?
I guess seeing JAWS when I was 7. It changed my life and got me into sharks which led to horror films. My parents were great and let me watch horror films and read horror comics from a young age.
2.You started off filming shorts which can call for a very different type of narrative. Was it a hard trantion to features or did you find it an easy extenon of your writing style?
I've always been into writing stories and I was self taught when it came to films and film writing and so I didn't really see the difference between writing shorts and features. A story can be told in minutes or hours and it is always fun trying to construct a story that works in each given time frame. What did take a while to master was the way of writing and formatting scripts correctly, which is very important.
3.PERVIRELLA seemed like such a complex project. Was it a difficult project condering the amount of visuals and costumes required?
It was incredibly ambitious and very complex. The creator, producer Josh Collins shared my pason for models and miniatures and in camera effects and we both had such creative minds and such creative friends that got involved so the film could become this crazy, busy, fantastical world. The amount of work of every detail is pretty mind blowing thinking back. Everything in that film was made or built or altered... nothing could have been bought off a shelf... everything was unique. So it became a rather crazy labour of love for so many of us. I'm seeing Josh in a few weeks and we are talking about remastering a copy... I might get to do my 'director's cut' ! I think it could have a new lease of life.4.You were raised in the practical effects era but you are a digital effects artist. How do you marry the two disciplines?
I like to think the digital effects I am skilled in, such as 2d composting, is a very milar skill to old fashioned in-camera techniques or animation techniques... its just that I'm ung a computer as the tool to create the visual trickery and magic. I am not asking a computer to do the work... or generate anything that doesn't already exist. I am ung it to facilitate the job in hand.
But coming from a practical background has proved a very valuable asset as I can now heighten a practical effect with additional digital trickery, and therefore, hopefully fool the audience into how a trick is achieved even more.
I would still shoot an effect in camera as much as posble.
5.Let’s talk Inbred. What can you tell me about the film?
What do you want to know? How long have we got?
INBRED has been a film idea I've had nce 2001 when I wrote a 7 page treatment. In 2009 I got my feature-film mojo back after some years pursuing work in the digital effects field and I went back to the INBRED treatment and decided to mplify and update it and that became the project to make. I was fortunate enough to know some cool private investors and so the project went into production smoothly. I wrote the first few drafts of the script and then Paul Shrimpton did a great rewrite and that became the shooting script. Paul introduced a bit more dark humour and gritty Northern-ness to the script which I loved. Paul is also a film maker and we've been mates for years. He showed me to locations local to where he lives in Thirsk,
North Yorkshire... and they were perfect for INBRED and so that's how the film became set in Yorkshire.
I'd loved 'back-woods' horror movies nce an early age and felt no-one had really taken that clasc American style genre and bring it to the UK... which has its remote communities with strange local folk. That's how the idea came about... what can we do with crazy-inbred-redneck-types in the UK.
The UK comedy show The League Of Gentleman was a big inspiration, as was Monty Python... and so it was always going to be a pitch black comedy film.
We had a smallish budget and a very ambitious script. part of the struggle was to persuade people we could do this for the money. I can't thank the crew and cast enough as they all made many sacrifices to work on INBRED and they believed in me and the project... and we've paid them all back by delivering a film we can be proud of.
6.You’ve taken a sub-genre that is primarily known as American and taken it to a new level. What was your inspiration for the film?
Tobe Hooper's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was a film I saw aged 14 or so and it freaked me out... I still love it today. That got me into 'back-woods' type films. I also saw DELIVERANCE and Craven's HILLS HAVE EYES and STRAW DOGS all before I was 15 and so it's a genre that has had a big impact on me. I also love SOUTHERN COMFORT and the finale was direct inspiration for our Inbred song. And of course... the start of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON... we wanted to homage that so much. America ruled when it came to making 'back-woods' type horror films.
More recently I've really enjoyed CALVAIRE and WOLF CREEK which would also have inspired my subconscious.
7.The protagonists aren’t the clean cut good kids that are the norm. Do you find it eaer to create characters that have an edge nce you can take them anywhere arch-wise?
That was the idea and it worked really well I think. The easy thing to do would have been a group of friends/colleagues going on a party weekend... like most every other 'teens get lost' film. I decided that it would be far more fun to have a group of very different people and with conflicts within the group and i think I'd been watching a reality TV show about 'Teenage Boot Camp' or something and the idea of teens on community service with care workers sprang to mind and it was perfect. It allowed for great interaction and tons of character arc potential, as you say.
I have usually taken the eaest option when developing characters prior to INBRED and from now on I will relish the challenge of trying to do a bit more as it makes the characters come to life, which in turn helps the actors embellish them.
8.There is a circus element to the film that seems to naturally go with the inbred element. Was this a natural fit for you?
Absolutely. The whole idea of the Inbred village is that it is stuck in the 60s-70s... a very un-pc era compared to now. I have vage memories of the early 70's... The Black and White Minstrel Show was on BBC TV. Fairgrounds and Circus's were very special occaons for the whole family. Variety Type theatre shows were the biggest shows on TV.
The villagers don't have modern TV or computers so they rely on the older styles of live entertainment, so the show in the barn was an idea that came naturally.
9.You’ve come up with some pretty iconic characters. Do you see Inbred becoming a franchise or would you like to move into other arenas?
Thanks for saying that... we never intended to come up with such iconic characters.. they just all came together and the end results are rather splendid! For instance I never expected Podge to be played by Dominic Brunt, who came up with that look himself... and so we never expected such a clasc Podge performance... we actually expanded his scenes as the filming progressed as he was so cool.
The masks were degned by Dominic Hailstones as mple sketches and we had no idea how to make them but luckily a specialist costume maker lived locally and she created the beautiful masks that are worn in the show... and so each character has been a combination of many elements coming together and has been a very organic process... and so we're pleased they've made this impact!
I'm asked now a lot about another INBRED. If the right offer was there I'd love to do a prequel... which might be closer to my original treatment and would show how the Inbreds have got away with this for years and tears.
But right now I'm happy to not think 'inbred' and am developing some different ideas for films... all dark and twisted!
10.We have a lot of the same films as a point of reference like Jaws and The Evil Dead. What is it about those films that set them apart in the genre?
They are true clascs made by genius film directors allowed full creative freedoms to work their magic.
They are films made by minimal crews of experts and highly skilled technicians who loved their work and that love and pason screams out from every frame of these two films.
They showcase real human work and involvement. They don't rely on computers in their creation. They are more pure pieces of film-making that the modern day equivalents. I think we can admire them more because of the times they were created in and the fact they were so original as well.
And they weren't messed with by meddling studios or producers or distributors.
11.You are also a skilled digital effects artist. Does that ultimately play into how you shoot?
I became skilled in digital effects after my last feature film and so INBRED is the first feature film I have been able to use my new talents and one of the main reasons I got excited by feature films again is knowing I had this new found skill and I wanted to employ it as much as posble to novel effect in INBRED, and so right from the start I was writing in ideas that would involve practical and digital effects in a way I felt would be quite innovative and hopefully startling on screen. I also knew my 2D composting talents weren't expert enough for a lot of the INBRED jobs and so I used a couple of very close friends who are way more skilled than me to help on some of the more complicated scenes.
12.Europe is very different than America in certain respects. Have you found that horror fans differ from country to country?
Well this last year I've been fortunate to have been invited with INBRED to many festivals all around the world and so its been great to see how the different crowds react to INBRED and horror. I think in general horror fans are remarkably milar all over... they're really nice people! Condering we like or make the most extreme movies we are all such a nice bunch!
Some crowds are more raucous than others... I think European horror fans are the noiest which makes for more fun I think! I was played some audio taken during INBRED's screening at Imagine Festival's Infamous Night Of Terror (in Amsterdam) and it honestly sounded like it was a riot! Perhaps not for everyone but I like a good raucous crowd when watching gory horror films!
13.Halloween is on its way. What does a madman like you do for the holiday?
Whatever sounds like the funnest thing to do! I'm not fussy. I won't go out of way to make a big deal of Halloween nighty this year... watching a horror film with some cold ciders sounds like fun! But I'll be in Whitby UK the weekend just before Halloween and that should be fun... INBRED is screening and there's a Vampires Ball and so it'll be an all horror weekend of merriment, horror films and more merriment.
I have been known to go full-on-make-up for Halloween parties in the past... I do love an excuse to dress up as a hideous freak and terrify people on the streets! So maybe I'll get made up for the Vampires Ball... gatecrash it as a Zombie!
Thanks for the questions!
Other Horrific Mungs:
The Twisted Twins' American Mary - The nful Celluloid Review! http://ow.ly/eBah0
Joyride without a crew: Dead hooker in a trunk (2009) http://ow.ly/ewiTM
13 Question Marks of Horror with Hate Crime and My Pure Joy's James Cullen Bressack http://ow.ly/dXrZo
13 Question Marks of Horror: Bloody-Disgusting's Brad Miska http://ow.ly/dXs6q
13 Question Marks of Horror with The Other de 's Santoro Brothers http://ow.ly/dXseb