film, horror, looking like a prick, photography, Uncategorized

Try not to look like a prick

I’m going to talk about publicity. I haven’t had to do much in the way of publicity for my movies – mainly written interviews online/in print where I’d have the time to think about ‘clever answers’. A couple of radio interviews – which I found highly stressful/embarrassing and one video interview with a plastic rat with a plastic penis – which unfortunately i don’t have the footage of to show you.

In my day job (we all have one) I work with professional sports personalities, I interview them a lot – I’ve even carried out media training… the ABC method (google it) all sorts of techniques to look good on camera and get your point across. But none of that ever works for me – I just end up looking (and feeling) like a bell end.

The worst example of this was when the ‘Daily Echo’ decided to run a piece on the release of ‘The Witches Hammer’. I think the casting of Stephanie Beacham had peaked their interest. They went with the whole ‘Local film maker on his way to Hollywood’ story – a headline that has probably been used across the country for thousands of film makers in a similar position. See Fig 1.


(Fig 1. Above – a few articles from the CatnCage Pictures days – DON’T ask me why I wore that t-shirt)

I was in a good position as I had the centre spread of the sunday tv guide/supplementary and was guaranteed a few good stills from the film, they even sent a photographer…. and heres where I start to cringe.

The photographer asked to meet me at a church for the photos – I thought nothing of it… when I arrived, the photographer proceeded to take standard head shots of me smiling,  then he asked nonchalantly ‘ I wonder how it would look if we put you over there by the church doors?’ ‘OK’ I said – being polite, and not used to being photographed … next he said – ‘How about over there by that tree?’, ‘Sure thing’ I replied, click click click – more pictures. Then he suggested – ‘Heres an idea, why don’t you climb up in the tree?’ at this point you’d think alarm bells would be ringing, but I just replied ‘Yeah, no problem’, after all he must know what he’s doing right?

I clumsily climbed up into the tree… ‘Put your hands out there and legs here and here’ he said, positioning me like an overweight out of costume spidey. Then he said ‘Why don’t we take a few over by those gravestones’… ok, I’m a horror director, that makes sense – so I went over and stood by one… and again he says  – ‘Try squatting and put your hands like this and look over there’ thats it – I’m smiling, a friendly I’m a nice guy smile… click click click –  hang on I think he might have taken one when I wasn’t smiling – oh well I’m sure they’ll pick the best one….Herein lies the lesson….

If they take a thousand photos they’ll choose the one that fits the story, not the one you like or the image of yourself you’d like to present to the world – thats for your own website/social media…. Thankfully the fat-spidey pics never saw the light of day, so heres me posing like Hitchcock looking like a pretentious cock.


(Fig 2. I can often be found hiding behind gravestones.)



film, Uncategorized

Exploding cars and killer clowns

I read reviews. I do, I shouldn’t, but I do – some are funny, some are positive and some are painful to read, but time gives you comfortable perspective.

The movie ‘Hellbreeder’ (I co-wrote/co-directed/co-produced with Johannes Roberts) was shot in and around 2001 – at the time we set out with lofty ambitions of creating a unique art house horror movie. Shot on multiple formats, characters talk direct to camera and have their inner thoughts expressed as subtitles. It had dream sequences, black and white, flashbacks, gruesome body horror, nudity and even Darren Day wielding a samurai sword – what more could you want?

Well, distributors wanted a hell of a lot less actually. All of the craziness had to go – nix the talking to camera, cut the voice over, bin the multiple formats – but leave in the gore, the nudity and Darren Day wielding a samurai sword.  Add in a new scene explaining the whole plot (to be fair it was pretty confusing). Then create some artwork that gives away the only surprise in the movie (the killer clown) and you’re onto a winner… well actually a bit of a stinker.

I have a lot of fond memories of the shoot for Hellbreeder; shooting non stop on a 48 hour slog, taking French actor ‘Dominique Pinon’ to ‘The Dungeon’ night club in Southampton and filming an exploding car with a clown on fire – now there’s something to tell the grandchildren about. It was our sophomore feature and we literally threw everything at the screen… but none of the good stuff stuck, it was ultimately cut down or cut out so we could get distribution.

But I should accept some responsibility – something reviews force you to do, although it turns out the more time that passes since you made it, the better it feels and the easier it is to face up to the bad stuff.

When you’ve just made a film its still very raw, you’ve put so much time and effort into it you don’t want to hear all the reasons someone else thinks its shit – but later down the line you can appreciate those mistakes, impartially judge if they actually matter and if they are big clunkers then learn from them.

Here’s a couple of video reviews for Hellbreeder I found  – both spot on – both made me laugh and had me nodding along with the reviewers.