Spooky Isles talks to Andy Stewart, horror movie enthusiast and www.andyerupts.com editor from Glasgow, about his debut short film Dysmorphia
The name Andy Stewart may not be one that is immediately familiar to everyone. Sure, there may be some people who remember the late, kilted, Scottish singer, though that is not who this is about. If THIS Andy Stewart has his way, horror fans everywhere will know his name.
Born in Glasgow on Halloween 1980, Andy grew up with what he calls “an unhealthy fear of masks” and “an obsession with horror films”, one that he nurtured as he grew.
After a spell working as a freelance sports journalist covering Scottish 3rd Division football matches, he turned his attention back to horror and on June 1st 2011, started the horror blog AndyErupts.com as a “means to moan about the current remake culture”.
The year and a bit since has seen the site grow to become one of the UK’s most respected upcoming horror blogs, one that has attracted interviews with the likes of Tony Todd (Candyman), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), AJ Bowen (A Horrible Way To Die) and Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects).
In addition to this, in November 2011, Andy was approached to contribute to UK-based horror magazine, SCREAM and was also selected to sit on the official Jury for the Shadows Short horror competition at this year’s Transylvania International Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
His arms are covered with tattoos of Michael Myers, Pinhead and Leatherface.
It’s fair to say that Andy Stewart lives and breathes horror movies.
So, not merely content with writing about films, the Scot has now decided to try his hand at directing them and his first short film, Dysmorphia, is just about ready to be unleashed on the public.
We recently caught up with Andy for a brief chat about the last year and his plans for the future.
SPOOKY ISLES: Busy year?
ANDY: It’s been really weird, to be honest, and totally unexpected. I started the blog on my laptop. Just me. Now, I have around 10 guys writing for the site and we have had quotes featured in trailers and stuff.
Then I am sitting in rooms and chatting with guys that I grew up watching. Guys that are tattooed on my arm. Very odd and very flattering.
SPOOKY ISLES: What has been the highlight of your year?
ANDY: Oh man. I don’t know. There has been a lot of great stuff, to be honest. Meeting (The Wicker Man director) Robin Hardy was pretty cool. The Wicker Man is one of my favourite films of all time. He’s a very witty and erudite man. Actually, all the interviews I have done have been amazing and it still makes my head reel to think that these people are amenable to fighting past the Scottish accent and actually chatting to me.
Getting invited to judge in Romania was great. I thought it was a wind-up at first. An email, in broken English? It almost got deleted. I think that might have been the point that my Mum realised that there might have been something to all my years of buying DVDs and videos.
I have to say, I’m not a fan of the whole red carpet thing at all.
SPOOKY ISLES: So why did you decide to move into film-making?
ANDY: It’s not a move, so much as adding another string to my bow. It’s actually something that I always wanted to do. My mates and I used to get pissed and film unscripted nonsense on 8mm camcorder tapes and splash about in tomato ketchup and edit the whole thing in camera. Some of those tapes still exist and they are, frankly, pretty embarrassing.
I have sat through more than my fair share of shit films and decided that I would have a stab at making something and see if I could actually do it, safe in the knowledge that if my films were shit, at least I would have tried.
I have never had aspirations to work in any genre of film except horror. I know a lot of film-makers view horror as a stepping stone onto bigger things but I think that is a shame. The real horror fans are the ones making the best horror films today.
SPOOKY ISLES: So tell us a bit about Dysmorphia?
ANDY:I had this dream of making a body-horror anthology film. So I sat down and started writing. I wrote three segments that I felt were pretty strong and then realised that I was just writing things to fill up pages.
So I decided that I would take the three strongest parts and make them as a “trilogy” of short films.
I settled on Dysmorphia for the first one as it seemed the simplest. One guy in a room, with minimal effects but a lot of drama and a lot of blood.
It’s the story of a guy who leaves everything he loves behind and heads off to be alone and sets about “perfecting” himself. It’s pretty grisly but also weirdly tender. It also makes people uneasy and I like that.
SPOOKY ISLES: How did you find making your first film?
ANDY: It was wonderful and I learnt an awful lot. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the film and how it should look and sound and feel. The “feel” was important. I wanted to make an intimate film that makes the viewer feel a little bit bad for watching. I was aware of my budgetary limitations and I honestly don’t think that anyone out there will believe how little we spent on making this film.
I had a great producer in Adri Polito, an amazing cinematographer in Paul-John Ross and a truly phenomenal leading man in Gordon Holliday. He was the only person I ever wanted to appear in the film and I’m very glad he agreed to do it. I was also lucky enough to have a great young crew, who didn’t mind working for free in a sweltering room that stank of pork and syrup.
SPOOKY ISLES: So what’s next for you?
ANDY: Well, the usual writing and interviewing and visiting festivals for the site, of course. Also, Dysmorphia is about to get shipped off for festival submissions which is a pretty daunting prospect, in all honesty. I review a lot of people’s films, not always positively, and now I am putting myself and my vision out there to be scrutinised.
Then, I am going into pre-production on the next short, entitled INK, which tells the story of a hapless “thief”. I’m looking forward to it a lot. It’s funny and horrific. I’m going to shoot it before the end of the year.
I’m going to follow that with the third one, SPANK, which is all I’m going to say about that one. The name is plenty.
In the meantime, I am going to start fundraising for my first feature, Walker’s Rest. It’s a cannibal film. It is the story of a group of hikers that stumble across a B&B run by a seemingly normal family that turn out to be cannibals. I love cannibal films and no-one really makes them anymore. I would love to film up around Glencoe in Scotland. It’s a really beautiful place.