This week, Emma Dark released the first trailer for Salient Minus Ten, the follow-up to her smash hit horror Seize the Night (2015). DAVID SAUNDERSON talks to the filmmaker about the sci-fi horror short.

SPOOKY ISLES: Emma, congratulations on the trailer – it looks fantastic. The film has an almost 1960s/1970s look to it – what were your influences for Salient Minus Ten?

Thanks, I’m glad you like it. Strictly speaking it’s not set in the 60’s/70’s but I was keen to give it a retro ‘near future Sci-Fi ‘ look and feel. The opening shots (which you can see in the trailer) utilise the futuristic walkways of London’s Barbican Estate, which was of course built in that time period and formed part of the brutalist architectural movement. I feel with modern cinema we’ve lost something – a sense of pacing and originality perhaps that was often apparent in film and TV of the 60’s/70’s. I often find modern cinema doesn’t offer films that are as artful, original or thought provoking as they should be, and I wonder if filmmakers like Tarkovsky or Kubrick would have the same response to their films now as they did at the time.

You’ve got an impressive cast/crew – can you tell us a bit about how that came about.

Thank you, yes. I brought back a number of alumini from my previous short film “Seize the Night” (2015). I had such a professional team it would have been illogical not to. Chris Hampshire and Beric Read returned to the screen to play supporting roles. Both Chris and Beric have unique screen presence and a very interesting look. They play non speaking parts in Salient Minus Ten (which has little dialogue anyway) so look and expression was all the more important. Joining in a supporting role is Samantha Oci. Samantha is a filmmaker in her own right, but it also open to front of camera roles, and again she had the perfect look for the part and gave a wonderful performance.

I take a small role in the film as a secondary leading character – the antagonist of the film, which you can see in the trailer. Screen time is kept minimal for my character as I has so many other aspects of the film to focus on, but the character’s scenes are very powerful and integral to the plot.
The lead character ‘Adam Harper’ is played by Alan Austen. The focus of the film is very much on this character and his journey. I met Alan while signing at DaleCon Sci-Fi/Horror convention in 2016, and later asked him to audition for the part, the rest is history. His career started in 1979 when he appeared in ‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ as as one of the Stormtroopers responsible for placing Han Solo in the carbon-freezing chamber, and then went on to double for Harrison Ford/Han Solo himself in a number of scenes. Alan is an amazing actor and gave a really strong performance in Salient Minus Ten.

Emma Dark and Alan Austen, photo by David Kittos

Emma Dark and Alan Austen, photo by David Kittos

Other ‘Seize the Night’ alumni returning included popular US based Composer Eric Elick. Eric’s ‘Seize the Night’ score garnered a considerable amount of attention, and I think if fans really enjoyed that they will be absolutely blown away by Salient Minus Ten’s score. A number of films and TV programs are going for a more retro score these days, and there are particular styles viewers are now familiar with across the board, however I was keen for the film to have a more authentic, and perhaps slightly earlier analogue sound. Of course there’s a only a small taste of this in the trailer itself as it’s only 33 seconds long!

Complimenting Eric’s score is sound design by Chris Collier, who I’d not previously worked with. I wanted the sound design to be prominent and artistically beautiful, so it’s not a case of adjusting a few levels and adding in a sound effect here and there. The whole film is very dream like, and to achieve that effect Chris spent a considerable amount of time and effort re-creating post sound in much the way you would expect to hear in (for example) 1970’s Italian Giallo films to maintain an authentic retro feel. If you’ve ever watched “Berberian Sound Studio” (2012) you’ll understand what I mean.

Further ‘Seize the Night’ alumini included Davy Simmons for Visual Effects, Merlyn Roberts as 1st AD, and David Kittos as Behind the Scenes/Publicity photographer. Sadly you don’t get to see any of Davy’s fantastic VFX in the trailer as I wanted to keep VFX and SFX a surprise for festival goers, keeping the trailer spoiler free. Joining as SFX Makeup Artist was Mike Peel. I hadn’t worked with Mike before but had previously met him and had also heard wonderful things about him. Mike’s portfolio and credits speak for themselves and include “The Descent” (2005), “V for Vendetta” (2005), “Evil Aliens” (2005), “Casino Royale” (2006), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007), “Unhallowed Ground” (2015), and “Shed of the Dead”.

Alan Austen in a scene from Salient Minus Ten

Alan Austen in a scene from Salient Minus Ten

And then of course we come on to Philip Bloom, Salient Minus Ten’s Director of Photography. I was incredibly lucky to have world renowned filmmaker/cinematographer Philip on board the project. DSLR independent filmmaking would not be as we know it today if it were not for Philip.

Anybody who makes independent film should know who he is, and if you don’t where have you been? Besides the fact Philip is extremely well known and worked with the likes of George Lucas and major broadcasters all over the world he is able to shoot genuinely ‘beautiful’ footage, which of course you can see reflected in the trailer.

Philip is an extremely busy person who puts a huge amount of time and effort into his personal projects, and also carries out all of his own social media management (which let me tell you is no small task at his level), so I’m very grateful he took time out of a super busy schedule to work on Salient Minus Ten.


What can you tell us about the plot?

Well, I want to maintain the mystery as much as possible at this stage, but my synopsis reads as follows:
“Adam Harper is an average man. And on an average day he suddenly finds himself catapulted into the strangest, reality changing game… A game of time and chance, where the stakes are a matter of life and death.”

When will the film be available to see – and where can people see it?

The film will be starting it’s festival run soon. I’ve submitted to a number of festivals, so really I’m waiting on notifications now, and then I can start announcing screenings. I would advise readers to follow the Salient Minus Ten Facebook or Twitter pages to keep up-to-date with news and screenings. After it’s completed a festival run (which could be some time away) I will work to make it available to view outside of festivals screenings.

Is there anything else you would like to tell readers?

Yes, I would just like to say that there is currently an eight page article in Digital FilmMaker Magazine (Issue 49) detailing the making of the film and featuring lots behind the scenes photos, and I’d thoroughly encourage fans to pick up a copy and read it.

David Saunderson
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