Spooky Isles just got a sneak peak at the new short independent horror ‘SEIZE THE NIGHT’ from filmmaker Emma Dark. The film, which stars Emma as a renegade vampire assassin, had its UK premiere at Belfast’s The Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival in October from which Emma went on to win the prestigious MMBF Rising Star award. We caught up with Emma to have a chat about the film.
SI: Congratulations on the film, it looks fantastic – there are multi-million epics that don’t look as good as SEIZE THE NIGHT. You obviously spent a lot of time and money on the film.
ED: Thank you very much! Yes, in terms of budget the total was around £5,000 of which £1,463 (pre Indiegogo, PayPal etc. fees were deducted) was raised via a crowdfund campaign, the rest of the budget funded from my own personal savings. In film terms that’s pretty much ‘no budget’ and those who have viewed and reviewed the film do tend to think it cost considerably more.
I was extremely keen to have that high production value look and feel and with a fairly small budget it could very well have not met that objective. However, having a great team on board, real professionals in terms of attitude and skill are what helps make that kind of budget work in the best possible way. For example, a lot of the camera work itself was executed by a fellow indie filmmaker – AJ Singh.
AJ has the same type of artistic and cinematic vision as me which really helped with translating what I wanted to achieve as part of my strong vision into the final ‘in camera’ results. He has a good understanding of cinematic camera work and action films in general, and like me is a perfectionist. AJ worked alongside Donato Cinicolo who also executed some of the camera work and took on more of a supervisory DOP type role.
Then of course we have excellent practical effects (prosthetics and creature teeth) from Luke Smith and Steve Bosworth, who often work as a team and work on a lot of independent horror projects. Topping off all of that there are some pretty outstanding, to say the least, digital visual effects from up and coming VFX artist Davy Simmons, a sublime score from LA based composer Eric Elick and professional foleys and mixing from Bristol based ex games sound designer Max Phillips. Coupled with the edit and colour grade by myself you have an end result that looks slick and professional. Everyone worked extremely hard and performed the very best they could perform, including the actors and the rest of the crew, that makes a big difference on any level of production, having people who genuinely care.
Yes, it is obvious this was a work of love for a lot of people, including yourself. Tell us a little about the writing process.
Well, I’d wanted to make something of this ilk for a while and had a strong concept for what I wanted. I approached my good friend Rick Humphries, a US based professionally trained screenwriter to see if he would like to work on the project and he said yes. So Rick and I banded ideas back and forth for a month or so and the story grew organically from my concept into what it is today. Later refinements came out of rehearsals as they give you a little more perspective on how lines etc. will come across from the actors.
You had some very famous and well-respected people on the shoot, such as Roy Scammell, who played the alien in Alien. How did that come about?
Yes, I did, I was very lucky! The lovely Roy Scammell was responsible for fight co-ordination, he’d been introduced to be by one of my cinematographers, Donato Cinicolo, who is a good friend of his. Roy was stunt arranger on Stanley Kubrick’s CLOCKWORK ORANGE, worked on six Bond films and many TV series including DR WHO, THE SWEENEY and THE PROFESSIONALS. I also had actor Anthony Ilott, star of Twentieth Century Fox’s WRONG TURN 6: LAST RESPORT take a part in the film. I’d met Anthony at FrightFest the previous year, where I’d interviewed him as part of a web show I was doing, and he approached me to work on SEIZE THE NIGHT, which was fantastic really. I only wish I’d been able to give him a bigger part as the film was already in production, so I’d written him in a part especially.
What are you learning from the process of putting films together and getting them screen at festivals.
It’s hard work! To do something like this you have to be deeply committed. If you think about it I’ve been on ‘SEIZE THE NIGHT’ since November 2014 and it’s now December 2015 and I’m still not finished up, having some more post production to do on the behind the scenes material, further marketing etc. It’s all a learning process and certainly there are points I’ve picked up through mistakes made that will be invaluable when it comes to starting my next production.
With regard to festivals I’ve learnt there are some really great festivals who avidly champion indie filmmakers (such as The Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival and Scream in the Dark which SEIZE THE NIGHT has played at) but that unfortunately there is also a proportion of the festival scene that is more aimed around business/money making than supporting the arts, with selections pre-decided, various money making scams etc. It’s a mine field, it really is and the indie film making scene is in dire need of a festival recommendation sites based on filmmakers personal experiences that can help weed out sham festivals and those with questionable practices. I wouldn’t want these comments to put off other filmmakers from submitting to festivals though, there are still plenty of great ones out there.
What can people expect next from Emma Dark?
Ah the most commonly asked question of the moment I believe! I have a couple of productions I want to make in 2016, and of course I’d like to turn ‘SEIZE THE NIGHT’ into a TV series of feature film, should a generous investor emerge. In terms of acting work I have Kev Harte of AbandonHope Films ‘The Morning Star Preserves Company’ coming up, in which I play the lead part of Laura Kinsey, a segment for Richard Gladman’s horror storytelling series ‘Fragments of Fear’ coming out soon and hopefully a lead part in a feature film production coming up, I can’t say too much more for now though.