The Addicted, How and why we made this UK Indie Horror Movie By Writer & Director Sean J Vincent
When you’re deciding what kind of film to make, there are several factors that influence your decision. If you’re a big Hollywood Studio, you’re going to be thinking about opening weekend figures and working with the very best talent to give your film the best chance in competition against all the other big movies it is going to have to compete with. This probably means finding an awesome script, a top-notch director and a star to carry it. Money is rarely an object… unless they are deciding between spending 200 or 300 million Dollars.
Things are very different with very low budget features. You have to think what is going to allow you to compete with movies costing thousands times more to make. What is it that will allow the budget to not be an issue? It would be nice to think that a good story can be told on any budget, but audiences need a good production in order to truly suspend disbelief.
We decided to keep the locations to a minimum… shooting mainly in one building. We also decided that the one genre where a good story and clever shooting could get past the budget issues was horror. Making people scared is all about atmosphere and tension… and that doesn’t cost
Before I started writing, I decided to look for the location. I knew that if I could find a building then it would probably inspire ideas for the story. I found a website that shows derelict buildings that photographers have discovered and managed to get inside and take photos. There were hundreds of great places, but one that caught my eye was an abandoned drug rehab centre. It was only about an hour’s drive from where I live, so I went to find it. After looking all afternoon, I gave up. I tried again the following week…but again, no luck. Then, whilst driving home I found another building… It was an old derelict Victorian print works. Over the years it had been various things including offices and most recently, a warehouse. It looked perfect. Luckily for me, the local authority who owned it had their phone number on the outside of the building, so I gave them a call.
After an initial meeting and walk around the inside of the building with the owners, they agreed to let me lease it in it’s current, very dilapidated state. All I needed now was a script. I’d already made a start based around the idea of an abandoned drug rehab centre… but I couldn’t go to far with it until I knew the exact layout of the building. The owners were kind enough to let me take lots of photos and they also gave me a detailed floorplan of the place. Now it was just a case of getting on with it.
I knew I wanted a ghost story…I wanted that paranormal aspect to it, but I also love the idea of a psychotic killer on the loose…especially if you’re trapped in the same building. Finding a way to combine the two kind of horror films was key to the script.
I watched ‘Alien’ again and again. I know it’s Sci-Fi, but in my opinion it’s the best horror film/thriller ever made. You barely see anything of the Xenomorph, but the fear is constant. I wanted some of that feeling in ‘The Addicted’. I also thought it was important to touch on the subject of drug addiction without the paranormal goings on.
I wanted to show the horror and destructiveness of addiction without the horror backdrop, and that’s where the backstory set in 1987 comes in… it’s the reason everything is happening… and it gave me a chance to give the characters more depth.
So, with script and location sorted, it just remained to find a cast, crew and deal with all the practicalities of shooting a movie. If there’s one bit advice I could give an aspiring indie film maker it would be to make sure you budget for the things that don’t excite you in the planning stage. Spending money on the latest camera or the coolest software is great, but if you can’t pay your cast’s travel expenses and you don’t have enough hot food for them to eat, you’re not going to make it through weeks of shooting. Also, work with the right people. My lead actress, Jenny Gayner is also our casting director and she also took care of the on-set catering… Jonathan Atkinson was our soundman on-set and he’s also writing and recording the score. Our Executive Producer, Lawrie Alderman put up the entire cast and crew as well as making sure we had the hardware we needed for the editing suite. Taking on something this big on your own is impossible… you need good people and you need to delegate. Even if you’re a control freak like me… let go.
We shot for 3 weeks. 2 weeks in the main building and a week in the other locations. We kept the crew small. Myself directing, a camera operator, a soundman, two make-up artists, a gaffer/spark and my cast were all doubling up as either catering or runners etc when they weren’t on camera. It’s a huge team effort.
Shooting with the latest digital super35mm camera meant we could watch back footage instantly, all part of the new way of doing things…which saves time and money and means we don’t waste loads of disk space on useless takes. At the end of every day, myself and the cast would watch back the day’s footage and see how we’d done. In this kind of situation, there’s always problems… filmmaking is one big lesson in problem solving, but we were really happy with how it all came out. I owe a huge amount to the work of Ian Holmes, my gaffer/spark. He cabled and powered a derelict 3 floor building with no mains power and lit it all simultaneously so I could shoot wherever I wanted to without too much set-up time.
Now we’re in post production. The edit took from December 2011 until March 2012 and now I’m working on the foley, sound design and touching up the colour grade while Jonathan Atkinson writes and records the orchestral score. We’re hoping to prove that a small but dedicated team can make a credible film for a tiny fraction of what the major studios spend… then we’re going to do it all again.
Look out on LoveHorror for more news on The Addicted soon and in the meantime check out the trailer below: