Although the producers are remaining tight lipped about what we can expect to see in the short film, we can reveal that it’s a horror comedy involving werewolves that has an innovative twist.
We got the chance to have an exclusive interview with the guys behind the production, Director Martyn Pick (The Haunting of Harry Payne) and writer Airell Anthony Hayles.
Love Horror: What can you tell us about Blue Moon?
Anthony: Blue Moon is a short horror comedy. it’s a film about a Werewolf attack on an Essex dogging site, which I thought would be a really crazy and challenging idea to bring to life. Luckily our director, Martyn Pick, thrives on challenging material and the shoot although difficult at times was also loads of fun.
I have always loved Werewolf films over Vampire ones or even Zombie ones, as they’re just scarier to me. It’s mans primal instincts stripped bare. Since getting hooked on Werewolf films (Micheal Jackson’s Thriller, The Company of Wolves, An American Werewolf in London) from far too young an age I have always wanted to tell a werewolf story. The British past time of ‘dogging’ seemed like a fun set up for a werewolf attack to take place as it really it the worse thing that could happen to you with your bits hanging free!
Martyn: The film is an extremely dark comic horror. Suburban doggers go deep in the woods looking for sex… only to become victim of a brutal werewolf attack! A concise short film with a great dynamic range from moments of widescreen beauty through bawdy comedy to raw terror!
I was hooked on Anthony’s script immediately because of it’s high concept that really grabs you. Anthony and myself both have a shared love of horror and a passion to push and explore the form.
The clear focused script is a great vehicle for the widescreen cinematic intensity I want to explore, and allows me to build on and develop the wild energy of my previous films such as Plaza for Channel 4. After directing the features Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie and Evil Never Dies doing a short is a great way to exercise, in a disciplined form, my directing style. It’s like the distilled ferocity of a great punk single.
Was there an incident in particular that inspired this idea?
Anthony: The idea was inspired by seeing a documentary on dogging on TV. It seemed more comic to me than erotic and the term ‘dogging’ brought the wonderful werewolf film Dog Soildors to my mind. I saw a potential horror-comedy link and wrote a story about a man out filming his dogging exploits for an adult website, who then captures a werewolf attack on his camera (which he hopes he’ll later be able to sell to news stations.) It began as a found footage concept, but that changed with our director who rightly wanted to get away from it being yet another found footage only film.
His vision was to intercut shots through a handheld camera with more beautiful Alexa camera shots that made the most of our atmospheric Suffolk location. The place was amazing with majestic old trees that seemed like characters in themselves!
Martyn: It’s the universal myth of people escaping the safety of society for the wilderness in search of excitement… Only to become the prey of dark forces. A resonant fairytale archetype. And a timeless horror scenario where the lure of sex in dark/remote places opens a Pandoras box of anarchic terror.
Like the babysitters making out in dark empty houses in Halloween. Or the young girl who runs away from the beach party to go skinny dipping with her boyfriend in Jaws. We are still touching that nerve but upping the ante and keeping it relevant for a contemporary audience by setting it in the dogging culture of the 21st Century.
Did you need to research the ‘scene’ a lot?
Anthony: I did research dogging a bit, yes, as I believe in ‘method’ writing. I drove to a dogging site near Surrey with a mate and inside a car park at around midnight there was a man sitting in his truck. We drove up to his window and trying to play it cool I asked him if there was any ‘action’ going on tonight. He said there should be a bit later, but as we hadn’t brought any girls with us he seemed a bit pissed off. It started raining so we drove home soon afterwards. Not a classic dogging experience – or maybe it was!
Martyn: Anthony really has a strong idea of the world this is set in. I added some incidental details of costume or backstory detail to some of the characters. The sense of suburban grit in details of clothing, speech and mannerisms that I have picked up from living for most of my life in and around London. That hallucinatory sense of magnified realism, that heightens observed realistic detail.
Other than the setting, how did you make this werewolf concept stand out from the pack?
Anthony: We had a group of werewolves attacking the site in the script and the the wonderful special effects team or Dave Darko and Meg Biffin (Darkworkz Studioz) helped us conjure them up. With a limited budget we wanted to suggest the werewolves rather than show it, and given the wonderful performances our actors gave I think it works very well. I’m a huge fan of minimalism so I love suggesting the horrors in a scary movie: a moonlit claw here, a yellow eye peering through the dark trees there… I’m constantly inspired by films like Cloverfield and the amazing Monsters.
Martyn: He has a wild feral Nosferatu silhouette… That has a uniquely disturbing edge… But we are doing the classic Jaws trick of not really seeing much of the beast but instead concentrating on the reactions and relationships between the characters. So a lot is implied and we feel the terror and relationships of the characters.
How do you strike the right balance of comedy and horror with a film like this?
Anthony: I wanted the script to be scary more than funny as the concept itself is inherently comedic and I felt the right way into the story was to go against the grain. There were times when the actors were slightly playing their characters for laughs, and our director would remind them to play the roles straight as we had to believe in them completely to sell the absurd situation they have found themselves in to audiences.
Martyn: It comes very naturally out of the integrity of the material. Capturing the truth of the suburban doggers with their speech, mannerisms and look immediately creates comedy! Like a character out of Dickens where every detail is rooted in a sharp observation of what is around us and when it is put together it has that enhanced vivid quality. Interestingly there are also moments of vulnerability that naturally bubble up with these characters and I think it’s important that those beats are in there. That sense of humanity.
The horror also naturally emerges from the situation where the doggers (without giving too much away) bring vengeance on themselves.
The raw horror would be too grim without the humour and the horror gives the raucous English humour a necessary jolt.. a visceral edge.
Anthony: The inspirations are Dickensian characters, sleazy ‘casting couch’ characters that I’ve come across in real life, as well as the more visceral entries into the Werewolf movie cannon such as The Howling. Also Grimms fairy tales – and a kind of atmosphere that existed in the black and white Hammer horror films I saw growing up.
Martyn: For me 70’s horror is a big formative influence (Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left). It’s that sense of horror touching a contemporary nerve. Anarchy and terror as society loses control through the break up of traditional conservative values and the permissive culture. We are updating that with the online dogging world and the sense that a culture existing outside of societies control is conjuring up and allowing in its own demons.
Another influence on the set up wide scenes are the epic tableau’s of De Sade and the Chapman Brothers. Anthony introduced me to the New French Extremity of Martyrs and Inside. Which really impressed me for its conceptual strength and originality.
I am from a Fine Art experimental film background and the projects I am attracted to like Blue Moon are ones that allow me to explore that creative extremism within an accessible commercial form.
Was it a smooth production process?
Anthony: It was a pretty smooth production process as the crew all knew each other and the director and worked very fast. We had an amazing director of photography in Andy Parsons and the cast were hard working and had a sense of humour about the nudity that had to on some level be involved in a film set around the UK dogging scene. It was very cold, and they weren’t wearing very much, and they never complained. Truly a very professional team I hope to work with again in the future.
Martyn: Yes it was a great team and a great working experience: Quantum Films (production) and Bruizer (crew) .There are sterling forceful performances from the leads Louis Selwyn, Madalina Bellariu Ion , Samantha Parry and, actually, all the cast.
My way of working coming from a mixed media world of CGI, animation and live-action is to heavily storyboard. That combined with concept art (for colour, tone and feel) means there is a strong visualisation of every shot and a clear indication of my sense of drama, composition, choreography and range of shots. Having worked with Andy Parsons before and the great Bruizer crew, we have an on location shorthand. I will show him my board and he will bring to it his great eye to make it both feasible and aesthetically strong. Shot on Alexa, it looks very lush and cinematic. There is a great dynamic between grand beautifully lit cinematic crane shots and wild frenzied hand held camera. It will be a cool dynamic cutting between the two, so it breaks in and out of “found footage” .
What are your aspirations for Blue Moon? The festival circuit?
Anthony: Blue Moon will go out to horror festivals as well as some others. It’s the kind of film I’d like to see as a horror fan and I hope people are entertained by the realisation of this crazy high concept. A few of us involved in making the film attend the Frightfest festival each year and are true hardcore horror fans. Of course we’d love to see it played there in particular – I certainly wrote it with that audience in mind. We just promoted the short at Cannes as Blue Moon is part of a new horror trilogy film we are making in the vein of Creepshow. Blue Moon is the first of four stories that make up the film, and we are shooting the second one very soon. The film gives fresh takes on the less exposed movie monsters, and pays homage to the seventies an eighties horror anthology films that I love to death.
Martyn: Yes, festivals will be the main focus. Specifically the genre/horror ones. I want it to be a powerful statement of intent in that area, and develop into more films, short and long form.
Blue Moon is still currently in production, but we’ll keep you updated on its release.