Five FrightFest Facts From director Justin McConnell and co-producer Darryl Shaw of Clapboard Jungle

We may be in the middle of a period in history straight out of a horror film but the pandemic has not stopped FrightFest which is back in 2020 in a new online form and bringing the best new horror from across the globe to stream exclusively into your homes.

Our exclusive interview feature Five FrightFest Facts From… is also back quizzing the talent behind the terror and giving you an added insight. Below we hear from director Justin McConnell and co-producer Darryl Shaw of Clapboard Jungle and you can read more FrightFest Facts from 2020 and beyond by clicking HERE.

1. Tell us about your film?
Justin McConnell: CLAPBOARD JUNGLE is meant to be a survival guide for the modern independent filmmaker. Not just in terms of the basics of the industry, but mentally/emotionally. I started shooting it in 2014 and produced it mostly out of my own pocket until final post-production, so it was very much something that gradually got made organically. The plan was, mostly since I couldn’t afford to follow anyone else, I’d turn the camera on myself and track my progress trying to get films made over a period of time, making that the skeleton to which supporting interviews would inform the audience in a concise way. The goal was to create something I wish existed when I was first starting out, a kind of ‘film school in a box’. And then it got out of hand a bit (in a good way)… gradually in my travels I collected about 120 interviews and over 300 hours of raw footage, so the project expanded. The documentary playing at FRIGHTFEST and other festivals is a standalone emotional/story driven approach (still including lots of interviews), but we’re also in post-production on an 8 episode companion educational series where my story isn’t in it, and it’s mostly talking heads supported by production footage and movie clips, each episode covering a different topic.

Darryl Shaw: Clapboard Jungle follows 5 years in the life of a relentless indie filmmaker, as he leaves no stone unturned unearthing the most guarded secrets and bewildering mechanics of the film industry, and applying this lesser known knowledge to his own career; sharing it’s effectiveness first hand with the audience, and no doubt, many aspiring filmmakers.

2. How did you get into making horror movies?
Justin McConnell: I’m not sure I really had a choice in the matter. I’ve loved horror films since I was a kid, and when I first started to want to make films, that’s naturally where I gravitated. CLAPBOARD JUNGLE is a documentary, of course, but even there a big number of the interview subjects are genre personalities, and the story of the film concerns the process to get LIFECHANGER (which played Frightfest in 2018) and other films made, most of which are horror. But I should specify that I don’t only have horror films in me. I love the genre with all my heart, but there are definitely stories I want to tell that live in other genres. They’ll probably still be pretty dark, though, regardless.

Darryl Shaw: I’ve always loved horror. It would be a horror film if my life didn’t end up here.

3. What film would you love to see screened at FrightFest and why?
Justin McConnell: Is this question about catalogue titles, like the film I’d love to see shown as a retrospective? Or what new films coming up in the market? In a retrospective sense, although narrowing it down is very difficult, I’d love to see something completely bonkers like BODY MELT or STREET TRASH with a Frightfest audience, or something really uncomfortable (but genre adjacent) like WAKE IN FRIGHT or BAD BOY BUBBY. Of the new films on the market… I think a big screen Frightfest experience with the TRAIN TO BUSAN sequel would probably be pretty fun.

Darryl Shaw: So many films I’d love to see get love. Off the top of my head? Probably Basket Case or Battle Royale. Basket Case because I once watched it at an all night film festival and it was absolutely hypnotizing to see projected such a wild, weird, pure film, and Battle Royale because it’s just so relentlessly fun, brutal and over the top.

4. If you could create your own award to give at the FrightFest, what would it be and why?
Justin McConnell: Probably an award for DIY filmmakers, as in someone who has a body of work that has flown below the radar but is consistent with quality. Like an award for undiscovered underground filmmakers to be recognized. There’s a lot of them.

Darryl Shaw: The Clapboard Jungle Indomitable Spirit Award, for emerging filmmakers beating all odds to make their film.

5. If your life was made into a horror film, what would it be called and who would play the starring role?
Justin McConnell: ‘War Of The Mind’ – My brain is an asshole to myself. Such a storm of over-thought, imposter syndrome, second-guessing, doubt and the like (though it think these things are important for self-growth). So I guess that’s the horror side of my life (which affects many of us). As for who would play me…. Even though he doesn’t look like me, Jesse Plemons? Think he could nail that mental state onscreen. But my life isn’t a horror film in reality. I absolutely have struggles and there have been several legitimate tragedies, but all that bad makes the good that much better. A balance, as in all things.

Darryl Shaw: As mentioned, a life without horror filmmaking, would be truly horrific for me – the horror film would be called: Mundane; where every interaction would be judged and weighed and watered down to represent exactly nothing. Having to constantly repress, and being unable to purge my demons in writing and filmmaking, could send the actor playing me down a very dark path. If I were to cast someone… it’d be… Fred Savage.

Clapboard Jungle screens August 30, 2020, 1:00 – 3:00 PM and you can find out more HERE

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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