Interview with Tom Paton writer and director of Pandorica


Out now Pandorica is an original Sci-Fi adventure directed by Tom Paton set after an unknown event that has changed the world has forcing people to return to a simpler way of life.

We follow the leadership trials of the Varosha Tribe but when their trial is interrupted by the arrival of another tribe, courage, friendship and loyalty will all be tested in conditions far more dangerous anyone would expected.

We spoke to Tom about making his debut movie and whether it could actually come to pass as well as inventing a new language, the popularity of post-apocalyptic stories and much much more!

Love Horror: Thanks for talking to us I really liked Pandorica.

Tom Paton: My pleasure, I’ve been a reader of the site for a while so I’m really pleased you enjoyed the movie.

Love Horror: How did you come up with the idea for Pandorica?2

Tom Paton: Pandorica was really born from a frustration with the way independent films are being produced and sold at the micro-budget level, which is also what this movie is. I really wanted to create a movie that not only bucked the trend in terms of ambition and scale for a low budget British movie, but that could also be uniquely marketed and distributed using a brand new model. So from that jumping off point it was about crafting a story that could have a wide appeal and push the boundaries in terms of the tech we used. No one in their right mind would create a post-apocalyptic tribal movie set entirely outdoors at night on the kind of budget we had…and that’s exactly why I wanted to do it.

Love Horror: What influenced you in creating the look and story of Pandorica?

Tom Paton: My parents were always self-employed and so I grew up in a very head strong, do it yourself type of way alongside a small amount of people that worked for them. The idea of group dynamics and why certain people become the leader within that group has always fascinated me, especially when it comes to isolated companies that work independently away from big business. I guess that really played a huge part in informing who the tribe were going to be and the type of situation they would face in the movie.

Pandorica is set in a world where the human race has returned to a medieval state, and the population of the planet is now so small that although these tribes are aware of each other’s existence, they rarely interact. The story centres around the Varosha tribe and an age-old tradition that they have to choose their next leader by trial. This was really just a fantasy way of me talking about dynamics within any small workplace, where some people will be there because of family ties and others will be there because they see an opportunity to claim some sort of throne and expand. From an aesthetic perspective I think it’s always difficult when doing a post apocalyptic film to not end up doing “Mad Max” by mistake.

We really went out of our way to not use any leather and instead go for this “Urban Viking” look, where the clothes they are wearing are generations of hand me downs from the sort of clothing we wear today, but re-fashioned to better suit their environment. The mood and tone of the film was really dictated by the night-time setting. Blues & greys became our colour pallet by default and then introducing those oranges of the various fires in the movie really helped give us that Hollywood Teal & Orange effect we are so used to seeing up on the big screen.


Love Horror: Do you think the future in your film could come to pass?

Tom Paton: I read an article once about the Fermi Paradox, which basically states that the stars above us should be teaming with life from a mathematical perspective. So if that’s the case, why haven’t we heard from anyone? An interesting idea put forward says that perhaps advanced civilisations eventually reach an apex point and then just collapse under their own weight. Essentially they reset themselves. This was the seed that sparked the apocalypse you see in the movie. The tribe’s people call it The Great Reset but we never find out what the real cause of it all was. I thought that was an interesting place to jump out from.

Our planet is shaped by stories of how it all began and there are so many different versions of what that looked like, but for the people left living on Earth in Pandorica, their world is shaped by stories of how it all ended. It’ll be interesting in sequels to hear the stories other tribes have for how the human race met it’s end. I think the likelihood of technology being our ultimate undoing is pretty high. When that happens, maybe tech will cease to exist and the world will look a lot like Pandorica… or maybe we’ll have all been replaced by robots. Who knows? It’s certainly fun to guess and write stories about this.


Love Horror: With series like The Walking Dead and The 100 to name only a few why do you think post-apocalyptic stories are so popular these days?

Tom Paton: It sort of feels like the end of days right now don’t you think? Social media lets us all communicate in a way that has never been possible before. Go back in time 100 years and it was fairly easy to bury your head in the sand about some of the awful things we do as a species. But in today’s society it’s almost impossible to not ingest that feeling that the human race isn’t doing a particularly great job of looking after our home or ourselves. It’s part of the modern zeitgeist to fear where this is all going because ultimately we know we should change our ways before it all goes up in flames, but we just keep waiting for someone else to change it for us.

Post-apocalyptic shows and movies I think are a way of artists venting these fears and the reason they’ve become so popular lately is that for the first time, the general public seem to agree. Story telling has always been about reflecting the fears and anxieties of the world we live in, and right now I think the end of the world is very much on people’s sub-conscious minds. Hopefully it doesn’t happen before Disney give me the reigns on a Star Wars movie though!


Love Horror: What would you do if The Great Reset really happened?

Tom Paton: I would be in a big trouble. I think we all like to imagine that we could do a Rick Grimes and survive the worst the planet has to offer, but the truth is most of us have become too dependant on the creature comforts of the world around us. My wife on the other hand would kick ass… so I’d probably just hide behind her when the looting begins!

Love Horror: What is the language they speak in the film?

Tom Paton: The tribe in Pandorica speak a made up language called Varoshan (see what I did there?) In the very first draft of the script I wrote, the characters were going to only speak Varoshan for the entire first 30 minutes and it’s only when Flinn enters the camp with the box that they suddenly break out into English. So the language was all ready to go when we decided that the sub-titles wouldn’t sit well with a large portion of the audience in the West (which is a real shame) so we ended up taking them out by draft 5. I really mourned the language though from a creative perspective so decided to make them bi-lingual and put the best bits back in…. the swear words!


Love Horror: You have an eclectic cast, how did they all become involved?

Tom Paton: We had a really wonderful cast and just like everything else in this movie, it came together in a really unconventional way. I’ve known Luke D’Silva for 10 years and the part of Nus was basically written with him in mind, so that was easy. Adam Bond is good friends with producer George Burt and so came to the table and brought Bentley Kalu with him. Luke suggested Laura Marie Howard who played Flinn. I knew Marc Zammit had a huge social network following, which is a really valuable tool for a film like this. He came in and auditioned for Ares and we all just loved his take on the character. You really hate him but there is a part of you that wishes he’d just reform so you can like him, that’s a unique thing for an actor to bring to a character. Jade-Fenix Hobday was on our original mood board when we were thinking of the ways Eiren might look. She’d never acted before but we brought her in for an audition anyway. The whole movie rests on that character’s shoulders and Jade is just such a force on screen, her camera presence is unreal and I think she’ll go on to have a great career.


Love Horror: Where did you film the movie and what was the shoot like?

Tom Paton: We shot for three days up in the Lake District, which gave us those amazing New Zealand looking shots. It’s such a beautiful place, but from a filming perspective it can be a nightmarish hell. There is no mobile phone signal and the mountains often block the radios too. Communication on a small film set is paramount, so it was a real challenge to work around that. It was some of the most eclectic weather I have ever experienced too. The first day was torrential rain, the second day was freezing and then the final day was so hot that I got sunburnt.

The rest of the movie was shot in a private woods in Billericay, Essex believe it or not. We used an Airsoft arena and had art department turn it into our post apocalyptic forest. That leg of the shoot was extremely busy but so much fun. That sort of environment creates a Big Brother experience, where you are locked in one place with 30 other people and you just become one big family (with me as the grumpy Dad at the top). It was entirely night shoots from that point on so breakfast would be at 4pm, lunch at midnight and then Dinner around 4am. It’s a real test to reset your body clock in those first few days, but after that we all became full time Vampires. The whole movie was shot in just 12 days and I would do it all again in a heartbeat, I loved every minute of it.


Love Horror: The characters are going through a leadership trial in the film, what was your biggest trial during the making of Pandorica?

Tom Paton: My biggest challenge was really proving that you could make a film like this at the type of speed we were going. Pandorica wasn’t just about making a movie but also introducing a whole new model for Indie Filmmakers to follow. From concept to production to the edit and then finally into cinemas around the world, the whole process took just 11 months. I wrote the screenplay, directed and edited the movie and worked alongside Nick Sadler and George Burt to sell the thing too. It was a pretty ballsy move to put my neck on the chopping block like that, but I felt there was a real point to prove and I think we have done exactly that. I think any art form is really just problem solving. You create the problem in the first place just by starting it and dragging all these other people into it. Then it is your job to keep a cool head and fix the problem so that the end result looks like something people will want to see. In that respect I try not to let the filmmaking process faze me, after all, it’s my own fault I’m there.


Love Horror: How did you come up with the designs for the costumes for the movie? I loved the look of the Gods they reminded me of post-apocalyptic tribal Predators which is a wonderful thing as far as I am concerned considering I love those movies!

Tom Paton: I’m a massive Predator fan too and it definitely played a part in designing the masks. The idea was to take things that ingrained in today’s pop culture and run them through 200 years of Chinese whispers so that they would become almost mythical. The tribe’s make up look was designed by Lisa Potter-Dixon and the idea was to create something that we felt would be Cosplay friendly. Also, by giving the characters this ceremonial make up for the trial, it allows us to evolve the way they look in future instalments, essentially letting us reboot their look to keep things fresh as we move forward.

The Gods came about as a collaboration between myself and Adam Ford (who also plays Number 3 in the film). Adam has an amazing eye for design and I came to him with the idea that the masks would be rooted in todays Slasher movie pop culture. We looked at things like Jason Vorhees mask, the Scream mask and also Predator and ran them through 200 years of verbal story telling passed along as the tribes told stories. The villains in the film believe these masks to represent the Old Gods and that’s why they wear them, as a display of their power. It’ll be loads of fun to keep developing these ideas within this universe as we make more Pandorica movies I think.

3Love Horror: What is the message of the movie for you?

Tom Paton: The film at its core is about leadership, and earning the right to call yourself a leader. I believe in today’s world, power it too easily acquired by some and is likely the reason that people at the bottom find themselves mistreated. I’m also a self taught director and I’ve witnessed contemporaries of mine treating their crew like shit, which is an attitude they have developed because they didn’t have to work hard to earn the director’s chair. I think it was about looking at a big message and then applying to the world I know so that hopefully, whatever industry you are in, you can see shades of how you lead and who gets promoted in these characters.

Love Horror: This is your first feature film, what advice would you give to budding filmmakers out there who want to follow in your footsteps?

Tom Paton: The best advice I can give you is this… You are ready. Most talented artists hold themselves back by saying things like “I just need to do this and then I’ll be ready” when the reality is that art isn’t about being ready, it’s about expression. If you feel you have something valuable to say then pick up your camera phone and go and say it. We live in an age where technology has democratised film now and there is no better way to get yourself noticed than to just come out swinging. Yes you’re first movie might not be any good, and yes you will feel like you could’ve done better (just as I feel now) but that’s the point. You should look back in 30 years at your first film and know you had more in you, and that’s why you spent the last 30 years showing everyone. But you’ve gotta start somewhere so stop reading this and go and start your script!14

Love Horror: What is your favourite horror film and why?

Tom Paton: I have two. Am I allowed two? I’m gonna pick two anyway! I love John Carpenter’s The Thing. It was just such a bold, groundbreaking film in terms of not only its FX but also its bleak message. It was so ahead of its time than it only gets better with every year that passes. My other favourite is Evil Dead 2. I think Sam Raimi showed that you could blend horror with just about any genre by adding slapstick into his gory mix. There was such a level of energy about that film that you could basically feel the crew having a great time whilst you were watching it as a viewer, and for me that’s just groovy!

Love Horror: What’s next for you?

Tom Paton: Right now I am working on a few other scripts, one of those being a bigger in scale sequel to Pandorica called “Assault On Pandorica.” I’m also working away on a movie that is sort of like Tron meets The Running Man called “Glow,” which is intended to be a smaller budget film again but will be visually like nothing we’ve seen in a feature film before I don’t think. That one is me taking all the lessons I’ve learnt on this movie and then ramping up the parts I feel worked into overdrive. It’s early doors on that but I’m excited for you all to see what I’m cooking there. I’m also eager to meet new film makers and help develop them as well via The Film Label, so hopefully we can launch some interesting new talent into the world.

Pandorica is available now on Digital: Also available on DVD:


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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