Interview: Peter Ricq (Dead Shack, Fantasia 2017)

The Don interviews the director of Dead Shack, Peter Ricq.



DA: Hello, and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. What can you tell us about your new film Dead Shack?

PR: Dead Shack is a Horror film with a lot of comedy moments in the vein of Evil Dead 2, An American Werewolf in London, Reanimator and Fright Night.

DA: Where did the inspiration for the film come from? Where there any unique stories about it’s conception?

PR: I was trying to develop these 80 million dollar movies for many years and knew that it was never going to happen. After watching the Fright Night remake in theatres, it reminded me how much fun those types of movies were and how they affected me as a child. I remembered how many small horror films were some of my favourite films of all time and that I’ve watched them over and over again growing up. I went home and wrote the outline to Dead Shack in three days, did nothing else and wrote it knowing that I wanted very little locations and few characters like Evil Dead 2.

DA: How did you come to be attached to the project? Was this something you always wanted to do or were you brought on board later on?

PR: Quite the opposite, I was the one trying to get people attached to the project. It was never easy. Each step was a battle, no one wanted to be involved and so I worked harder to prove to people that that is something worth making.

DA: Coming from a heavy background in animated fare, was it a big step going to a live-action feature?

PR: I started doing live action music videos since 2007 for my bands HUMANS, Gang Signs and Ladyfrnd. The goal was always to learn on these music videos so that one day I could make the jump to a feature live action film.

DA: Did having your partners from the animated series involved in this film make for a smooth transition?

PR: Phil and Dav are my creative partners. We work on almost everything together and trust one another so it was always the plan to have them work on Dead Shack with me. It’s easy because we’ve done so many projects together since we met in university.

DA: Being a live-action film, did you come across any unexpected hardships while shooting the movie?

PR: Yeah, the cold was horrible. That was probably the worst, also the rain and mud where all the cars got stuck oh and then the snow.

DA: Were there any fun on-set stories about the filming that were especially memorable?

PR: There’s a lot of shots in the film where people had to step in as the kids because we couldn’t have them on set anymore. It was fun to have everyone play the kids at one point or another and in the end, you can’t even tell in the film.

DA: Now that the film is coming to film festivals, what’s the expected timeframe that others will be able to see this?

PR: I think it’ll be around Halloween but don’t quote me on that.

DA:. Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with our readers?

PR: Yeah, lots. HUMANS is releasing new videos and music leading up to a new album next year and so is Gang Signs. I’m finishing the sequel to Once Our Land. We are turning Once Our Land into a feature animated film. I am finishing a script to a Vampire Movie similar to Dead Shack. Phil, Dav and I are working on several other horror films one that is a hybrid between dazed and confused and The Thing. So yeah, lots to come!




Interview: Adam Randall

Obed had the chance to interview writer/director Adam Randall about his latest flick, Level Up

Catch Level Up on VOD starting September 20, 2016




DBP: What made you want to be involved in the production of the movie? Did something stand out to you?

: Really when I read the script it was the potential of what we could do that was exciting. One of my first thoughts was what would happen if you took a high concept thriller like this but put a lead character at its center who is totally unsuited and ill equipped to deal with it, and the tension and humor that could arise from that. The other key element that appealed was the world, or what we could do with the world. I remember thinking that if this story was set in Tokyo or Seoul or Hong Kong, the film would be so much more appealing, both in terms of tone and style. Why was it that London couldn’t be so exciting, so visual? And why couldn’t the tone be equally nuts? So that’s what I tried to bring to it initially.


DBP: What movies and filmmakers were your inspiration for you growing up? Did any of those inspirations come into play when making this film?

: As a kid growing up in the 80s and early 90s it was Spielberg, Carpenter, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, etc. Then came the discovery of Scorcese, Coppola, and through them 1970s American cinema, which pushed me from film geek to aspiring filmmaker. Then came the introduction to world cinema, and as you may have guessed from the previous question, in particular Asian cinema. The latter was obviously massively influential, but also a key reference point was Scorcese’s After Hours.


DBP: If you could talk to any filmmaker of both the past and present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

: Tricky question as there are so many I’d love to talk to… I would happily spend a week talking to, or preferably listening to Stanley Kubrick talk about anything. Or Spielberg. Scorcese, Coppola, Fincher, David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Joon Ho Bong or the Coen brothers. But perhaps if I had to pick one right now it would be Takeshi Kitano and I’d ask him how about how he shoots and edits action, where and why the idea came to barely show the actual violence, just the build and impact. To treat it often as almost a visual gag. And how he goes from mainstream entertainer to creator of these dark, strange and violent small films, how he balances that and where it all comes from..!


DBP: How do you feel now that Level Up is out? Are you relieved or more anxious?

AR: Well I’d be lying if I said there was no anxiety… Putting something out into the world, it being so public… And also a film where we tried to do something different to what was perhaps expected in this genre, I knew those expecting straight up action thrills may get annoyed by the weirdness and humor..! But it feels great to have it finished and out there, and I’m now focused on finishing the next one.


DBP: What scene was your favorite to film and why? What scene was the most difficult?

: My favorite to film, and my favorite in the film is the scene in the drug den. From when he arrives to his escape on the moped, it encapsulates everything I was trying to do in the film. The balance of tension, humor and surrealism, the sense of dread and impending violence, putting a character in an environment he is totally unsuited for… I loved working with the cast in this scene, Cameron, Leon and Sean. And visually, it was a location we were able to really control, to design and dress. From the color of each room, the minimal lighting, the grunge and grime, it was the film I wanted to make.

As for the most difficult… Well it was all difficult to some extent as we had so little money. Shooting out in the streets of London, with very little control, on windy days so the Steadicam was blowing all over the place, people staring down the lens, rain and cold… Wasn’t the easiest…


DBP: What makes a great film for you? Do you think specific qualities make a film better?

: So many different types of films and so many greats for different reasons. Ultimately, and there’s no way of answering this without stating the obvious, it’s about characters and it’s about story. That’s really it, and then on top of that, if it can be bold, if the tools from camera work and music and sound design are used in interesting and striking ways, that can elevate it, make it exciting on a cinematic level as well as a human one.


DBP: Was there a huge hurdle you faced during production on Level Up? How did you overcome it?

AR: The huge hurdle was making an ambitious, sprawling, location based, action heavy film on a budget smaller than what most blockbusters have for catering. It meant hustling and stealing and cheating and being creative, but there’s no getting around that it hurt the film at times, especially in terms of time. But you try and overcome it by thinking of ways around things, and creative ideas stem from that struggle. For me it was also knowing every shot in the film before I went in, which is how I like to work anyway, but then having the freedom to change and improvise on the day. And spending the time finding great locations that would give us cinematic potential as we couldn’t rely on designing from scratch or builds.


DBP: What are the biggest lessons you learned making Level Up?

: All of the above but also knowing if a scene isn’t quite working on the page it won’t on film no matter what visual tricks, gags and other elements you throw at it. To go with your gut (another cliche -apologies). To fight for what you believe in as that’s what turns out best, or if not then at least it’s your fault!


DBP: How did you meet your team, and what did you do to keep your relationships with the strong?

: I hadn’t worked with anyone on this film before. Some came through the producers, or agents sending over, or recommendations. In terms of relationships, we just worked, and enjoyed the work, had fun on set and fought against the elements together… Basically just made the film and enjoyed it the way I think we should enjoy it – it’s film making, got to be fun – and if relationships come out strong from that then they’re relationships worth keeping.


DBP: What sparked your interest in making movies?

: Other films, loving stories and music, dreaming to music and realizing that I could try and do that for a living.


DBP: How did you go about making the movie come alive from the concept onto film? The concept is powerful enough to continue with either the same characters or new ones. Are there any plans for a sequel?

: No plans for a sequel as far as I know… The world is interesting, the bigger story behind it all, but Matt’s story I think is done for sure.


DBP: Is there anything you’d go back and change with hindsight, or would you leave it as is?

: Yeah there’s definitely scenes I’d love to redo, or rethink. But a lot was brought about by budget and time constraints so I’d like to go back with more money if possible!


DBP: Do you have any advice for other aspiring filmmakers?

: Just stick at it, there’s a fair amount of pain and suffering to get through, but if you love it, if it’s all you want to do, hold tight and keep working. And in the meantime find a way to make money that doesn’t distract to much from the goal. I didn’t get that advice as my many credit cards will attest to.


DBP: What’s next for you?

: iBOY, a sci fi thriller that was going to be my first film, but I ended up shooting it after Level Up. The way it turned out, I made both the films within a year, pretty much back to back. I’m just finishing final touches this week. It’ll be out late this year, or early next, starring Bill Milner & Maisie Williams. Very proud of it, excited to get it out into the world.

Interview: Arthur Frawley

Up and coming writer, Arthur Frawley, was nice enough to do an interview with Death By Podcast. Hailing from Montgomery, Alabama, Frawley is a sophomore at Rhodes College in Tennessee and wrote his first book, Kill All Heroes.


DBP: How did you get into writing?

AF: I got into writing when I tore my ACL. Before I was a writer I was a 4 star high school athlete— but after I tore my ACL I broke my knee cap and the injuries piled up. By senior year I had gotten five knee surgeries, with nothing to really show for it. After football I had more free time, so I started reading comics. After that, I started writing comics and video games because, well, apparently I have a knack for it.



DBP: What are your favorite books and writers?

AF: My favorite books are Animal Farm and Old Man Logan. My genera of choice are sci-fi and historical fiction. My favorite writers are Edger Allen Poe and  Jonathan Swift.



DBP: What is your writing process and how often do you write?

AF: I’m honestly still figuring it out. I write what I feel for as long as I can and then I take a break and edit it; I’m honestly working it out as I go. I try to write a little every day. Even if it’s only a few hundred words writing every day helps me stay connected to the story and the characters.



DBP: Tell us about Kill All Heroes. What was the catalyst for writing it? What was the process like?

AF: I started writing Kill All Heroes when I had the thought “why does Superman, or any super hero, listen to a government or a human? They can’t do anything to them.” From there I started wondering why super heroes were always innately moral, when they are in most cases human or human-like, thus susceptible to greed and anger. I always asked why we as a people thought it was acceptable for Batman or Superman to run around beating up the underclass and mentally unstable.  So, I wrote a draft. Then another one. Then another one. Six drafts later, the current version of Kill All Heroes was written. On the most basic level, Kill All Heroes is about a group of weak people (humans) fighting against a group of super powered people who can do whatever they want. This situation can obviously be seen in a lot of places, so I drew inspiration from events ranging from the Russian and the French Revolutions to Occupy Wall Street. I could have a realistic depiction to the variety of ways people react to being essentially powerless. Though there is a lot of action and sci-fi filled fighting, Kill All Heroes is also a novel about humanity and how we view those who are stronger than us.



DBP: Which is your favorite character in Kill All Heroes?

AF: I honestly don’t have one. All the characters serve a purpose and do what they do. When I’m writing, I don’t force characters to do something they wouldn’t. I take a step back and think about what they would do. Asking me to pick a favorite character is like asking me to pick a favorite limb.



DBP: Is there an underlying message in the book you are trying to send?

AF: I think the best way to sum up the underlying message of Kill All Heroes is a quote by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” We, as a society, tend to paint famous figures with a broad brush of “good” and “bad,” when in reality they’re  people just like us and they have the same vices and characters flaws as us. Super heroes are known for being these morally brilliant superb people, that no matter what, make the right choice. But if super heroes were real, what would stop them from giving in to their more human natures and just taking over? Nothing.



DBP: Which writer or filmmaker, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?

AF: I’d really love to meet Ernest Cline; he is my all time favorite writer. He takes pop culture, sci-fi and fantasy and writes it in such a new interesting way— I can’t help but love it.



Follow Arthur Frawley on Twitter and Inkshare