Tag Archives: short film

Devil Town: Our Infernal Interview With Nick Barrett

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocLast week, CWR was given a chance to review Devil Town, a short film in the spirit of classic 60s horror.While Devil Town’s protagonist may have been unwittingly cornered, the fiendish flick’s creator was more than happy to speak with us about his inspiration. Here’s our interview with director Nick Barrett.
Could you tell us a bit about what inspired the story behind Devil Town?

As with most film ideas it’s usually a collision of different thoughts and influences. In Devil Town’s case I was given an old fashioned whistle as a present and just had it lying around my room, I kept picking it up and thinking why someone would pull it out of their pocket. I’m also a huge fan of the old fifties Twilight Zone as well and always loved their ‘containment’ episodes, ones that were set entirely in say a train station waiting room, a roadside café or, infamously enough, a plane journey at  20,000 feet. These kinds of shows were known as ‘bottle’ episodes (episodes designed to save money by using limited props, actors and locations) but they’re some of my favourites as well – and the concept lends itself perfectly to low budget shorts. When done well the viewer won’t even be aware of the contained environment, or it just becomes so integral to the narrative that it isn’t an issue – you can see it working brilliantly in recent films like The Invitation or Green Room or a TV show like Inside No 9.

Harold Pinter was a big inspiration too – the concept of a stranger invading another’s space, the power struggle between two characters, conflicting class systems, you see all that in things like The Homecoming, The Servant, The Birthday Party and The Caretaker – and I’m sure the concept of a rather sinister tramp was subliminally lifted from the great man’s work.

You reference Invasion of the Body Snatchers pretty directly in your film. What other movies would you count as having inspired you?

 I’d have to say some of the early Roman Polanski films, I love films like Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby or The Tenant, in all three Polanski creates a wonderful atmosphere of slow-burn dread where the main character feels there’s a growing conspiracy against them – and as the narrative tightens things get more and more claustrophobic and tense for them – hopefully we’ve done the same thing with Devil Town.
Polanski was a master at building these dread-fueled micro-worlds so I’d definitely say he was a prime influence, particularly the way he plays with sound and the use of foreground and background focusing; you can see a similar technique in our film where we place an important character or action in the background while the foreground is meant to hold the viewer’s attention.

From my understanding, Devil Town is your second horror film, following 2014’s Pearl. Is there a specific subgenre you gravitate towards?

 Yes Pearl was our ‘pastoral’ horror, very much indebted to films like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Don’t Look Now or Valerie and her Week of Wonders, wherever we’ve shown that one there’s been one particular moment that has repulsed and shocked every audience that’s seen it, we didn’t quite realise how terrifying the actor playing our ‘monster’ would be!

Regarding sub-genres I guess I’m moving towards the supernatural as I love a good ghost story! They’re the hardest horror sub-genre to get right though I think as they’re such delicate things, Roald Dahl writes an excellent introduction on the subject in ‘Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories’, it’s a great collection and the short story Harry was a direct influence on Pearl.

What were some of the challenges and rewards you encountered working on Devil Town?

Devil Town was the hardest short film I’ve had to put together as it involved quite a large number of logistics, even for such a contained film. I had to source about 25 extras, the location, hire out some camera equipment and have extensive talks with my DoP – the incredibly talented Marcos Avlonitis – who shot the whole thing beautifully, it has a real cinematic quality, it’s in 4K and we used some gorgeous Zeiss lenses to give it a real musty almost seventies-feel.
One of the hardest challenges was finding the right two actors to play our principles – the piece stands or falls on two guys who basically have to pull out all the stops as the script required each character to be so nuanced in each line they have to give – it’s meant to be like a conversational duel or tennis match! Luckily, after a long long search period, I managed to find Johnny Vivash and Matthew Hebden who both just astounded me in rehearsals – I actually couldn’t believe my luck finding two guys that just seemed absolutely perfect for their roles, if you watch the film I’m sure you’ll agree – although neither is anything like their characters in real life!

The rewards on this project have been endless, I was pretty humbled to work with such talented people that gave their absolute all and we’ve all become firm friends and hung out on and off ever since – you can’t ask for a greater reward when making a film. Hopefully, for all concerned, the film itself is reward enough as well – I think the proof is definitely on screen that all our hard work has paid off, and we’ve been so gratified recently to see Devil Town do incredibly well, we were snapped up almost straight away by ShortsTV and then bought by an American production company for their next anthology film (Ruthless Pictures via Dread Central) and this is before we even hit the festival circuit! Last year we had our London and Los Angeles premieres and, as of the start of this year, we’re officially on the festival circuit and have had four official selections already – it’s looking good!

What projects can we be looking forward to in the future?

 I’ve just finished the first draft of a feature film that I’ll be setting up later this year, though we’ve got to find the right producer first. It’s a contained supernatural thriller that we’re hoping will scare the pants off our audiences (‘or your money back’ we should put on the posters). It’s not an extension of Devil Town I might add, but we’re using the short to show producers what we can achieve and the possible ‘tone’ of the film; we’re pretty positive that with the success of Devil Town we should be able to get some funding through. I guess all we can say right now is – watch this space (and like our Corporeal Films page for more updates!)


Devil Town has been added as an official selection of Dread Central, has also been accepted to play on ShortsTV, and will be available to buy through iTunes in 2017. Devil Town has also been accepted by Germany’s ARC Festival and will be shown this April.

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Devil Town: A Short Film Review

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocWe open on a late afternoon as a ragged street preacher prophesies impending death and doom to disinterested passers-by. Among their number is Patrick Creedle (Matthew Hebden of Cartwheels and The Basil Brush Show), a character as fantastically despicable as his phone conversations are loud and abusive.

Which, for the record, is very.

Creedle steps into a local cafe for a coffee, unaware that the street preacher has followed him inside. Cornering Creedle at his table, Rime of the Ancient Mariner-style, the street preacher demands a few minutes of his captive’s time to relay a tale of creeping horror.

Hebden’s performance is definitely the highlight of the film, appearing instantly despicable without being cartoonish. He’s very much the self-absorbed ***hole that we know to well, and in his more sympathetic moments, Creedle could very much be us if we were caught on a bad day.

Our street preacher (Johnny Vivash of The Creature Below and The Collaborators) does a decent job of portraying a schizotypal vagrant who might not be quite as crazy as he first sounds. His insistence that a dark conspiracy is afoot grows increasingly eerie with every desperate whisper. Continue reading

Timecode: A Short Film Review

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“Actions speak louder than words.”

That’s a difficult motto to live by on a blog, but a crucial one in regards to short films given their limited run time. Considering the fact that you could fit the dialogue in Juanjo Giménez’s Timecode on a single sheet of paper only elevates its importance.

With a handful of award-winning short films [including Rodilla and Maximum Penalty]
already to his name the Spanish director’s latest features two security guards who work in an underground parking garage, one taking the day shift and the other the night. Playing Luna and Diego are Lali Ayguadé and Nicolas Ricchini, respectively, and although their shared acting experience is limited there’s no question of their being talented performers.

Both Ayguadé and Ricchini have impressive careers as dancers and choreographers, and their remarkable control over their bodies causes them to imbue every movement with purpose, whether it’s stiffly brushing past each other or jogging back up a hallway to clock-in to work. This even extends to raising the corner of a mouth being raised ever so slightly. This largely wordless short film might collapse in on itself with different talent, but the duo make it look effortless. Continue reading

Animus: Our Soul Searching Interview With Johnny Sachon

mv5bowrioda2ngmtntvjns00nzizlwjkzgqtmwe1yjhmmdlly2qzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymju5otazmzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006581000_al_Last week, CWR published our review of Animus, a short but powerful film directed by Mark J. Blackman. This writer had an opportunity to put a few questions to Animus actor/producer Johnny Sachon, who was nice enough to take the time to respond.

What inspired the story behind Animus?

It all came about quite organically. I’d worked with Katie [Goldfinch] a few times before. We both felt that we brought the best out in each other and wanted to challenge each other. As we’ve both produced films as well we made the decision to develop something together.

I met Mark [J. Blackman] in Cannes 2012 and had been following his work since. Out of the blue Mark contacted me regarding another project which sadly didn’t come work out for me. However, Mark asked me if I had anything else I was working on… and it just so happened I did. I guess everything happens for a reason.

2016 was a strange year for a lot of people and from my point of view I felt a lot happened in my own life as well that I wanted to explore and even exorcise in some way. The three of us met, and again, quite organically began discussing all of this and found a mutual subjects and ground to build upon. We spoke about absolutes – we wanted to produce a drama set in one location that focused on the performances.  Having recently worked on projects that were bold and intensive when it came to their scale of production  Animus was quite a refreshing challenge we all looked forward to. Out of these meetings Mark wrote Animus. The first draft was remarkably close to what you see on screen. Continue reading

Animus: A Short Film Review

mv5bowrioda2ngmtntvjns00nzizlwjkzgqtmwe1yjhmmdlly2qzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymju5otazmzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006581000_al_An earnest, plaintive piano melody opens as desperate figures stare out into the middle distance. A woman drops in on an old flame, using some flimsy pretext neither of them believe for a moment. What follows is a terse, tense, and incredibly human exchange as our two protagonists verbally fence over decaf and destiny.

And it’s good.

It’s really, really good.

Two individuals of differing (but equally compelling) perspectives clash over tea. It’s as simple a set-up as you can imagine, but director Mark J. Blackman manages to wring both depth and emotion from it. Sienna (Katie Goldfinch of Crucible of the Vampire, Genie in the House) and Elliot (Johnny Sachon of Cloud 9, Late Shift) examine each others’ lives, what they themselves have become in their time apart, and what they could have become. It’s a beautifully ****ed-up My Dinner With Andre, keeping in mind that I’ve never seen My Dinner With Andre and all I have to go on is Wallace Shawn’s showdown in The Princess Bride. Continue reading

Graffiti: A Short Film Review

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Seven years after an unnamed apocalypse, lone survivor Edgar (along with his beloved puppy, K.O) wander a urban wasteland. Edgar spends his days scouring local buildings for supplies and marking contaminated zones with spray paint warnings and signals for help.

From the first frame the audience is taken on a brutal journey of brutal isolation as we follow Edgar (Orial Pla) through the cold and decaying cityscape, both depressing and still strangely beautiful. And that, right there, is perhaps the greatest charm of the film.

Director Lluís Quílez does a masterful job at creating a stark, bitter, but still utterly believable world. Quílez captures not only the grand sense of loss but the simple, even monotonous existence of his protagonist. Throughout I was constantly reminded of the feel of first half of I Am Legend (in the best possible way). Special kudos to Quílez for his research, as Edgar’s own warning symbols bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the FEMA marking system used during actual disasters.

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A fantastic job is done of showing the mundane, day-to-day “chores” of living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Which is something I’ve ironically always found to be one of the most interesting parts of the genre, but I’m weird like that.

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Seriously- just look at this…

Continue reading

Making Till We Meet Again: Director Bank Tangjaitrong on Filming Your Home Country

tillwemeetagainLast Wednesday I posted my review of Till We Meet Again, an award-winning American-Thai production. The film follows the experiences of a couple traveling through Thailand, paying particularly close attention to how separation and loneliness play a part in their relationship.

Following that is “Making Till We Meet Again“, a series of interviews with the creators. The first of which is an email Q&A with director Bank Tangjaitrong to get insight on how Till We Meet Again came to be. Following sometime after should be interviews with Johan Matton, who both starred in and wrote the film, as well as co-star Emrhys Cooper.


From what I could tell this is actually your second time working with Johan Matton, with the first being your award-winning short film That Girl, That Time, which you wrote and directed. He was the star of both films, but actually penned the script for Till We Meet Again. Can you share anything about your experiences working with him, as well as having him on story duties this time around?

I always look forward to my collaborations with Johan as we’ve worked together so many different times in the past from a director-actor capacity. With Till We Meet Again, Johan was not only the actor but also the writer and producer, and to most directors that would be an immediate red flag since lines would be blurred and there wouldn’t be a sense of hierarchy with too many “voices” on set, but that was not the case here. Collaboration is essential for me and I try to bring in the best people for the job and learn from them and listen to them. Every idea was valid whether it came from an actor, producer, writer, gaffer, etc. But it had to all be funneled through the director and he or she would choose what works what doesn’t and I think Johan understood that. During the shooting process our relationship was always about director and actor first, that was the priority.

I read that you were born and raised in Bangkok, and wanted to know what it was like filming the majority of a feature film in your home country. In particular I noticed that while shots are certainly beautiful, they never feel exoticized. Unlike, say, the way Thailand was portrayed in The Hangover Part II where it’s very clearly depicted as a foreign place.

The way we shot Thailand was very important to our story and I wanted to make sure that we weren’t just including famous landmarks and treating the visuals like an ad for the tourism authority. We needed to find that balance between what’s expected of a film shot in Thailand but also a film about the human condition. It’s important that a scene that takes place in the confines of four walls can be equally as intriguing as a scene on a secluded tropical beach.

walkin Continue reading