We spoke to director Simon P. Edwards and producer/actress Jessica Messenger about their new grindhouse feature Six Hot Chicks in a Warehouse. it's currently seeking funding on Kickstarter - and although it has already achieved its target - there's still time to contribute and help them finish their campaign with a bang!
Most writers have the concept of an idea of a story they want to tell and start from there. The name of the film comes later. Why did you decide to do exactly the opposite on 'SHCIAW'?!
SE: It was a title which basically came from firstly being something which would attract attention and divide opinion. Then on top of being something we wanted to sell, there also came the minimal locations.
I was watching a lot of b-movie horror at the time and it just seemed to stick.
The title certainly grabs the attention. Is the film itself going to be as in your face and full-on as the title suggests?
SE: I think over the top will be the best way to describe it. I'd say there's a definite crossover of genres here with the first part of the film certainly airing towards gross out comedy and the second is just mad. I'm lucky to have the expertise of David VG Davies who I shot a segment for the 'Blaze of Gory' anthology working with me on the film who certainly doesn't like his horror done by halves so along with the striking visuals we have in mind for this film it should be a real treat for the eyes!
Simon, you are a self professed 'Director of human emotion'. Is there going to be room for real life emotions and drama in a Grindhouse movie?
SE: Haha that makes me sound like a pretentious prat! Absolutely yes there is. If you didn't care about the characters then it would make this a very different film altogether. I think character development can be overlooked at times and especially with a film marketing itself in the way we are we had to be very careful about how the characters came across. I was very lucky to have my ex partner Kate work on a lot of the girls dialogue with me so that they actually sounded like women rather than a male version of a group of women.
Grindhouse films are making a bit of a comeback of late. Why do you think they still have a certain appeal amongst modern audiences?
SE: I think grindhouse is a genre where you can leave your mind at the door when people just want pure escapism. I also think it's a strange genre in that even fans who aren't that into their horror can enjoy.
JM: I think that people love to bring stuff back, I mean it happens in music and fashion all of the time. Nostalgia plays a huge part I'm sure and with the new wave of aspiring film makers coming through the ranks its only natural they like to play homage to their favourite teen movies - so perpetuates the resurgence of genre films like grind house. There is also an element of greatness surrounding an old genre isn't there. Practical effects played a huge role, they achieved so much and stand the test of time. I think people like to emulate that as best as they can but put their own stamp and modern twist on it. I mean every story originates from someone else's story, somewhere. Its pretty difficult to write something without influence from someone else. That's what makes film making so brilliant though, its HOW people use what they know, what they love and make something completely unique out of that that's brilliant. I'm rambling...
Simon, you have received a couple of nominations for the British Horror Film Festival for one of your early short films. Has horror always been a genre close to your heart?
SE: Wow that was a very long time ago and I literally had no idea what I was doing at the time. We made this nasty little psychological drama on a budget of about £200 which people really got into the sentiment of despite the production value being very low. At the time I was writing a lot of horror and to this day have several scripts just sat in folders waiting to be made. I grew up in the late 80s and 90s so horror was a huge part of my life growing up as a kid I used to love films like Gremlins and Ghoulies. By my college years it became a regular friday afternoon activity with one of my old friends buying a few beers and browsing in the video shop for the stupidest horror we could find before watching 2 or 3 back to back. Jack Frost remains a favourite with its holographic cover!
Jessica, you have starred in a number of features over the last few years. But what made you decide to take on a production role for 'SHCIAW'?
JM: I didn't really, it sort of happened organically. I offered my help with certain areas of the production because I was really invested in the production and I was happy to give my time to other areas that needed attention, without the title to go with it. That was all Simon's doing haha. I am really happy to take the role of co-producer on, it was an honour he thought I could do a good enough job.
We loved Dan Palmer's performance in 'Stalled'. What was it about him that made you feel he was the perfect fit to play the part of Adrian – a man described as 'body obsessed' who has suffered years of rejection and being ignored by the opposite sex?
SE: Haha this sounds like a leading question and however I answer this will upset Dan.... I toyed with the idea of casting someone before Dan who would have been the 'hunk' Adrian initially. I felt though that this took away one of our main elements of humour and also made Adrian's character that bit less likeable. I've known Dan for a while and he's someone I was made aware of when I started researching the lower budget side of the genre with 'Freak Out'. I did actually want him for my short film 'Watch Me, Alone' with Lucy Anne-Brooks who also appears in SHCIAW however at the time we couldn't make it work. For SHCIAW he brings a very larger than life kind of personality into the role but with 'Stalled' Dan showed that he is more than capable of showing a character with a more vulnerable side also which is essential for some of Adrian's character traits. That was actually the tipping point to speak to Dan and make a real approach.
Jessica, you have said that the central character, Mira, feels like she was almost written for you specifically. What similarities are there between you and her?
JM: A lot, I mean for starters I spent 2 years doing various photoshoots for magazines, online publications and so forth as a "model" and I use that term loosely. The whole situation in which the 6 girls find themselves in with ADRIAN (Dan Palmer) is an over-sexed version of true life events I've found true-life girls have got into. By over-sexed I mean, sensationalised for grind house purposes. There is that career element that i can definitely empathise with. Then there is the not really fitting in nature of her. The other girls all seem quite motley crew, MIRA is always the butt of the joke, the one on the outside looking in, as much as she is main focus, reality is, the group don't care for her all that much and think she's a bit of cock-tease, which in reality she isn't, she just happens to have had a long history with ADRIAN and he happens to have taken a particular liking to her. MIRA is kind of empowering in her ways. Now its never outwardly said, but there's just an air about her, she's a go getter, she does what she wants, she's not afraid of the challenge or pleasing everyone. I'm kind of like that, I was raised on spice girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Avril Lavigne. I mean they were kick ass! It was 2 fingers up girl power, I am what I am, I can do what I want and to hell with your idea of who I should be!
You've recently achieved your target of £4000 – how much difference will that make to the production of the film?
SE: It will help a great deal. The Kickstarter has reaffirmed that we have a market for this film but also how supportive the horror crowd can be. It genuinely is very different and we've received so much support from people who have been in a similar position to us. We are not aligned to a studio so making this film really is down to personal finance. Pre-selling a limited number of copies of the film has alleviated a lot of pressure but £4k really was the low end so with 2 weeks still to go I'm very hopeful we can keep going.
JM: A WORLD OF. This is a movie by the fans, for the fans. We literally cannot do this without all the support we've had. That doesn't just mean pledges. That means sharing the word, liking all the crap we send out. Showing your family and friends, and this goes right past post-production into the festival zone and beyond. A movie like ours is dependent on word of mouth. So yes we reached target and physically the money does so much for the production, but EVERYONE who took part has done so much for SHCIAW. I hope they continue to share us, SHCIAW needs you!
How and when can audiences realistically expect to see the finished film?
SE: How: would be the kickstarter for early release. All DVDs and Blu rays are strictly limited and numbered as this is a film we are making for commercial release so it's important that we offer something exclusive but also low in number. I'm an old fashioned person at heart with a want to see a film on the shelves of a store. This is the film which I believe will achieve that. When really does depend on how quickly the film is picked up! For our backers however it will be late 2016.
Finally, for anyone sitting on the fence who thinks 'well they've achieved their target, why should I donate?' - what final words can you give to people to encourage them to give to the project?
SE: Firstly the blu rays and dvd which are strictly limited will be completely different to anything which will be commercial release. They will be completely unique to the campaign and once they are gone, that is it. Our target really was the low end of what we need so to comfortably make the movie to the highest standard we always knew it would be a little higher than this. The more copies of the film and perks we sell, the better the film you will end up watching. Plus some of the perks are insanely cool!
JM: The target was a minimum, we really did require more but we just couldn't gauge the reaction we would have to this project and whether people would even buy into the idea! Me and Simon aren't big for campaigns, its a first real attempt for both of us. When we realised so many people had our backs and wanted to get involved, it really blew our minds. Its been really eye opening and we've got so much appreciation for each individual who's given us their time to write about us, post about us, pledge for us and create shit for us! We have so much ambition and so much i know the talented crew can achieve, the bigger the target, the bigger and bolder statements we can make onscreen, in terms of set pieces, practical effects and so on. Thanks so much to everyone already, you've been incredible!
SIX HOT CHICKS IN A WAREHOUSE
A body conscious photographer, Adrian, concocts a scenario in which he attempts to project his insecurities onto those who mock him. Hired by Adrian, his professed muse Mira and five other girls begin to question who is using who when it becomes clear that the not so normal mind of the photographer himself isn't all the girls have to worry about.