Interview: Menhaj Huda, Director of COMEDOWN

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Acclaimed director of Kidulthood, Menhaj Huda, has recently released a new film named Comedown. Starburst catches up with him to discuss the movie, his influences and the transition to horror.

Starburst: How did you get into filmmaking? Had it always been a passion?

Menhaj Huda: I got into filmmaking through music and then music videos. I started DJ-ing in the late ‘80s and got the house music bug, but wanted to work in TV and music videos – I trained as a video editor and got my break as a director with a dance music show for Channel 4 in 1993, then moved into narrative films with my first short film in 1998.

Did you feel pressure making this film after the success of Kidulthood?

Not at all, I just really liked the script and found the setting very original even though the characters might seem similar to the Kidulthood kids.

How did you become involved with the film?

I was approached with the script by the producer Dominic Norris and decided pretty much as soon as I had finished reading it that I wanted to make it!

Which filmmakers inspire you as a director?

I’m a huge fan of Tony Scott films and was very sad to hear of his death last year. I am also inspired by Luc Besson and everything he has achieved both as a director and a producer.

In the light of Adam Deacon previously winning a BAFTA Rising Star Award, do you think it’s important to work with young, up-and-coming talent?

It has been important to me in the past as I have always supported young talent but as we all progress in our careers it’s also important to work with more experienced actors.

Have you always been a fan of the horror genre or was this a new direction for you? Do you have any films from the genre that stand out as inspirational?

I’ve always been a fan of action films, but wasn’t aware just how much I was into horrors, especially the ones from the ‘70s and ‘80s, until I started researching for this film. I realised that John Carpenter is one of my favourite directors from that era, The Thing being the film on the top of my list.

In the film, the British aesthetic, with the use of council estates and tower block flats, is very explicit, what do you feel is the main difference between British and American horror?

I think American horrors have become all about the body count and gore, and as British films don’t have the budgets to match those kinds of special effects, we have to be more inventive with our storytelling and play with suspense and creepiness! But very few horror films these days really scare the audience, British or American, they seem more intent on explicit violence and shock, which can sometimes become humorous.

What do you think is so appealing about horror films and especially teen slasher films?

It’s old school entertainment that’s in our DNA, watching people die or get killed. I guess it stems from the days when people watched hangings and gladiator fights to the death, Christians being thrown to the lions etc. Humans have evolved just enough that they are now satisfied with watching actors performing these acts rather than watching the real thing.

Do you think it’s important for British films to recognise the urban backgrounds rather than just the idealised ones?

If by that you mean, should British films be more realistic e.g. Kidulthood than fantasy e.g. Notting Hill, then that’s really up to the audience in the end because if they don’t show up to the cinema to watch these kinds of films then the powers that be will very quickly stop funding them. It’s that simple and has very little to do with recognition. So go and buy the DVD and Blu-ray now and support British film!

COMEDOWN is out now DVD/Blu-ray.

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