STARBURST: What was the reason for the gap between Cradle of Fear and Inbred?
Alex Chandon: Ultimately, it’s because it’s so difficult to make a film like those two. They’re polar opposites apart, but they’re both really ambitious for what they are. In both cases, I was involved with the pre-production, the filming, the editing and all the effects. So it can take up to two years to do, and not earning any money doing that, so it’s such a sacrifice that it’s not really sustainable to keep doing that. I guess I just took time off to do other little projects, things that’ll pay me a little money. So I was doing some digital effects work, writing scripts and stuff. Everything I do I want to be quite ambitious, I do aim a bit high and make my life quite difficult, but it’s just the nature of the films I like making.
People say why haven’t you made anything since Inbred, as it’s been a couple of years, but again it’s just wanting it to be the right project because I know it’s going to be another big sacrifice. Even if we did have a lot more money thrown at us, it’s not easy making films!
You do a lot of different roles when you’re making a film, that can’t be easy…
On Inbred, I did the location scouting, wrote the script, then doing all the casting sessions as we couldn’t afford a casting director. So we’re driving around the country meeting actors, then directing the film, then working with the editor on the edit, doing the digital effects. Then working on the poster art, helping with the sound, doing the script transcribing, doing the deliverables at the end; mastering everything, doing the grades – it’s kind of never ending. There was a couple of us working on it, me and Margaret Milner, the producer, it was just really, really difficult. I like doing as many of the creative jobs as I can, in a way, so I can give my overall stamp over everything. With the digital effects on Inbred, there was about four of us doing it.
That must really take its toll…
On my next film, I’d love to take a bit more of a backseat on some of the tasks and roles, but then again that just means you need a bit more money to pay more people to do all the jobs. It’s kind of catch 22, I really want to make films but it’s getting more difficult to find the funding now because now that a lot of people can afford to make films at home with the equipment getting cheaper, the technology’s more available. What that means is the market’s just flooded with substandard stuff – especially horror films – and I think it’s had an impact. You’ve got to rise head and shoulders above that, and that’s what we tried to do with Inbred. I’m pretty glad it shows on screen.
It certainly does – the gore particularly is remarkable!
People say it looks like a million quid, and at the time we just didn’t tell people the budget because we didn’t want to harm any sales by saying how much it cost, but the budget was just over £100,000. In Hollywood terms, that’s hardly the catering budget! I think we worked wonders. Again, it’s catch 22 because when people hear about that, they want you to make another Inbred for the same amount of money, and it just becomes harder and harder, so I really have to think about what I want to do next. Make sure it’s the right thing, really.
Inbred was voted the number 25 in the 2012 STARBURST writers’ Films of the Year, yet it’s still rather unknown in the mainstream…
It’s kind of weird because it went down so well, and I toured it around the world, it played all the different territories, it was nice to see it on a lot people’s top 5 films of the year. On the other hand, it really did piss some people off for some reason – I don’t know why! I guess it’s a little bit un-PC and a bit in-your-face. I tend to make Marmite films – people either love them or hate them, which is much better than everyone taking that middle ground of ‘yeah, it’s alright’. I was really pleased with the reaction it got, and I’m hoping the screening on TV brings it to another audience as well.
And it should be uncut, too, which is good. Was there many problems with censorship?
I heard a rumour that they might have had to edit the film in America; I think it was a bit hard-core for them. I don’t think they really understood the humour. The American trailer makes it look like a really nasty Texas Chain Saw Massacre type of film. They’re selling it with the brutality. I always saw it as a kind of very dark comedy. You’ve got a bit of gore, then you can laugh about it.
What were the influences for the village folk?
When I was writing it, I just wanted to write off the wall, deranged English farmer types. I based the whole thing on the stereotypical American-style backwoods horror like Deliverance and Texas Chain Saw. I just wanted to have an English versions of all those kind of nutters. I always wanted to have the evil barman and the whole village to be really strange and fucked up.
The cast really throw themselves into their deranged parts…
Dominic Brunt’s character, Podge is one of the more memorable characters, I think. He was just totally invented by Dom. He invented the facial twitch, he went and bought the costume and went and got his teeth made for it. The actors brought a lot to the parts; they’d say I’ve got this amazing prop, so it was like, ‘yeah use the prop!’ The guy who played Gris got into method a little bit by camping out in the woods and carving his own carrots. They all added to the whole feel of it. It felt quite naturalistic; in that way, what I like about it, is you do tend to like the inbreds, even though they’re really evil fuckers. I think people quite enjoy the company of the inbreds, they’re a motley bunch of deranged lunatics. A ‘special’ community – not the sort of place I’d want to end up at night, though.
And the village is just like places many of us have been to…
Yeah, but I didn’t base it on any location, we wanted it to be stereotypical, so people couldn’t say ‘oh, you’re just taking the piss out of northerners, or Yorkshire people or Scottish people. I think we’re quite nice to Yorkshire in the film. We make lots of reference to Yorkshire and English folklore and stuff like that, but we wanted to just throw it all in the mix we don’t get labelled as having a go at a certain group of people.
Inbred has such a fabulously satisfying ending – brave even.
Yeah – we kind of put the spoiler on the poster and deliberately put the happy music on the end and I love it that people get the wrong idea about what’s going to happen. Initially, the script was a bit different and it had more of a hero ending, but we much preferred this one, it was much better.
The door’s almost left open for a sequel, would that be an option?
I’d quite like to explore them more. I think if we did one in England, it would definitely be a prequel rather than a sequel. Go back to the ‘70s, have them hanging out with Jimmy Savile and stuff like that, listening to Gary Glitter. Just make it very wrong. That could be fun, because no-one’s got mobile phones and we could dress everyone in stupid flares that could be a good one.
I’ve got a couple of scripts that I’m developing, one’s an Inbred idea and it’s just very early days yet. I’m desperate to do another film again, it can’t come soon enough really!
I love the inbreds, thinking about another Inbred film if I was to do one, I’d want to know more about them really; know more about their history and how they get away with it for hundreds of years and stuff like that. Maybe one day…
Moving on to your earlier film, Cradle of Fear, we heard there was plans to do a ‘director’s cut’ at one point?
I got an email recently about a company wanting to release in HD, so I said what my plans were to do a re-cut, pretty much just to make it much shorter so it flows much better. Keep the music and just put a bit more blood and tits in it, which is always good fun! That would be nice, but I don’t want to take up too much of my time. Obviously, it can’t be a priority project, so it’s hit the backburner a bit. All the elements are there to do it, I just need the time and the enthusiasm; maybe have someone else helping me make that happen, that might be good.
If we did do this with Cradle of Fear I’d probably use it as an opportunity to do a bumper Alex Chandon package with everything I can get my hands on and copyright cleared on it. All those original films – Bad Karma and Drillbit – they were mixed back in the day when we only had two tracks so all the music is mixed in with the sound effects, there’s no way I can take the music out. There’s copyright stuff all over there so depends if someone wants to put it out or not, otherwise I’ll probably just stick them up on a YouTube channel. There’s versions out there, but it would be good to do the definitive ones up there. There’s new software now that I’ve been playing with that can remove grain, not stupidly, I like the VHS aesthetic, but I’ve managed to clean up of the Bad Karma stuff so it looks really nice, so I might actually remaster them but that might just be a little sort of afternoon project of mine one day.
What have you planned for the future?
I think with my next project I need to think about the Internet as a marketing tool. Times are really changing and the way films are being sold now. I think the Internet’s going to be my friend on the next film. Maybe set up a channel, maybe even making the film available exclusively to people online all around the world that would be a dream.
Like going down the crowd-funding route?
I’m looking at Kickstarter now, but maybe just for pre-production money rather than the total budget or just be very honest about what the money can get us, rather than ask for a million and then being disappointed. I’d rather ask for a bit that would help us get further down the line. But if I did that, I’d spend a bit of money and make a 5-minute short. The Kickstarter would probably be for a crazy post-apocalyptic film – it’s kind of like Drillbit really – which is my anti-hero film set in the future. As superheroes are so big at the minute, it’d be really good to have a superhero who’s completely deranged. It might be time for something like Drillbit to come back as well. I’m not short of ideas and I’m not that precious of them either. I’d rather just get stuff out there or just move on to the better idea. Like I said, it’s such a struggle to make the films, it’s annoying because I’ve got such a backlog of pretty decent ideas and it’s just finding the time to make them now.
My problem is I’ve been into doing things myself a lot of the time, so now I’m looking to team up other people and become part of a production company. I’ve worked well with a group but I kind of want to join a group now. I feel I need help now to push my career to the next stage, but it’s something I’m looking forward to and I feel it’s the right time as well. I’ve had lots of experience now, and I’m at the right age to move on to something with a bigger budget, more responsibility. But in a way I am like a big kid at heart and I’ve always liked these stupid, mental films. I was happy in a low budget world, but it’d be quite nice to try something a bit higher budget. It’s funny old business, it doesn’t work like other businesses, it’s who you know and sometimes it’s what you say or what you don’t say. It’s an odd one, it’s difficult to get backing, it’s just a bit of struggle. Any money that does come in, goes to the usual suspects.
Even though I’m not that prolific, I spend my time in between making films and working on stuff that is film related. A lot of the time it’s just developing the script or hurrying down the next project or finding the inspiration, or raising the money – it’s almost like an ongoing thing. It’s a bit of an addiction really. I love making films, but it’s just so much hard work, it would be nice to get a bit of peace of mind and I guess a bigger budget would buy us that really.
Alex Chandon’s INBRED screens September 25th on HORROR CHANNEL (SKY 319, Virgin 149, Freeview 70, Freesat 138).