We catch up with the writing/directing duo Andy Collier and Tor Mian to talk about the follow-up to Charismata, for which they won the Independents Day Award at the 2018 STARBURST Fantasy Awards. The new film, Sacrifice, had its world premiere at FrightFest in 2020 and stars genre legend Barbara Crampton…
STARBURST: Sacrifice is quite a different film to Charismata, how did you come up with the story?
Tor Mian: That’s an interesting question in that Sacrifice is somewhat of a cynical reaction to our experience making Charismata, which was a pretty ambitious film. While we're extremely proud of it, we did think okay, if, if we're in a position to make another one, let's try and simplify. Let's go for a more traditional horror film in terms of its structure and also in terms of the practicalities of shooting it. That was its genesis, at least, but that isn't necessarily how things turned out in the end.
Andy Collier: We were trying to shoot a two-person cabin in the woods movie, probably in Yorkshire. We aren't very good at following plans!
TM: We ended up we ended up shooting in Norway, which is the most expensive country on the planet with significantly more than just two actors and one location.
What was it like filming in Norway?
AC: It was difficult due to logistics, because it's literally a seven-hour drive from Oslo. So we had to ship all this stuff from London, and it arrived two days late, so we lost two days shooting. We were completely isolated and that made it difficult. But apart from that, it was, it was great, the locals don't get that many film crews, other than James Bond, which was filming at the same time. They were really welcoming and really nice and the extras we had were like super-well behaved. They were the best behaved extras I've ever seen. And you know I said to Hallstein [D. Mala], the line producer, which agency did they come from, they're amazing. And he said none, they're just Norwegian, so well behaved and polite. Unlike Tor, who is half-Norwegian.
TM: Yeah, as Andy says, apart from actually organising the pre-production, which was difficult for logistical reasons. Once we were there, I would say from a personal point of view, having done quite a bit of work as a line producer - certainly more work as a line producer than as a director - it was the most straightforward shoot I've been involved in, just because everyone was so accommodating once we were actually there. So yeah, we were extremely lucky though.
So the opening scene in the bar was not based on anything you experienced by the sounds of it?
AC: We've experienced that every time I've been drinking with tour in London.
TM: The first draft was set in the UK, so in terms of in terms of that animosity, we've definitely experienced that!
AC: It was actually difficult to find a bar because wherever you're shooting you can kind of Northwest Norway is the Norwegian Bible Belt and finding a pub there is not easy.
In the one hotel within 30 kilometres of as they actually had a nightclub downstairs, which clearly because nobody there likes nightclubs, had been closed for years and they just said ‘oh you can shoot there’. An abandoned nightclub sounds like horror movie but it was quite well maintained.
You got Barbara Crampton, who has relationship with H.P. Lovecraft-type material…
AC: We originally wrote that role, as a male character. And when our co-producer Sean Knopp read the script he said, ‘Barbara might love this’ and he sent it to her. And she did.
I think Barbara likes Lovecraftian stuff and she got the message it's about lack of being in control of your own destiny. And Barbara understood that and she played it really well, really nuanced, so we were really pleased.
TM: She'd never played anything other than American and she's playing a Norwegian character, which I think really appeal to her.
How long did you have her for? Was it a case of having to cram everything in?
Yeah, we pretty much had to cram everything in.
So from a planning perspective, we pretty much had to shoot around her schedule, of course, we were very happy to do so.
What was your most memorable moment during filming?
TM: This film in terms of scheduling was extremely tight and we're in a foreign country. You know that cliché that time is money, it very much rings true, so we couldn't get behind schedule and we had a mishap on the first day, which actually knocked us back and so we're really, really up against it. Then we're filming a scene with a child actor who we hadn't met before. He turns up on set and he has a complete and utter freakout, and he just refuses to go in front of the camera, he literally runs off set. So part of me is thinking ‘we're going to have to cut this entire scene’ but if we cut the entire scene, the film doesn't make sense. We can't afford to stay another day we're completely and utterly screwed. All the tickets are booked already and I'm having a panic attack. You have to remember we’re absolutely in the middle of nowhere. This is the opposite of filming in a normal city like London, which is what we used to. And then just out of nowhere, the line producer this walks in with another kid. A completely a random kid was walking past, and he said ‘do you want to be an actor in the film?’ Now this is not just being an actor in the background, he's actually got lines. And the kid did it. That is the best bit of line producing I've ever seen on anything I've ever been involved in. So yeah, it was very memorable to me personally.
AC: My most memorable was probably the last scene in the movie, which I think was the last thing that we shot. We were really constrained by the Norwegian latitude. The water temperature is normally quite deadly, but it’s cool in July and August, so we thought we need to we need to pick July or August. But because there are so many night shoots, at that latitude, in June, there's no darkness, so we chose August when we had four or five hours of darkness. So we had like four hours to get that scene in the can. We were really racing against the light and we're running around shooting things - no breaks - and right at the end, the sun comes up. So the final shot is dawn, which actually works quite well, it looks pretty good. But had we been five minutes later, it would have simply become daytime in the finished film.
Finally, what's next for you two?
TM: As with most filmmakers, everything is COVID dependant, so very much in limbo. Just before we had Sacrifice greenlit, we were about to shoot another horror film set in set in Utah. It’s one that's quite difficult to describe, it's essentially a homosexual zombie Western, and we're hoping to get that back off the ground, that's at least the intention.
Sacrifice is available now on digital. You can read our review here and watch the full interview below: