With Tom Paton's third film BLACK SITE hitting UK streaming services on Monday, we sat down with the incredibly passionate and ambitious UK director to talk about the film, where the idea came from and what the future holds for this Universe that he has created.
STARBURST: What can audiences expect from Black Site?
TOM PATON: Black Site is set in a world where Elder Gods once ruled but were pushed into another dimension using magic. During the 1920s some of them, weakened by their time on the other side, found their way back to Earth and quickly started possessing human bodies. A top-secret government organisation called Artemis is set up to capture and deport these entities back to the other dimension using a portal at an underground base called the Black Site. We meet Ren Reid in the present day as she struggles with visions after seeing an Elder God as a child when a cult invades the Black Site and tries to stop the deportation of an Elder God called Erebus. Accompanied by Sam Levi, she is the only thing standing between them and their goal of releasing this ancient evil back out onto an unsuspected public. Black Site is a Cosmic Action film with an 80’s aesthetic and some huge world-building going on in the background.
You have a long term relationship with cinematographer George Burt, what was it like working with him again and did it make the project easier due to your history?
Black Site was mine and George’s third collaboration together, and we’ve since gone on to shoot two more movies (coming soon) and are in prep for our sixth. Working with George is always a pleasure because we are very much on the same wavelength in terms of how to get things done on time and on budget. We’re very good at the push and pull creatively between a director and cinematographer and have sort of got our own shorthand now. George is one of the most talented cinematographers working today and it’s great to see him getting the credit he deserves lately.
Since Black Site, you've worked with actress SAMANTHA SCHNITZLER a second time in your most recent film The Ascent. Was it her fantastic performance in BLACK Site that led you to want to have her onboard future projects?
Filmmaking can be really exhausting at times and so you sort of have to surround yourself with people that keep you going. Sam has this wonderful, positive energy about her that made working with her again a no-brainer really. Her combat skills are next level too and that really helps make the fight scenes get done from a production perspective, as well as lend them a lot of credibility for the viewer. I’ve been very fortunate to work with lots of awesome actors and have managed to pull together a really cool group of people that I work with all the time, so you’ll often see faces from my previous work popping up later on. I hope I always get to work like that, to be honest.
Where did the idea for Black Site come from?
The concept for Black Site was really born out of me trying to push the envelope in terms of mixing genres. I felt like blending 80’s action with Lovecraftian lore would be really difficult and that felt like a challenge I wanted to tackle. I also wanted to talk about the labels we are often given by other people. This was my third film and I felt like I was starting to get put in a certain box as to the type of filmmaker that I am, and it really didn’t sit well with me that I was getting given a label like that. So the whole movie, including the character's journey’s within it is a kind of push back against that. Hopefully, we’ve created something pretty left-field that people will find interesting and want to dig into more. I was very lucky to have the support of my Executive Producer Alvin Adams, who really encouraged me to explore these themes and just try and create something that perhaps wouldn’t get made at all inside the bigger studio system.
How was the challenge of creating this vast universe of lore that transcends the story told on screen?
I think the big mistake I see a lot of independent filmmakers doing is that they let their lack of budget hold them back. I’ve never let that be the case, and some of my biggest critics will say that’s my weakness. But I don’t believe storytelling should be restricted by money because there is always a story you can tell within a world if you’ve crafted it well. I always looked up to films like The Evil Dead and Assault on Precinct 13, because they refused to let a lack of money inhibit their imagination. So I’d say the key is to just let loose and the right audience will see the diamond in the rough shining through. If you've made the decision to jump into the pool that is the film industry, then you might as well dive into the deep end head first if you ask me.
Do you plan on making more films set in the same universe?
Absolutely. There are a lot more stories we’d like to explore with these characters and we are currently hard at work on an Anime inspired animated version of the story that we feel will really let us cut loose and go crazy with the Elder Gods. It's very much in the vein of Netflix’s Castlevania and digs a lot deeper into the history of this universe. So if you like this film and want to see more, make sure you tweet at your streaming platform of choice and let them know you want this animated show. As for the live-action version we will have to see, but I’d love to return to the Black Site and let loose some of these monsters on a bigger scale.
BLACK SITE is available on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft, Sky Store and Rakuten from Monday 21st October 2019.