Sylvia & Jen Soska
American Mary, their second feature film, is must-see material! 
Dominic Brunt
Before Dawn, Dominic’s debut film which he directed and plays the lead role in, is a well made character driven movie with a hint of zombies.
Darryl Shaw
Darryl Shaw wrote and directed the sci-fi movie Android Re-Enactment. Read our Dutch review !
Belgian Zombie Foundation
Voor de Chinezen is 2012 het jaar van de draak, voor de Maya's het jaar van de ondergang en voor de Thais het jaar van de diepgevroren Pangasius filet. Met...
Jasper Vrancken
Jasper Vrancken studeerde filmregie aan de filmschool Rits in Brussel en is al enkele jaren actief als freelance regisseur, monteur en scenarist van...











26/03/2013

Gav Chuckie Steel

Gav Chuckie Steel

Gav's debut film The Shadow of Death is a true labour of love and we're more than happy helping him spread the word!


We've already covered the movie with a written Dutch and English review but wanted to ask Gav some more questions about being a first time filmmaker! He started out as a DJ, where he got the nickname 'Chuckie', and evolved into a composer before delving into his biggest adventure yet.

The Shadow of Death - On Set Photo

Has it always been your dream realising your very own movie?

I was always into FX as a kid and amazed by how it was done, I knew I wanted to make a film but never ever thought I could actually pull it off. While I was at a music conference, some industry people suggested I went into scoring or writing songs for films and at that point it make complete sense to go that route.

After some unsuccessful attempts (not on my part), I watched Planet Terror and thought: I could shoot a film and add some grain effect while editing to make it look a bit Grindhouse. I knew it would not look like a film but it would be a great way for me to at least try! That same day I was given a camcorder and it all just came together. I wrote a six page draft and told friends I was going to make a film and needed help, so we made a few death scenes from my script (which was now 80 pages long) but unfortunately it didn’t really work out the way I had envisioned it.

I spent a couple of years refining the script, gathering props, reading about directors (Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez) and browsing DVD’s looking for making of bonus features. This all became my film school after which I set a date when I wanted to have my film finished. And here we are today!

The Shadow of Death clearly takes us back to the eighties when slashers ruled the day! What triggered the story: a case of nostalgia or the absolute love for this particular genre?

Absolute love of the genre! I grew up watching Hammer horror films and slashers. Friday the 13th and the Halloween series were my go to films! Growing up in the 80s, the slasher genre was immensely popular and because of the VHS boom, the majority of shelves at your local video store were filled with slashers. There was just no escaping them! I wrote Shadow with all these 80s films in mind and just took bits and pieces I really enjoyed from them. Knowing I had to write cheap, I tried my best bringing those aspects to life in my own little world.

Shadow took a lot of effort from start to finish. Could you briefly tell us how your flick finally came to be?

As I said earlier, if no one was going to ask me to write the music for his or her film then I would make my own film to showcase my work as a composer. I didn’t know if that was a crazy idea, and I definitely didn’t realise how much work would be involved, but it just made sense to me.

I had to learn every part of the production because I only knew the basics of how a film is made. I soon found out that, with every door you open, more doors and questions start popping up: What type of camera do I use? How do I record the dialog? Where can I find actors? How can I pay for this and still support my family? But with slow determination and today’s world of technology with relatively cheap HD cameras I believe that almost anyone can make a film!

It's amazing how much work you did yourself. Were there times when you just wanted to call it quits?


Not really, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of production but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bumpy ride. One day my wife broke down and said she couldn’t take it anymore. I spent all my spare time working on this movie and every single weekend our house was crowded with people... I then realised I had to consider everyone around me including my own family!

It’s a good thing that I gave myself a full year to make The Shadow of Death, three to four months for each aspect (pre-production / production / post-production). Though I spent a bit more on post. I’d given up if it would’ve taken me three years, but one seemed acceptable.

Many debutants make the (often wrong) decision to cast friends in leading roles. What was your take on this?

Well I had the initial idea to use friends as actors, thinking about Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, and I did end up using a couple of them but I knew my buddies weren’t suitable to portray the lead roles. So I did casting calls and auditions and tried to take it serious. I'm glad I did as I have made new friends, but the film just looks so much better because of them.

I'm sure you're a happy man now that the movie is done and ready for distribution. Any word about a possible DVD-release?


Making the film is the easy part, getting the film ‘out there’ is harder! Submitting the film to festivals costs a lot of money without any guarantee it will get accepted. However, distributers go to those festivals to see what’s hot. Route B is to send the film directly to distributers but they get loads of films every single day…

So there’s currently no word of Shadow being picked up which is a shame. I have tons of extra stuff to include on a DVD and really want to show that I made this film as a fan for other fans. Not as an executive sitting in an office singing cheques.

That’s why I’m thinking whether or not I should just upload the entire movie on YouTube. This wasn’t a money making project to begin with, just a mere love for horror that made me do it!

The Shadow of Death

If you had to make a choice, would you prefer a DVD-release or Shadow being selected and shown to a huge crowd at the Frightfest Film Festival?

That's a hard one! I’ve been going to Frightfest for ten years straight now and watching the crowd react even helped me writing Shadow. I had a chat with organiser Alan Jones recently and mentioned my movie but unfortunately it wasn’t selected for last year’s edition. To be honest, I don’t really know if the quality would still be good if it was blown up on those huge screens at the Empire cinema. But I would’ve loved it nonetheless so I think that is my answer.

For a no-budget, even the term low budget doesn't cut it, movie you somehow succeeded in adding some groovy SFX-shots. How did this collaboration with Mark Kelly start out?

Mark had been a friend for years. He was a butcher and an art student so I figured he’d be the perfect guy to do the FX! Once we started filming he even got a job making effects for some big films and had access to some great artists! He watched how they made things while we’d have meetings about the various death scenes.

While he was working on the zombies for World War Z, he even brought home prosthetic limbs they had thrown away. Mark is really great, he can make almost anything work! Funny detail: once we finished filming, he went back to being a butcher!

Were there scenes or segments that you had in mind but couldn't realise because of the restricted budget? Did you feel limited or just the opposite?

Yeah, I cut parts of the script down, changed the story,... At times I thought about pushing things further but you have to be realistic even from the writing stage. If it’s your first film and you have no money, don’t write about spaceships, include explosions,... In the end I did realise that less is more so it was fun to work with what we had.

As mentioned in our review, it can be difficult finding the balance between gore and comedy. Were all of these moments in Shadow scripted or was there room for improvisation?

Most of it was written, but it might sometimes seem improvised because of the way the actors deliver their lines. Dan Carter-Hope is a comedian anyways so I knew he would manage and I wrote Craven’s character together with actor Dan Bone. That worked out so well that he is now my writing partner.

The reason why I decided to add humour was because I got worried I might not be able to pull off a straight horror film. I figured that, if I failed on the horror part, I still could make the audience laugh!

The eyeball scene is my absolute favourite. Did that bit turn out exactly how you always envisioned it?

We first shot that scene with a pig’s eye after which I edited it and provided it with some music. Later on, when Mark got hold of a real eye, I wanted to shoot it again with a different camera. It’s one of my favourite scenes as it's my nod to old Italian cinema.

You're an obvious horror fan but who would you say influenced you the most? What are your all-time favourite movies?

John Carpenter was and is still my biggest influence. Halloween is my favourite film, Peter Jackson and Robert Rodriguez and their early flicks inspired the way I could create a film without a budget. Tarantino's style influences me in the way he nods to movies he loves in such a stylish way. Other films I love are Jaws, Scream and The Burbs!

What are your honest thoughts about the current horror scene?

We are at a strange place and time… The cinemagoers find it harder to pay for a ticket so downloading wrongfully seems like the normal thing to do. Meanwhile executives keep churning out films (especially remakes) which will only attract a lot of people during opening weekend but that’s all they need to make a profit. There’s way less room for quality or original stories that will slowly gain a following in circuits like the ones I grew up in.

On the other hand, technology today makes it possible for wannabe directors to pursue their dream and some of them will evolve into the next and new generation of storytellers! They’ll be the ones coming up with fresh ideas and ways to conceive them. That makes it an exciting time because we need to keep pushing and showing our results! The internet is a very powerful and important tool that’ll help us achieve this new age of cinema.

What does the future hold for Mister Steel?


Dan Bone and I have two features written. First one is an epic zombie comedy film called AZBO that’s ready to go. However, it's a big project and will take a big budget, so I'm working up to it.

Right now, Deadbolt Films is gathering a bigger crew to start filming on In Security, a mix between Assault on Precinct 13 and The Shining. However, we still need money so that’s why I'm currently involved in making some short films which helps us getting more experienced working with different crews and equipment. We’re prepping Two Snakes in Black Satin at the moment, a giallo and half of it will be in Italian!

Last but not least: any tips for aspiring filmmakers?


Just do it! Too many people talk shit and at the end of the day we are only here once so why not make a film? If you love films and have an idea, roll with it and figure a way to make it!

Write with what you have access to, read books on making films, watch a lot of movies and documentaries, find like-minded people to help you out,… I had no film school experience but did have the desire to try my hardest to pull it off! So it CAN be done but only YOU can do it! Now pick up that pen and write yourself a six page script even though you might not have a clue how to do it!


The entire Frog Bros. team wish to thank Gav for taking the time to answer our questions!
(Original questions by Geoffrey Robyn)

Naam:
E-mail:

Uw e-mailadres wordt niet getoond.


Wie wint er?

Zelfs de Frog Bros. moeten zich verdedigen tegen spambots met
een anti-spamvraag. Beide antwoorden zijn trouwens goed...