Exclusive: Interview with Director Abigail Blackmore, FrightFest Rising Star Screen Award Winner

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I had the pleasure to sit down and talk to the multi-talented Director/Writer/Actor-Abigail Blackmore. Read our exclusive interview below!

We spoke in depth about a number of things, including her origins in the film industry and her experiences with her peers in the industry. Later, we touched on our mutual love of Joss Whedon and Kiefer Sutherland and the origins of her films and writing. I hope you enjoy and learn more about the film industry in this in-depth interview that Abigail kindly did with me in a coffee shop in Central London.

 

Interviewer -Domingos Coxi (left) with Director Abigail Blackmore (Right)

Domingos– Hello! I’m here with the very talented Abigail Blackmore, Director of the very funny and quite scary ‘Tales from the Lodge,’ which premiered at Fright Fest. Great to meet you again Abigail.

Abigail– Hello, nice to meet you too again.

Domingos– I had a great time watching the film, and I’m really pleased you have given time to your day to do this interview for Hollywood News Source. Where did you come up with the concept of this?

Abigail– It did take a while to write, it just grows, are you a writer?

Domingos– I write reviews and articles about films so I have a small understanding in a sense.

Abigail – It’s quite hard to explain where it comes from, so you start off with an idea and then you just build from there. I suppose it’s like a tree; the original idea then grows and then branches off. First thing I wrote was the demon story, which I originally did plan to write that as a feature script and it felt more like a short film.

I don’t know exactly why that is? Maybe cause it’s outrageous now I think about it, would be a quite good feature script. At the time, I didn’t feel I had enough for a feature, but I wanted to make a feature film. At the time, I was doing a lot of interviews, meetings for TV jobs, I’d been with my agent a little while, so I was doing a lot of pitching around so I pitched this idea around this odd couple, and the husband becomes obsessed by a demon and suddenly she’s interested in him again and a TV company said, ’That sounds really interesting why don’t you send us a treatment.’

I wrote the treatment, and that’s when I came back to them with a script, and they said this is a film, this isn’t TV. I said to them that this is a TV film; the company replied they don’t do those. So it was a script I had as a writing sample, so my agent would send it out and that would help me get meetings for other things and get me work. Everybody liked the script but nobody wanted to give us any money for it.

Then I met Ed Barratt who is a Producer and pitched it to him, and he read it and said I’d like to help you get this made. That took about 4 years to get the money, then 4 short years later we were making it (Tales from the Lodge-2019).

Domingos – Sometimes the audience out there don’t fully understand the work, the toll, and effort it takes.

Abigail – And the patience you have to have, and the resilience you have to have, cause everyone is telling you NO all the time, and so you have to be able to take it and just go well it’s not you then, I haven’t met the person who’s going to give us the money or who’s going to champion us.

We did meet a couple of champions along the way, people who wanted to produce the film but didn’t have access to the funds. Companies come and go but people move around from company to company, so if you can get some people who really love the project, they tend to stick with you along the way even if they don’t actually become involved.

Giles Edwards was a big fan of the script, and a great champion of the script, he wrote the questions for the FrightFest quiz. So that’s kind of the background and story to this film.

Domingos– I just thought you just saw a random cast member walk in (We both giggle about it).

Abigail– I’d only written 2 more short stories plus the framework story which was the main story, and then when Ed Barratt (Producer) came on board he suggested I add 2 more stories and make it 5 shorts. I added the car one (Story) and the dream sequence story, so they were the last two I wrote.

Domingos– What I noticed as well is that you made the characters interesting. Obviously besides all the craziness going around in the film, every one of the characters was engaging, even the small characters. Was that something that developed in your mind going forward when you were writing the script? And going through production?

Abigail– No that was always in my mind, a plan to create. I don’t see the point in writing characters that aren’t interesting. Why would an actor want to do it if you’re not offering them anything fun to do? It was very conscious to make every character interesting, because that’s how you attract actors. They certainly aren’t doing it for the money, so you have got to give them something they haven’t done before.

Domingos– Watching it myself, with the audience everybody looked like they were having a good time. I really enjoyed the shift in tones, it would be funny, then go really dark and serious, and then funny again. It was up and down. There was a lot of balance to it, is that a staple of your work? A signature or something you just developed from different projects?

Abigail– I think that’s just natural because, that’s what I’m interested in, I like stuff that’s funny and don’t really like stuff that takes itself too seriously and I’m a big Joss Whedon fan.

Domingos– Yes, I second that (we both smile and nod in agreement).

Abigail– That balance of humour and drama and darkness, and going to really weird dark, places and it really does. Sam Raimi is a massive influence, I like the horror/comedy thing as I think it’s more effective, and it’s more engaging as you’re more likely to bring people back to watch it again, because if it’s just a straight story or horror, people are less likely to re-watch. 

Personally I wanted to make a film people would like to own, watch and share, and also something I like, that I’m proud of and would like to watch again. I was a little bit afraid of my family and husband’s family seeing it. I keep telling them not to watch it. (We both laugh and giggle.)

Domingos– The great thing I liked and noticed is that there’s a lot of social messages and subtext in there. I can’t speak for anybody else, for many people of all ages actually, which surprised me you do not see as much of it in the horror genre, was it something you like to or kept developing?

Abigail– You may have picked up on stuff I’m not even aware of, you may have hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t give you a list of stuff in there. One of the things that amused me when I was writing was making this about a group of 40-somethings, who very much live in the modern world, and they can’t cope in lodge in the middle of nowhere, they don’t even know how to light the fire which turns out to be a good thing (in the film) that sort of may save their lives.

Domingos– It’s ironic that you say that because the current generation of millennials, are perceived not to know how to do simple things like that (i.e. light the fire), even in middle age, you can’t do things that the younger generation are not able to do.

Abigail- I don’t see myself as middle aged, I don’t feel like that. I still feel very young, especially as I’m a rising star (Abigail giggles).

Domingos– You’re still very young.

Abigail– I think you called me young in the review you wrote, which I’m grateful for but in this business I’m starting out.

Domingos– You are nowhere near your peak years?

Abigail– Well this is my first film, so I hope there will be some more. I definitely feel like I’m starting out because A: I’m not desperate, I’m settled and B: I don’t care as much as I used to. I think you get to an age where you don’t care. It’s brilliant and so freeing once you hit your 40’s, you free yourself up a bit. Especially being female, under pressure to be attractive to everyone all the time and fit into their boxes that they prepared for you. I never really felt that I fit into any of that so it’s very freeing to kind of not care. But then on the other hand, less ambitious which means that I have to actually force myself to get more writing done. That’s the pay-off. Do I sit at home or do I actually get myself out there?


Domingos– I think that maybe goes into your work? You’re enjoying what you are doing, and doing it organically so people feed off that. Watching the whole film, everything felt organic and natural, so I guess that maybe your mentality is that you are enjoying it, but you’re not doing it for another reason except the pure love of the work, and then hopefully everything else will work itself out.

Abigail– Thank you, that’s really nice. I put so much stuff into that film (Tales From The Lodge) as well. It could be the only film I make, so I threw everything at it.

Domingos– I hope it’s not your last film. I don’t believe it will be your last. The reason I mentioned the casting was because when I looked at your credits and thought you had been around much longer, like I said you are relatively young and fresh in the industry, but maybe in a way is that an advantage? In the fact that you don’t have the burdens and perceptions of the industry when you are asking these really talented actors, established, especially British actors to be a part of your projects and they are saying yes, being fearless.

Abigail– That feeling of you know what you don’t know, and just ploughing ahead and taking a chance, you don’t know that actors would say no. Actually it’s incredibly surprising when somebody like Laura Fraser says, ‘yes please’ (to taking the role). I’ve never met her, don’t have any connection to her, but I think she is just brilliant, and we asked her and she said yes. And Johnny Vegas as well, that was huge when we got him. Huge! And he phoned me and said thank you.

Domingos– Johnny Vegas has been around for a long time. He’s a bit of a British comedy legend.

Abigail– The stuff he was doing up to Tales From The Lodge was mostly TV comedy such as ‘Still Open All Hours’ and things like that. Not a stretch for him, and I think Johnny was intrigued about doing an indie film. Sophie Thompson, Mackenzie Crook was attached at this point, so he already knew the people he was going to work with. He also said that when he turned up he was surprised those people were actually there! Cause sometimes people promise, and producers promise, then sometimes they don’t deliver. So he was like phew! At least they are actually here as well.

Domingos– Sophie Thompson does a lot of theatre, movies and television (Jericho, Gosford Park, Into The Woods, Hamlet), Dustin Demri-Burns from (Peaky Blinders, Horrible Histories –The Movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance)

Abigail– Cardinal Burns is his sketch group, and I saw them in Edinburgh a couple of times. It’s genius, him and his partner Seb Cardinal, check it out. The casting director suggested Dustin, and I said that he is amazing but is he right? Then I met him and thought oh yes he is totally right.

Domingos– The chemistry was really good, and the twists I didn’t see coming – SPOILER ALERT – even after that twist, I started questioning things and certain actions that I do as a person? Because that’s what I got from the movie, which I added in the review, it makes you think about the little things that you do, could turn out to be big things with big consequences, so you should consider other people.

Abigail– That’s amazing, I love that.

Domingos– It’s the truth, there are some unreal, subversive, concepts and subtexts in there. I want to talk about the concept of getting the actors to direct their stories. How did that come about?

Abigail– Well that was part of the casting really, that’s how we got so many brilliant people.

Domingos– I’ve never heard of that being done before?

Abigail– I don’t think it’s been done before, certainly with the port manto structure, you genuinely get different directors.

Domingos– You need to trademark that!

Abigail– I wonder if anybody else will do it? I hope so; it would be amazing. I don’t think I’ll do it again. Not that it was a bad thing to do, but I don’t feel the need to do that again, though I would certainly be interested if somebody else did it. Obviously, we had the 5 short stories and my original plan was to get different directors to direct each short, and then because Mackenzie Crook was attached to the project early on, and he’s a director as well, we did wonder if he’d be interested in directing one of the shorts. One of the first things we did was approach him and ask if he was interested in directing one of the stories. He said yes. Joe’s story, the nightmare sequence, we thought that’s interesting, which was another organic thing. So the idea was let’s cast actors that direct their own short stories. That’s what took us up the next level calibre of actor, because we were offering something more than just playing this role, can you be creatively invested in this film by directing?

Domingos– So you went out of the box? Even in the way of casting?

Abigail– Yeah

Domingos– When you’re doing your casting do you have the images of the characters and the acts ready, or did it evolve?

Abigail– We had our list of favourite actors for each role. MacKenzie Crook was always Joe. I wrote the part for him, and Russell was pretty much Johnny Vegas. I thought originally maybe Nick Frost? And then I saw ‘Darknet,’ the short film that Johnny Vegas did, and met the producer of that, and he said we should try Johnny. So we thought that was the best idea ever.

Domingos– I enjoyed the one he directed for obvious reasons, that cameo, now where did he come up with that?

Abigail- The zombie one? In the script it was Kiefer Sutherland to originally play his guy. We didn’t even approach him in the end. However, we’d still love to get Kiefer Sutherland to watch the film, and get his response or give us a quote.

Domingos– I’m sure he would appreciate it.

Abigail– I have met him, and he’s a cool, funny guy.

Domingos– The thing with the hair, the jacket, and everything that’s a very Iconic horror character from ‘The Lost Boys.’ So I guess you’re putting it in the universe that he will be in one of your films?

Abigail– I think it was Johnny’s idea to do ‘The Lost Boys’ look. Amazing.

Domingos– That was so funny. Now the story with the husband, the wife, and the poltergeist. So what was the inspiration for that? With them being married and the intricacies of that relationship, how did you come up with that?

Abigail– That was the first idea I was pitching around. I really liked it because it was about marriage that was interesting. It was about a wife who was bored and a husband who didn’t know how to keep her interested. I love those ghost hunting shows on TV. Zeke Holloway the ghost hunter, he was entirely inspired by Zak Bagans from (Ghost Adventures) do you know that show?

Domingos– Was it on Terrestrial television?

Abigail– It was on the Travel Channel, but you can watch it on YouTube. It’s hilariously macho. I mean it started off really well, but also the problem with those guys is that every sound is paranormal as far as they are concerned. I mean come on?! They are untrustworthy in that way, as they are not trying to debunk, they are trying to prove. They have been to Britain a few times, and when I found out they were staying here in London and posted it on Twitter, I got on the tube to go and try to meet them as this is how dorky I am (we both laugh). So yeah, I met Zak and Aaron from Ghost Adventures. I’m basically a big fan myself. Having a ghost adventure and marriage being in trouble, her husband possessed by a demonic spirit and her (the wife) loving it and putting it all together, it sounds like a good story.

Domingos– What I liked was that even when they were telling each story, it never lost focus of the main storyline. You didn’t lose your way, it was still intertwined, perfectly balanced and could switch back and forth and still be on the main narrative. I also feel like there wasn’t an all-out bad guy/good guy as there were a lot of shades of grey, you felt watching one scene and then another you could understand their point of view. So was that something you wanted to do, a balance of the characters?

Abigail– Not to be too spoilery (SPOILER ALERT) I had and felt a lot of sympathy for Miki- (Kelly Wenham) I feel a lot of sympathy for all the characters and I hope you can see where they are coming from in their lives. We can all act selfishly and we all can be mean, and we can all be unaware of other people’s pain. I did want to try and see it from every character’s point of view, and also show them all being bad and mean in some way, obviously Sophie Thompson’s character is trying to keep everyone calm and happy, then she loses it as well, so each one is giving ammunition to Miki gradually.

Kelly Wenham as Miki from Abigail’s Tales From The Lodge

Domingos– It’s fascinating watching it, as you know with Laura Fraser’s character (Martha) and Kelly Wenham’s Character (Miki) there is a bit of tension going on between them, making you think why would Laura behave like that? All will be revealed after you watch the film. Kelly Wenham, I was not as familiar with her work she’s very good. I’ve checked some of her stuff – she’s been in Merlin TV series and a few other things, but wasn’t as established as the other guys, so where did you find her?

Abigail– My friends from the British horror film Double Date, have you seen it?

Domingos– No, I was planning to attend the screening in London, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to.

Abigail– It’s amazing. You can – it is available to buy on DVD, it’s brilliant it also stars Michael Socha (This is England, Being Human), it’s fantastic, you will love it. I helped them with a live script read for the film as favour and having also come from an acting background myself. I read through the script a couple of times and gave them advice from my point of view specifically on the female characters, so I met her from that and she’s incredible in Double Date. She’s a tough character she’s amazing and basically I approached her at FrightFest when Double Date was playing.

I said to her that I’m shooting my film at the end of the year, and I might come back to you, which she said was cool. I phoned her back and said can you film in 2 weeks’ time and direct? It’s a huge role, and it’s not an easy role to play and to also do the directing as well. I think she was unsure about doing both and Dustin felt the same. I said to them to direct their short stories and I will help you and be there as your co-director for as much as you need me, and if you don’t need me I’ll try to let you do your thing.

Domingos– It must have been a surprise to them, that you believed in them that much that you told them that they could direct their own thing?

Abigail– I guess so yeah, I quite like collaborating with people but I am also a control freak at times, so it’s really hard to balance those things.

Domingos– Have you gotten over the fact that you won that award?

Abigail– Not really, it has not sunk in, it’s an amazing thing to win because it makes your family happy, friends and your agent, it is great for that and for hopefully the film as well. I’m so grateful to FrightFest for being there and supporting me.

Domingos– It was on the night you found out you had won?

Abigail– We had shown the film, then we went to get drinks, then I had to leave the drinks to run to the ceremony, win my award, they had already seen my pictures of me winning the award on twitter (we both giggle at her award pose). 

Domingos– You added also that when you hit your 30’s before you turned 40, you started to evolve as a writer/director, do you think that helped with the content you are creating now? As you have also had life experience as well.

Abigail– I struggled as an actor for many years, got pregnant. My kid’s now 16 years old, and I thought what is it I truly want to do with my life? I spoke with my husband and said I don’t want to just do a day job while I’m trying to act, so I decided I wanted to write and concentrate on that and he supported me with that and told me to do what was in my heart and I felt. As soon as my kid was 2 years old and could go to pre-school, I took those 2 hours every morning to sit in a café and write. That was my routine going forward and I wrote a sketch show which got put on in Edinburgh-Fringe Festival, it got some good reviews, and I was also doing Improv-(Improvisation), which taught me so much about writing and how to tell a story. I would highly recommend it.

Abigail– Do you know Deborah Francis-White of the Guilty Feminist podcast?

Domingos– Not familiar.

Abigail– Deborah Francis -White is a phenomenal supporter of creative people; she was the one who encouraged Pheobe Waller-Bridge-(Killing Eve, Fleabag) to write and perform Fleabag originally, she is an enabler of people, If you say I want to do something, she will make it happen and definitely help.

Domingos– When we first met, you were very courteous with me, and I really enjoyed watching your film, and I had no idea about you winning the award until later, which was a pleasant surprise getting the chance to interview you. I think that somebody who loves what they are doing and if they are showing their passion, it rubs off on you and people will resonate towards that.

Abigail– We need all the stories; we don’t need the same old people telling the same stories, we need new people. It’s really important to encourage people that to do what they want to do, they’re not gonna lose anything, like for example writing their film. If it doesn’t get made, then at least you learned something from them, like a writing sample. My first feature script was called Zombies Vs Vampires.

Domingos– That sounds like a big box-office bloodfest.

Abigail- It’s set in a horror convention, with a huge amount of people now, that would take a lot of money, people cost money etc.

Domingos– You have got to make that happen (we both laugh in excitement at the thought).

Abigail- That was the first script I wrote, all it did was help me learn about writing it, then I thought that it would make a good comic book, then adapt it for the film. You can also go big in comic book form without worrying about the budgets.

Domingos– Get people interested in it through the comic books first?

Abigail– The second one I wrote was a coming of age incest/comedy/drama

Domingos– That’s grim and out of the box, and a brave topic. Well, what I liked about Tales from the Lodge was that you didn’t shy away from certain things and subjects, specifically the twist.

Abigail– It’s tricky because we are in a day and age where everything is under the microscope and can be perceived as offensive, you can’t please everyone.

Domingos– It must be very draining with the social media aspect?

Abigail– As soon as the promotions/media side of the film dies down, I turn it off for a bit i.e.: Twitter/Facebook.

Domingos– You were an actor, then you took control of your own destiny, by writing your own content. With the Me Too movement which has been happening, it’s almost like the timing of you becoming a writer/director couldn’t be better, as there seems to be a lot of openings now for women in the industry. You have more female editors, female script writers, female grips, female (Director of Photography)-DOP’s etc.

Abigail– A friend of mine who is a male in the industry added he felt it was a bit harder for him going for jobs, I understand people have quotas to fill and boxes to tick, so it will take a while to even things out eventually. I remember getting an audition for the Sharon Horgan sitcom Pulling, and I got the job, I met Kevin Perkin who plays the demon in the short story. He has been a great help in my journey as a filmmaker. I made my short film with him Blind Date, and it helped me get my agent.

Domingos– Risk-taking takes you to places you would never imagine.

Abigail– Saying I want and I’m going to are very different things, more people need to say I’m going to and I will, then I want to! Nobody owes you anything and nobody is going to give you anything. A lot of actors expect to be discovered walking along the street. It’s not going to happen, you have got be there and push yourself forward and tell them I am here! And I can do this.

Domingos– Now with the technology out there, a lot of filmmakers/creators like yourself say go and create stuff yourself.

Abigail– I say that to actors as well, put yourself on YouTube, write something or do a monologue, do it as a short film, film yourself with your mates. People are more likely to watch a 30 second clip of you on YouTube than by just doing an audition. They want to see you in action and know straight away if they want to use you or not, that’s massively important. And if you are a writer, get something made and keep it very short, as you don’t want to take out time out of somebody’s day. Make it as easy as possible for people in the industry to see your work.

Domingos– Interesting advice, this is the advantage of you being a writer, director and actor, you can see it from all the angles.

Abigail– Creating and putting stuff on YouTube gave me and built the confidence, I also made a fake advert for a show I did in Edinburgh which I shot on. Abigailblackmore.com has all my links and videos I’ve done.

Domingos– Do a lot of actors still audition for you in the traditional route or by Skype, sending you clips, YouTube videos etc.?

Abigail– I put Kelly (Wenham) forward for the role of Miki, but the producers didn’t know her, we did ask 2 other actors to put themselves on tape, along with Kelly and you could tell pretty quickly she was the one. I fought for her and she looked fantastic and is a stunningly beautiful woman as well and she really threw herself into the role. She is one of these actors who would physically change themselves for a role; you should see her in Double Date, you are going to be surprised!

Domingos– I looked at a couple of clips and images of that film, and I didn’t really recognise her.

Abigail– She went full Robert De Niro for Double Date, including getting a trainer, boxing, a super diet, she got super like ripped. There is the most incredible fight scene in that film, you have to see it and I need to buy it actually. She is a very interesting actor and I hope she really gets picked up from this.

Kelly Wenham in Danny Morgan’s Double Date

Domingos– I believe she will, the Horror genre is famous for launching up and comers actors careers such as Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Johnny Depp (Nightmare on Elm Street), Daniel Kaluuya-(Get Out) to name a few high profile examples.

Abigail– Laura Fraser did a horror/sci-fi after us (Dark Encounter) and Sophie Thompson had just said she just done another horror.

Domingos– Seems like you have given your actors the acting horror bug. Do you have a vision of what you would like to make next?

Abigail– Maybe a TV series, I already have the first episode written. I am trying to get funding and a company on board for that, that may be here or in the United States?

Domingos– You have the first episode written, that’s a cool exclusive! And the great thing is that you have so many streaming services and outlets, it doesn’t have to be network television any more. I don’t want to say it’s dying but it has evolved from Netflix to YouTube, Amazon, Apple even Facebook are getting involved.

Abigail– I’d quite like to do some TV and get another film. I did a pilot, a teaser I wrote called Regulars. It is on YouTube. I have been writing and developing show ideas for a good few years and just trying to get stuff made. There is not a lot of money in this country for Television, there is a handful of writers who get their work done.

Domingos– Do you think there should be more in regards to that? Because you could end up going to the United States because of that reason.

Abigail– I don’t want to do that, but it could happen. I have managers over there now and I went over to Austin, Texas for SXSW-Southwest by Southwest Film Festival for a week where we did our world premiere. Then I did a week in Los Angeles, California, just pitching to people who had seen the film. The people who wanted to meet were the ones who liked the film, which was great and which meant everybody I met was a fan of Tales from The Lodge. That was a nice week. People assume that you will just move over there, I can’t see that unless the work was solid there, I ‘d rather live in the United Kingdom, I’d miss the British dry wit and banter (we both giggle), as much as I loved LA and the cool people I met.

Domingos– I enjoyed British dry humour in the film. How have you found the way the horror genre is done around the world like Australian, Asian, North American, South American, New Zealand for example?

Abigail– Australian horror and New Zealand horror is great. The New Zealand stuff is mostly horror comedy as well, hilarious and you have some fantastic stuff coming out of Australia. Housebound is one of my favourite films of the last 10 years, it is a horror/comedy. It is superb, I believe it may be on Netflix?

I am quite into American horror. I like a lot of Stephen King’s stuff. The first horror film that really affected me was Salem’s Lot by Tobe Hooper from the late 70’s. My mum used to let us stay up and watch with my brothers and me, and mum who was a huge horror fan too. I couldn’t sit next to an open window for the longest time, it’s one of the creepiest vampire films. Rob Lowe was involved in a remake in the 90’s I believe. We used to watch a lot of British Hammer horror who my little brothers love.

Domingos– Hammer horrors featuring Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings). I always feel in horror, less is always more.

AbigailTales from the Unexpected was one of my favourite things growing up.

Domingos– Was it like an anthology series? In the mode of the outer limits which I enjoyed you paying homage to these shows.

Abigail– They did not underestimate the audience’s intelligence, and things were less PC (Politically Correct), darker more interesting stuff, but now the MTV generation and onwards, you are kind of playing.

Domingos– People were less shackled, and you as a filmmaker trying to subvert, battle and find balance to keep the integrity of the work, which is what I loved about FrightFest. It is unapologetic and everybody is free to explore.

Abigail– It is the quality of the storytelling over the quality of the filmmaking. I have seen slick productions, which are the most cliché things ever. I want everyone to buy my DVD, get it for people for Christmas.

Domingos– When I get the DVD, I want you to sign it for me Abigail? That is an exclusive!

Abigail– Absolutely I will.

Domingos– The fact you went through all those years of toiling for this project, you fought for it, fought for your actors, got the performers you wanted, and the concept you wanted, it went to two of the biggest horror and film festivals in the world in FrightFest and SXSW-Southwest by Southwest. Now it’s going to be in the cinema for the public and the DVD, do you still pinch yourself? Are you in the zone or is it all very strange for you?

Abigail– When you have got a goal, then there is that feeling of achievement, then you tick that and ask what’s the next goal? Make a feature film, excellent, what’s the next? Get it on DVD and shown in the cinema, when you have been working on it for so long and are involved you are just relieved you done it, so your goals constantly change and move on.

Domingos– Your goal is to get it out there, though you can try and still enjoy it and give yourself a pat on the back.

Abigail– You can enjoy it by having that drink. Yay! We achieved it, but that feeling of happiness is sometimes fleeting, isn’t it? Because while you are enjoying it you are already thinking about the next thing.

Domingos– That was one of the themes of the film, wasn’t it? Certain characters seem to have gotten what they wanted, but when they did get it wasn’t all they expected it to be.

Abigail– Yeah nobody is ever truly happy, they are always constantly moving the goal posts.

Domingos– On your next projects would you like to work with some of the same actors?

Abigail– Yes, I’d work with them all again, and the same producers too. I feel very lucky to have met Ed Barratt and Richard Wiley, Ed has been on board for years now, a good guy very chilled as well, which is amazing for a producer who is not stressing.

Domingos– That can be a stressful job, as they are the budget guys at times.

Abigail– Their job is to protect the filmmaker and make sure they get what they need, and deal with the million problems that come up. When you have good people you want to work with, you have got to cling to them.

Domingos– I believe you are on the right path, the amount of films you have done already, have garnered a lot of interest and buzz so forth. This film will surprise people because you go some places not everybody is used to.

Abigail– I was a little concerned and nervous about it, about some people’s and families’ reaction to the language.

Domingos– I was surprised about the freedom and carte blanche of films in regards to the language at the festival.

Abigail– Well it’s an over 18 festival for that reason, anything goes at FrightFest (we both laugh).

Domingos– You mentioned before Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She is doing well, what other female talent has inspired you in the industry?

Abigail– I have quite a few female filmmaker friends in the industry, like Katie Herron who is doing incredibly well. She is producing stuff for Netflix now. I met her at a local film festival back in 2011/2012, and she approached me to watch her short film online. It was hilarious and starred two of my friends and I realised we had the same friends, so we became friends, and she is now directing the new Loki series for Disney’s streaming service, which stars Tom Hiddleston. Therefore, she is a fine example of someone who is ambitious, talented and works really hard. She also directed 4 episodes of Netflix’s Sex Education and that possibly got her an agent in LA and her Directors’ Guild and so on.

Domingos– Working with Tom Hiddleston is not a bad gig at all.

Abigail– Sharon Horgan, she has been a huge inspiration to women in the industry. She is prolific, that woman has written so many shows and starred in such as Pulling and Catastrophe to name a few. Alice Lowe is one (Prevenge).

Domingos– I first saw Alice Lowe in (Hot Fuzz) in a small cameo, then (Sightseers), then it starts a snowball effect, and she does more projects and expanding their own creativity. The female talent is creating more of their own content.

Abigail– I met Alice on Pulling where she had a small part like me, and then Sharon Horgan, Alice Lowe and me went out for the night and that is how I kind of got to know her. A lot of really talented women. Samantha Hawley is a writer who used to be a film sales agent and she quit to write movies, and she is doing really well.

She organised an event at the BFI-(British Film Institute) with Catherine Hardwicke who directed the first Twilight film, and various other things since then. An amazing woman, so it was the BFI and Catherine did a talk and there were at least 50 of us in the room. So nobody can say there are not any female filmmakers around, there were 50 female filmmakers in one room, and plenty more of us out there. So that was inspiring and a brilliant night.

Catherine talked us through her pre-production and how she got certain films made, the technical side of directing movies. So there is a lot of female talent I’m inspired by, and also male filmmakers too who I know and have met, such as Travis Stevens at SXSW, Roxanne Benjamin who are all calm, cool and more experienced than me and know what they are talking about.

Domingos– Do you feel like you are still climbing the ladder?

Abigail– I don’t feel any different, though I would like to try and earn some money now! (we both giggle in amusement) That would be nice. I still want to do something I’m proud of and not just do a job for the money just for the sake of it.

Domingos– I think it will come as a consequence of what you are doing, if the work is quality those things will come.

Abigail– We will have to wait and see on who will want to throw their money at us. (we both laugh in hope).

Domingos– Maybe this time you can actually get Kiefer Sutherland to star in one of your movies or cameo? Now that would be a great story!

Abigail– When I was in the United States, a manager said to me that you should focus on an actor and write for that specific actor, and that helps. If you can write for a particular star or somebody whose star is rising, then you rise with them.

Domingos– That is a pattern you get in American films where certain actors and actresses they do come up together such as Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, Michael B Jordan and Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig, Daniel Kaluuya and Jordan Peele as recent examples.

Abigail– It’s brilliant advice if you find somebody you like working with, stick with them. This may sound controversial, but also looking at films that could be remade with females in the roles, rather than men, it’s not to rewrite history, but it’s about seeing things from a different point of view, such as Widows.

Domingos– As long as you are true to the characters and spirit of it, things can be done and make them engaging. Widows that starred Liam Neeson, Viola Davies and Daniel Kaluuya.

Abigail– Daniel Kaluuya is incredible!

Domingos– He was also a writer on Skins the TV series, which has produced a lot of stars Dev Patel-(Slumdog Millionaire), Nicholas Hoult-(Mad Max:Fury Road), Hannah Murray-(Game of Thrones), Kaya Scodelario who was in Crawl from FrightFest-2019 as well. How you encouraged your actors to direct, they encouraged their young actors to write like you have.

Abigail– I worked with one of the producers who was a script editor on Skins who said that the actors were also writers on it.

Domingos– For the public, how would you describe Tales from The Lodge in 3 words?

Abigail– A good film!!!(Abigail laughs in fun excitement)

Domingos– You heard it first people, Thank you so much for your time.

Abigail– That was really good thanks, I can’t believe you didn’t have hardly anything written down but you still had really good questions, good interview.

Domingos– I had an idea of where I wanted the questions to go having seen the film, but I enjoy working off the cuff. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Abigail– I did a Q and A once and it was terrifying, and I’d written loads of questions and I’d still run out of them quickly, but I enjoyed this.

Domingos– I like interacting with filmmakers/actors/crew from the industry on a personal level. But once again it was a pleasure interviewing you Abigail, thanks and good luck with the release!

 

Interview by Domingos Coxi

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