When Frightfest came to an end, an international sales agent and North American distributor, Devilworks, recalled a supernatural Playhouse entrance cooler for North America and Canada.
Central to the film is a notorious horror writer who moves into an old castle with his teenage daughter to work on his next play, only to face the terrible consequences when his daughter falls victim to the supernatural evil that lurks within the castle walls.
The brothers Fionn and Toby Watts produced and designed a supernatural refrigerator that premiered at the London Frightfest in August. This week the film will be released at VOD in the United States and Canada.
Gentlemen, when you started making films – not to produce films, but just for yourself. Kid?
We started making films with our father when we were very young, around 7 and 10 years old. They were just fun projects with the Hi-8 camera: comic horror movies about football that show stupid accidents where someone’s head falls off and is replaced by a soccer ball. This led us as teenagers to experiment more, write screenplays and find school friends in avant-garde short films. We watched Eraser Lynch and made a horror film in which we zoomed in on the radiator several times, accompanied by a frightening homemade sound, and Toby shouted all over his face with shaving foam. In the beginning we didn’t have any laptops or editing software, so everything was muted in the camera, and later the sound was duplicated via the CD-drive. So we started making films very early on, and we certainly did our 10,000 hours of shit before we did them professionally.
Do you remember what you were shooting at?
In the early years it was HI-8 and Mini-DV and finally, from 2010, DSLR. The first camera we bought was the JVC GR-D21. It was an incredible camera because it had the weight to make a very still picture, but at the same time it was light enough to work, which created a kinetic energy and a dogmatic aesthetic in our early work. Nothing beats making a movie with a camera that only has an on/off button, and that’s it – let go!
What kind do you like?
I think at first we were attracted to supernatural thrillers because you could create atmosphere and film it with a zero budget, focusing more on power and sound than on expensive special effects. Horror has always been something we have borrowed, just like the suspense films, especially those based on videos from the terrible times we grew up in the early 1990s. The opponents had such fantastic posters, and they felt like a forbidden fruit in their childhood. At a friend’s slumber party, we secretly watched Candyman. We never forgot that night and it made a big impression on us.
Still a fan of horror? Some kind of terror?
I think we’ve always been fans of the horror genre, but some sub-genres attract us more than others. I think everything that has the supernatural, spiritual or paranormal essence of this story attracts us. We like the haunted house type, and we also like the horror of the creatures. The minors among us are mainly gripped by fear or physical sorrow, and we both get sick when we spray, but there are exceptions, because we absolutely love Fly Kronenberg and Candiman Bernard Rose.
Did your parents encourage you to participate in your film career?
I think so, but indirectly. None of our parents said that, but since our mother is an actress and our father a writer, it was a strong influence on us to follow the same path. I think we understood very early on that we want to create our own work and that we don’t want to wait until you get a job, as actors often feel. That is why writing, producing and directing has been our goal from an early age. Our parents were not only very supportive, but also clearly understood the difficulties and the reality of a very irregular and often insufficient income. Most companies are made of great sacrifice and perseverance and they are not glamorous, and our parents showed us that, so we had no illusions about what it takes to get something.
What was your first movie?
I think the first film we produced entirely in-house in the field of fundraising and organisation was a series of short films called Dilemmas about the moral and ethical challenges young people face. In retrospect, it was a crazy re-composition of the play, because we had a crew of twenty people working 16 hours to make the two-minute drama – and we shot four such episodes. Let’s say it was a ridiculous luxury shoot for Indian filmmakers, which is usually impossible unless you’re Stanley Kubrick. It was a great lesson for us on how to be much more economical and resourceful in our cinematography.
And how did that happen?
A few years ago we worked on many feature film ideas, including comedies, dramas, fiction, all at the same location where we shot the film PLAYHOUSE. And yet we knew something was wrong and we hadn’t found the story and genre we wanted to explore. After immersing ourselves in our own past and our own life experience, we started thinking about a writer who settles in the castle and wants to scare people, but his daughter starts to send away when the cursed story of the castle reappears. The truth is that our father is a writer who bought a castle, our mother is an actress and we grew up in the north of Scotland. If you bring all these elements together, you get a semi-autobiographical, fantastic and supernatural thriller set in your parents’ house. So that’s where he comes from, with the power of our imagination…
Are there any supernatural events on the set? Of course, right? Ha-ha!
That’s weird, yeah! We can’t go into details, but one of our actors/visitors began to show disturbing signs of mental disorders during the shooting, which we had to struggle with. Our second. AP burned in a place that put her at the end! Luckily, she wasn’t hurt at all, but she must have changed. On the first night of the shooting, the electricity was also cut off, causing panic at night. During the foreground of the frame, when the actor had to throw props out of the window, the wind blew back a piece of paper from the outside, as we wrote in the script, and that happened. We couldn’t believe it – we thought we’d have to fake it in the newsroom by cutting it and throwing the paper away, but the elements did it for us. That’s odd.
And it’s based on a true story, isn’t it? (winks)
For legal reasons of course, no LOL!