Long time SGM readers will remember an explosive low budget exploitation movie starring the late great David Warbeck called SUDDEN FURY directed by the very talented Darren Ward, well he's back yet again with the next part in his ultra violent crime trilogy and this time he's teamed up with genre legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice to deliver A DAY OF VIOLENCE and our very own Stu Willis just about manages to stop himself going on a crime spree after watching this hot new gory treat and kicks back with filmmaker Darren to discuss the new film and his work in our exclusive Spotlight interview…
Stu: First, I'd like to start by congratulating you on your fantastic new film A DAY OF VIOLENCE, and thanking you for the opportunity to interview you.
SUDDEN FURY obtained DVD releases in the UK, Europe and America. Did your profile rise as a result of these releases? How have you found the exposure on an International level in the last few years?
Darren: I wouldn't say I had people knocking my door down, but it does help when raising finance for future films. Investors can see that your work is out there and selling well. The exposure has been good and every now and again an email comes through from someone who has bought 'Sudden Fury' praising the movie which is cool.
Stu: There is a twelve-year gap between SUDDEN FURY and A DAY OF VIOLENCE. Can you update readers on what you've been up to in the meantime, and how this may be reflected in your filmmaking today?
Darren: Well 'SF' took almost three years to make, so after it was released in 1998 I did a few festival circuits with the film (Crimson eye, Sitges, Raindance etc) and then took a well deserved break….between 98-2002 I wrote several feature scripts (Beyond Fury, Insurrection, Passion). It wasn't until 2004 that I picked up a camera again and made 'Nightmares', a ten-minute short, shot on Super16 concerning the confessions of a fictitious serial killer.
The film did well and went on to win several awards and was premiered in LA at the International short film festival. It was also shown on sky repeatedly.
The twelve year gap between feature films has certainly given me time to finesse my style and it is as brutal as every, but hopefully a lot slicker as well.
Stu: Where did the initial premise for A DAY OF VIOLENCE stem from?
Darren: It stemmed from my new family (I have two young girls), I wanted to write something that had at its core a family bond. I don't want to say to much as the film isn't released yet. The film needed a purpose and I think we found it.
Stu: How much did the film cost and what was the production's greatest expense?
Darren: The film cost just over £100,000 and was shot on HD. The most expensive elements were the special effects, gun armourer and securing locations.
Stu: How did you finance the film?
Darren: Self-financed and private investment.
Stu: It's great to see Giovanni Lombardo Radice in the film. How did this come about?
Darren: Via Myspace believe it or not! I stumbled across the profile page for Giovanni. I assumed it was a fan site and sent an email enquiring this. A few days later I received an email back saying "No it really is me".
We got talking and I emailed the script for 'ADOV' over. Giovanni loved the script and wanted to play the part of 'Boswell'. However due to the time period of filming (I knew we would be filming over a long period) it wouldn't have been practical to keep flying him over.
So in the end he agreed to play 'Hopper'. We flew him over from Rome for four days and had a real blast doing his scenes.
Stu: Do you have any anecdotes from Radice's time on the shoot?
Darren: Oh god! Well it was a constant laugh. I do have some footage of him recounting a story from 'City of the Living Dead' which involves him and Antonella Interlenghi smoking a joint and the hilarious consequences. That is in the making of….which will be on the DVD.
He was very easy to work with and a great joy! I feel very privileged to have worked with two of Italy's finest horror actors from the golden age of splatter. We plan to work together again in the future.
Stu: Can you talk a little about the other cast members and your relationships with them? The likes of Nick Rendell, Victor D Thorn and Tina Barnes are becoming regular accomplices of yours ...
Darren: I have known Nick for almost 20 years now and have used him in my last 5 films. We have matured on screen together and plan on working many more times in the future. We have a connection I guess and it is very easy for Nick to run with what I throw at him. It's almost like the 'De Niro', 'Scorsese' relationship, if you use an actor over and over again you almost become one on set.
Tina Barnes is a real trouper and takes it on the chin no matter what you ask of her. A great talent and very versatile.
Stu: You used a lot of genuine interior locations in the film - warehouses, flats, bars etc. Were these all planned in advance of shooting? If so, how did you come about them and how did you secure them for filming?
Darren: All the locations were pre-written in the script. I have been extremely lucky to get what I needed - but it took time to secure them all. Greasing a few palms also helped in getting the doors open! As we ran out of money on occasions and were seeking further investment it gave me time to location scout and secure the next sets needed.
A lot of driving around and cold calling - it worked in the end. I didn't have to compromise whatsoever.
Stu: When it came to exteriors, did you encounter any problems while shooting? How, for example, did you get away with the filming of setting a car ablaze in broad daylight?
Darren: Again very lucky, we shot all the jogging scenes in Southampton around 5am in the morning. I wanted that deserted '28 weeks later' look for that scene. With the car exploding we were filming on the old Meridian TV studio lot. This was cleared with the security guys, who let us in there for the day. The cars had been pre-rigged days before we arrived. Dave Judge (Quantum of Solace) our stunt guy did a brilliant job.
Stu: Each scene in the film looks remarkably considered. Do you use storyboards? If not, how do you work towards making the finished film meet your initial vision?
Darren: Rightly or wrongly I never storyboard! It's all held in my head and we rehearse on set, make sure the cameras are getting exactly what I want. I am hardest on myself and will go again & again to get it right.
Stu: In terms of preparation prior to filming, what's the single most vital piece of advice you can offer?
Darren: Make sure the script is polished, as this will attract the actors, who in turn if they love the script are even prepared to work for free. Don't give up and compromise, keep true to your vision. Turn the pressure into your best friend and go make your movie.
Stu: A DAY OF VIOLENCE has a strong echo of films such as CONTRABAND and THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY. So did SUDDEN FURY. Can you elaborate on your fascination with this genre?
Darren: I cant put my finger on it, maybe in a previous life I lived the lifestyle! I just love the opportunities the genre gives you. You get to have guns, girls and gore! I really want to finish my gangster/crime trilogy! I know the British gangster genre is accused of being dead, what with all the 'Guy Ritchie' copycats.
I have tried to take a very British culture and add the feel and grit of Italian crime thrillers of the 70's/80's.
Stu: Which genre in-jokes should viewers look out for when watching A DAY OF VIOLENCE?
Darren: You know I don't think I set out to do that! If you see any they really aren't intentional.
Stu: I've got to talk about the gore in the film. It's formidable! Can you speak a little about the ultra-violence, what motivated it and how it was achieved?
Darren: I thought ok, it's been a long time since my last feature and sticking with crime thrillers it needs an edge. With the whole torture porn so called genre being born I needed set pieces that would get jaded exploitation/gore fans excited.
I have never been shy on splashing the claret, so on a personal level it was never going to be Mary Poppins. Some people have said that I have gone to far with the castration scene. Maybe we have I don't know, the world these guys inhabit is untamed and dog eat dog. I did a lot of research on crime gangs etc and believe me what you see in the film is nothing to what some of these people are prepared to do.
The film overall is very bleak and violent, and I am prepared for the backlash it might get. I also have a more sanitised version for certain territories.
Stu: Was there anything you thought about putting in the film, and then reconsidered - anything you felt may have gone "too far"?
Darren: No. What's in the script is in the movie. One FX shot we did cut is an ultra close up of the chisel popping the tooth from the gum. It proved to be too expensive for a 2 second shot. Almost £2,000 if I remember correctly. I hate censorship so wasn't prepared to censor myself.
Stu: Daft question, but what are your views on film censorship in 2009? Is there ever an argument for it?
Darren: In terms of mainstream movies no I don't think censorship should get in the way. It's the old argument that adults should have the right to choose what they see. The BBFC are much more relaxed in today's present climate, which can only be a good thing.
Stu: Do you feel that A DAY OF VIOLENCE is a love letter to aggressive machismo, or a snipe against it? Or am I reading too much into it?
Darren: I wanted that 70's feel, where men were men and not todays pussies you often see in films. You know the Charles Bronson type. They will kill you as soon as look at you. These people exist and gangs like 'Boswells' operate in all our major cities.
The movie is certainly a throw back to yesteryear! That is even reflected in the films score. Electronic score that really gives a punch and kick ass if I do say so.
Stu: Have you screened the film to an audience yet? If so, what have the reactions been like?
Darren: It was screened on June 27th 2009 for the cast and crew & invited guests. It went down very well, with people cheering and squirming at the appropriate scenes. We did have walks outs on the castration scene. Very pleased with the finished product.
Stu: Now that the film is made and garnering great reviews, how do you set about selling it? Did you learn anything from the sale of SUDDEN FURY that will benefit you this time around?
Darren: I have just signed the film over to JINGA Films for worldwide distribution. Julian Richards who heads the company will take it to all the major film markets and is the films sales agent. It goes to its first market in November the AFM (American film market).
I have learnt a lot. Show me the money. No upfront cash no sale!
Stu: Any early news on a DVD release for A DAY OF VIOLENCE? I note that a "Making Of" documentary is listed on The Internet Movie Database as being in post-production.
Darren: The film has no release date yet and I am currently very busy getting supplementary materials up together. You can expect an audio commentary, making of.. extended scenes/deleted scenes, trailers etc etc. I always believe in getting the DVD'S rammed with extras.
The making of is over 90 mins long, longer than the film!
Stu: Naming your own filmmaking company Giallo Films illustrates your clear love of the Italian exploitation genre. What are your personal favourites of the genre?
Darren: The list could be pages, however some of my favourites include Profondo Rosso, Opera, Cannibal Holocaust, The Beyond, Suspiria, Tenebre
Stu: If you could travel back in time and make A DAY OF VIOLENCE in Italy, in the 1970s, who would be your dream cast of the day?
Darren: Jessica Harper, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, George Eastman, David Warbeck, Michele Soavi, Al Cliver, Henry Silva, Charles Bronson, Edwige Fenech
Stu: The title A DAY OF VIOLENCE is obviously identical to the English-language title for Luigi Petrini's OPERAZIONE KAPPA. Is this intentional? Also, is there any relevance in the title closely resembling the original working title for Stanley Kubrick's THE KILLING ("Day of Violence")?
Darren: No there isn't any relevance to these movies at all. I knew the film was about a debt collectors last day on earth. It was a natural conclusion A Day of Violence….
Stu: What's your perception of the boom in British genre films in the decade that's passed since SUDDEN FURY?
Darren: You know I haven't really followed it, but I am very happy it has happened. The more British films being made will uncover new British talent and you know, we don't all want to make merchant ivory flicks either!
Stu: Do you see your own films as having any parallels with other contemporary British filmmakers? If so, whom would you draw comparisons to?
Darren: My style is an infusion of many Italian directors (Argento, Fulci, Leone, Deodata etc) with certain Americans in there as well (De Palma, Scorsese).
Stu: As a fan of genre films, what have your most recent buys been? Any recommendations for readers?
Darren: Martyrs & Inside are the only films I have bought recently. I have been too busy with getting the film ready for Cannes and the premiere. Now I have a huge workload with getting the dvd extras ready. Unfortunately my viewing days are some what numbered at the moment.
Stu: If you were to make a film outside of the exploitation/gore/horror genre, what style would you opt for?
Darren: A western. I would love to do a Sergio Leone styled western……….
Stu: Finally, what plans do you have for your future as a filmmaker? What's next?
Darren: I would like to finish my intended crime trilogy…..whether that be 'Beyond Fury' or a new idea I am currently working on. Hopefully the future holds a full on horror film as well.
Stu: Thanks again for taking the time out to answer these questions, and good luck with the film. It's a cult classic in the making!
Darren: Thank you it has been a pleasure…..
Special thanks to Darren and the Giallo Films team. For more information about A DAY OF VIOLENCE and the films of Darren Ward check out his official site here.