Friday, March 15, 2013

An Interview With Lawrie Brewster - The Lord Of Tears

With the successful funding of LORD OF TEARS completed (but still going so go donate for an even better film), I got to talk with Lawrie Brewster, the director of the film, about the project. Read on!

How was the initial idea for Lord Of Tears developed? What made you want to make this film?

The initial idea for Lord of Tears was developed based upon a strange personal experience I had as a child. While walking out the front entrance of a stately home, I saw, standing at the far end of an empty lawn, a man dressed in a tailsuit with a large bird mask.

The figure stood looking in my direction for some time before stepping with relative ease into some nearby woodland. Now I am not one to suggest anything supernatural about that occurrence, but the incident itself left enough visual impact upon me as a child to inspire me as an artist in later life.

I wrote a short story based on the incident and scriptwriter Sarah Daly created a world and a set of characters around it that became the script for Lord of Tears.

The reason I wanted to make this film is borne out of a desire to produce original works for the horror/fantasy genre evocative of the classic horror films no longer deemed commercial enough – in particular in the independent horror genre. The reason we see so many teen slasher films is not entirely down to unoriginality – it is because there is a built in anti-intellectual segment in some audiences in the genre. There are exceptions to this (for not all slasher films are the same) such as masterly classics like the original Halloween.

It made me realise that if we were to see low budget horror that focussed on story and atmosphere, films like the Wicker Man, or the adaptations of The Devil Rides Out or Blood on Satan's Claw... that it would be up to us to make them... and support the production of such films.

I believe the horror genre is the very best portal for the cinematic imagination – it embraces fantasy and science fiction – can be metaphysical and philosophical as well as dark... violent and sexual. Not many genres provide such breadth to explore the most nightmarish recesses of human or supernatural existence hence why I wanted to make Lord of Tears as my personal contribution to the genre.

You've mentioned before that various myths and legends have inspired the film, can you tell us about them?

Oh I cannot explicity tell you what they are – but you can uncover them from the film and its associated mythos documents. Especially with our collector's editions or full digital packs, as they include some short stories, origin tales and artwork etc.

Of course I can describe where I sought my inspiration. As a student of Ancient History and Theology - the tales I read and research are of the gods, creatures, Titans. The denizens of different faiths and legends of different creatures are the compatriats of my imagination. With the Lord of Tears, I found in the religion of ancient Carthage an entity that demanded the most awful sacrifices, and in ancient Scotland a pagan cult that worshipped the spirits of dead enemies trapped in decapitated heads.

What excites me about dark inspirations for horror literature and film, is that in a universe as huge and infinite, within parallel dimensions – almost anything if not anything... may exist somewhere. In that sense I see myself as a potential documentarian as well as a storyteller.

The Owl Man has a very foreboding look, who designed it?

The Owl Man was designed conceptually by myself and our Cinematographer Gavin Robertson who carried out the original illustrations of the Owlman in his tailsuit with out-stretched talons!

An artist called Angela Allen, then produced the mask and talons! She did a great job!

Did any other films or film makers influence you or screenwriter Sarah Daly on Lord Of Tears, either directly or indirectly?

Oh lets see filmmakers like Jack Clayton (The Innocents) Robert Wise (The Haunted) and of course films such as The Shining, The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan's Claw and J-Horror films such as those of Hideo Nakata like Ringu and of course Stuart Gordon (I'm sure I don't have to say why!)

It may sound a little cliché but filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa are a personal inspiration (in particular dramas such as Ikiru and Redbeard) and British director Ken Russell for films like The Devils and The Music Lovers.

The cast includes some well versed and experienced actors including David Schofield, how did he come on board for the project?

Euan Douglas and Lexy Hulme were actors already known to us. Euan was a stage trained actor – mature and interesting whose performance would lend our film a classic British theatrically trained sense of authenticity. Lexy Hulme meanwhile trained in US screen acting and is known mostly for her incredible dancing (appearing in films such as 500 Days of Summer, and the TV series Smash.) We put that physical and remarkable screen prescence to good use in our film – you certainly won't forget her!

David Schofield will of course be known to your readership for his appearances in many films over the decades – most well-known being Gladiator and Pirates of the Carribean – but most imporantatly as the awesome darts player in American Werewolf in London... “you.... you made me miss...” For that reason alone we knew we just had to have him provide the sinister voice for our Owlman.

We got in touch with David and fortunately for us, he admired the maturity and artistic aspiration of Sarah Daly's script. I say aspiration because often actors do not get material that seeks to be creatively ambitious – especially in the genre. That doesn't guarantee a film is great of course but it shows it does aim to be. So it was a great personal aknowledgement for Sarah's talent that such an experienced actor had kind words for her writing!

Where was Lord Of Tears shot?

Lord of Tears was shot across the United Kingdom but mostly in the Highlands of Scotland, at the incredible mansion of Ardgour House.

Which, funnily enough, any of your readership can visit right now ( I can't guarantee they will be safe from the Owlman however.

What was the toughest part about writing the screenplay and filming the movie, respectively?

I will pass you onto Sarah Daly who wrote the screenplay – Sarah

I have to first say that Lord of Tears was one of those screenplays that seemed almost to write itself. I had the benefit of knowing in advance who most of our cast would be, and where we would be filming, so the film played out quite clearly in my imagination – I only had to write it down!

The most difficult parts were the puzzle elements – Lord of Tears is actually quite a complex mystery-driven film so making sure all the pieces fit and that the mystery unravelled in a satisfying way was crucial, and tricky at times. But, these are the sorts of stories that I love to write – dark, fantastical and timeless. The dialogue for the Owl Man (David Schofield) was particularly fun to write as it's very theatrical and poetic.I could really let loose!

(Now back to Lawrie)

The greatest challenge when producing any film is to make sure that you can produce the very best film you can in the time given by the shooting schedule. We took an uncompromising approach to the film, developing a style that we felt we could achieve in a creative and professional manner which I think should reflect itself in a quality product!

However, in terms of personal experiences, the difficulties were like those of any low budget film – exhaustion, long days and such like – however the great thing about our film, talent and crew is that we all share a passion for storytelling. Working on something that intends to be different and exciting can give you the energy you need to don that Owl Man costume at 4am in the pouring rain – because deep down you know it will unsettle the clinging girlfriend of some chap wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with a fanged Christopher Lee.

What scared you as a child?

Oh let's see – brussel sprouts, green bean and mushroom lasagne, the dark (sometimes) and strange noises. I have always had an active imagination and being Scottish lends one a natural inclination towards the macabre 'we're all doooomed!'

What are some of your favorite horror films?

Oh I hate this question – you know why? Because I love so many horror films and they're all like personal friends to me. So if I list some and forget others after this article is published... I'll be... desolate (well...)

Okay, many consist of those I have listed. The Innocents, The Wicker Man, The Haunting, Halloween, The Thing, Hellraiser, Ringu, Grudge, Dark Water, Home Movie and Noroi the Curse, Re-Animator... oh and a great short film for your readership that you can view on youtube 'Merry Little Christmas.'

Anything else to say? (Feel free to plug whatever you want!)

Oh I get to plug something! Well I would just like to share with your readership that our DVDs and Collector's Editions are being manufactured as a one off for our Kickstarter campaign and may not be available through regular distributer channels until (2014!!!)

I would urge any that want to support our type of filmmaking and like the look of Lord of Tears, to pre-order now. In future we would love to develop our own Hammer style studio known for its take on story-driven Horror & Fantasy... the support of fans now helps us work towards that without the middleman.

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