Monday, 22 September 2014

Interview with Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford

Ahead of the Horror Channel’s UK TV premiere of the acclaimed THE DEAD, on Sat 27 Sept@ 22:50, the Ford Brothers relive the drama of the malaria-stricken shoot in Africa, revealing the budget for the first time, and talk of revenge in their next movies!

How do you two write? For example, does one pace the floor whilst the other types?
Jon: Ha that's funny! You hit the nail on the head! Normally you will find Howard frantically writing away while I pace the room acting out the scenarios and shouting the lines like some demented theatre actor on steroids. The writing stage is one phase of the project where we work together very well. We are almost never in conflict with each other, each jumping in where the other got to in a particular scene but also bringing together our differing perspectives and weaving them together. We can't always say the same for the actual shoot, but on The Dead there was normally some life threatening situation taking place, which does tend to add a bit of additional pressure.
Where did the idea for The Dead come from and why set it in a foreign location?
Howard: Jon had started writing script for The Dead, in the mid to late 1980s but we didn't really push forward and finish the script until about 20 years later shortly before shooting the film. So in essence it is genuinely and old school zombie movie that just took a lot longer to reach the screen.
It was originally going to be shot in Morocco or somewhere like that but for those who don't know The Ford brothers shoot TV commercials in between films. Anyway, while we were out on location in West Africa we came across places of unbelievable beauty and danger in equal measure. We realised the opportunities of setting this film in a place where no one has ever been or seen before, where there are no safe places to hide in or lock down, where survival is as dangerous as the zombies themselves. Also parallels can be drawn with starvation poverty and events like the Rwandan massacres, while investigating how other religions and cultures would react to such a pandemic.. That was when we realised we could make something really special and different.
The shoot for The Dead has been well documented and is famous for what went wrong as well as what went right. What is the most enduring memory you have form the making of it?
Jon: Yes the shoot itself has become quite famous for all the problems, but for me the more pleasant enduring memory is the driving. Even though I had contracted malaria and had what seemed like endless bouts of food poisoning and other tropical illnesses, so had lost about a third of my body weight. In fact I didn't know if I would leave this place alive or not. Still as I drove across Ghana and Burkina Faso I will never forget the vast beauty of almost everywhere you look, words or even pictures cannot describe how stunning those places actually are. I though to myself if I die now, It was still nice to have seen such beauty.

Howard: For me it was the journey back from Ghana to Burkina Faso after the whole crew had flown out from Ouagadougou airport and I felt like ‘at least no one had actually died’ and suddenly the pressure was off my shoulders. It had felt like I had been carrying a crippling weight, no disrespect to the fantastic cast and crew but even though we were out of cash, food, without even enough fuel to get back to Ghana where I had to fly out from with the remaining cans of film, that journey was like entering heaven..
The actors are just superb and add much to the story, how did you go about casting the movie?
Jon: Thanks, yes the actors are great but all the more so for doing it in high stress and dangerous situations, or while actually suffering from malaria or typhoid while doing their art. I fondly remember Halimata, the woman with the baby, being so kind and supportive while actually dressing the fake baby and doing her costume herself, then with seconds left of light, delivering one of the greatest performances of terror I have ever seen!
Howard: We cast Rob Freeman in the UK where he was living at the time. In fact he lived virtually down the road from us which was nice as we were able to get to know him a bit and rehearse scenes together before flying out to Africa. We like to ‘know’ our key players personally rather than just meeting them in a casting session as it’s a big commitment to work together like this. We asked an ad agency we had worked with in Ghana to look for actors matching our description and Prince David Osei was one of the first we saw, It took all of one milli second to chose him. Strangely, we had worked with Prince before on an ad but just didn't know it until he told us. We had both had our heads and shoulders covered during the commercial shoot in the heat of Africa and he thought we were Arabs so was very confused when we turned out to be Brits!
What sort of budget did you have as the effects are quite something?
Howard: We haven’t revealed this before but The Dead was actually shot for $150,000 which is ridiculously small for a movie shot on film in exotic locations around the world and we were advised not to mention this and others claimed the movie was shot for several million hence we missed out on any kudos for getting it in the can (literally the can, not a digital drive) for so little. To put that in context, another film that has been publicised on the basis it cost very little; ‘Monsters’ which is praised for being a low budget miracle shoot. It was apparently shot for $400,000 on digital with just 2 pro actors with a well-established production company lining things up and local support in each location as they went, which, don't get me wrong, is still very impressive, but we had absolutely no back up at all and were trying to use as many physical special effects and real stunts as much as possible. Plus we were using our own money (life savings). It was a battle all the way financially and physically without any safety net at all.
Jon: The special effects are a big thanks to Dan Rickard and Max Van de Banks. What makes it really impressive is the total lack of budget resources and time. Most of the time the effects were created on the spur of the moment. It makes us laugh sometimes when you see awards being given to people who had all the money time and resources in the world. What Dan and Max achieved on virtually nothing is truly amazing! And this was after most of the fx materials had perished due to the 5 weeks we waited to get our equipment and props out of customs in Accra whilst they melted in the daily heat.
The Dead is being shown on the Horror Channel, you must be pleased?
Howard: We're thrilled to have the Dead shown on the Horror channel. After watching so many other great movies there, to have our own movie played is a real honour! We can't wait! We are also very appreciative of the support the Horror Channel has shown us so we will always be fans of the channel and we hope many will join us on the perilous journey across Africa when it airs on September 27.
The Dead 2 is a stunning sequel which continues the story but in a different country, how did you stop yourselves from treading the same ground?
Howard: Thanks. With The Dead 2 we did talk about continuing with Murphy's journey and even developed how it would continue, but eventually felt it best left for The Dead to stand on its own, if you excuse the pun. So new audiences could watch ‘The Dead 2’ without the need to have seen part 1. The film does continue time line wise and has other connections. but we also wanted to take people somewhere new , but equally beautiful and intriguing so following the pandemic as it spreads over from Africa to India intrigued us. The eagle-eyed viewer will notice there are some direct links to both films.
Jon: Also, by continuing in another continent we have the opportunity to enter into a different Culture, religion, characters and landscape. Neither of us is interested in repeating ourselves. It's still a Ford brothers Dead movie which was made with heart, soul, sweat, blood and tears. We hope the audience appreciate that we risked our lives for both Dead movies and went to the limit and beyond. Whenever there is talk of a third Dead instalment we're reluctant because we worry that if we keep throwing the dice our luck might run out. If there is enough support we’ll consider it but right now, unless people REALLY want us to go and possibly kill ourselves doing another, the poster in our heads has the tag line: ‘The Dead 3; Perish the thought…
It looked stunning on the big screen at FrightFest last year, how nervous do you get before one of your movies are shown at a festival?
Howard: We do get a bit nervous when our films are shown especially for the first time. You just have no idea how audiences will react. I think it's quite bad for us as we have so much personally invested in the film. Not just financially but the physical hardships that go into making a Dead movie are just off the scale! so it is a bit nerve wracking. However, we were delighted to see it at FrightFest and honoured to be the opening film. It’s such an incredible and important festival and we will be forever grateful for the support of all at FrightFest, it was a great Launchpad for ‘The Dead’
Which writers and directors inspired you when you were growing up?
Jon: There are films that inspire us more than directors I think, as sometimes you love a movie from a certain director but their other films are not so good, or don’t connect with you as powerfully. However someone like Sergio Leone was consistently good and was a master of composition.

Howard: It's funny as sometimes a film can be great, only because of the script and not because of the director, yet that film still inspired you. I think as filmmakers you are more able to see if it's the material or the director that's good. On the flip side of that, a bad director can kill a great script just as easily. Knowing how hard it is to make a film, even one set in a room, we have great respect for anyone who actually gets one made. Even bad films are hard to make!
Which do you prefer running zombies or walking ones?
Jon: Running or walking zombies? Yes we get asked that quite a lot. We prefer slow but actually like both. They are so different that you almost can't compare the two. Running zombies are action orientated and the scene will almost only ever be an action scene. With slow zombies you can build up a lot of suspense and tension which is ultimately more satisfying. I think the younger audience like the fast zombies as it gives instant gratification but later in life will grow to appreciate the slower ones. I suppose the sexual equivalent would be fast zombies cut straight to the orgasm while slow zombies ultimately build up to greater heights with plenty of foreplay.!
So what are you both working on at the moment?
Jon: I’ve written a revenge script that will shock and possibly offend in equal measure. It should be going into production within the year. The Dead was written and made because we wanted to see the film and the revenge movie has been written with the same philosophy. After watching film after film and being constantly unsatisfied you realise that sometimes if you want it done the way you like you have to do it yourself.
Howard: I’ve written a brutal thriller called ‘Never Let Go’ about a woman stopping at nothing to find her abducted child whilst on holiday in an unfamiliar location. I start shooting mid-September in Morocco, Spain and the States.
Jon: Hopefully whatever we do we can hit people in the heart and we will be supporting each other in these ventures and come together for other Ford Brothers Films too.
TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138

Friday, 19 September 2014

Film News (UK): Horror Channel goes under the bed for Oct premieres

Horror Channel’s film highlights for October include the UK TV premieres of three outstanding supernatural thrillers: UNDER THE BED, Steven C. Millar’s nightmare of all nightmares, THE GATHERING, starring Christina Ricci, and the haunting LOVELY MOLLY, from Blair Witch co-director.

Here are the details:

Friday 10 September @ 22:55 – UNDER THE BED (2012) - *UK TV Premiere

From Steven C. Miller, director of THE AGRESSION SCALE, comes a supernatural suburban nightmare. Neal Hausman knew there was something under the bed, but no one believed him until his mother lost her life in the resulting conflagration. Sent to stay with an aunt in Florida while his father got over the tragedy, now Neal has come back home. However, what was under the bed is still there, still angry and has set its malevolent sights on his younger brother Paulie. Can Neal convince his family there really is something evil lurking in the netherworld under his bed?

Fri 3 October @ 23:00 – THE GATHERING (2003) *UK TV Premiere

Directed by Brian Gilbert (Wilde), this supernatural thriller stars Christina Ricci as Cassie Grant, an American traveller who suffers amnesia when hit by a car.. After accepting sanctuary from the family of the car that hit her, Cassie starts hallucinating that terrifying strangers are following her. Is it concussion or second sight? And what do her frightening visions have to do with an ancient church? A riveting performance by Ricci is supported by a stellar cast including Ioan Gruffud, Stephen Dillane and Kerry Fox.

Fri 24 October @ 22:55 – LOVELY MOLLY (2011) *UK TV Premiere

Lovely Molly is the story of a young married couple, Molly (Gretchen Lodge and Tim (Johnny Lewis), who go to live in Molly’s childhood home. Tim works away from home and Molly is forced to spend large amounts of time alone at the house – it soon becomes apparent that she is a disturbed young woman. With a history of drug abuse and mental health problems, as well as an abusive father and dead mother, Molly soon begins to exhibit disturbing behaviour. Is she heading for another break down, or are sinister supernatural forces at work?

Plus there are daytime network premieres of three PLANET OF THE APES TV movies from 1981 – BACK TO THE PLANET OF THE APES (Wed 15th, 16:20), FORGOTTEN CITY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Wed 22nd, 16:20) and TREACHERY AND GREED ON THE PLANET OF THE APES (Wed 29th, 16:20).
TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

British Horror Sci-Fi Hungerford named as 'Official Selection' for 14th Annual Shriekfest

British Sci-Fi horror Hungerford, has been chosen as an official section at this year’s Shriekfest Horror Film Festival, the oldest continually running genre festival in Los Angeles, California. Hungerford had its World Premiere at the British Film Institute (BFI) this year as part of the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival. Its 19 year old director Drew Casson, went on to make history by becoming the youngest on record to have a feature screened there.

Shriekfest Horror Film Festival was founded in July 2001 by Denise Gossett, to showcase emerging horror filmmaker and screenwriter talent. They receive well over a thousand submissions and have a staff of 40 judges, selecting just 10 or 11 features and 35 shorts.

Produced by talent incubator Wildseed Studios, Hungerford paints a thrilling and visceral portrait of a small English town taken over by aliens, which descends into violence and carnage. Watch the Hungerford trailer here

Hungerford’s teen protagonist is Cowen Rosewell (played by the director Drew Casson), is a media student whose first assignment is to record everything in a week of his life. The random acts of violence he films go largely unnoticed, dismissed as the type of trouble to take place in small English towns. However, when one of his best friends is savagely attacked by a stranger a more disturbing reality emerges.

As events escalate, Cowen and his friends discover that the town has come under a mysterious evil influence which is somehow controlling organised gangs to round people up and take them to a nearby disused factory. The friends hide, hoping to escape, but their sanctuary is discovered. As Cowen makes his way alone to the abandoned factory in search of his loved ones, the malicious force that awaits him there threatens not Cowen, but the entire world.

Hungerford is due to be screened at the 14th Annual Shriekfest at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., in Hollywood, California, at 10:40pm on Friday 3 October 2014. Shriekfest tickets for Hungerford are now on sale here:

Jesse Cleverly, co-founder of Wildseed Studios said: “Hungerford is striking a real chord with sci-fi fans around the world and we’re thrilled to be part of this year’s Shriekfest Horror Film Festival. Drew is typical of a new wave of filmmakers we’re investing in – a generation who have grown up on genre movies and are utterly fearless and highly proficient with the tools of production and post-production in the pursuit of excitement, scale and an audience. We’re thrilled to have produced Hungerford and thanks to the ingenuity of Drew, the crew and excellent special effects this micro-feature achieves a sense of scale more fitting for a film with 100 times the budget.”


Monday, 8 September 2014


For the first time on UK television, Horror Channel viewers will be able to watch re-mastered episodes that were only released on DVD by BBC Worldwide last year. There will be more from the Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee eras with additional stories featuring Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

Following the success of the Who on Horror season, that saw 30 classic Doctor Who stories broadcast on Horror Channel, to over 3.8 million viewers since April, BBC Worldwide and Horror Channel have agreed to an additional set of 17 re-mastered episodes, starting on Monday, 13 October.

The iconic adventures continue with the ‘Doctor Who and The Silurians’ serial, starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and his Edwardian roadster, Bessie. The series then leads into weekday double-bills in daytime and evening slots. Available to watch from October are such stories as ‘Inferno’, ‘Carnival of Monsters’, ‘The Time Warrior’, ‘The Sontaran Experiment’, ‘Sunmakers’, and ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’.

Alina Florea, Director of Programming for Horror Channel, said today: “It’s been great to be able to offer our regular fans the classic Doctor Who content, but it’s equally exciting to see Time Lord devotees flock to Horror Channel in greater number and take part in the various on and off air activities that resulted in a surge in viewership and social media interaction. With the newer batch of re-mastered episodes, there will be even more reasons for our viewers to tune in and stick around for more fright, thrill and shock.”

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | | #WHOonHorror

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

AMC released today the official Season 5 poster for “The Walking Dead”

AMC released today the official Season 5 poster for “The Walking Dead,” featuring Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the accompanying tagline, "Hunt or Be Hunted." The fifth season of television’s most watched drama for adults 18-49 premieres Sunday, October 12 at 9pm ET/PT on AMC. Key art photo credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC.

Before the fifth season begins, fans can catch up on “The Walking Dead” season four on VOD and

Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, “The Walking Dead” tells the story of the months and years that follow after a zombie apocalypse, and follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes; Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon; Steven Yeun as Glenn; Lauren Cohan as Maggie; Chandler Riggs as Carl; Danai Gurira as Michonne; Melissa McBride as Carol; Michael Cudlitz as Abraham; Emily Kinney as Beth; Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese; Sonequa-Martin Green as Sasha; and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Bob Stookie. The series is executive produced by Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero and Tom Luse.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Film News (UK): The Dead receives UK TV premiere on Horror Channel

Horror Channel’s film highlights for September include the UK TV premiere of the acclaimed THE DEAD, the smash-hit African-set zombie film by The Ford Brothers. The film will be broadcast on Saturday 27 Sept at 10.50pm.

The Ford Brothers burst onto the scare scene as a fresh force in the horror fantasy arena with this original take on the zombie holocaust genre. THE DEAD features stunningly shot landscapes, brilliant visual effects and terrific dust devil zombies. The film is set in the near future when most of the world has succumbed to a living dead virus. After crashing off the coast of Africa, Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) battles for survival across inhospitable parched terrain in search of a way to get back to his beloved family in America. Saved by local military man Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) who is also searching for his son, both men join forces to fight the ever-present flesh-eating threat stalking the bush. 
The Ford Brothers said today: '”It's a great honour to have The Dead premiere on the Horror Channel here in the UK, It's our home turf. Join us on this real and horrific journey across Africa. We hope you enjoy, as it's a journey that nearly killed us both!”
There are also UK TV premieres for TWIXT (Sat Sept 12. 22:45), written, directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Val Kilmer and Kaare Andrews’ ALTITUDE (Sat Sept 6, 22:45), whilst OLDBOY (Sat Sept 20, 22:45), Park Chan-wook’s controversial classic receives its network premiere, as does the French-Romanian Chiller THEM (Sun Sept 28, 22:50).
Plus, there is a Brit-inspired Urban Terror Season, which kicks off Fridays at 22:50 from Sept 5, featuring the network premieres of Johannes Roberts’ ferocious school shocker F (Fri 5th), and Menhaj Hudo’s ‘Towerblock Terror’ COUNTDOWN (Fri 26th). The other films in the season are COMMUNITY (Fri 12th), starring Jemma Dallender and CHERRY TREE LANE (Fri 19th), directed by Paul Anderson Williams.