Storage units in and of themselves are pretty scary. They are dirty, dusty, drafty, and poorly lit. Plus you never know what kind of freak show the guy next door is storing. Frankly, I'm surprised more for films aren't set here. That's where Storage 24 comes in. When a couple breaks up, they take their mutual friends with them to clear out their shared storage unit. But then a creature starts killing them off, and suddenly a bad breakup doesn’t look so bad.
FEARnet spoke with Noel Clarke, who wrote and stars in Storage 24. He shared with us his thoughts on CG, writing versus directing, and making fanboy heads across the globe implode.
You both wrote and starred in Storage 24. Where did the idea come from?
I’ve had the idea for awhile. About six or seven years ago, all these storage facilities began popping up. Having to go there once or twice with family and just looking around, I thought these kinds of places were creepy. There are no windows, they have the same corridors over and over - you could really get lost in there. My first thought was that it should be a serial killer. One day I just woke up and thought, “A serial killer would be ridiculous. But an alien...!” I am a sci-fi fan, so that’s where it came from.
Did you write the role of Charlie for yourself?
No. I don’t usually play the roles that are kind of the “weaker” guy. Most of the roles I play are stronger guys, more evil guys, more vicious guys. So it was really interesting, with this director’s pass on the script, to see what he wanted me to do. I think I [initially] wrote Charlie a lot cooler than that. Johannes [Roberts, the director] was like, “No, I want you to play Charlie, but I want you to make Charlie a whiny, moaning guy who goes on a journey to become a different guy.”
The alien / monster / creature - I’m not sure what you want to call it - for most of the scenes, that was a guy in a suit, right?
Was that always the plan?
It wasn’t. I think, initially, the plan was to do a full CG creature. We sat down and thought that we wouldn’t really get the emotion or performance or even certain quirky moments if we used a full CG creature. We decided a guy in a suit who could then have CG mapped on top would work a lot better for the actors, for the practicality, the scenery - knocking over stuff - so that’s what we went for. It’s arguable about which is cheaper, but I think [the guy in a suit] was a much better choice. Much, much better.
You’ve worked with CG creatures in the past. Do you prefer working with a practical creature?
I think working with a practical creature is better. Most of mine - even the Doctor Who stuff was pretty much 50/50 - but on those occasions where it was full CG, I found it was better to have something in front of me so I wasn’t doing “crazy eyes” at a tennis ball. But either way, I don’t mind.
You seem to largely focus on writing and acting, but you have directed in the past. Are you planning on doing any more?
Yeah, I’m planning to get back into that. The plan is to direct one that I am in, then after that, direct one that I don’t appear in at all.
Is there any one aspect - writing, directing, acting - that you prefer?
Probably the directing and acting. The writing I do love, and I do it, but it’s kind of a means to an end. I have an idea and I get it on paper instead of waiting for someone else to do it. But with acting, you are on set, you are doing it, you are pretending to be other people, hopefully you are doing a good job at it - that’s what I really enjoy. When you are directing you are creating another world. That’s all fun when you are writing, but for writing, I have to write like 20 things for two to get made, so that is really time-consuming and draining.
Is it difficult to direct something you are starring in?
It has its challenges, which is why you need to have a good team around you. I like what Ben Affleck does: he directs one movie that he’s in, then he does one that he’s not in. Ideally, that’s what I’d like to do, if I’m allowed. Do one that I’m in and then do what that I’m not in at all. Sit back, grow a big beard, show up in my pajamas with a big pipe and say, “Yeah, I’m directing” and not worry about being on screen.
You had mentioned that you are a fan of sci-fi and genre. What is the appeal?
I don’t know, it’s just something I’ve always been interested in, since I was young. I really like to believe that there is something else out there. The arrogance of humanity to believe that we are the only [living] things in the universe befuddles me. So I like to believe there is more out there. I’ve always believed that, since I was a little kid. That is what draws me in. Then watching Star Trek and Captain Picard having his little touch screen device, and how we have iPads now... know what I mean? I watched Next Generation and Voyager and Doctor Who... it’s this guy in a little box! I’ve just always been drawn to it. This is my third or fourth sci-fi script, but the only one that has been made.
You grew up watching Star Trek and Dr. Who, and now you are in Star Trek and Dr. Who. When you found out, were you just like a little kid, freaking out?
It’s really crazy. It’s like dreams come true. And for the record, to put it out there in the ether, the other thing I watched religiously was Star Wars so print that, and hopefully someone will see that and I will wield a light saber at some point. I feel like I would be the messiah of sci-fi people if I was in Trek, Wars and Doctor Who. A trifecta of madness.
I think some of the geek boys’ out there, their heads would implode.
I would implode! I’d be like, “Oh my god, that guy is in those three things - wait, that is me! Ack!” I’d be so confused.
Especially on your first day on set, do you get kind of starstruck and fanboy-ish, or are you able to keep your cool?
I’m too old for that. No matter how big or small or cool something is, I keep my cool and do my job and do it to the best of my ability. I don’t really get overly excited about anything anymore. I love it so much, but I don’t get starstruck or fanboy by anyone or anything anymore.
Without giving anything away, Storage 24 is very much set up for a sequel. Are you planning that?
No. I mean, I have the story in my head, but no, not at all. I love endings like that. We actually wanted a SWAT team to come in, but to have 20 guys in SWAT outfits come in would have cost more than the ending we ended up having. The whole point of this movie, because it was so low-budget, was to prove you could do it on a low-budget. They gave me the price for the SWAT ending, and then I suggested the other ending, and they said, “We can do that for this price.” So we went with that! That’s how we got the end shot - which I love.
So originally the ending was completely different?
Yeah. The same thing happens, but then as we get out of the [storage] building, SWAT is running towards us, but it was just too expensive. What we did have ended up being a much cooler shot.
And where the film ended, that was unintentional?
Well it kind of was what we intended, but we didn’t think we could afford that big shot. What we [planned] was we would have SWAT putting [the monster] in the truck, and you would see like three other containers just like it, so you knew there was more. But then it was cheaper to do the VFX shot we did, which I love even more.