UK filmmakers Sean Hogan (Lie Still), Andrew Parkinson (Dead Creatures,Venus Drowning) and Simon Rumley (The Living and the Dead, Red White & Blue) combat boredom with filmmaking. Over a pint (or two) at the local pub, they each decided to write and direct their own short horror film with the intention of tying them together as a feature length anthology which would come to be Little Deaths. They never could have predicted how well their three stories would fit together. I had the chance to chat with Sean Hogan and Simon Rumley in Austin at SXSW a few months back and talked about (among other things) drinking, mixing horror with sex and censorship. Check out our full chat below.
FEARnet - How did the idea of Little Deaths come together?
Sean Hogan - It came about because this community of us in London, UK based independent horror filmmakers, a bunch of us started drinking together regularly, like every month. It was a UK pseudo Masters of Horror thing (laughs), or an apprentice Masters of Horror. And we'd just go out on a Sat afternoon and get drunk and bitch about whatever we were working on and who we were working with. You just get to know people and you're all in the same boat struggling to do the same things and there's really not much of an independent film scene in the UK. And we all had films come out about the same time and I actually met Simon (Rumley) in Austin at Fantastic Fest in 2006. I just had a film fall apart on me after working on it for a year and I was pissed off about that and wanted to get something going quickly. If you're not working then what are you doing? I was like I'll make a film anytime, anywhere I can for whatever money I can get. I suddenly had the idea, why not do an anthology which is relatively cheap to do because it's like making 3 shorts instead of a feature. We could all shoot for about a week and kind of be quick on our feet. And there hadn't been one for a while so I thought, why not? So I went to Simon and Andrew because I thought our sensibilities would work well together. There was nothing really beyond the idea of doing an anthology at that stage.
So as filmmakers, you really just wanted to work and you thought it would be best to keep it out of the studio system?
Sean Hogan - Yeah we thought we could keep the budget down and have that freedom to do whatever we wanted and that was really the driving factor behind the project.
How did the three of you sync up on the subject matter? The three stories really flow well together.
Simon Rumley - We all went away and wrote our own thing and came back and thought this is kinda cool. It's funny because this is what people are thinking, we're like, let's do something crazy but it was like, 'Should we do a film together?', 'Yeah?' 'OK'.
Sean Hogan - We sat down and we were like shit, these really work together. We're all kinda coming from the same place!
What do you attribute that to?
Sean Hogan - We're all deeply fucked up! (laughs) It was really weird the way that happened because we could have come to the table with three completely different stories that would have no way worked together.
You couldn't have planned it better even if you wanted to.
Sean Hogan - No. No. In a way it justifies the initial instinct that I thought we would mesh well together. We immediately ran with it, this is what we got and it'll work. Then came the title and it just sprang from that.
A lot of the subject matter is really taboo and adult oriented, a crazy mix of sex and horror. Was there ever any concern about distribution?
Simon Rumley - This is only our second screening ever. We have distribution in the UK.
Sean Hogan - Which should be unedited. There are two cuts of the film, we agreed to a softer version for some territories as a backup and we are under pressure to push that cut. It's under discussion at the moment.
Dare I ask what was cut?
Simon Rumley - It was basically the sexual content, not the violence per say.
Do you find the perception of the censor's opinion of what's considered obscene changes daily? One day it's the sex, the next day it's the violence?
Sean Hogan - Traditionally, from the UK perspective the US has always been anything goes with violence but sexually they have a problem. We always knew that could be an issue and that's what we're finding.
Sean, your story in particular takes a shift in tone that covers both bases; from sexual perversion to full horror.
Sean Hogan - I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to write something about sexual power games but part of the instinct behind it was I saw it as my revenge on torture porn movies. Because you start out one way and people think it's going to be torture porn and that left turn into the supernatural interested me. These are my kind of horror movies that I'm imposing on the movies that are popular at the moment.
I bet there is a strong audience for a film like Little Deaths. It's a niche audience, but they are out there.
Sean Hogan - Simon and I both agree that yes, there is a market for these kinds of films and it is a niche market, but this was never intended to be a mainstream film. We know that market exists and you have to try and go out for them. You can't tone it down and make it something it isn't, cause then it has no real reason to be. This is what the film is about. Given that sex is the driving factor between the three stories in different ways the more confrontational stuff in those episodes is what's under threat and I think it undermines the film if you take it out.