Exclusive Interview with Pablo Raybould and Ben Manning ‘The Snarling’
Exclusive Interview with Pablo Raybould and Ben Manning regarding their upcoming horror ‘The Snarling’ with behind the scenes pictures.
Your new werewolf horror-comedy The Snarling will be released on DVD and VOD on November 5th. For those who were unable to catch the film during its festival run what can they expect from the film?
Pablo – A good home-grown comedy-horror. Personally, I would place the emphasis on the comedy side. That’s really my first love. Reviewers have likened it to a cross between Shaun of the Dead (2004) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) – I think I’d agree with that. Bizarrely, we have a cast member from each of those films in ours Julia Deakin – Shaun of the Dead and Albert Moses – An American Werewolf in London. Also, there are loads of ‘Easter eggs’ for the discerning film fans. Here’s one you may have missed Phil – the caption over Julia’s TV interview with the ‘zombie’ extra reads ‘Yvonne Mayor – Reporter’ (Mary Porter was the character she played in Hot Fuzz (2007)).
Ben – And she played Yvonne’s mum in Shaun of the Dead so we got two references in that one. But there are loads of them. My personal hope is that people will just enjoy the comedy and fun of it first time around, then knowing the conclusion they can spot the clues second time around, and then begin to spot all the movie references on their 3rd, 4th, 5th watch etc. I have studied every inch of that film whilst editing it, and of course been at the various screenings, and then been through it a few more times to get deliverables ready for the distributors but I can honestly say I still absolutely love watching it, and I hope lots of other people out there will too.
You mentioned that this is a horror comedy, where you concerned about getting the right balance between the horror and comedy?
Pablo – I think the balance is right for the film to do what we wanted it to. There was never going to be a balance that we would work too but it just all ‘felt right’. With something like this, you need the light and shade and we all felt that we got it right really. Ben’s editing was instrumental in that.
Ben – We always said we wanted the comedy to be genuine laughs, it’s not a spoof in any way. That’s what sold Chris Simmons (who plays Mike) to jumping on board, it was the comedy in Pablo’s script. Chris was literally texting me every few minutes when he was reading the script telling me how people on the train were giving him funny looks because he was laughing out loud so much. We also wanted the horror to be proper scares and there are one or two lovely set pieces that I think hold up in any horror/thriller. It’s not a gore-fest because I don’t think it could be. That would have taken the humour in a different direction.
Why did you choose werewolves?
Pablo – I think it was because other tried and tested horror creatures had been overdone. I remember saying that there was no way we would do a zombie movie (done to death) – so that was the first thing I wrote. A zombie was the opening shot. Just so we could dispel them, and it also gave the platform to have them the victims originally – but film ones within the film. No-one was really going down the Werewolf route and so I thought it would be great to have one out there – but not show it. For ages no-one even knew it was a werewolf film because we don’t see it until late on in – and that helped give us the ‘unknown’ feeling to it as well.
Ben – Yeah, initially we tried to keep the werewolf thing a secret, but totally understandably the distributors pulled that right to the forefront. I think they were absolutely right to do that though, although you miss a bit of the nice reveal there have been so many reactions to the trailer and artwork with people saying ‘Finally! Another decent werewolf movie’. We wanted it to be something a little different, or at least something that you don’t see too much of these days.
The film has a lot of Easter Eggs and references to the genre, what were your biggest influences on the film?
Pablo – Many really. There is a lovely ‘It’s in the trees, it’s coming’ line in there (cyclists) from Night of the Demon (1957), there’s a nod to Shaun of the Dead., An American Werewolf in London and Hot Fuzz of course. The smiley air freshener in the police car The Howling (1981). The little Gonks stuck on the side of the police car dashboard Sightseers (2012). Haskin’s name The Sweeney (1975-1978). The lines said to Albert in the hospital are his lines from An American Werewolf in London, Nobby who gets
ripped apart is wearing a Wolves scarf and another little one that slips under the radar is when Bob tells the boys about Nobby’s death says he was found ‘near a park’ (Nira Park – producer of Edgar Wright films) – These are all from the top of head, I’m sure loads will come to light if I watched it again.
Ben – I think you’d have to say the main influences were the ones it’s been compared to by so many people, that being Shaun of the Dead and American Werewolf in London. It’s been hugely flattering both to get a star from each of those films in The Snarling, but also to have so many sources make the very favourable comparison. I honestly think there are still Easter Eggs in there that even I haven’t spotted. I only found out about the Sweeney one when I heard Pablo being interviewed on the radio.
One of the things people are going to be looking for in the film is the werewolf, which we see briefly in the trailer. Who designed the werewolf and what were your influences regarding the design?
Pablo – The werewolf head was originally designed by my brother Nick who is a graphic designer and artist. His original drawings were based, believe it or not, on a Salmon. They go all horrible before they die and look all emaciated with sunken eyes etc. He applied that to the wolf so that it looked desperate and broken. Steve Bosworth made the head but with time restrictions etc.it didn’t quite go according to the drawings. The body was made by the brilliant Jenny Binns who made it to fit the actress with a body mould. So much work went into the dog legs, height, realistic fur – and then we took the decision to hardly show it. (a la John Landis)
Ben – We talked about the balance of comedy and horror, but I think this was probably the trickiest balancing act, deciding how much to show of the werewolf. Even John Landis thinks he ended up showing too much of his werewolf. Ultimately you want to show enough to satisfy the audience, so they don’t feel cheated, but not so much that it loses some mystique. With all the work that went into it from Steve and Jenny we got tempted to show too much and had to pull back.
What is your favourite moment during filming?
Pablo – Do you know, this is a REALLY difficult question. Ben, Jen and I were SO busy for two weeks solid that we hardly slept. We did everything. Looking back – the whole period was fantastic but like many things, it is better on reflection. I think what I really liked was the comradery and that togetherness when we’re shooting in the old farmers shooting lodge which was the pub in the film. It was so cosy with the log burner going and while it was so cold outside. We ate in there, filmed, changed in there. Nice.
Ben – I’d agree. We had no money and the enthusiasm around the film from everyone that helped us and were part of the team was terrific. The ‘real’ relationships within the film have been praised by people watching it, saying they loved the chemistry between the characters and I think that was no coincidence. It was fast, hard, intense and very, very cold but we had a blast.
Were there any elements of the original script which you couldn’t include in the film?
Pablo – Yes, just a couple of scenes really. One was a lead up to a gag by Les Jarvis’ character that Ben called me about and said didn’t really work and slowed the pace. The other was a dialogue-heavy scene with a policeman questioning the boys towards the end – same again really – it didn’t really add anything to the plot and seemed to slow things down a bit. We liked that many people missed lines because they were laughing too much at the previous one. That means that a relentless pace was maintained and that they’d have to watch it again!
Ben – Pablo has always been a fan of keeping it brief. I think that’s half of the reason for his little motif of one scene’s dialogue running into the next – he can’t be arsed with spending the time actually finishing one scene and then starting the next. And it does give it a fantastic no let-up pace. I do think a lot of films are way too long these days. This is a little more 1980’s in style, by which I mean it’s within an hour and a half and it just keeps moving. Albert Moses even says that line “It’s like being back in the 80s!”
There is always a difficulty with independent film, unlike the big budget blockbusters you are limited on resources. What were the hardest parts of filming The Snarling?
Pablo – We shot this on an absolute shoestring, but we were so lucky to have the services and favours from so many wonderful actors and Acebil lighting. We didn’t seem to suffer from anything really, but we know now that it could have been so much less work with more money as we could have bought more time and therefore more options in the edit. Ben really worked hard on some of these limited takes to piece scenes together without them looking fragmented. A second camera would have been great too – and would have saved time. This is something we have now. It was because of lack of some resources that we got a great alternative shot. For instance, the original zombie ‘roar’ was to be in a graveyard but we couldn’t get permission in time and so we used the lakes on the farm and got this wonderful reflection on the night shot.
Ben – I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet, but I think with money I would probably go and spruce up one of the horror elements that was just beyond our reach. I am satisfied with what we did for that particular part, and laughs of course cost nothing, but with money you do get to let your imagination run a little wilder. Hopefully, if The Snarling continues to do well we might manage to get a bigger budget for the next one.
The film has received a lot of praise and attention at the film festivals, which including a pre-launch special screening at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival in January. What is it about The Snarling which has made it resonated so well with the fans?
Pablo – I think it was a welcome comic relief during so many hours of horror. Everyone is there for horror of course but everyone likes a laugh too, so this seemed to be best of both worlds. Plus, it was on t 8.00pm on the Saturday night so some of the audience were pissed!
Ben – It is the comic relief, and good genuine funny. There are great horror films out there that provide some laughs by being a bit tongue in cheek and not taking themselves too seriously which is wonderful, and I do love that, but I think The Snarling was just a little different in its tone. People seemed to really love the characters and that is key. It’s credit to Pablo’s writing and to the brilliant actors we were lucky enough to work with.
When I spoke to you previously I know you had a script completed for a sequel to The Snarling entitled The Last Twitch. Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect and when are you looking to start filming?
Pablo – Ah, The Last Twitch, we are all SO looking forward to shooting this. We have had a couple of reads and it is very funny. Still going down the comedy-horror route, this is not a sequel in any way but it will be set in the same village as The Snarling and so will see the return of some of the more prolific characters such as Les, Mike and Bob from the ‘Dirty Hog’ as well as the DI and Haskins. Another clever little plant in The Snarling was Ashley Blake’s news clip on the pub TV. He was mid-sentence when the TV was witched off – what he said was ‘The same production company (zombie film) will be making another film which is…’ – Witches! We told the audience what we were doing years before doing it. So, yes there will be a strong witchcraft connection and more scares for the lads at the pub. Something is in the cellar! Quite accidentally, there is such a Wizard of Oz (1939) theme that runs through this too. It had been virtually written when this was pointed out and it gave us an absolute gift of an ending. Another piece of serendipity.
Ben – There is also a particular link that does lead directly from The Snarling into this one which Pablo has been playing down and I’ve been trying to play up! So, I guess you’ll see when it gets released who wins that battle. The aim is for The Last Twitch to be funnier and also more horrific. I think Pablo’s script has achieved that, and so do the other cast members. If it’s anything like the experience we had making The Snarling, then as we build up the layers going into production it’s just going to get better and better.
Do you have any other projects which you are working on at the moment?
Pablo – Yes, we are working on a cracking short film for Horror-on-Sea 2019. We cannot go empty handed and so we had a film we wanted to shoot but last week another one usurped it as it received more enthusiasm. We cannot give anything away on this one as it hinges on one particular thing – but it will be bloody scary with a huge twist! We have been producing some training films over the past year and have got a fantastic crew. Some of which were with us on The Snarling and some new people we will be holding onto. As soon as we get some money we will get onto The Last Twitch.
Ben – We’re also working on another feature film which is an out and out comedy with some friends ‘old and new’. Can’t say anything about that at this stage but we’re feeling very positive about it and eager to get to work. We’re also about to shoot a short thriller together, but not as a production company – Pablo and I have been cast in a film by Liam Thomas Burke from Recognition Films called Are You Watching Closely. Liam has been our DoP on recent projects and this one promises to be a belter. I was also over the moon to be asked to play a little role in a new film from Horror-on-Sea favourites Mycho so I’m looking forward to seeing that in January too. But of course, before that we’ll be busy directing people to Amazon, HMV, Zavvi, Hive and all the other places that they can now get their copy of The Snarling ordered from.
Behind the Scenes of The Snarling
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