Horror-on-Sea interview with Lonely Hearts co-writer and director Sam Mason-Bell

Lonely Hearts (2018)

Directors: Jessica Hunt, Sam Mason-Bell

Writers: Martin W. Payne, Jackson Batchelor, Alice Mulholland, Simon Berry, Chris Mills

A reality TV show has deadly consequences for five single people looking for romance.

Date & Venue: 19th January 2019 at 10:00 am

Park Inn by Radisson Palace Southend-on-Sea, Church Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2AL, UK

Lonely Hearts is a new horror from co-writer/ directors Jessica Hunt and Sam Mason-Bell which has been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea. I got a chance to ask Sam Mason-Bell a few questions about what we can expect from the film.

Q. Your new horror Lonely Hearts has been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, what can we expect from the film?

Lonely Hearts to me is a vicious portrait of the cold harsh realities of reality TV and the state of our world where elitists love to watch people in nightmare scenarios and help towards that pain.  

Q. You co-wrote the film with Jessica Hunt, how did the concept for the film come about?

We were trying to do something of a docuhorror style, wanting to produce something within a few days, like I had with Industrial Animals (2016), currently available on TromaNow.I love the format of docuhorror, taking a format recognised like documentary’sand spinning it into horror. We were batting around ideas me wanting the TV series UnReal (2015-2018) meets The Wicker Man (1973) and Jess (Jessica Hunt, co-writer and co-director) wanting to do a Hostel (2005) vibe on TV reality show Love Island. The two ideas blended beautifully.

Q. What were you influences for the overall look and style of the film?

TrashArts have worked a lot with mockumentary’s having produced The Drug Tours and the web series The Making Of,so we are accustomed to working within the format. Jackson (Jackson Batchelor, DoP) really wanted to make it feel like there were camera’s everywhere across the camp, to go beyond our usual one camera format. But, as mentioned before, the TV series Unreal and seeing the drama and reality from behind the scenes, the manipulation, it just fits so well for horror. The film was also improvised from bullet point script, this is our usual style, as it gives much more room for the actors to feel like they are the characters.

Q. Did you experience any issues whilst making the film?

A. Well shooting in Britain in the summer the weather was always going to be bothersome! But in reality, we didn’t find too many issues. The location was far stretching and completely in our hands to use, although we did have at one point a drunk camper wondering on set but luckily it was only the once. Generally, we tried to create a comfortable environment, with such extreme things being shot we’d make sure actors could walk back over to the camp have a drink and unwind, it created a friendly atmosphere for such devious ideas being shot.  

Q. What makes Lonely Hearts stand out as something different in the horror genre?

Lonely Hearts doesn’t tell you it’s a horror film till the end, when most might focus on the gore aspect but to me, I want audience to suddenly realise “… oh wait… it’s all horrific”. It’s the fine line with horror, and that can only be achieved in good acting and believable characters. To me it’s also very much a nihilistic driven horror, being an ensemble piece, with no lead focus, hopefully you aren’t sure which moral line the film wants you to be on.

Q. What was one of your favourite moments during filming?

My favourite moment when shooting was just seeing the believability of the characters and location, which might sound strange but each scene you could just see the actors giving it their all, and that to me was my favourite moment.

Q. Do you have any other projects which you are working on?

TrashArts is currently working on a number of projects at various stages as I’m an impulsive personality who can’t stop making films at the moment. We currently have in post-production Millennial Killer, a TrashArts and HB Films production,directed by myself. A semi political serial killer flick about an estate agent who lures Millennial’s in to an empty property before killing them. The Truth Will Out, a TrashArts film directed by myself and Jessica Hunt.A #MeToo witch docuhorror that was filmed in November 2018. We also have in post-production Fixer a crime thriller from TrashArts and Murlyn Films,which was a joy to work on with local legends of the Portsmouth film scene. On top of this we wrap on our web series,and have other horror features ready for completion by the end of 2019.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to write and direct their own film?

Key thing with creating anything, and in particular film, is to go out and make mistakes, don’t be scared to have to learn something! I shot my first feature when I was 18 and it was a mess, but I couldn’t be able to keep producing if I didn’t make mistakes throughout.Waiting for money or waiting for perfect sets is a luxury that others and I can’t afford, just make the first film and accept your mistakes, you will learn and love your craft more.

You can find out more about the feature films playing at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and details of tickets on the website.

Philip Rogers

Philip Rogers

Published in various websites, Philip is a reviewer who is best known for his interviews and media coverage of independent projects including; films, books, theatre and live events. Always on the lookout for something different to cover!