Horror-on-Sea interview with writer-director and animator Molly Brown for The Weird World of Molly Brown

The Weird World of Molly Brown (2018)

Directors: Molly Brown

Writers: Molly Brown

Stars: Cy Henty, Michaela Hunt, Ben Manning, Pablo Raybould

A series of short films which take you into The Weird World of Molly Brown

Date & Venue: 12th January 2019 at 20:00pm

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

The Weird World of Molly Brown is a new horror-comedy writer-director
Molly Brown will have its UK premier at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival. I got a chance to ask Molly Brown a few questions about what we can expect from the film.

Q. You have a series of shorts under the title The Weird World of Molly Brown which have been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea. What can we expect from the films?

This year’s compilation includes the second episode of a non-existent television series, a few (very short!) alternate versions of some well-known films, and My Crazy Hand, a mix of live action and animation which recently won the Golden Trellick Award for Best Comedy at the 2018 Portobello Film Festival, and could be considered a kind of “Horror-on-Sea Production” in that it features a cast entirely made up of people I met at previous editions of the festival: Cy Henty, Michaela Hunt, Ben Manning, and Pablo Raybould.

That’s one of the things I love about Horror-on-Sea; you meet such supportive and friendly people there. That applies equally to the audience, the other filmmakers, the organisers and the volunteers.

Q. As the title suggests it is a rather eclectic mix of films which are far from ordinary. Where do you draw your inspirations for writing the shorts?

Paul Cotgrove (director and founder of Horror-on-Sea) first came up with the title The Weird World of Molly Brown for a compilation of my shorts screened at the 2016 edition of the festival, and it seems to have stuck. Which is fine, except that – being a bit on the shy and modest side – I get a little embarrassed about my name being part of the title. (Left to my own devices, I’d probably just call it: A few shorts by some woman you’ve never heard of.)

As for inspiration… it’s basically whatever I like. I have always had a fondness for old films in glorious black and white (regardless of genre). If I was to write a list of my all-time favourite films, probably about ninety per cent of them would be black and white.

I love horror, I love thrillers, I love science fiction, I love film noir, I love the French New Wave, I love German Expressionism…. I like most things, really.

About the only genre I’m NOT that interested in would be thoughtful dramas about two married couples living in Hampstead.

Q. There is often a comical element to your films, does that come naturally from your experience as a stand-up comedian?   

I think it’s more that my years of doing stand-up, my years as a fiction writer, and my films all spring from the same source. (Which is… who-knows-what? Some kind of pre-birth trauma?)

For what it’s worth, I never try to be funny; to me there’s nothing worse than trying and failing to be funny (a la the man at a party with a lampshade on his head), I just follow whatever I see as a natural progression, with one thing following another, leading to an inevitable conclusion (or, in some cases, to no conclusion).

And then people make comments like: “Your stuff is so bizarre,” (or “weird” or “oddball” or “out there”) and I wonder what they’re talking about, because to me it’s all very logical.

Q. The shorts are often a mixture of animation and shorts, why did you originally decide to merge the two elements?

Everything I do is zero-budget and entirely home-made. All live-action is shot in my living room, and all of the animation and video editing is done in the spare bedroom which serves as my office.

This means that every time I shoot anything live action, I’ve got to clean the house. (I originally started doing animation as a way to avoid shifting great piles of clutter out of the living room.)

Though I will still occasionally shoot a bit of live action in the living room, as a natural slob my genre of choice tends to be animation.

Q. Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to making your films?

Radio comedy is certainly one of my influences – sound is something I think a lot of filmmakers don’t pay enough attention to – and you can’t mention radio comedy without giving a shout-out to Spike Milligan.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Ernie Kovacs. He was an American comic who had a television show in the 1950s, and he was soooo ahead of his time. His work was visually experimental and surreal, and many critics refer to him as the first “video artist.”

I also adore the silly humour of Jay Ward (the man behind the Bullwinkle Show (1959-1964), Fractured Flickers (193-1964), etc.)

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. (And it does occur to me that all of the influences I cite above date from the 1950s and 1960s. I was obviously born in the wrong era.)

Q. Did you experience any issues whilst creating the shorts?

Nah, not really.

Q. What are some of your favourite moments during the making of the films?

The best bit is always the editing. That’s where the film finally acquires its tone and its shape and becomes whatever it is going to be.

As the editing process involves me sitting alone in a room, day after day for endless hours, going through the film one frame at a time, I have no idea what calling it my “favourite” part of film making says about me. I’m sure it must say something.

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

Ha, I’m always working on something. At the time I’m typing this – yes, folks, this interview is being done by email! – I’ve spent a good chunk of the last three months making the characters and backgrounds for an animation I’m planning to submit to the 2020 edition of Horror-on-Sea.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do before the visuals are ready to go, and then once I’ve got the visuals ready, I will type up the script and ask a few of the usual suspects to record some dialogue for me.

And as soon as that film’s done, I’ll start on another.

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

I’m going to go with the vast majority of your previous interviewees, who said: just do it!

I will also add; don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you’ll learn from them.

And finally, enjoy the process.

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!