Charlie Steeds [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is the wonderful filmmaker Charlie Steeds. His work includes the recently released A Werewolf in England. His other works include films previously showcased here at TWS including The House of Violent Desire, An English Haunting, Escape From Cannibal Farm, & more.

What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

It was an early aspiration. I grew up loving to hear scary stories and horror stories, told to me by older children, and then later on I loved telling them to my school friends. By around age ten or eleven I was so interested in films and filmmaking that I got it in my head that I’d like to direct movies. Tim Burton was a director I idolised back then, I could see how he’d made each of his films uniquely his own, his style was clear in the costumes, make-up, music, production design, and so on. By age 14 I was writing little scripts and shooting them with friends. I made 20 short films this way, continuing on into my years at film school, and when I graduated I got a micro-budget feature made and that started things off professionally.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

My film Winterskin was the first time a company offered up funding for me to make something, and around the same time this also happened with The Barge People which was eventually shot first (with Winterskin shot only 3 months later). Oddly, it came as a surprise to me that anyone would actually give me their money to me to make a film. I was used to saving up my own funds, crowdfunding and borrowing from family and so on. But making those early lower budget features is where I learned the most. Still today, when the budget is getting tight, or I’m over-schedule, I just think back and remember how much we achieved back then, on so little money, it reminds me how fortunate I am to have the budgets I’m currently working with. I did plenty of paid videography jobs before this, but they taught me nothing really, you can only learn filmmaking by getting out and doing it, and I think the less money you have the more you learn, you’re forced to get creative.

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Horror is a unique genre because of how huge it is, the films can range from funny to terrifying, from depressing to uplifting, a whole spectrum of stories and tones which all fall under ‘horror’. It’s the most popular and most profitable genre of film too. The fanbase/community is massive for all these sub-genres; zombie movies, paranormal movies, cannibal movies, etc. A lot of people turn their nose up at horror, and I suppose it can be quite a geeky genre, but I think everyone likes horror, at least a little bit, whether they know it or not.

You bring up horror around friends or family and even if they say they hate horror films they’ll still rave about this one that scared them, maybe as a child, and recount in detail (and with glee!) all of the scariest moments. We all love the thrill of being scared. I was drawn to horror because, like many people, I’m just drawn to the darker stuff. I don’t feel comfortable and relaxed watching some cheesy rom-com, I just feel bored… Yet somehow I can watch the same horror story done again and again and always find it entertaining and enjoyable. It’s a genre that often allows for the best drama and characters too, it explores deep themes and human psychology, the things we are most afraid to discuss in everyday life.

What is your favourite scary movie?

I have many, but one I’m always coming back to is The Shining. I’m just obsessed with that film. Kubrick’s attention to detail in every frame, the filmmaking and grand style is so mesmerising that I just keep watching, trying to figure out how, how is it so bloody good?! Phantasm is another favourite, it captures the spirit of low budget movie making, but it’s truly inventive and full of wonderful imagination. Black Christmas is a movie that really scared me, and I watched it later on as a seasoned horror lover. Absolutely chilling! [REC] is another one that, just as an experience unfolding in front of you, gets so unbelievably scary… I showed it to my Mum, who enjoys most horror, and we had to turn it off in the last 10 minutes, it really is the most edge-of-your seat horror movie ever I think.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

Every Halloween I try to get to the cinema to watch a classic horror movie. The cinemas have been great with this over the past few years, I’ve seen John Carpenter’s The Fog, The Shining, but then also the Halloween remake and last year’s Doctor Sleep were great new release horror movies, all on Halloween. I carve pumpkins, usually listen to a good horror soundtrack as I do it (John Carpenter’s Halloween is an obvious choice) and I watch Halloween 4 and 5 at home with popcorn, 4 and 5 double bill every year, it’s a tradition. 4is the best one!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

My latest film, A Werewolf in England, has just come out on DVD in the UK, and that has been my big project for most of the year and throughout lockdown. It’s a Victorian-era werewolf horror-comedy, loaded with action and carnage and 100% practical werewolf effects. I also have my 1970s- set tribute to Blaxploitation/Grindhouse movies, Death Ranch, having its world premiere at Grimmfest this month, which I can’t wait for horror fans to see! Aside from that, I’m currently writing my next movie, which as I often tend to do, is something so radically different from anything I’ve made before, trying something very new.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

Movies/TV-wise it was The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. I think Mike Flanagan really leaped to the horror top spot with this and Doctor Sleep, he’s the most exciting director working in horror right now. I don’t really get scared by anything, aside from my fear of sharks, but that doesn’t come up very often… Some things on set scare the hell out of me, every time an actor is about to do something slightly dangerous, a fight sequence, a little stunt, that’s when I get scared. They could get badly injured, or even worse, sue me!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

After lockdown, seeing months of editing finally come together for A Werewolf in England! The film is full of humour and silly jokes (such as a werewolf taking a shit on two character’s heads) so it makes me laugh and hopefully horror fans are equally entertained and have a good time with it too. I did a premiere screening in Soho, so it was great to see it with a [socially-distanced] mini audience. I’ve not done comedy-horror before, so this was really fun, it’s very light-hearted compared to some of my other work.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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