Frostbite: Interview with Stewart Sparke
FROSTBITE is an old-school horror adventure, currently in pre-production at Glass Cannon in York and scheduled to enter principal photography in Spring 2013. The proof of concept video promises an monster mash-up of DAS BOOT and THE THING. Set in the 60s on an Arctic research vessel, FROSTBITE is scheduled to enter principal photography in Spring 2013. Jack McCurdy spoke to writer/director Stewart Sparke at Glass Cannon about his passion for film making and his plans for FROSTBITE’s future as a feature.
“… I owe my pursuit of filmmaking to what is now one of my most despised films.”
Jack McCurdy: What first sparked your interest in making films?
Stewart Sparke: It was the day that STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE was released on VHS that started my first foray into filmmaking. I had the nerdy idea to record my friends on my webcam, acting out the entire movie. We had the entire film playing on the TV just behind camera, so the actors could mime along to the words and we didn’t even have to produce our own music or sound effects! Since my webcam was attached to my computer, we were confined to my small bedroom so there were many Lightsaber related injuries. It’s funny looking back, because in retrospect I owe my pursuit of filmmaking to what is now one of my most despised films.
JM: Has becoming a director always been a dream of yours, or a desire that you stumbled across in later teenage years?
SS: I would say that my dream wasn’t specifically to be a director but more a desire to work in the film industry as a whole. Being a part of something that would end up in the cinema was a thrill to me, no matter how small my role was. It wasn’t until my final year at York St. John University that I decided to take the plunge and direct my first short film CLOCKING OUT. It was the experience of making this film that I realised directing was my dream and in retrospect it’s something I should have realised a decade earlier when I was getting my friends to mime along to STAR WARS in my bedroom.
JM: Your work reflects a particular interest in Sci-Fi. Are there any films, directors, or even TV programmes that have inspired you? Especially for CLOCKING OUT and THE END OF THE BLACK RAINBOW.
SS: I would say that it’s more of an obsession than an interest. My friends often joke that I will watch anything with “Star” in the title and they would be right. I think it started when my mum bought me the original STAR WARS on VHS to calm me after a bad trip to the dentist. The next day I dragged her back for EMPIRE and JEDI. Then my parents made the mistake of getting Sky TV when it was in its infancy, when the only programs on were “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Stargate SG1″.
From there I just absorbed everything to do with sci-fi and all of that has been channeled into my films. CLOCKING OUT in particular is heavily inspired by 80s sci-fi/action films, particularly John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and TIME COP. I actually got the cast and crew to watch TIME COP for inspiration, just to get the feel of how 80s sci-fi action films were done. THE END OF THE BLACK RAINBOW is very much inspired by INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS which has to be one of my favorite horror films – the 1978 version with the infamous shot of Donald Sutherland screeching at the end.
“I’ve watched a great deal of independently produced horror films that sound great on paper but fail on screen.”
JM: You are currently working on a concept trailer for a feature length Adventure/Horror film called FROSTBITE. What makes a good concept trailer and how has working towards a concept trailer for funding differed from your previous projects?
SS: With such an ambitious project it was important to produce a proof of concept video to demonstrate that we were capable of pulling it off. I’ve watched a great deal of independently produced horror films that sound great on paper but fail on screen. We need to show that we are able to deliver what we are going to promise to investors and the trailer is a perfect way to do that. A great deal of films have proof of concept trailers or test reels produced before they go into production and the key is getting across the style and tone of the film you intend to make. A great example is the concept film for SAW which director James Wan produced to show the unique style that the final film would take. This concept was such a success that the film was picked up by Lionsgate and is now a successful film franchise.
JM: Gaining funding as an independent film-maker is not a simple task. What processes have you had to go through, or will you have to go through, in order to gain the required funds?
SS: Our goal is to take the proof of concept trailer along with a fully realised pitch document to film festivals in the hope that we build some interest and start getting the name out there. We are also planning to use crowd funding websites such as IndyGoGo and Kickstarter to source funds from the wider community and offer some really great incentives for those who invest anything from £1 to £1000. These avenues are only two examples of the many things we will be doing to raise funds but I believe that with the proof of concept trailer we will be able to prove to people that with the budget we need we can easily accomplish the ambitious film we want to make.
JM: Where has your inspiration come from for FROSTBITE, either other films or directors?
SS: John Carpenter’s THE THING and Ridley Scott’s ALIEN are probably the film’s biggest influences in both tone and style. I really want the audience to experience the terror of facing their biggest fears in an alien, hostile environment with all the odds stacked against their survival. These films also demonstrate how important strong, identifiable characters are in a genre that is often criticised for using them purely as monster fodder.
JM: If all goes well we should hopefully be seeing FROSTBITE on our screens in the future! What can we expect from FROSTBITE similar to your old projects, or will this be fresh territory?
SS: FROSTBITE is really a dream project for me, and the opportunity to let my love for sci-fi and horror run havoc. It’s an idea I have had for years but it wasn’t until Paul Butler of Trespasser Films came on board as co-writer that we realised that it could be made into a feature film, and we started work on a script early last year. You’ll certainly be able to see some of the DNA of my previous work but FROSTBITE is really a step above and beyond what I have produced in the past. We have some remarkably skilled people working on all aspects of the production and I think people are really going to be blown away when the proof of concept hits the web in the coming months.
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