Archive for James Hart

More on Ascension, the Premiere and Behind the Screams!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Following on from my review of the film, I am now going to document the premiere that took place on Sunday, the 30th of June at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham. I am also going to discuss the reception Ascension received at the event as well as the screening of my own Making of Documentary titled Behind The Screams. Firstly I would just like to say how impressed I was with the venue, I’d have to describe the Electric as the comfiest cinema I’ve ever been in. At the back of the room, leather sofas were reserved for the main cast and crew which made it feel like you were in your own living room. The standard seats further down provided plenty of leg room. The entire room seemed refurbished and modernized. Despite it being a small room, it created a more intimate atmosphere as cast, crew and their families sat down to enjoy the days events.

Electric Cinema

Photo by Dave Jeffrey

Director James Hart, Writer Dave Jeffrey and Producer/Editor Richard O’Connor began the premiere by introducing themselves and their roles, then informed the audience of the day’s line-up. We were treated to a screening of Venomous Little Man’s entry into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition for the Horror Channel, Six Feet Under. This sick and twisted short was the perfect way to set the audience up for the main feature as it demonstrated the type of material Venomous Little Man produce. It also showcased Mark Rathbone’s acting talent and strong on-screen presence, which is also seen later on in Ascension.  Following another brief introduction from James, Dave and Richard where they thanked all who had been involved in the project, it was now time to view what we were all there for Ascension.

Cast Q&A

Having been fortunate enough to view the film prior to the premiere, I was interested in hearing first time viewers reactions to it, particularly the cast. After the credits rolled, the film received a massive round of applause and all involved seemed impressed by the outcome. Dave and James got the cast up on stage to answer a few questions, the one I particularly remember was if they enjoyed using the prop guns during the shoot! They all emphasized how cold it was on location and how they battled the weather conditions. Exciting news about the company’s future productions were then announced. A raffle was later included and prizes were a signed copy of the poster and a copy of Alt-Zombie.

Following a short break, I was then asked to go on stage to say a few brief words about how I became involved in Ascension and introduce my first film the behind-the-scenes documentary Ascension: Behind The Screams. This was a particularly nerve-wracking experience as I had fought sound issues and several problems during the editing process, however the outcome was better than expected. The film contains the actor interviews available on this blog and my youtube channel as well as the filming of key scenes. I did focus a lot on the gory, zombie eating scene to demonstrate the FX side of things and the direction. There’s a lot of humor within the Making Of, the audience were surprised to see how muddy the location was and the sound did help to highlight the fierce wind that was present throughout the shoot.  Everybody also enjoyed the cameo from the softest guard dog ever on the second location, a lovely wolfhound. As a filmmaker, its natural to be critical of your own work so I am going to potentially revise certain scenes and cut parts for length reasons, some of the transitions seemed a bit rough even though they had been rectified during the editing process. However, on the whole I received some really nice comments from the guests which has filled me with confidence for the future. To see my film up on the big screen did bring a lot of emotions and on the whole I am proud how its turned out. Through being on the set I learned a lot from the crew which I will take on board when I hopefully make my own feature film.  I think the main objective with a Making Of Documentary is to capture the reality of how the film was made and provide a naturalistic feel for the viewers to get a sense of what it was like. Overall I feel I achieved that.

To conclude, I feel very privileged to have been part of Ascension as I have been able to do something I greatly enjoy and have made many new friends.I would particularly like to thank Derek Melling, Dave Jeffrey and James Hart for giving me the opportunity and Ross Hunt for all his help and support in creating the Making Of. I would definitely like to work with these guys again and wish them all the best with the future.

http://www.venomouslittleman.co.uk/

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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After Apocalypse: A Review of Ascension (2013)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS**

“The human race has to adapt, Ascend”- Joe

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Ascension (2013) is a British short horror film and the directorial debut of James Hart. The screenplay has been adapted from a short story written by Dave Jeffrey from the anthology Alt-Zombie. Filmed in Redditch, during the cold winter of 2013, Ascension tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic world where survivors are few and far between and puts forward strong ideas of community and a breakdown in modern society, echoing back to the Second World War, with everything on ration and people sticking together through hardship. The film opens with a series of news reel’s depicting the gradual stages of the apocalypse and the decline of humanity. With, fast-paced, slick cuts, these moments set the scene for what’s to come. It also must be noted that the opening is accompanied by a chilling score (composed by Liz Comley) that creates a melancholic tone, greatly adding to the film’s atmosphere.

We are then introduced to Ascension’s protagonists Joe (Derek Melling) and Annie (Jacky Fellows), two survivors who are determined to find others to bring back a sense of community spirit  (“The Blakewell Spirit”). In a time of crisis the characters still manage to maintain a sense of humor, which is seen throughout the film and is an example of the witty writing in Jeffrey’s script. Our protagonists are joined by Tom (Laurence Saunders) before setting off into the wilderness in the hope of finding others. The characters share a believable dynamic and its clear there is a strong bond and trust between them. On their search they come across brother and sister Alex (Debbie Nicholls), Carl (Sam Knight) and their leader Eddie (Mark Rathbone) who appears as the main antagonist. In a Western-style stand off the characters attempt to convince each other they can be trusted which keeps the audience on the edge-of-their-seats and allows for some intense and confrontational moments as well as ambiguity, nothing is clear cut in regards to who are the good guys and who are the bad? Without revealing anymore, the film concludes with a shocking and heart-wrenching twist that is sure to leave the audience satisfied.

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Ascension sets itself apart from other texts within the Zombie sub-genre in several ways. Its a very character-driven piece and develops each individual well, providing a lot of empathy for them. The actors are all brilliantly cast and put a lot of heart into the material. It gets the audience on a psychological level, questioning how we ourselves would react if in the same situation and allows an understanding of the motives involved. Another interesting aspect is the film isn’t overly gory and doesn’t feature many zombies which differentiates it in a major way, proving that horror can work well as a backdrop with high drama as the main focus. Isolation is a key theme and its represented well through the location. It could be said that Ascension is the coldest zombie film out there due to the weather conditions the cast and crew worked in! There is some stunning cinematography, particularly the aerial shots near the beginning. For a thirty minute film, Ascension manages to convey a lot but still leaves you wanting more which demonstrates that its done its job. To conclude, Ascension is an emotionally-charged, good humored horror story, with well written characters, strong actors, breathtaking cinematography and good direction. Venomous Little Man Productions should be proud of their efforts and hopefully have more wonderful work to come.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Ascension: The Interviews #3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Interview #3 is here! With just under a fortnight to go the apocalypse is coming in the form of the Ascension premiere. In this interview derived from my upcoming Behind-the-Screams featurette I speak with Mark Rathbone (Eddie in Ascension, Ron in Inbred) about his role and why he thinks Ascension stands out as a new addition in the Zombie sub-genre.

I have also received the fangtastic news that my Making Of documentary will be screened following Ascension in Birmingham’s Electric Cinema on June 30th.

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Hayley Alice Roberts.

Six Feet Under (666 Shortcuts to Hell)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here’s the latest project from Venomous Little Man productions, the guys behind Ascension. Six Feet Under has been entered into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition for the horror channel. It stars Mark Rathbone (Inbred, Ascension) as a hack, happy psychopath. Written by Dave Jeffrey and Directed by James Hart, Six Feet Under is well-crafted and is proof that horror can be effective and chilling even in a short piece. It leaves much to the imagination which intensifies the creepiness and demonstrates that torture scenes don’t have to be over-the-top and gratuitous. I really admire Venomous Little Man’s style of horror and I hope to see some more collaborations from these guys.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

 

ASCENSION Teaser Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Here is a sneak peak from the Ascension film, in a brand new teaser trailer. I am currently working on some behind-the-scenes footage for the piece, so watch this space over the next few months!!

Until then…

Hayley Alice Roberts.

After Zombies? The Ascension Film Project

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

I have had a busy weekend in Redditch providing coverage and filming some exclusive behind-the-scenes footage for up and coming zombie film Ascension. Back in early September 2012 I interviewed the film’s writer Dave Jeffrey and director James Hart on their expectations of the project, which can be found here: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/the-zombie-apocalypse-is-coming-an-interview-with-dave-jeffery-and-the-crew-of-ascension/

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Since the interview, they have heavily promoted the film with various teaser newsreel’s to gradually generate interest in the film, a link for their facebook page will be provided below in order to view these. I was privileged to be invited on set by lead actor Derek Melling (who plays Joe) to conduct interviews with the main cast and showcase what its really like to create a horror film. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working on Ascension through getting an insight into horror filmmaking and met some truly fantastic people from the industry. Despite weather conditions (heavy snow!) and a few mishaps (getting covered in mud and blood sticking to my hair!), the majority of filming went smoothly and I am pleased with the outcome of my footage. Later this year I will be editing it all together to create a making of/promo around the film’s release, which at the moment is top secret, however I may gradually upload the cast interviews so you can all find out a little bit more about the character-driven, horror piece that is Ascension.

I am grateful to Derek, Dave and James for the opportunity. Also, I’d like to thank Ross Hunt for helping me out with filming and getting some great photo’s of the shoot! Much appreciated.

Ascension Shoot 011

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/project.ascension?ref=ts&fref=ts

Hayley Alice Roberts.

“The Zombie Apocalypse is coming…” An Interview with Dave Jeffery and the Crew of “Ascension”.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Writer Dave Jeffrey composed a short story that was published in Alt-Zombie (Hersham Horror Books) focusing on an impending zombie apocalypse and how a group of people deal in a fight for survival. His short story is titled Ascension and is soon going to be made into a film by Independent film company Venomous Little Man Productions. In this in-depth interview Dave along with director James Hart and special effects company N2FX talk to me about bringing the story’s concept to life, their hopes and expectations with the film, their ideal visions in terms of casting and direction and their love for the horror genre. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave, James and their crew for taking their time out to speak with me and providing an interesting interview and an intriguing perspective on the Zombie sub-genre. Now grab your shotguns at the ready and enjoy…!

1. Tell us about your up and coming project Ascension?

A. 1. The project is based on my short story of the same name published in ALT-ZOMBIE (Hersham Horror Books). I have to be vague about giving the details other than to say the world has gone to hell and it is how people deal with the consequences.  DJ

2. What inspired you to write the story?

A.2. The answer to this is it really did come from a nightmare I had late last year. The essence of the story is how far someone would go to protect those they love. I think we all have the idea that we would do anything for our family but when it really comes down to it are there limits? And once we step beyond those limits do we lose something of ourselves in the process? DJ

3. How does your Zombie story differ from others that have come out the sub-genre in the past and recently?

A. 3. I have canvassed opinion and it would appear that there is something unique about the angle from which Ascension comes when exploring the zombie genre. Yes, it has a band of survivors trying to cope with what has happened to them and their families in the aftermath of a zombie holocaust. However, the lynch pin for the tale is that of loyalty and the adherence to what is, in effect, the New World Order; humanity reshaped and civilisation re-defined. DJ
4. It must be a very exciting prospect bringing your short story to life; do you have any particular visual styles in mind for the look of the film?

I can clearly remember the first time I read the short story Ascension? And how it made me feel. I could see these people and I liked how the story refused to back away from a very difficult question, what would you do for the people you love more than life itself? For a mini movie this has a large scope in the sense of emotional context and that’s what we want at the core of the film. After discussion with our cinematographer, Gary Rogers  I also want to incorporate shots that aren’t normally used in this genre, that will hopefully enhance the viewing experience. JH

5. Are there going to be any major differences between certain aspects of the written story when translating it to film?

A: The Film will be true to the core of the written story but we have changed some aspects. The most notable change made will be to the end of the story. It was quite an organic development to be honest. Myself and Dave were talking about the project and I think I made a suggestion about how we could enhance the emotion of the film, then Dave added something and this went back and forth, before we knew it, we had, what we hope will be, this quite shocking and unsettling finale. There are other more subtle changes but they are mostly because I’ve got a little carried away! JH

6. James Hart is directing, how did he come on board the film?

A: I love film and Dave loves film. We both love horror! I told Dave that it was a dream of mine to make a film but that I was struggling with a workable script. Dave is a really generous guy and offered to let me use one of his stories, once he had obtained agreement from his publisher, Hersham Horror Books. A week later we had a workable screen play. JH

7. You’re in the early stages of the casting process, who would you ideally like to see in the main roles?

A: Oh this is such a hard question. I could see Clive Owen or Damian Lewis as the main male protagonist, maybe Tom Wilkinson or Jimi Mistry as ‘Tom’. Irdis Alba would make a great Eddy and I could really see Jewel Staite as Annie, now I come to think of it, if you let me have the whole cast of Serenity I think I could make a pretty good film. In the real world though, we are talking to some really exciting actors that will fill the roles and that the audience will really connect with. JH

8. N2FX will be providing the make up effects; will they be taking a really gory approach to the zombies and the kills?

A:1 I’ve spoken to the Neil Stevens and the guys and they are going to get to do some really exciting things, things we didn’t think would be possible until the guys came on board. One of the kills is going to be really special and I think the fans of core are going to appreciate it. Our mini movie will hopefully tick the boxes for zombie fans who like their kills messy. JH

A2 It will have gore where it’s required but it won’t be over the top for the sake of it. We’re looking forward to creating some great effects for Ascension – NS from N2FX

9.Would you say Ascension makes a statement on today’s society? And do you think it’s one of the more important aspects of horror films when a message is evoked about the state of the society we live in through a metaphor?

A.9. Ascension exists because of the societal message it tries to portray. It is about extreme circumstance and what the reasonable will do in order to maintain some semblance of normality. The title Ascension conveys what the characters feel they have achieved by adapting to their new understanding of civilisation and the perpetuation of humanity. Horror has propensity to challenge convention on a number of levels, from the bold statements of Dawn of the Dead and Battle Royale to the subtle humorous approaches of Shaun of the Dead and Inbred.


10.What’s the biggest attraction for you when it comes to the Zombie Sub-genre?

A.10. I am attracted to the zombie genre because from start to finish, from hero to villain, it is a story about people; be it their tale of survival or their tragic demise. There is such scope in exploring the interactions between those who are placed in desperate circumstances and how they cope with it that constantly appeals to me as a storyteller.


11.Are you currently writing or working on any other genre-related ideas?

A.11. I have just finished a zombie short story called STILL LIFE for a new anthology by Nightwatch Press and I am now in the final stages of completing NECROMANCER, the sequel to my zombie novel NECROPOLIS RISING for Dark Continents Publishing, Inc. There are two more horror related projects on the horizon but I’ll be in a better place to discuss those once they are confirmed. Both promise to be exciting projects to be involved with.

 

12. What have you enjoyed most about writing the screenplay?

12. It was good to collaborate on the project with James as it gave fresh perspective and allowed for the existing story to change organically. Some changes were based on better ways to transfer the emotional integrity of the piece to a visual medium. Others have come down to budgetary constraints. Overall the process was rewarding and has, in my opinion, created a sharper story than the original.

13. Did you encounter any major differences from writing a screenplay in comparison to a short story?

A 13 In writing the screenplay I have made several adaptations to the dialogue and James has adapted the settings and well as incorporating many visual shots not seen in the short story. One of the things I found out relatively quickly is that in a written story you can convey thoughts and feelings with description. This does not translate as well on screen and has to be put across with dialogue and performance rather than words. This was difficult to shut off in the early stages but I got there eventually!

After discussions with James, it was also felt that the ending in the short story would not create the kind of emotion that we want audiences to experience at the end of the film. As such, the original ending remains as the first shock but James and I worked out a final moment when audiences will be unsettled rather than horrified. We think it works well enough to the point that I wish it was now part of the original short story. DJ

14.What’s the best part about working in horror films?

Oh I’m in dream land, believe me when I say, this has already gone past my expectations. I’ve always loved movies and can remember watching my dad’s copy of An American Werewolf in London when they were out, I think I was 9 or 10. That stayed with me! That film scared me! For me Horror should invoke emotion in its audience, if our film can do that then that will be the best part for me. So far though, the best part is working with people who are passionate about film, working with these people is inspiring. JH

15. What advice would you give to any aspiring writers or filmmakers?

Go for it! Give it a go! Ask people to help, if you don’t ask you don’t get. There are so many people out there willing to help, tap into that! JH

16. Finally, will we be seeing any teasers for Ascension soon?

Hopefully very soon. Almost from day one we wanted to use what we are calling the ‘news reels’, that will form part of the start of the film, as teasers. We have it all planned, people are in place, we are just waiting for the last few element and they will be done. We are talking weeks hopefully! JH

Interviewer: Hayley Alice Roberts

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https://www.facebook.com/project.ascension