Archive for Venomous Little Man Productions

Hayley’s Horror Highlights of 2013!

Posted in Horror Attractions, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

After discussing the horror movies that stood out most this year, this article will take a look at the more personal achievements for Hayley’s Horror Reviews. 2013 on the whole has been a big year which has seen me develop new skills in filmmaking and gaining more confidence in the genre that’s very close to me. Over this passed year I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people on some fantastic projects and made more contacts from all over the globe who are equally as passionate about Horror as I am. Here’s an overview of some of my best horror memories of 2013 in a diary-style/picture format.

January 2013: American Mary trip to Sheffield (Fright Fest).

When I heard Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska were taking their uniquely dark, hit film American Mary on a UK tour, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to see my favorite film of 2012 on the big screen once more; as well attend a Q&A featuring three of my female role models in Horror. I rallied up some of my close friends together including my co-reviewer Caitlyn Downs (of Scared Sheepless), Sally Jones, Ross Hunt, Martin Lakin and Nia Edwards-Behi (co-director of Abertoir) as we took an awesome road trip down to Sheffield for the night to attend the screening. Following a very entertaining Q&A, I had the opportunity to finally meet the Soska’s as our communication up to that point had only been via email. They were amazing as expected and incredibly friendly. Katherine Isabelle was also in attendance and it was equally as awesome to meet the actress behind Mary and the iconic Ginger from Ginger Snaps (2000) in the flesh. After an eventful evening, we enjoyed a few drinks in the hotel and caught up with Rob Nevitt (director of Celluloid Screams) and a few of the Sheffield festival regulars. The American Mary trip kicked off a great start to the year.

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January 2013: The Ascension Shoot. My first professional filmmaking experience.

Later in the month I took a trip to Redditch after being asked to create a making of  documentary showcasing the short film Ascension. In the previous Summer I had interviewed Writer Dave Jeffrey and Director James Hart about the project that tells the story of a small English community, devastated by the zombie apocalypse while coming together in the hope for survival. I was incredibly grateful to be offered the opportunity to work on such a creative project as well as gain an insight into the behind-the-scenes side of filmmaking. Despite horrendous weather conditions of heavy snow, the cast and crew did an amazing job to bring the film together and achieved it especially well. My role was primarily to provide some exposure of life on set as well as interview the main cast which included Derek Melling and Mark Rathbone (who both starred in my favorite recent horror movie, Inbred), Laurence Saunders (The Seasoning House, Deadtime) and Jacky Fellows (of Fizzog Productions), who are all very talented actors. I shot the documentary on my SD80 Panasonic camera and despite a few sound issues due to the wind, the quality turned out pretty well. Venomous Little Man, the company behind Ascension have recently produced some limited edition DVD’s that includes the behind-the-scenes featurette which I am extremely proud of, to have my film released on DVD. VLM are working on some new projects for 2014 which sound equally exciting and I’m sure their future offerings will grow from strength to strength.

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June 2013: The Ascension Premiere. Screening Ascension:Behind The Screams!

I was invited to Birmingham in June along with my cinematographer/co-editor Ross Hunt to attend the premiere of Ascension. Screening at the Electric Cinema, the premiere was a great opportunity to catch up with the cast and crew in warmer weather conditions as well as get some feedback on the Making Of documentary we had created. Along with the film itself and VLM entry into the 666 Shortcuts to Hell competition, the behind-the-scenes featurette was screened to the audience and achieved positive feedback. For many in attendance it was nostalgic, looking back at all the hard work that went into making Ascension.  It was wonderful to see everything finally come together, following a problematic time during the editing process where a lot of technical issues arose but we eventually overcame. Following the premiere, we attended what could be described as an epic night out to celebrate all our achievements. Even though there is plenty that could be improved with the documentary, it was my first professional filming experience and I feel I took a lot away from it which has helped build my confidence. Working with VLM and gaining an insight into the behind-the-scenes aspect of a film has been inspiring.

All the hard work most definitely paid off as James Hart won the best director award at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in October. Massive Congratulations and well-deserved.

For my full coverage of the premiere, Click Here.

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July 2013: Graduated University.

Out of everything that’s happened this year my proudest accomplishment has to be graduating from Aberystwyth University with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in Film and Television Studies. I was nearing the end of my first year when I begin this site as a side project which helped me improve my writing skills and critical thinking. Graduation luckily fell on a beautiful summer’s day, it was a relief that all the hard work paid off and I managed to obtain the mark I always aimed for. During my time on the film course, my favorite aspects had to be studying the horror genre (of course), screenwriting, children and the media and writing my most challenging piece yet, my dissertation on the representation of the teenage girl using US television shows to illustrate my argument. I would like to thank all my family, friends and followers for supporting me during my time on the course which has helped adapt my knowledge of film.

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October and November 2013: Celluloid Screams & Abertoir Horror Festival Coverage.

For anyone who works within the genre, these months are usually the busiest! This year I had a fantastic time working with Caitlyn on the two festivals I have been regularly attending for a number of years. Please check out our videos below which developed our presenting skills further as well as my editing skills as I got to grips with using Sony Vegas. We thoroughly enjoy providing reviews and festival coverage each year and aim to support the latest in indie cinema. Expect more from us in 2014!

December 2013: Wrote my first Screenplay!

The final goal I reached in 2013 was finishing the first draft of my feature film screenplay. Currently going through re-writes, I’ve kept the script I’ve been working on for the passed year very secretive until now. Thanks to my university scriptwriting course I began developing the film I’ve had in mind for the passed two years and continued the writing process following graduation. I managed to make the changes I wanted to suit the audience I’m writing for rather than just for the purpose of the course. I’ve had a lot of support from some friends within the industry that have read my work and see its potential, so fingers crossed that I will one day get to make it.

A brief overview of the plot: Following a traumatic experience from her past, Katie vows to make a new life for herself at university. Soon, she meets Jason, an enigmatic and appealing young man who pursues her. When things finally begin to take a turn for the better, Katie stumbles on a dark, horrific secret that could threaten everything she holds dear. The screenplay is a twisted tale of romance, horror and misogyny that combines a series of genres that have been influential on me as a writer.

Happy Horror New Year and keep your eyeballs peeled for more from the site in 2014!

Stay Safe and Don’t go into the woods!!

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.

Acscension, The Interviews #2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

ascension2The second interview from my forthcoming documentary Ascension: Behind The Screams. I interview Jacky Fellows the lead female actress who plays the character of Annie. Jacky discusses her role in the film and how she became involved in the project. The first screening of Ascension is to take place on 30th June 2013 at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham. The video features website and twitter information for my own work and for Venomous Little Man Productions.

Interviews with Mark Rathbone (Eddie) and Laurence Saunders (Tom) are on the way!

Stay tuned my bloodthirsty followers and thank you once more for all your support.

 

ascension1Hayley Alice Roberts.

Ascension: The Interviews #1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

ascension2In the run up to Ascension’s premiere on June 30th I have decided to unveil a series of interviews taken from my upcoming Making Of Documentary. Here, I interview Derek Melling who plays the lead character Joe. Thank you to everyone at Venomous Little Man Productions for all your support. I am hoping to post an interview every other day so keep your eyeballs peeled!

The music in the video is called Ascension Song and is composed by horror enthusiast and fan Flo Schwingshandl which will be heard more in the behind-the-scenes featurette.

**Note: Apologies for the spelling mistake at the beginning of the video**

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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.

 

“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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