The teachers were asking ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’ and I said ‘I want to make monsters for film’. And that was it. I wasn’t going to be anything else.
Dan Martin has made his name in blood. Not literally you understand, but as the effects artist behind The Human Centipede II (2011), Lords of Chaos (2018) and the upcoming Posesssor (2020) he’s garnered a reputation as the man you call when you want creative gore on screen. Here he sits down for a career-spanning retrospective, selecting personal highlights from his filmography and discussing how he first got into the red.
You’ve spoken previously about falling in love with horror at a young age. What was your entry point to the practical effects element of the genre?
When I was about eight or nine – a little older – I’d been playing around with the makeup kits that you could buy from fancy dress shops, which were mostly little tubes of latex and fake blood. They were part of a general, slightly morbid child’s wide ranging interests, but I ended up getting a book out of the school library on a history of monsters in film.
I hadn’t really seen many films at that point. My mum was very controlling about the television: she took the flex off the TV and put in place a two pin safety connector so she could detach it when she wasn’t around. All that meant was that at a young age I made my own, and then when she went out that came out from under the bed and I just watched any old shit. That was the early days of Channel Four late night films, so I saw some fun stuff.
When we finally got a VHS player, my parents had four cassettes: we had short animations set to opera; an Asterix movie and a Tin Tin movie; and a copy of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), which I watched every night for months – like four in the morning I’d set an alarm, get up, go downstairs and re-watch it.
But I think the time I realised that maybe this was what I wanted to do was when I got that book out of the school library. It was around the same time that the teachers were asking “What do you want to do when you’re older?”, and I said “I want to make monsters for film”. They said “Well, that’s not a proper job”, and I was like “Aha: you have a book in your library that would beg to differ”. And being a precocious little fucker I dug my heels in and that was it. I wasn’t gonna be anything else.
Were there any particular artists who were an inspiration to you?
[Tom] Savini was probably the first name I knew, whereas Stan Winston probably has the highest number of celebrity creatures on his roster: he’s got the T-800 endo-skeleton; he’s got the T-rex; he’s got the Alien Xenomorph, that was him and his team. Those are some heavy hitters. I think Winston was probably a better artist, but Savini was a lot of people’s entry point because the stuff he was doing was more fun. He was also a very good self promoter: he was the first human on the front cover of Fangoria without being covered in foam latex, and he did those two books which had a very Blue Peter feel to them, like there was very much a “you can do this in the kitchen” feeling. The photographs are literally baking trays with wounds for the zombies from Dawn of the Dead (1978) sculpted at the bottom, so you could just fill it with plaster and you’d have these big flat moulds. Savini was definitely the name that I first latched onto in the industry.
You’ve selected a list of films to discuss which you’ve created effects for – some of which you’ve spoken about before but a lot of them not – and I think it would be interesting to take them chronologically and chart your evolution as an artist.
So the first one on that list is F (2010) directed by Johannes Roberts. I was very, very lucky that the first feature I designed makeup effects for got a cinematic release, and in fact played at FrightFest. I’d been attending FrightFest for years: I still have my ticket from the very first one, but this was the first time anything I’d worked on had played there.
The big makeup effect is Roxanne McKee’s jaw being torn off, which was an effect that we’d sort of seen before but had been digitally assisted in Mirrors (2008). I think it’s also in one of the early del Toro pictures with a digital insert, but I’d not seen it done all practically.
I chatted to Johannes and we talked about the angles it was going to be shot from, because film is innately two dimensional – unless it’s a 3D film – I could sculpt it back to front: so it protrudes where you think it would intrude. And then when I painted it, I just flipped the shadows so that it looks deep whereas actually it’s quite bulbous. So if you see it from the side, it doesn’t work, but from the front, from the angles we talked about, it works really nicely.
And then that took off. I did another couple of pictures, but by then I was someone who had designed makeup effects for a film that played at FrightFest. It’s a pretty good movie, I really like it. And I really came out of that with everything that you could want from a first job.
A couple of jobs down the line, I got a phone call from a guy called John Schoonraad, who I knew from quite early on in my career when I was just working on other people’s laboratories. John had started off as a mould maker at the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and had ended up setting up his own company called Lifecast, and they’d got the contract for the second Human Centipede film (2011).
I think something bigger had come along: John had already done a little bit of the stuff for it, but not a vast amount, and he said “Do you want to come in and manage this job?”. So I got to go and do that. Obviously that picture was in the spotlight after the success of the first one.
I was given a huge amount of freedom with how gross we went. Tom [Six, director] just was like “As nasty as you can: if you can make it nastier, then make it nastier”. And so in that end scene, when she gives birth in the car, I said “Can we have it so that the baby goes under the accelerator pedal, and then she has to decide: if she doesn’t crush her own child’s skull they’re both going to die because he’s going to capture them”. So it’s the tramcar dilemma, but with a new-born child. And he was like “I love that. Can we do that?” And I said “Yes. Can we can push that shot till after lunch?”
We had two babies, both of which John had produced. I phoned him and said “Can I fuck up one of these babies?” He’s like “Yep, go to town, do what you want”. So I hollowed out the head of one of these rubber puppets and primed it so that we could have a crushable head. I still have somewhere the video test that I took over to show Tom on my phone, this pre-smartphone grainy footage of a baby lying on a concrete floor and a workbook coming in and just slowly crushing its head. And he giggled with delight, and that made it into the film. So that’s, I think, one of the most offensive moments of that movie. Very proud to have been part of that.
You’ve described this effect as a career high / low, and the final 30 minutes of Human Centipede II are a real exercise in audience endurance. As an artist do you ever have a tension between the delight of being able to push the envelope and any questions about the ethics of what is being shown?
I do think that there is an ethical boundary in there. And I have turned down a couple of jobs because I wasn’t keen on what they were saying. But I think it’s very rarely about what I’m bringing to the screen, and more about the context in which it’s being portrayed. So for example, I would be very happy to do an effect where someone stamps on a Nazi’s head until it pops, but I’d be less keen on doing it where the Nazi was the stamper. Each of these instances is taken on its own merits.
Early on with Tom I said “You’re spending quite a lot of money on some of these effects, and I suspect no one’s going to let these be in the final edit of the film – they’re going to cut all this out” and he said “No, no, no, that’s the whole point. I want them to ban the film”. And I was like “Oh, okay, we’re going Pasolini. We’re trying to make it unwatchably horrible”
It was very surreal experience, because everyone was sort of giggling and laughing. Like the lobster being slowly warmed in a pot of water – which is what you get in the morning, when everyone gets there, we have breakfast, we have coffee, all the actors start getting into their setup for the day, everyone’s naked, but it’s a slow progression – then you leave for five minutes and come back and are like “What the fuck are we doing?”
You’ve said before that Human Centipede II is a masterpiece in the vein of Salò (1975), in terms of it explicitly playing with this idea of taste.
Not in any way to diminish Tom’s role, but I don’t know quite how perfectly that’s aligned with his plan. But I do think that the picture becomes this kind of filmic morality barometer.
The people going to see Human Centipede II, especially in a cinema with other people, tend to be of a particular subset of society – so it’s not necessarily a proportional representation – but those audiences often chuckle at the grotesque. One of the things I love about the film is it’s such a perfectly angled trajectory of debasement and horror, like each event is never lower on the offensiveness scale than the one preceding it, and as a result you get this wonderful through line of any group watch where the laughs slowly peter out, and there’s a moment in that film – it’s different with each audience – where no one’s laughing anymore. Except me, maybe. Me and Tom.
So the next film on your list is Sightseers (2012), with Tony Way’s arm, and this was another puppet.
This is when Tony’s reversed over with the caravan, and Alice [Lowe] and Steve [Oram] jump out of the car, race around to see him and he’s got one of his collarbones popped out through the hole in his neck, he’s spraying blood up into the wheel arch which is dripping back down onto his face. And in the script it said that they wanted his hand to slowly release a gonk, because Alice’s character collects them. I thought that rather than just having Tony’s hand relax and hold the gonk it’d be really nice if the arm was completely crushed under the wheel.
So we made a full puppet hand with a little cable mechanism to release the fingers. And then we literally just parked the entire caravan on the arm. Then a puppeteer, one of my workshop staff Dan Gomer, is under the van with a cable system operating the fingers so that on cue they can slowly release the gonk. It’s just one of those things where I suspect a lot of people don’t even notice that it’s not real: those are often some of my favourite things, the ones people hardly notice.
Maybe that’s the best endorsement, where people assume it’s real or can’t see how it was done.
Absolutely. And I think that you get more of that kind of thing with say old age makeup or environmental extensions, where digital work comes in to paint out buildings and that kind of stuff. Obviously with casualty and character effects it’s very rare that anyone would think it was real, but if you can bring this extra air of reality it adds a layer to the subconscious experience when people are watching it.
After Sightseers you had another Ben Wheatley film, A Field in England (2013), with the compressed air head-shot.
Yes, the heads for A Field in England were really fun. It was a practical rig that I designed which has then gone on to be modified and improved over the years, and has become a staple of our kit now. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see Possessor (2020) yet, but there’s a few headshots in that: they’re all done with modified versions of the same system, except for the fact that we’ve now managed to finesse it so that we can put movement in the puppet’s head before the shots go. Obviously you can’t safely put pyrotechnics on an actor’s head, so those headshots often have to be achieved with trickery.
You’ve got quite a long track record of working with Ben: the next film you’ve highlighted is High-Rise (2015) with the scene of the doctor skinning the decapitated head.
Yeah, the cranial dissection scene. High-Rise was fantastic. It was the first film I’d done with Ben that wasn’t through Rook Films (Wheatley’s production company), and I’m very grateful to Ben for bringing me along: he fought for me to be part of the team. And yeah, the head was really exciting. His point of reference was that photograph of a young Damien Hirst, the “Dead Head” photo. They chose an actor from an agency who looked a little bit like that head, and he came in for a life cast. Originally we were going to do a prosthetic on him, so he’d have his head through a hole in a table and then we’d just be making a peelable head for the later stages when the skin was off and you can see the skull. But when Ben saw the heads we’d made he was like “We don’t need to bugger about having a hole in a table and a man, we can just have this head”, which was very gratifying.
I still had a comparatively small team on that one, but fantastic people helping me. I flew out to Belfast with three of these things in a Peli case and proceeded to gross everyone out on set. It was absolutely fantastic.
Even the crew members were reacting to that moment, in terms of how visceral it was?
There’s this quiet after the storm: like the gag happens, and everyone’s quiet because the cameras are still rolling, ‘cut’ gets called and then you hear the reaction. Ben was in video village in another room and I just heard him go “Dan Martin, what have you done?” And all these whoops and satisfied noises, which was very gratifying indeed.
Next up you’ve got another head gag, which is the burn from Tank 432 (2015), and I understand you found this one particularly nerve-racking in terms of its execution?
I do quite a lot of work with the stunt teams, because often when an action is particularly violent a stunt performer will come and stand in for the actor. And the stunt coordinator on this was a chap called Peter Pedrero, who’s fantastic and was actually the performer for the sequence as well. But he also does amazing burn work: he’s responsible for the burn in Free Fire (2016), that amazing pyre when Sharlto [Copley] is on fire.
This was a custom likeness mask, and Pete’s doubling for Gordon Kennedy. I had Gordon come in and do an expressive life cast, and then I converted that into a silicon mask for Pete to wear when his head catches fire, because it’s shot in the eye with a flare. Normally stunt guys, when they’re doing body burns, they don’t put any fuel on their head, because that’s surrounded by the fire from their body. And, you know, putting fire on your head is, in most circumstances, a terrible idea.
This was just the head catching fire. So we did a textured inside to the mask that would hold this cold gel against the skin to keep the temperature down, but the really tricky bit was the fact that he could only see through one eye, which is always a bit dicey. We had this borosilicate glass I had cut for the eye insert, but the other eye has this massive flare in it. I got this heat proof ceramic test tube that was the same diameter as the flare, so that’s socketed into the mask and then I made up an aqueous silicon that sweated as it got hot so it self-moistened, and then we put these tiny little flares inside: the same thing Ripley’s holding in Aliens (1986). We cut one of them down to a 20 second burn and then that socketed into the aqueous silicon which socketed into the ceramic pipe which socketed into the mask.
We did a few control burns without anyone’s head inside, just a thermometer to make sure not too much heat was getting through. This was all done in very close relationship with Pete, making sure that he was comfortable with everything. I think we did two takes and I absolutely love it: the slow motion footage we got of that one burn in close up is some of my favourite footage. It’s so beautiful, watching Gordon’s gurning face with a flare in his eye, head ablaze, waving around inside a tank.
You’ve spoken already about scenes you felt wouldn’t make it into a film, such as for Human Centipede II. This next effect was for Ibiza Undead (2016) and sadly this one was cut: was that because it was too extreme, or was it cut for another reason?
I wasn’t able to be on set for the filming of this sequence – I’ve seen the uninterrupted rush, and I was very pleased with it. But unfortunately I just think it probably didn’t cut into the rest of the sequence as it was shot. Andy Edwards (director) is a lovely guy, and he’s got a good eye for a shot, but when you’re up against the time it’s very difficult.
The gag was inspired by The Beyond (1981), the Fulci picture. And what Andy wanted was this character has been bitten by a zombie and they cut his arm off to stop the infection from spreading. But his idea was they’re like a party household, so this guy’s taken all the drugs they had to numb himself from this oncoming experience: he’s taken loads of ketamine, they’re cutting his arm off and he’s totally disassociated from it.
The way we did it was the actor sat on a couch and we had his real arm hidden behind him and a prosthetic arm connected to his shoulder. We then had someone else behind with their hand through the couch, with their hand connected to the other end of the prosthetic arm: so you’ve got the full range of hand movement at the end, but you’ve got this fake arm in the middle that you can cut into.
They’re sawing through the forearm and it’s really nasty: we’ve got plasticized cord for tendons that they have to cut, which is something we developed for the knee surgery scenes in Human Centipede II. There’s loads of blood lines and spongy muscle tissue and by the time they get to the bone that’s quite a thick foamed durethane plastic, it’s pretty difficult to break. So they get a big pressed glass ashtray and they’re just pounding it into this guy’s arm against the sofa to finally snap the bone and get the arm off. It’s unbelievably unpleasant. But yeah, it was a very gratifying effect to get to do and I’d like to do another version of it one day.
So next up you’ve got another head smash, this time for The Wedding Guest (2018).
This is another one that I couldn’t be there for. So this character has this teeth smashed out with a rock to hide his identity before being set on fire. We made two dummies: the post-face-smash burnable version, which they got one take of, and then we had the two-smash version that they could get multiple takes from. The entire skin of the head just came off: it was connected magnetically down the back so they could whip the head off and there was this cartridge that was the upper and lower mandible in smashable plastic that just socketed into the mouth. So they could just sweep away the remnants of the last take, drop in a new mouth section, pop the skin back on, and then go to town.
It’s one of the things I enjoy, thinking around a new problem. They had to be able to get multiple takes, and then the entire head and shoulders just lifted off the dummy and the post-smash head dropped onto the same body, and then that’s the one they burn. The problem solving side of it: some of my favourite stuff.
There’s a lot of head trauma across your filmography: do you have any favourite head trauma moments from other artists?
I don’t think anyone’s ever beaten the fire extinguisher sequence from Irreversible (2002). They did the effect twice: with a half-extinguisher that was painted in digitally with tracked damage on the face, and then practically with a puppet head and a real extinguisher that they just smashed to fuck. And they transition between those two in the sequence so you get the run in of the real actor and all the physical destruction of a puppet stitched together, and the frenetic camerawork helps hide the joins.
When you watch that sequence you feel like you’re watching someone actually be murdered because its so seamless.
It’s seamless, and it’s really lingering and aggressive in a way that sells it. Other fantastic head traumas are things like Joe Spinell destroying Savini’s head in the original Lustig Maniac (1980), or Scanners (1981). But the thing about both of those films is they just genuinely used a shotgun to blow up a fake head. You’re not going to get more realistic than that. But I think the protracted destruction is more unpleasant rather than the sudden explosion. I love Scanners, obviously, it’s a masterpiece, and that sequence is incredible, but one of the things that sells it is the puppet hand: all the little peripheral details that they’ve thrown in work so well for that sequence.
One of my favourites is The Fly II (1989) where the guy’s trapped under lift. There’s something about the inevitability as the lift’s coming down, and he only gets half way out-
Absolutely fantastic. And that’s the other thing, film making is such a team effort. Sound effects play such a part in the efficacy of practical effects, but also editing, acting, camera choices: it sounds insanely basic to say but they’re all so interwoven. The run-up to an effect can change how it’s seen by an audience, quite aside from the angle at which it’s shown, but how you feel about the character. Someone desperately trying to get away from an inevitable demise, and then getting that demise is much more impactful than the surprise – although in some circumstances, and I’m thinking for example the bus from the first Final Destination (2000) – you play on the surprise and that works incredible well. I think it’s all about preparation, communication between the different departments and ultimately the vision of the director.
Next up we’ve got more head trauma but with perhaps a different wrinkle, and that’s the melting heads of In Fabric (2018).
We’d been doing a load of R&D for Possessor which has some melt stuff that I’m very pleased with and Andy Starke from Rook Films, who is one of the producers on Possessor, was also a producer for Peter Strickland (director) on In Fabric.
At the end of In Fabric when the shopping centre is on fire, Peter wanted this very stylised version of these mannequins melting . So we were able to test out the proof of concept for the Possessor melts on In Fabric, and it’s lovely being able to trial stuff between jobs. The final looks of those two sequences are entirely independent, very different aesthetics. They each serve a different film, a different narrative, a different tone.
Your next pick is also a head trauma, but it’s perhaps one of the effects you’ve spoken more about because it’s a film which has been associated with multiple fainting episodes and people finding that it was too much for them, and that’s Lords of Chaos (2018). In particular you’ve chosen to speak about the head stab from the finale.
I mean obviously we had a few head traumas in that picture, but the head stab was very gratifying because it’s one where I got to design cross-departments: we knew there was going to be a VFX element, a blade extension and the like, but 90%-99% of what you see on screen is practical.
That head stab was done with a match cut between two angles and a blade extension for the end, so that first moment of stab the front 50% of the blade is digital before it makes it into the head. Rory (Culkin) is wearing a very tight fibreglass skull cap with a carbon fibre and spring steel bar sticking out of it that the knife sleeves onto, because they wanted his head to be puppeteered around by the knife as they were trying to pull it out. Running a bloodline around that, and a full silicone prosthetic forehead – it was quite an endeavour.
We didn’t have an opportunity to test it, I just had to know that it would work. I turned up in Hungary with my kit and literally sent Jonas (Åkerlund, director) a video from my hotel room the night before, talking through the final elements of the process, shot with my phone with a reading lamp on a desk. So it was flying by the seat of our pants, and given that I’m incredibly pleased with the success of it.
Tying in with some of the comments we made earlier about the context around an effect and how that influences how its received, the head stab comes at the end of a very gruelling assault sequence. It’s not that the level of violence is as explicit as perhaps Human Centipede II, but it’s the performances of the actors and the length of that sequence that makes it so difficult to watch.
It’s interesting. That stuff is trimmed for the R rating in the States and is uncut in the Unrated version. In England it’s uncut at 18, although I believe Arrow (distributors) had to submit it a couple of times to get that. But in America I remember Jonas saying the MPAA had basically said “It’s because we feel too much for these characters, that’s why it’s so horrible, because we have an emotional connection”, whereas in England I think the reason we got away with it in the end is because it’s not presented in a gratuitous, who-cares-about-these-characters kind of way; it’s a characterful portrait of events and the emotional journey that these people have gone through. It’s odd that the two cultures have such diametrically opposite opinions as to what makes something acceptable and what makes something unacceptable.
The penultimate pick on your list are the marbles under the skin from The Girl on the Third Floor (2019), which you’ve said was a demo that got you this gig.
I’d just finished another film and we were unpacking kit at my workshop with Roz Gomersall, my workshop manager and a makeup artist in her own right, and I got a phone call from Giles Edwards at Queensbury Pictures. He was like “Would you be up for talking to the director, we’ve got this thing for a film coming up?”. I hadn’t met Travis (Stevens, director) before, but I was like “I’m immediately sure how to do that”.
There were some left over arm prosthetics from the job we’d just finished: a load of vein gags, these arm wraps and Roz had actually been an arm double on the other picture, so they fit her perfectly. So instead of unpacking I cobbled together this rig so that we could puppeteer it underneath the skin, applied this whole thing to Roz and then sent through this video of her clenched fist, and as she opens her hand this marble under the skin just starts moving all the way down her forearm. And I sent that through, and they were like “Yep: you’ve got the job”. I think that’s the fastest I’ve gone from being pitched an effect, to being able to present a proof of concept, to being told I’ve got the job, all within about 12 hours.
You’ve said that some people assumed that was a digital effect when they saw it?
I think if you provide a makeup effect or a practical effect that’s too slick the assumption by the audience is that it’s digital. And to some extent that’s a complement, but it’s also a sad indictment of the slow demise of practical effects, although I think that that demise has been somewhat halted in recent years.
On that front, at the screening of Possessor at Sundance Brandon (Cronenberg, director) came out on stage and said “By the way there’s no digital effects, it’s all practical”, and I’m incredibly grateful to him. He’s said that in a few interviews. It’s a good talking point but it’s also really nice that he let that be known, because a lot of people have said to me “Oh I’ve just assumed it was all digital”.
It’s interesting because even though maybe people say that, genre fans in particular have a healthy respect for practical effects and an ability to pick out cheap CGI, so part of the joy in this area is the tactility and sense of reality practical effects bring.
Absolutely. And I think what it comes down to is that digital effects have to work 100% to not reek of digital effects. Some of the stuff we love from the 80s, the effects are not amazing. I mentioned The Beyond before: those spiders in the library scene? They are terrible! But they’re still enjoyable because they’re practical, they’re still a physical, tangible thing. If a digital effect doesn’t work – if it drifts across the screen, or the black levels aren’t right, or the grade comp isn’t right – even if an audience doesn’t know why it doesn’t look good it triggers something psychological and they just don’t like it. I’d take a practical effect at like 60% over a digital effect at 99% any day of the week, which incidentally I should credit to my wife Jennifer (Handorf, producer The Borderlands; Prevenge), she used that phrase recently in a conversation and I’ve co-opted it!
You’ve given some examples of how there can be this symbiotic relationship between practical and visual effects: like you talked about the knife in Lords of Chaos being partially comped in at the end.
The thing is they’re both just different tools in the tool box and they’re both perfect for some things, and often you use both. In a making-of video for Possessor that’s doing the rounds at the moment Karim (Hussain, director of photography and associate producer) talks about doing some digital blade extensions: actually, as far as I know, they never ended up doing that, it was able to be edited together without needing any. There are some screen replacements I think digitally and one background extension, but other than that all the makeup effects are practical. We didn’t want to do anything digitally if we could avoid it. But I think most of the time it’s about those two departments working together.
I do think that when you’re putting together an effects sequence every shot is it’s own magic trick, and there’s a different solution for every one. Sometimes it involves practical effects, sometimes it involves digital effects, and sometimes it’s a collaboration of the two.
The last effect which you’ve brought on this list are the miniature alpacas from Color Out of Space (2019), and I think they’re the first miniatures of this list.
Richard (Stanley, director) was amazing to work for. It was a relatively early conversation with production, talking with him and SpectreVision (production company), and I said “Look guys, I think you’re going to have to do this as a miniature, because just for time, budget and the logistics of getting a full sized seven-alpacas-fused-together out from London to Portugal, it’s not going to work” and they were like “Oh no that’s exactly what we thought, we’ve already wanted to talk to you about whether or not it was miniatures”. And while production were saying that they didn’t necessarily want it to be The Thing (1982), it’s unavoidable when you walk into a room and you see a bunch of fused creatures to be aware that comparisons will be drawn. And it was a delight to be able to put that together.
We originally thought we were going to shoot it as an element, that it would be composited into the environment, but when we got there the art department had built a ¼ scale version of the barn for us to film in, so actually – with the exception of the removal of some puppeteer rods – that’s all practical. I think there’s some digital smoke, light manipulation, and all of the control rods for the heads for the different alpaca were digitally removed.
Leigh Cranston – my head of fabrication – was lying underneath the barn floor operating all of the legs. All these different pegs were sticking down around his face and he had finger loops on them so he could move them around like a musical instrument. And then myself and Tom Tuohey, who’s my mechanist, were behind it operating the heads. We had these manual control rods and triggers for the jaws, and then Leigh, Tom and myself all had tubes in our mouths that were operating bladders that made the body pulsate. So it was was quite a to-do, but it was absolutely delightful.
That’s the end of your list. To round things off Possessor is getting some great reviews, and in particular your effects work is being hailed as particularly repulsive, which has got to be the kind of notices you like to receive?
Absolutely. God, it feels like a million years ago now but it was an absolutely delightful project to be involved in. It was directly after Color Out Of Space, we went straight from Portugal into that. A lot of the life casts had to be done out of country for me by other artists, which I was very grateful for, so when I got to set it was the first time I met a lot of the actors I would be working with. Everyone was so invested in it, because it’s such a great script, but also everyone was so nice. It was just an absolutely delightful experience.
Unlike other members of crew who are there 12 hours every day, I get to rock up, do cool exciting things and then just fuck off again. I definitely have the more rock-n-roll side of the job, because I just turn up, blow something up or chop something off and then I run away. And it’s always really nice for people to be excited when they see me turn up because they know we’re going to be doing something fun. I think the only people who are like “Ah for fuck’s sake” are probably set dec, who often have to then go and sponge all the blood off the floor at the end of the day.
POSSESSOR is screening as part of the BFI London Film Festival on 16th October 2020.