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SXSW '09 Interview: "Lesbian Vampire Killers" Director Phil Claydon

by William Goss

The "Lesbian Vampire Killers" Pitch: "Not content to bank on the power of a salacious title, director Phil Claydon's LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS packs as much of a punch as the name implies. Matthew Horne and James Corden, the comedy duo behind the award-winning BBC comedy series GAVIN AND STACEY, are two hapless losers whose idyllic country holiday is shattered by the arrival of an army of thirsty lesbian vampires. James Corden owns the film with a non-stop barrage of rapid-fire tom-foolery and Paul McGann (the 'I' of WITHNAIL AND I) chews every inch of scenery as the vicar with a hearse heavy with undead-slaying devices. With heaping helpings of gratuitous skin, violence and onscreen beer consumption, LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS seems tailor made for a witching hour debut at the Alamo Drafthouse."

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience?
First film at SXSW. Best festivals so far: Brussels Fantasy Festival is insane, loads of fun, and the Frightfest UK is run by great people, supported by great fans.

Back when you were a little kid, and you were asked that inevitable question, your answer would always be "When I grow up, I want to be a..." what?
Director.

Not including your backyard and your dad's Handycam, how did you get your real "start" in filmmaking?
Blagged my way into Film School. Made a short film that caught the eye of David Ball who produced Day of the Dead and Creepshow. He offered me my first feature film, ALONE, aged 24.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it's on "the festival circuit?"
I am more excited that it is on 'the festival circuit'.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
Animal.

During production, did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
The shoot was too relentless to think further ahead than your next shot; first and foremost, you have to make the movie you want to make before anything else.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
It was written 5 years ago, supposed to made as a micro budget movie. The script gained a lot interest and became a bigger budget movie. There was one false start with the wrong producers and financiers attached, luckily in that process we got our star James Corden attached. Suddenly his TV show Gavin & Stacey became huge winning BAFTAS. I went in to Momentum Pictures November 2007, pitched the movie with storyboards, visuals, they liked it decided to go with it. After a load of legals got Green Light March 2008. Shot for 32 days May/June 2008 with a great cast and some lovely Lesbian Vampires. Dived in the cutting room with editor James Herbert, we had a blast, 260 VFX shots, one scoring session with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and licensing Showaddywaddy's Under the Moon of Love later we delivered the film mid November 2008. 7th March last night it screened for the first time in front of the paying Frightfest audience and in 2 weeks it hits the big screen in the UK

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
When you make a movie, know what you want, and the people around you must trust your vision.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition?
The Empire Strikes Back, I watched aged 4, will always be an influence, then I am a child of 80's. Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Goonies, Joe Dante, early Spielberg, John Hughes, Tim Burton, Lynch, Carpenter and Cronenberg.

Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
I never yelled that phrase, I would use a lot of varied influences from the drawings of Luis Royo, fantasy art, looking at the lighting in Ridley Scott's Alien and manic camera of Evil Dead 2, just so everyone could see the world that was in my head.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
I would remake Day of the Triffids or Hammer's The Devil Rides Out. I would do a sequel to Ghostbusters, but I think that is already being done.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big time. And why, of course.
James Corden. Naturally funny, and just great fun to watch has a mixture of manic Jack Black with John Candy sensibility.

Finish this sentence: If I weren't a filmmaker, I'd almost definitely be...
...unemployed.

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with?
Johnny Depp, worth the death of one wee dog.

Have you 'made it' yet? If not, what would have to happen for you to be able to say "Yes, wow. I have totally made it!"?
I don't think I will ever say I've made it as I am always worrying about what project to do next, will it get financed, and when will I shoot.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
The best critics are the audience, always have been, always will be.

You’re contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film to your producers. The MPAA says you have to delete a sex scene that’s absolutely integral to the film or you’re getting an NC-17. How do you handle it?
Delete the sex scene and then release it with the sex scene as a directors cut on DVD. The scene then becomes talked about on the internet, everyone knows it exists. Ultimately you can always end up getting your film out there, regardless of how it starts out in cinemas.

What's your take on the whole "a film by DIRECTOR" issue? Do you feel it's tacky, because hundreds (or at least dozens) of people collaborate to make a film - or do you think it's cool, because ultimately the director is the final word on pretty much everything?
The team of creatives is everything to a movie, but its look, tone, feel, story comes from one place and that is the director.

In closing, we ask you to convince the average movie-watcher to choose your film instead of the trillion other options they have. How do you do it?
I give you Girls, Gore and Gags, so grab a beer and get involved.

---

Phil Claydon's Lesbian Vampire Killers will play as part of the 2009 South By Southwest's "SXSW Presents: Fantastic Fest @ Midnight" slate. For more information, click here.


link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=2720
originally posted: 03/10/09 11:46:11
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