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Jake West

Jake: "I always wanted to get into film but didn't know how".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
May 4th, 2006

Director Jake West garnered critical acclaim for his debut feature Razor Blade Smile, and his sophomore effort Evil Aliens recently received it's big screen release. Jake was kind enough to agree to be interviewed from the set of Pumpkinhead 3 which he is currently directing in Romania.

Read on for Jake's honest thoughts on stuffy horror critics, investor problems and much more.

Not much info regarding your life before Razor Blade Smile can be found online. How did you get into filmmaking?
I always wanted to get into film but didn't know how. I finally wound up at film school after making loads of short films on video with my mates at weekends.

My early Short "Club Death" is on the R2 RBS UK special edition release by Anchor Bay.

I've always been aware of you and your work since Razor Blade Smile, yet I don't know much about the making of that film. Can you give us a brief run down of how long the project was in development and took to get made.
Three years of pain on that one. Twenty grand, lowest budget UK film to ever get a cinema release as far as I know.

Jake: "It's hard for any filmmaker when you receive such negative reviews".

The film was hugely successful amongst genre fans but there seemed to be an awful long absence between RBS and the just released Evil Aliens. Why did you decide to focus on shorts, such as Whacked and special features for other people's DVD releases as opposed to making your next feature right away?
Nobody wanted to give me any money - horror is still unpopular in the UK amongst financiers and critics who want to be taken seriously. In the end I was lucky to raise an Angel investor.

You set up Nucleus films with Marc Morris to release horror movies here in the UK, but seemed to get sidetracked producing content for DVD releases. How did this happen?
Not so much sidetracked, as an enjoyable side line, which has been another great education.

Of all the documentaries you've worked on for Anchor Bay DVD releases, which one has been the most fun?
The Phantasm box set. Amazing time with Don et al!

Evil Aliens has seen a largely positive response from horror and sci-fi fans, most likely down to the clever movie references. Was it your intention when writing it to cater to hardcore genre fans?
Yes - However I was surprised by the very poor support from the film by noted UK genre critics such as Kim Newman and Alan Jones. Still everyone has their own tastes, and I guess this isn't their cup of tea, and it's always easy to write a pithy 30 second scathing review - but rather more difficult to spend 3 years making an indie horror flick. And I don't mean to sound bitter, but it's hard for any filmmaker when you receive such negative reviews.

Your leading lady is the very popular Emily Booth who is more commonly known to talk about films than star in them. What made you choose Emily for the part of Michelle Fox and did you approach her or did she audition?
Emily is a real TV presenter and we needed someone to play a TV presenter, plus I'd worked with her when I directed the Shock Movie Massacre Title Sequence and wanted to work with her again because she's great fun and loves horror.

Jake: "Well we spent the money we had wisely".

The majority of the cast have little to no experience working in feature films, or started their careers with Evil Aliens, how did you find and select all of the cast members?
We did a casting call to agents via PCR (PRODUCTION CASTING REPORT) and then spent a couple of months seeing people.

Many people have spoken out about the films opening anal probe and the homage to Cannibal Holocaust. Was it always your intention to make the film gross and silly fun, or was the film originally intended to be darker in tone?
It was always intended to be Splatstick and my love letter to the films of my teenage years.

The film honestly does look like you had a fair amount of money to play with, was there anything you had written which you couldn't shoot, or were you quite confident of the budget you would have to play with?
Well we spent the money we had wisely. I did shoot some sequences which didn't make it to the final cut because we just ran out of time. Time is always the enemy whatever the budget.

What was the film shot on? I noticed a range of formats but couldn't decide overall exactly what the film had been shot on?
We shot full HD Cam then transferred back to 35mm. With a few DV video inserts for the TV stuff.

The film has received interest, awards and heaps of praise but has largely been ignored by the bigger magazines. Does this surprise you considering how well home grown horror has been doing of late?
Not really. The bigger magazines are a bunch of.... (add your own favourite expletive here)....with no interest in supporting independent horror. The UK journalists have been the least interested in supporting the film. Whereas the support in the U.S and around the world has been amazing.

You were just announced last week as the director of Pumpkinhead 3. How did this happen?
The late great Mo Claridge of Anchor Bay UK recommended me to the producer. Mo was a great man and will be greatly missed by everyone in the industry.

Can you say anything about the project at this stage?
I'm currently shooting it in Romania and it's shaping up rather nicely. It's more serious in tone and a darker story that stays true to the mythology established in Part 1.

What's next from Jake West?
After Pumpkinhead 3....we'll see!

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Jake.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

Don't fall behind, make sure you get help
writing college papers fast.


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