Peter Dukes formed Dream Seekers
Productions several years ago with his sister Aubrey with the intention of
creating unique and thought provoking films. Now with many impressive
short films to his credit Peter is becoming linked to several feature
There have been several
different styles and ideas expressed in your short films but there is
definitely a theme of other-worldliness and a sense of the unknown, but
also time. Would you agree with that? Are they ideas that particularly
fascinate and interest you?
There are a few things that sometimes consciously and sometimes
unconsciously work their way into my stories. Time is one but death is
certainly another. Time has always been fascinating to me and as Iíve
grown into an adult and the years are flying by faster and faster itís
something that becomes extremely relevant. I certainly put it into the
films either directly or more layered but itís definitely something thatís
there. In terms of other-worldliness, horror and fantasy are two genres I
have a soft spot for and it affords me a tremendous amount of flexibility
and that fits with how my mind works. Itís also something thatís enjoyable
and interesting to get into when youíre on a particularly low budget.
There was a television series
in the UK in the 1980ís called Tales Of The Unexpected which was a little
like The Twilight Zone but more about twists and atmosphere than scares.
Would you say that side of horror appealed to you more than visceral and
Atmosphere to me is paramount, sometimes more than the plot, but certainly
more so than any monster or ghoul. The worlds that you are putting
together are crucial and I learned a lot from reading in particular, but
also old movies and television shows like The Twilight Zone. Itís
definitely something I aspire to put into all my scripts as for me the
atmosphere can make or break your film. Itís always very much at the
forefront of my mind.
The complexities of making a
short film are obviously very different to making a feature but apart from
obvious time constraints what do you consider the greatest
Short films are very much their own animal. There are similarities with
features but there are definitely differences that, depending on how
successful you are, dictate whether you sink or swim. Obviously there are
very specific time and budget constraints, if there are budgets at all,
and then you see where you can go with all the pieces you have. Most of
the time though these restrictions can result in producing a better film
as you are forced to delve deeper into each scene to make sure you get the
best from it. Each film Iíve done has had different challenges though
whether that is financial or in doing a new effect as you must continue
learning and honing your craft. Youíre always working towards making a
feature and that opportunity may only come along once.
Peter: "Each film I've done has had different challenges".
As an independent filmmaker I
wondered what your thoughts were on the ease with which anyone can go out
and make a film. There is so much technology available and even films
being released made on iphones. Do you think this accessibility risks
diluting the quality or do you consider it to be a good
Itís all changed and itís a shifting landscape on almost every level and
in every department. Itís a double edged sword because itís great that
anyone can make a film if they want to whether thatís a long term career
plan or not. On the downside though there is of course a risk of dilution
because it is so much more difficult to stand out now. There are virtually
no studios or agents that will take new or unsolicited material anymore
because they will have literally half a million scripts dumped on their
desks. At the end of the day though the same rules still count; no matter
how many filmmakers are out here you still have to make the best movie you
can and try and hopefully get noticed.
Following that I wondered on
your thoughts on film funding. Do you think this is making it increasingly
difficult for filmmakers to find funding with studios reluctant to take
Studios have always been a business but even more so now. Itís so much
about the numbers and finding that safe bet with remakes and franchises.
The independent world is where there is more opportunity to get your voice
out but itís such a challenge to help a film find its feet. Iíve been
attached to a couple of projects in the past and they just fall apart for
one reason or another and for a lot of these films that are £1million and
under the options are very limited. Itís really just private investors
around which is such a challenge. If you ever do succeed and break through
enough to make a living then itís the icing on the cake really. If you
come into the business looking for fame and fortune then the odds are
really against you; you have to really love what you do first.
As someone who has made so
many short films, if in an ideal world substantial financing became
available do you think youíd like to adapt and elaborate on something from
your back catalogue or perhaps begin an entirely new project? I presume
you always have several working scripts around.
Absolutely. There are definitely some of my short scripts that I would
like to elaborate on. My werewolf film The Beast was getting some good
press and I thought that maybe I could expand it into a feature. I got the
script revised and started putting out feelers. A few months later I met
someone for whom the script really resonated and hopefully this will now
come to fruition. A lot of the scripts Iíve done were written with
expansion in mind so itís always there in my mind.
Youíre listed as director for
The Beast (not related to the previous short film) which also has Jessica
Cameron attached. Can you tell us much about that?
Thatís another film Iím attached to direct and Iíve been working with the
writer / producer for around six months now to the point where weíve been
putting the cast and crew together and starting to scout locations. If it
happens then it happens but even while developing Iím always working on
other things so you never know.
Peter: "Even while developing I'm always working on other things".
What are your favourite horror
films or which ones have had most of an influence on you?
Thereís a lot really but from the early films I was a big fan of Carl
Theodor Dryerís Vampyr from 1932. Itís not for everyone but itís very
imaginative. Iím a big fan of Hitchcock and similar films where it was
about the atmosphere mainly as you couldnít show any real violence on
screen in those times. They were the types of films I was drawn to more
than the cult films that are now more mainstream. Many people who have
grown up with these modern hardcore movies and donít really know about
many of the earlier ones. Recently there wasnít much I was interested in
but then Let The Right One In restored my faith a little in the horror
genre. Above all that though my main influence is from books, authors like
Lovecraft and Shirley Walker which was daring and original at the
If there was a new visitor to
your site Dream Seekers Productions and you could recommend just one of
your short films to them which one would it be?
I try hard to produce very diverse films so there possibly isnít one film
that particular sums me up. Iíd probably just say have a look at the list,
maybe ignore a couple of the earlier, rougher ones, and then try a
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."