Monday, 4 March 2013

Interview with Andrew Jones Producer at North Bank Entertainment

Interview with Andrew Jones Producer at North Bank Entertainment

Andrew Jones is Managing Director of up and coming production company North Bank
Entertainment who are based in my home country of Wales. Swansea to be exact. Andrew has
written, produced and directed films since 2006 when he worked as a painter and a decorator to
fund his first feature ‘Teenage Wasteland’.
Here Andrew has graciously agreed to give me an interview and insight into his work, producing
cheaper horror films that can compete against higher budget ones.
His quotes section on IMDB says this: “Every great horror film I've ever loved, without exception,
has been a low budget affair. The original Night of the Living Dead, Last House on the Left,
Halloween, Friday the 13th and The Hills Have Eyes.” I so have to agree with this, ‘Halloween’ was
brilliant and a lot of people don’t realise it was such a low budget movie. I mean, Myers’ mask was a
William Shatner mask painted white!
A lot of movies lose this translation somewhere these days. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of
stinkers out there just making movies to make money. But there’s also people like Andrew here who
wants to make money to make more films with that heart, and for that I give two big thumbs up.

Q. Hi Andrew First off how are things?
A. Good thanks! I’m currently in post production on ‘The Amityville Asylum’ and I’m very happy
with how the film has turned out.

Q. I love your story, it’s a true working your way up from the ground one. Would you please in
your own words tell us at THN what it’s been like getting to where you are today?
A. I’m still just starting out. I’ve produced three films in the past year that have all been sold for
distribution so that’s a very positive start for my production company North Bank Entertainment.
But for every three films that get made there are three that didn’t get made, so it’s been a big
learning process over the past few years trying to get different projects off the ground. We’ve now
found a micro budget business model in the horror genre that ticks the right boxes for investors and
distributors. But it’s taken a few years, and learning from a lot of mistakes, to find that combination
of the right elements to make it work. I won’t feel like I’ve truly achieved anything until I have learnt
a lot more and spent 20 years making and selling films.

Q. You do a lot of filming in Welsh locations, how difficult is it to get a nice clear day here to do
some good filming?
A. Because we make horror movies we don’t need them! The grimmer the weather looks the

Q. One extra thing I will say on that note, Wales, like new Zealand (another popular filming
location), is full of vast empty spaces that just look fantastic on the eye. Wouldn’t you agree?
A. Yeah I love the locations here. I have always loved horror films that had a small town setting, and
there’s so many great rural areas in West Wales which are particularly good for that. I’ve shot a lot
of stuff around the Gower in Swansea and down in Carmarthenshire and those areas are particularly

Q. Do you get many onlookers when you’re filming or have you been lucky in that respect?
A. Whenever I’ve shot stuff in major cities it’s inevitable to draw onlookers and the odd idiot who
wants to try and disrupt filming by beeping their car horn or shouting. But a lot of the time we’ve
shot in rural areas and those areas are so quiet and peaceful we don’t get bothered much. If you
ever have any actors screaming during scenes in public, often someone hears it and thinks it’s real
so they call the police. But once the cops turn up and see we’re making a film they’re fine about it.

Q. A bit more serious now, your company strives to compete with mainstream films at a quarter
of the cost, how difficult is this to do?
A. It’s a double edged sword. On one hand it’s more difficult because you have a lot less money and
time to shoot than you would on a bigger budget project. Also, we can never match the big
production value of a studio production at this level. But on the other hand, by keeping our budgets
very low we not only retain creative control but we are making ourselves very investable as a
production company. Our films don’t need to be huge box office hits to make investors their money
back, a modestly good run in two territories on DVD and VOD is enough to make a decent profit. Of
course that all depends on getting the film into the market place and we’ve managed to do that.
We’re probably getting even further than I thought we would considering our first film ‘Night of the
Living Dead: Resurrection’ got a UK theatrical release and was picked up by a major studio in
I think the key to getting these micro budget films into the mainstream market place is capitalising
on market trends and films that are popular. Distributors these days are far more inclined to go with
a genre film that is safe and familiar than a film that is wild and experimental, so it’s important to
make films that target a specific demographic and fit into a specific category. Producers should
always have a distribution strategy in mind and know what audience they’re aiming at before they
even shoot the film. If you don’t do that, you may end up with a film that you are happy with but
that no one wants to buy.

Q. Effects, actors, locations aren’t usually cheap. Do you have ways to cut corners here or any
advice for upcoming producers?
A. The process of making a low budget film is always about cutting corners. You have to beg,
borrow and steal to make the movie. It’s most important to tailor the script and story to whatever
resources you have. If you own a car and you own a guitar, then you know those are two things you
can write into the script and use for the film. If you have access to a hospital building or a caravan,
then you know those are going to be your main locations. Just work with whatever you know you
can get your hands on for low cost and adapt the script to your resources. It’s a waste of time for
unknown filmmakers to write an epic blockbuster script and try to convince someone to give them a
multi million budget even though they have no track record. Start small, make something off your
own back and make the project marketable so you have a chance of getting it sold for distribution
after you film it. Most importantly learn about film financing, the tax benefits of investment and
also the technical elements and cost of delivering a film to distributors. Once you’ve got a handle on
those things you’re in a good position to progress.

Q. You must scout locations and research thoroughly to come up with these deals, is it hard work
sometimes or always?
A. We often find locations through the Wales Screen Commission. Anyone looking to film in Wales
should check them out, they’ll provide you with pictures and contact details of land and property
owners in Wales for free. The biggest obstacle to getting good locations for indie filmmakers in
Wales are the BBC. They pay a fortune for locations because they have license fee payers money so
when indie producers with modest budgets are trying to secure locations that the BBC have filmed
at there’s no chance of competing financially. I once offered someone £200 for a few hours filming
in a rural petrol station when it was closed and the owner said the BBC had been there before and
paid him £4,000 for a day’s filming. So it takes a lot of scouting around to find places whose owners
understand we’re not able to pay those kinds of prices. Thankfully we do manage to secure good
locations on each project and I’m so grateful to everyone who has allowed us to film on their
properties for a reasonable price.

Q. Your company also gives up and coming actors a chance. This is very admirable I think but may
be a little gamble at times perhaps?
A. Not really. If you audition an actor or see their previous work and they are right for the part then
they get the part. A lot of filmmakers chase big name actors and get them attached to their scripts
in the hope it will secure them big budget financing. But unless you have an A-lister like Brad Pitt or
someone involved it’s not going to get you financing if you don‘t have a track record of making
money as a producer. That’s what really gets you financing, a producer’s track record. It also doesn’t
seem to make that much of a difference in the horror genre whether you have “name” actors or
not. It may interest some distributors if you have a good genre name on board but horror has a
history of successful movies with unknown actors in them so “names” are not as vital as some
people think. We’ve managed to get financing and distribution at this low budget level without big
name actors so I’ll continue to do that. New, up and coming actors are hungry to prove themselves
and hard working so I love collaborating with them.

Q. A little about your movies now if you will. Your first film Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection
is a British remake of the classic 1968 version, what was it like making budget wise and location
A. It was quite a challenge. We had twelve days of shooting in total, ten of which were in an
isolated cottage in Llandysul in Carmarthenshire. The nearest town was about half an hour’s drive
away and there was barely any phone or internet signal. We were all staying in 3 small cottages on
the site and it wasn’t the most comfortable of conditions for the cast and crew. We were all living
on top of each other for ten days and one or two people got pissed off with it. But we had a small
budget so it’s always a struggle to get lots of luxuries on a shoestring and thankfully the majority
understood that and just embraced the challenges. I think the biggest challenge once you get into
shooting is the tight schedule and lack of time. Working against the clock and trying to get as much
coverage as possible is always the biggest challenge for a director on these micro budget films.
It was the first feature project for most of the people working on the film, so the production was a
big learning process for us all. Ultimately I’m happy with how it turned out, I think the director
James Plumb did a superb job. It’s unfortunate people will compare it to the original because
nothing can live up to that classic, but then we knew we would carry that burden by using the title
so I can‘t complain. The films to fairly compare this to are other low budget British zombie films like
‘Colin’ and ‘The Zombie Diaries’. I think when compared to films at that budget level ’Night of the
Living Dead: Resurrection’ definitely holds it’s own.

Q. What has it got in common with the original aside from zombies?
A. The only thing it has in common is the core concept, people trapped in a farmhouse during a
zombie apocalypse. But in our film the lead characters are four generations of a Welsh family and
we don’t follow any of the plot turns of the original film. So whatever people think of the movie, at
least it’s a completely new viewing experience rather than a shot for shot retread of the original.
Hopefully people judge it on it’s merits rather than just slamming it for being a remake or for being
very low budget. The original film had a small budget so I think it’s quite fitting our British version
was made with similar limited resources.

Q. It’s released here on May the 13th, will all the usual outlets/online be stocking it: amazon, etc.?
A. Yeah, the UK DVD of the film from 4Digital Media is now available for pre-order on Amazon and
other major outlets. The North American DVD from Lionsgate is also available to pre-order ahead of
it‘s 30th April release.

Q. Your second film Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming is another British remake/sequel
of the classic 1974 version, what was it like making budget wise and location wise?
A. The movie was a huge struggle for me personally because I was in the midst of delivering ‘Night
of the Living Dead: Resurrection’ at the same time as filming ‘Silent Night, Bloody Night’. I was often
on set in Wales for a fifteen hour shooting day and then getting straight on a bus and heading for
London in the early hours to be at the post production house to sort out the North American
delivery of ‘Night’. Being that I’m a one man band at my production company my focus was
definitely split and I didn’t enjoy shooting the film at all. I took too much on and rushed into
production too quickly. In hindsight I would have allowed more time between projects.
The schedule was crazy. We had a great location for the Butler House, a manor house central to the
story, but could only afford it for one long weekend so we had to get about 45 pages shot in 3 days.
But considering we shot it in just ten days for a tiny budget, I’m pleased with how it turned out. It’s
a love letter to the slasher movie formula and my only request of the director James Plumb was that
he mainly concentrate on two elements - nasty kills and nice tits! We had both in the movie and
sold it for UK and North American distribution to 101 Films and Elite Entertainment respectively. So
when all is said and done, job’s a good one!

Q. Does this one have anything in common with the original also?
A. Unlike our ‘Night of the Living Dead’ project, we did actually follow the original story for this
remake quite closely. Reason being is that we considered this film to be a reboot of a property that
we could potentially turn into the first British slasher franchise. So we wanted to remake the origin
story. We have the stories for the second and third instalments ready so if ‘Silent Night, Bloody
Night: The Homecoming’ sells well then we’ll turn it into a straight-to-DVD horror series. It all
depends on how many units it shifts in the UK and US now.

Q. Friday the 13th actor Adrienne King starred in this one, what was it like contacting her and
working with her on this?
A. It was a great thrill to work with Adrienne, I’m a huge ‘Friday the 13th’ fan. That was the first
horror film I ever saw and fell in love with when I was five years old, so to work with the star of that
film was a great moment. It was a straight forward case of emailing Adrienne, then sending her the
script. Adrienne agreed to do it while she was in London showing some of her artwork at the Misty
Moon Gallery in London. She was a great pleasure to work with and a signed ‘Friday the 13th’ poster
Adrienne gave me now hangs proudly on the wall in my house.

Q. When can we expect to see this released and where to?
A. The UK DVD from 101 Films is currently available to pre-order on Amazon UK and the US DVD
from Elite Entertainment should be available to pre-order soon as well. Both are scheduled for
release later this year.

Q. You final film soon to be released is The Amityville Asylum. What information can you give us
on this, locations filmed, budget and when can we expect to see it?
A. This project was truly the most amazing experience I have ever had shooting a film. It was one of
those very rare projects on which every single member of the cast and crew was a joy to work with.
The film was set in America but we shot all the interiors in Swansea, Cardiff and Carmarthen in
Wales and acquired some authentic exterior footage of Amityville from the US. The film features a
mix of UK based American actors and a couple of Brits. The film focuses on Lisa, superbly played by
Sophia Del Pizzo, who starts a night job as a cleaner at a mental institution and faces horror from all
angles through disturbed patients, intimidating orderlies and paranormal occurrences. We’re still in
post production but I’ve just signed a UK distribution deal for the film and the distributor is aiming
for a release around August/September this year, which will include a small theatrical run as well as
DVD and Video on Demand. We’ll be officially announcing that deal and releasing a teaser trailer
very soon. We’re also close to finalising a deal for a North American release so I‘m happy with how
things are progressing on the project.

Q. Also you wrote produced and directed this film yourself. How was that?
A. So much easier than I thought it would be. On the two previous projects, I’ve worked with a
different director and while I enjoyed that immensely I fell in love with directing again on this film
and I intend to direct more in the future. When I’m producing I’m mainly working on the business
side of the project because I allow the director free rein over the creative side of the project. But
making ‘The Amityville Asylum’ made me realise just how much I had missed shaping the creative
and visual part of the project. Working with actors, a Director of Photography and an editor are my
three favourite parts of filmmaking and it’s great to be doing that again.

Q. So for your production company what can we see on the horizon, film wise and is it all going
A. We have two other feature films shooting this year, in June and October. I’m producing the one in
June with James Plumb as director and that’s a found footage horror. I step back into the director’s
chair for the October project which is a horror film that I can best describe as a cross between ‘The
Stepfather‘ and ‘Halloween‘. The June project was written by James Plumb and David Melkevik and
the October project was written by American writer Will Sanders. So these two projects will be the
first time I’ve ever worked on films I didn’t write or co-write the screenplays for.
Going into next year I‘ll be moving away from working with other directors and setting up a couple
of features to direct myself. Although I’m still open minded to potential collaborations that may
come along, I feel the future for me is directing as well as producing.

Q. Finally one question I ask everyone I interview, are you ready for the coming zombie
apocalypse and do you have a plan?
A. I’m just going to allow myself to be bitten and turned into a zombie! I’m a fat git who loves to eat
so would probably enjoy treating humans as an All You Can Eat buffet.

Once again thanks for agreeing to this interview Andrew, it has been a breakthrough for my blog
to have one with an up and coming Production Company. Finally, is there anything else you would
like to add or say to the THN readers?
Whether you’re a film maker or a film lover, always remember that feeling you had when you first
saw horror movies as a kid and fell in love with them. Hold onto that feeling. Friends, relationships
and jobs come and go, but the love for cinema lasts forever.

Very insightful there Andrew, wow folks was this a brilliant interview or what?
I have to say i loved reading Andrews answers they were great and to the point yet offered a lot of information on all the projects upsides and downsides

as always you can join me on twitter @TheHorrorNation
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