Friday, April 29, 2011

RATSCLUSIVE! Pray For Dawn, new Aussie vampire movie about to start shooting! My interview with the writer and director

Howdy horrorphiles! Ratatouille here again, this time with a super exciting report! As many of you who have read my blog before know, I live in Australia, and more recently I have moved out into the country. I love this country, and I love its films, but there has been a massive gap in Australian horror for some time - Aussie Vampire films! Before I asked to do this interview, I was trying to think of a definitive Australian Vampire movie, and came up with only a very low budget cult film called Bloodlust made in 1992. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Well, the good news is a lot of people agree with me, also a lot of people agree that with the current "supernatural romance" trend, too many lame Vampire franchises are being created. The answer is NOT to stop making films about bloodsucking undead, that won't stop the swag of swill that continues to pump out of the open sewer feeding the tweenage watered down horror market. The solution lies in simply making some good ones. Let The Right One In is the perfect example, and even the title is completely accurate. We need to let the right films into our lives; by supporting and promoting the people making them, not just watching the films, or worse, supporting and promoting Hollywood studios that clearly need neither from us.

Australia, our time has come. Well, it's on its way. I'm excited to announce that Darklight Studios, previously infamous for making great metal music videos and all kinds of other great film work, are about to start shooting on a Vampire film that will not only be definitively Aussie, it's going to be scary, dark, ass-kicking and awesome. How do I know this? Read on as I chat with writer Stephen Batchelor and director Dan Jensen, about their film Pray For Dawn, which is about to start shooting! First, have a look at some images, namely the film poster and some teaser character posters! First, I want you ALL to click through to the Pray For Dawn facebook fan page and like it, nay love it.

Rat: Gday Stephen and Dan, welcome to A Safer Injection. First of all I'd like to say fangs so much for giving me this opportunity to take a bite of your time, I know in Stephen's words you're getting to the "pointy end" of the production now...

SB: Any time Ratman, as the production gears up I'm finding there is never a dull moment lately.

DJ: I'd respond but I'm still reeling from those puns...

Rat: So before I ask you about Pray For Dawn, let's quickly talk vampire films in general. Two-pronged question (I'll stop these puns, I promise) - what is your earliest memory of a vampire film, and what's the one vampire film you love the most? For me it was seeing the wonderful Robert Quarry as "Count Yorga" on one of my late night TV sneak sessions as a kid, and my all time fave is Romero's Martin.

SB: God I had forgotten about the Count Yorga films. My very first experience with vampire films came from the combined genius of Stephen King and Tobe Hooper. The images Salem's Lot burned into my brain as a child caused MANY sleepless nights. As for my all time fave? It's a really tough call, The Lost Boys is so much fun, I love the animal nature of the vampires in 30 Days of Night, Let the Right One In is almost perfect.... do I have to pick just one?

DJ: Growing up I watched a lot of horror films. I had the cool type of parents who let you do that. Honestly, I couldn't say what the first one was. Might have been Salem's Lot as well. Could have been the 1931 Dracula or any of the number of Hammer productions. As for a favourite, and I know this is a slap in the face of vampire purists, but I've gotta go with From Dusk Till Dawn. The first collaboration of 2 of my most favourite filmmakers and a damn entertaining flick. Rodriguez is my favourite director so I'm a little biased towards that one.

Rat: I have to say that I'm really pumped about the movie from all I've seen and heard, for a few reasons, patriotism for one! Also the fact that a uniquely Aussie vampire film is almost a non-entity, it's been almost 20 years since the low-budget classic Bloodlust was made, a "definitive" list I found online included Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (stone the crows!) and COUNTED Hollywood productions Queen Of The Damned and Daybreakers that simply shot here in its tiny list (ugh). What does Brisbane's Darklight studios have in store for a nation in anticipation?

SB: It's a film that's proudly Australian. It returns vampires to the side of the fence they should be on, the side that scares the shit out of you. I've tried to give the film the scope of a Hollywood production, but still retain the character of an Australian film.

DJ: Exactly. I'm sick to death of Australian films depicting our country as a barren wasteland and always wanted to do Australian Hollywood movies. When Stephen came to me with the script I knew we shared that vision. I'm also obsessed with Asian horror movies and will be bringing a heavy influence to Pray For Dawn in the style of the movie. So it'll be kind of like this Australian-Hollywood-Asian amalgamation. And I think that could be a first!

Rat and Josie: nb vb nnnnn That's not a question, just Josie the black cat with no tail who is desperate for my lap and has literally walked across the path of this interview. Maybe she wants a beer? Nice bottle, Victoria Bitter, now now now now now! Surely this is s sign of good luck for a horror film. Have you had any really good or bad fortune come your way leading up to the shoot? Pray tell.

SB: I'll tell you a funny story. A few months back I sent out a revision of the script to all the key crew members, about a week later I got an email from 80's scream queen legend Brinke Stevens. She loved the script and thought the dialogue was fantastic but wanted me to remind her what part we had discussed for her. The problem was, I had sent her the script by mistake, I had contact with her last year and had her email address in my contact list, and in my hurry to send out the new script revision I sent her a copy. We explained what happened and decided this was a lucky accident. That's about all I say say at the moment, ha!

DJ: Aside from that, there has been nothing but one lucky moment after another so far! I'm still waiting for something bad to happen. We've been blessed with the most amazing good fortune and it makes me believe that this movie is meant to be put out there. This is my feature directorial debut and if every movie for the rest of my days is this easy then I won't have any complaints!

Rat: The artwork by Richard Disley is absolutely stunning (I'm afraid of Stitch already), and gives us all an idea about how strong these characters are looking - Stephen, how long have you developed this idea for, and Dan, are you confident you can get your cast to really own the roles?

SB: Richard is a true talent and an absolute workhorse, I love his work, I'm glad you do too. As for the script, I wrote the original draft about eight years ago, and then it sat in a drawer for about six. I had the idea that maybe Facebook would be a good way to get word of it out to the public. And about ten drafts later, here we are.

DJ: As for the cast, I believe that rehearsal is key. I've seen what happens when actors aren't prepared and aside from not getting the desired result on screen it just takes too much time, and I like to work FAST. I'm planning on taking the cast through a lot of rehearsals prior to shooting so when it comes time to roll camera we can all breeze through the takes with total confidence. (And give Josie a pat for me.)

Rat: Seeing what equipment you have to work with for shooting tells me this will be super slick (the Crank 2-inspired RC chassis mount sounds radcore!) - as far as SFX go, without bleeding too much out of you (there I go again), can we expect a mix of traditional and digital shazammery stunning our senses, are you leaning one way more strongly? Talk to me.

SB: I can only write so much, Dan gets the incredibly tough job of turning what I've written into something watchable, so I think this is a Dan question...... Dan?

DJ: The previous draft had the producer and I sweating as there was to be a ton of visual effects, and VFX costs money. Not only do I work fast but I work cheap. It's a myth that you need a lot of money on screen to make a good movie, and there are always things you can do creatively to compensate for lack of money. I think we'll only use digital effects when it's necessary. I love practical effects and believe you can always tell the difference. I've long been a fan of people like the KNB effects group and what they can achieve - there's a true art to their craft. We've got a lot of talented people raising their hands to be involved with Pray For Dawn, and I'd hate to let that talent go to waste!

Rat: Last but not least, will there be any scenes with multiple extras, and if so, more specifically, is there a chance you could use one more very piercing (and pierced) face in a crowd scene? *Ratman points directly at himself with no subtlety whatsoever*

SB: Dude, if you want to pop over over when we start shooting you're more than welcome to do an on set report, I'm sure Dan might be able to slot you into the background somewhere, ha!

DJ: And bring Josie, too!

Once again I really thank you guys for letting me cover this scoop, and as you head into the nitty gritty of this wonderful dream, all my best thoughts and prayers to Bela Lugosi are with you. Screw "break a leg", bite a neck, guys.

Remember to like the facebook page, they just had liker number 666! 


  1. do they need a composer? ;-)

  2. Hmmm...the poster reminds me a little bit of one of the posters for the first Evil Dead film.