We will be raising a glass of mead in celebration for this upcoming Brit indie release The Caves, as cannibal vikings are the order of the day in this homegrown gorefest from director Jack Delaney. What an epic concept, being big fans of vikings here at the Gore Splattered Corner we are surprised there aren’t more viking based horrors (let’s hope this new release sparks a whole new subgenre of flesh feasting mauraders). Delaney wanted to make a local horror film with global appeal and what better place to film but Nottingham which boasts the largest set of manmade underground caves in Britain. With Nottingham council onboard the makers were able to get access to some stunning locations which many people familiar with the area will instantly recognise. It also gives a great opportunity to show off some of our British Heritage with Nottingham boasting a history steeped in viking influence and is home to one of the small number of viking court settlements on British shores Thynghowe which has just recently been discovered.
The premise for the story is described as ‘Dog Soldiers meets The Descent in the caves beneath the streets of Nottingham. Ancient Norse evil and modern day corruption conspire against the city’s homeless.’ . From the trailer it shows this is going to be a bloody affair with plenty of sword weilding, pillaging, bloodshed and chowing down on human innards, great stuff!
No release date set as yet so check out The Caves Official Facebook page for news, pics, behind the scenes, trailers and updates here.
Also you can follow on Twitter @TheCavesFilm
We caught up with Director Jack Delaney to ask him his thoughts on the project, and thank him for taking the time out to talk to our humble little Gore Splattered Corner.
Ok so tell me a little about how you came up with the concept for The Caves, (you mention The Descent and Dog Soldiers as influences), viking cannibals?
Jack: I was walking around Nottingham and just thinking- you know what -I haven’t seen any Vikings recently. In fact, now I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Vikings ever. What’s happened to them – they must be becoming extinct. So The Caves came about to raise awareness about the survival of these noble creatures. To donate you can text Viking123 to…. Nah just kidding – the flick is about subterranean Vikings who periodically come out to consume the nation’s poor and disadvantaged. A bit like the Tories only roughly ten times less despicable. It was Scotty the producer’s idea, he used to work in a hostel and came up with the idea that the Vikings being an allegory for capitalism fucking up. Gosh I love that word, allegory.
What attracted you to the idea of making a horror film?
Jack: To make films these days, even as a director you need to tick a lot of boxes and get quite business-man like about it all. Having a strong genre piece, specifically horror is one way to do that. Horror is pretty universal in appeal – we’re all scared of the dark. There’s a pre-existing audience already there who you can tap into – they’re the type of people who’ll get together and compare gory on screen deaths so if you deliver on that front you’re balling. Moreover it also works in the kinda heightened, OTT way with other titles: Hobo with a Shotgun and Rodriguez’s Machete come to mind. It’s a few beers with mates on a Saturday night kinda thing. All good Nordic fun. But that’s the kinda game you gotta play if you want to make films and don’t want to spend years filling in forms for art grants and running Kickstarter campaigns.
You have stated you wanted to make a local film for an international audience and have had the full support from the local council, how easy was it getting them on board, and how important was it to keep the locations ‘local’?
Jack: It was very important for the whole verisimilitude of the piece – I wanted this to live and breathe my hometown of Nottingham. Also I’m most confident with on location shooting – no good at your greenscreen type stuff. It was remarkably easy getting Notts council on board – the producer got in touch with the portfolio manager and they loved the idea. I remember one of the most surreal moments was when we were location scouting back when it was snowing heavily. We turned up to recce the castle and it was closed. The producer got on the phone and within five minutes we were being given a guided tour of the place. They opened up a motherfucking castle for us. Nottingham already has that global recognition obviously through Robin Hood so we wanted to – well not subvert it- but certainly build that up for our flick.
For people familiar with the area which landmarks are they going to recognise?
Jack: I’d imagine most of them but in particular Nottingham castle, and the council building as well as the square. But if you’re from Notts you’ll recognise pretty much all the locations I’d imagine. Think of the film as like a tour guide to the city. But accompanied by some bad man Vikings. The best kind of tour guide if you ask me.
Now I have watched the trailer, and the little making of short you posted on facebook, I see gore, but the question is how much, how often? And how did you achieve the effects?
Jack: All the time baby! The SFX lady Jayne Hyman was superb, the best I’ve ever worked with. Effects-wise it was about 80%/20% practical ‘in-camera’ to CG in post. The latter was mostly blood splats and sprays which complemented the practicals. My particular favourite was where someone has their face hit with a sledgehammer and it flies off. I’m aware the physics behind that make no sense. But still, how fucking cool. I always like doing stuff on set best rather than adding it in the edit as every time I’ve heard the phrase ‘fix it in post’ heads have rolled later on when they find it’s impossible to do or will cost a tonne of money.
For the cast and crew how easy was it getting the ‘right’ people, was this something that happened quite organically or was it more difficult than you perhaps anticipated?
Jack: It was pretty tricky – I’m used to shooting in London and using a casting director and have a large network of crew there but in Notts there’s obviously a lot less of a film scene so we had to approach it a bit differently. Laurence (who plays Tom) I actually got chatting to on Twitter and had previously seen him in a cast and crew screening of Wounded a film he was brilliant in so that’s how that came about. A lot of the other cast were friends of the producer and writer. We did run some normal castings some of which you can see on the Facebook page with me making a tit of myself. The crew were a mix of locals and a few people I knew from before- I went to college with the production manager- and people I’d brought up from London to stay at my parents so yeah really organic, word of mouth vibe. Owe the parents big time – it started off with ‘mum can the sound recordist come to stay for the shoot?’ and ended up with ‘mum can the sound recordist, focus puller and gaffer come and stay?’
What have you learned from your experience on The Caves?
Jack: A helluva lot. It underlined how vital planning is for me – when I first started directing a lot of the time I’d just try and freestyle it on the day and fucked up a lot because of it. Now I do the opposite, lots of tech recces, lots of shot plans, lots of talks with the producer and heads of departments way before you start rolling. Also I think it made me more confident too as you can’t pussy foot around if there’s a legion of Vikings on set. Also to crew people who you trust and who you work well with. Mostly though, it taught me not to fuck with any Vikings. They will pillage your homestead.
What were your highs and lows from the experience?
Jack: Ummmm high points was just the general vibe with the cast and crew – everyone was really on point and friendly – usually with a crew of that size you have at least a couple people -one of them is usually me – being twats but everyone was cool. Also when we wrapped we hit a Viking wrap party type thing – was drinking lots of mead and passing around live snakes and rats that was so sick man. Low points? Not really any. It’s hard to say – with this project as with most it was quite stressful. If you’re a director, especially a young one, there is pressure on you to knock it out of the park with every gig. On this gig we averaged about 50 something slates a day which is a hell of a lot more than your other film or even tv productions. You’re caught up in this big vertiginous – gosh I love that word too- rush of just getting stuff lensed. You’ll be facing a scene with say 9 more set-ups on the shot list at the end of a 12 hour day except the sun is setting so you only have time for 3 at most because the scene needs to cut with some other shit you did at the start of the day which you can barely remember and then you still need to transfer footage and de-rig and it’s like, will I get to the edit and just realise I’ve completely fucked this project and wasted the time of all the cool people on it? So yeah pretty much the whole time I was shooting there was this constant voice of ‘god help me I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing ‘ going on. That said it was by far less pressure than a lot of other gigs I’ve done. And again, the cast and crew were so amazing. Had the privilege of working with some of them again on a follow-up Viking documentary we’re doing called The Letherals – watch out for it!