Award-winning director Giles Alderson’s ability to create wonderful and ingenious ideas out of small seeds is his forte. He recently directed the feature film The Dare co-written with Jonny Grant and starring Richard Brake (Batman, 31), Alexandra Evans (Redistributors), Bart Edwards (Fantastic Beasts), Richard Short (Vinyl, Public Enemies), Robert Maaser (M.I 5 Rogue Nation), for Millennium Films (Expendables, Day of the Dead) with Jupiter Lights & B2Y Productions.
Giles has also finished filming The World of Darkness feature documentary. It takes an in-depth look into how the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade” role-playing game created a phenomenon in the 1990’s – a zeitgeist that helped shape film, literature, fashion, club culture, and ultimately fans, whose lives it forever altered.
Training with the best writers at The Royal Court, then going on to win various awards for his short films, including recently winning an Accolade for Best Director and an Award of Excellence for his film “The Heart of the Forest” starring Jessica Henwick (Star Wars, Iron Fist) and Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall), he has a vast knowledge and a great understanding of how to please his audience, thus creating vibrant and ultimately rewarding films and promos. Giles unique flair for charming comedy and quirky dark drama has made him a reliable and visually creative force for clients who are looking for refreshing, fun and diverse ideas.
Using in-camera techniques and working closely with his crew and actors, Giles has made great and enterprising visual idents, digital media, promos for names like Iceland, Foot Locker, Talk to Frank, Berocca, Lucozade, Ericsson, Comic Relief, Maltesers, TABBi, Atomic Son and Dirty Pretty Things and award-winning short films.
Check out our interview with Giles below. We had a blast!
Thank you for granting the interview, Giles! We are excited for “The Dare.” What inspired the script?
I had this idea years ago. Actually, it was two ideas that were percolating in my head, one day it just dawned on me to join them together. Suddenly I had the story. So I spoke to Jonny Grant, who has written my next project The Nobodies and asked him to write it with me. Within months we had a solid draft and I started to send it out to possible producers I knew who might want to make it. It is a psychological horror so it has a market and it’s an interesting take on the genre. It was picked up quite quickly by Yariv Lerner at Nu Boyana studios, It wasn’t a walk in the park though. I had to work my ass off pitching it and creating mood reels and a 20-page pack with my notes on style, how I would make it, shoot it, the look of the film with many images and why it would do well etc. So with the help of my excellent producer (and great actor) Julian Kostov we got a deal at the Bulgarian Studio. They have an amazing set up over there, So many studios and facilities, amazing crew and equipment etc so it was a no-brainer for me to shoot The Dare there. I also managed to bring my fantastic cinematographer Andrew Rodger (To Dream, Borderline) along with me too and before we knew it we were making it. I have to say it is up there as one the hardest things I have ever done! Making a feature film is hard. REALLY hard. You have to be on your toes 24/7. In the middle of the shoot we could only have one location for two days and we had a massive amount to shoot in there including a fight, hanging actors upside down, spraying the brilliant young actor Mitchell Norman with blood, a working scolding chamber and heavy emotional dialogue scenes. That was a tough two days. It was constantly go go go all the time but we all got stuck in and I’m very proud of what we achieved. We are now in post and about to do pickups before going on to sound mix, vfx, score, and grading etc. It’s a long process. Like I say filmmaking is hard. If you want to do it you’ve got to be prepared for a slog. There’s not much glamour that’s for sure. Millennium Films who made Expendables are selling it, which is huge. It’s opening many more doors now and I’m being approached to direct other films, which is humbling and gratifying at the same time.
The film has that classic thriller feel. Was it your intent to capture that feeling of horror/thriller?
Absolutely, thrilling psychological horror is a great genre and I really wanted to capture that. With The Dare, I will be playing with the minds of the audience. I want them to think about who they are rooting for, where their sympathy lies and why. This horror film has feelings, deeply hurt emotions and hidden secrets that I can’t wait to share with them. It touches on morals and important themes such as bullying and how sins from the past can come back and haunt you. Exploring the level to which we will go to survive when stripped down to our bare assets, and invites them to ask… What would I do? How would I feel?
Luckily, I had so much talent to work with not just crew but cast as well, take my basement guys: Richard Short who is in Mary Kills People, Bart Edwards who is the lead in the new series of UnREAL, Alexandra Evans who is the lead in Redistributors, Daniel Schutzmann who has worked with me on the World of Darkness film among others and Robert Maaser who in Mission Impossible 5. We cast well but I was very lucky. Some actors deal with scenes in different ways and I was able to talk to them individually and guide them to what I wanted. But they are very talented actors and were at the top of their game. I love working with actors. It’s a special ability to be able to turn on a performance and I respected these guys so much. They all brought the script to life and made it their own. I also had the joy of working with younger actors Mitchel Norman and Harry Jarvis who are both doing very well and they both worked brilliantly with one of acting legends Richard Brake (Batman Begins, 31) who was incredible to work with. He really got the character and brought a wonderful dark pathos to the role of Credence.
What do you think will make The Dare stand out within the current crowded horror genre?
The Dare is definitely going into a saturated market but that doesn’t mean it can’t stand out. It’s a harrowing journey into karma and consequence and plays on our deepest fears about the actions of our past. There is a dual narrative, which switches between four prisoners in a basement and a father-boy urban legend. It unravels the link between the two stories, culminating in a shocking twist about the prisoners’ capture.
It’s got a different take than the usual horror tropes and myself and Jonny (Grant, who co-wrote with Giles) wanted to play on the stereotypes a bit. We know horror is hard to pull off but if we can appeal to the horror fans and the cinemagoers then we will be OK. It has a few great twists and excellent performances so I hope it comes across to an audience how I hope it will.
Let’s talk World of Darkness. It’s a feature documentary. Tell us more.
It’s an in-depth look into how the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade created a phenomenon in the 1990’s – a zeitgeist that helped shape film, literature, fashion, club culture, and ultimately fans, whose lives it forever altered. Basically Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop game, that developed into large-scale larping and was massive in the 90’s. Blade, Underworld and other films were inspired by it (some court cases were involved) and used the themes. It’s an incredible documentary about White Wolf the company behind it all and the ups and downs that occurred. Myself and Kevin Lee made it with a small crew including DoP Andrew Rodger and we went and shot in New York, LA, New Orleans, Poland, Sweden and the UK. Interviewed those involved and filmed some huge vampire fans and yes I met some characters. Mostly the ones who were fully dressed up as Orks or Mage’s (it’s a big world) that really stood out. Some of the costumes were incredible. They dedicate so much if their life to the characters. Some are in the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UMf8SgSH5A . We shot on FS7’s which is great for documentary filming and easier for traveling around with and on Andrew’s RED for the drama recreations. It was fun to see my actors immerse themselves as vampires. It must be therapeutic for them! Ha!
How did the audience react at the Stiges Festival?
Very well. We got some great feedback and it’s been picked up for distribution so it will be doing the festival circuit before being released later this year and now it is available to stream in Spain on Filmin for one month only then doing more festivals before being released next year.
Yeah, it’s so much fun! I wanted to learn more about filmmaking and what better way than to interview some amazing directors, producers screenwriters, and filmmakers etc. so I thought I would get some like-minded people together and do it. It’s all about the world of filmmaking, from micro-budget indie films to big studio movies and everything in-between. Chatting about our films too, their journeys and what we went through making and releasing them. We get guests on to discuss everything from distribution, getting into festivals to finding scripts, directing and acting. We’ve had OSCAR-winning editor Mark Sanger talking about editing Gravity and Transformers, Sam Miller discussing directing Idris Elba on Luther, Judge Dredd & Freddy Vs Jason screenwriter Andy Briggs talking working in Hollywood to name a few and coming up we have Mark Strong (Kingsman) chatting about acting. If you are into any kind of filmmaking check us out at www.thefilmmakerspodcast.com.
You also produced A Serial Killers Guide to Life. Tell us a little about that?
I know Staten Cousins-Roe, who wrote and directed it for a long time and is a big talent so when he asked me to jump on board I couldn’t resist. It was his debut feature too. I co-produced his short film This Way Out which was BAFTA longlisted, won many big awards and was picked up by the HBO channel and Sundance channel so as a short it did extremely well. A Serial Killers Guide to Life was a chance to get the team back together for Staten who along with his wife, co-producer and actress Poppy Roe we made a fantastic feature in just two weeks for a very low budget in terms of studio film money. It’s female-led and we had 50% women in the crew as well. The story is about Louise Farnt (Poppy Roe). She’s lost-in-life and a total self-help addict – but when she’s taken semi hostage by personal guru wannabe (and borderline psychotic) Val Stone (Katie Brayben) she finds herself on an unwitting killing spree of violent self-discovery – around the south-coast of England’s most ‘alternative’ therapies. It’s hilarious and dark and twisted. I worked with Charity Wakefield who was a producer too and along with Line Producer Jessica Hodges, Staten and Poppy we managed to share the burdens of a micro-budget indie film from renting and driving the RV to set, to buying and organizing food to cleaning up at the end of a hard shooting day. It was much more hands-on but everyone got stuck in. The actors and crew were amazing and everyone should be proud of their achievements as it really is a big one to pull off. Staten and Poppy are in the edit now and hopefully, it will do very well.
Your short film The Heart of the Forest has done really well at festivals having been nominated for best film at the Turin, Liff, AOFF & Copenhagen Film Festivals and won a Best Director and Best Film awards at others too tell us about that?
I am humbled that it has done so well and many people like it. It was written and produced by Jessica Henwick (GoT, Star Wars, Iron Fist) and Lourdes Faberes (Room 304, Knightfall) who were also the leads. Shot by my regular cinematographer Andrew Rodger. It’s getting picked up for distribution now so you’ll be able to see that very soon. It’s a fantastic tale: On a hunting trip in the forest, a mother and daughter come across a man who is there to commit suicide. It’s dark and twisty like all good shorts should be. It’s a segment of the feature that the girls have written. The first day on set, Jess had to get back to LA for filming so we only had a morning for the opening scene which was very tight. Knowing I wouldn’t have much time I did a Spielberg ‘oner’. A moving one take shot. It was handheld so it was very tough for Andrew and the sound man Duncan Ettie, who both had to avoid logs and props and not either drop into frame, trip up or lose focus. Oh, and it was raining! Everyone involved did so well and we got the shot before Jess was whisked away to the airport. Looking back it was hectic but I loved it. It works so well and sets the tone for the film. See if you can spot it when you watch it.
Finally, what is your dream project that you want to make eventually?
At the moment my dream project is The Nobodies. It’s hopefully my next film. We have half the budget already and I’m excited to complete funding and get filming. It’s been five years since Jonny Grant first sent it to me so that’s how long making movies can take. But I’m in a better position now as a filmmaker as are my producers at Parkhouse Pictures so is moving forward at pace now. It a film that needs to be told as it’s about addiction and loss set in Middlesbrough. How two people from very different backgrounds come together to help each other. It’s a heartfelt drama with thriller elements, which can be very difficult to get off the ground as you sometimes need a strong cast so you can sell it. But it’s so powerful I really feel the film can make a difference and that is what I want to do with my filmmaking. As much as it is great to make commercial films that easily sell I want to be in a position where I’m telling stories that matter, like Okja or Blood Diamond. Important films that are also entertaining at the same time.
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Featured Image: On left Giles-Richard on the set of “The-Dare.” Photo by Vanya Tomovo/The Dare.