“TALES FROM THE LODGE is an amusing creeper about five friends reuniting at an isolated lodge. One of them has brought his new girlfriend along and this causes arguments within the group which leads to the girlfriend storming off into the woods. When she returns an hour later she has some very bad news for the gang…” Director Abigail Blackmore on TALES FROM THE LODGE which screens at the 2019 edition of SxSW Film.
Congratulations on your film playing in at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?
This is my first time at SXSW and it’s all very exciting! I can’t wait to watch the film with an audience and find out what they think. I’m also terrified for the same reason.
So how did you get into this movie-making business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.
I started in acting and did a lot of live improv, mostly in London. That led to me getting
back into writing, which is something I’d always secretly wanted to do. I took a narrative sketch show to the Edinburgh Fringe and wrote a short film, Blind Date, which got me my agent and some television commissions. At the same time I wrote a couple of screenplays on spec and this one was optioned by producer Ed Barratt. We made a short film together, Vintage Blood, which I wrote and directed and that led to us getting the finance for Tales.
How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!
I moved up to Newcastle from London for three weeks of pre-production. Everything was new to me so I relied on my producers to guide me through it.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee are we talking about here?
During the shoot I was mainlining sweet black coffee, and I’d usually have a drink with the DP in the hotel bar while we worked on the shot list for the next day. I wasn’t planning on having any alcohol during the shoot but that went out of the window on day 2. That hour in the bar after a 12 hour day was our time to relax and discuss how the day went and what’s coming up. Also the cast were in the same hotel so it was a chance to catch up with them too.
What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
Our biggest challenge was definitely the weather. November and December in Northumberland can be brutal but that was a particularly grim Winter. The weather was lovely and sunny during the location scout, then on the first day of shooting the heavens opened! The forest floor became a mud bath. Wind, rain, snow, hail – we had it all. And there was no heating in the lodge, so overall it was tough!
I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
Our brilliant DP, David Mackie, and I discussed the visual design a lot in the lead up to the shoot. We shot on the Alexa (don’t ask me about lenses). We talked about the look of films like It Follows, Housebound, Carrie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and about the colour palette. We wanted the lodge story to have a certain look and each tale to have its own individual visual style and colours too.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?
I’m excited to see the film with an audience for the first time. I think Tales… has got a very British sense of humour so I’m keen to see what jokes land with the SXSW crowd. And I can’t wait to meet the other filmmakers and see their work. I’ll be there as a fan too!
If you could show your movie in any theatre outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
Probably the IMAX in London’s Leicester Square. It’s a massive screen, very comfortable cinema and I can get the tube home afterwards!
What would you say to someone who was being disruptive, like talking or texting through a movie?
I’d say please don’t! If you’re not concentrating on the film, please slip out quietly. Cheers.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?
There is only one answer to this question: start making films!
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
I saw BEING JOHN MALKOVICH at the London Film Festival back in 2000. That blew my mind.
This is one of the many film titles playing at SxSW 2019. For more information on this and any other title playing in the festival, point your browser to http://www.sxsw.com/film!