12th Dec2017

Horror-on-Sea 2018 Interview: Pablo Raybould & Ben Manning – ‘The Snarling’

by Philip Rogers

The Snarling is new horror comedy from director Pablo Raybould and producer Ben Manning, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Saturday 20th January. This will be the official launch of The Snarling (and screening of the release version).

I got chance to ask a few questions about why they decided to write a horror comedy, working several jobs on a small budget production and Easter eggs in the film.


What can we expect from the film?

Pablo: Well, firstly, it has its pre-launch special screening at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on January 20th at the Park Inn in Southend and this is where the whole thing began. So, what can you expect well… so many things. Comedy – first and foremost. There are also lots of same genre film references in there for those that get them. A good balance of comedy and suspense coupled with some great, natural performances. A fabulous original score by The Unfinished and all at a lovely pace.

Ben: It is mainly very very funny, and not in a sort of spoof way – it’s great, funny characters written brilliantly by Pablo and brought to life by some really very special actors. I particularly like that with the references that Pablo mentioned, there are SO MANY of them but all very subtle and not shoe-horned in. Some are visual elements in the background or set design, others are dialogue references and some are just word play that are almost like a cryptic crossword to decipher. I’m convinced that nobody will get them all.

What was your inspiration for writing The Snarling and why did you decide to do a horror comedy?

Pablo: Having watched lots of films at a previous HoS festival (when I attended to watch a film that I appeared in) I just thought that we could do just as well if not better than a lot of what’s out there. And with the talent and resources that we could beg, steal or borrow, we should be able to make it well too.
Ben: I remember Pablo calling me from the HoS festival just buzzing about it. He was determined that we needed to be there and originally, we were going to write something together, but I was in a play at the time and by the end of the run Pablo had already written the first draft of The Snarling and there was just nothing I could add to it, I loved it.

What were your influences when making the film?

Pablo: Comedy (of course) and a continuous stream of ‘Easter eggs’ and references – the main one would have to be An American Werewolf in London (1981) and so it was incredible when we managed to get the wonderful Albert Moses from the original to agree to appear in it.
Ben: That was so weirdly fortuitous. His character from American Werewolf always stuck with me, then years later at University I found out that he was my friend’s dad! Many years later when we came to make The Snarling I had all but lost touch with my friend but I tracked him down. It turned out that not only did Albert have the same agent as me and Pablo, but he also lived in Wallingford, which is where my wife’s bookshop is. Lots of things like that happened with this film – like we were getting help from a higher power.

Did you find it difficult both directing and acting in the film and did you find it helpful or a hinderance to making the film?

Pablo: Well it didn’t end there! Essentially there were three of us. Ben, myself and my partner Jen. We all did hundreds of jobs including all the small things like getting all the batteries charged overnight, transporting and fuelling the generator, making sure that food and drinks were available, organising transport and accommodation, props, make-up, storage of the footage and editing (Huge amount of work by Ben) – the list was endless and much of this would begin at around 5.00/6.00am before the shoot began and would take another couple of hours after the day’s wrap. The directing and acting (me) and producing/organising and acting (Ben) would be done in between all of the above. Helpful or hindrance?…..I’d have to say that I would probably have liked to have spent a little more time on preparing lines for a few scenes but they were all jobs that had to be done and so we just got them all done.
Ben: It was exhausting, but we had such a great cast and crew and it was a real team effort. I did try to get Pablo to do less so he could relax a bit more and be able to focus on directing the performances but he’s a hard worker and had a specific vision for all elements of the film. He’s also a stubborn sod so he mostly smiled and ignored me and did it all anyway.

Did you encounter any issues shooting on a low budget?

Pablo: The three of us (Me, Ben & Jen) worked long hours and did lots of jobs but the low budget didn’t really compromise much.  Honey wagons, plush hotel rooms, trailers and top caterers would be lovely – but you don’t see them in the film and so things like that were never going to be afforded with our budget. We would have liked to have ‘bought’ more time. That was the main issue I suppose. That way we would have had more options in the edit. We would also have liked to have been able to pay everyone a bit more…..and ourselves just something.
Ben: Sometimes it’s the low budget and problems that give you creative solutions. I few lovely moments and shots were actually the result of not being able to pull off what we originally planned. There’s always a solution, and sometimes it’s even better than it would have been if you had the money. The hardest part was getting a distributor, but we eventually got there so the film will finally be released worldwide next year.

What was one of your favourite scenes in the film?

Pablo: I’m going to have to have two I’m afraid. The one is a small thing that occurs under the start credits. The stone that splashes in the water right on the beat of the music – an example of Ben’s ATD with the editing. Secondly, it would have to be when Les finds a finger in the car park and after Bob tells him that it will be a film prop that someone would have lost, he asks two girls if either of them are looking for a finger in the car park. The audience reaction is priceless.
Ben: I think for me it’s something that happens in the middle of the climax at the end. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but there’s a bit that always cracks me up when we quickly cut away from the chaos and action to see what the beloved DI and Haskins (Pablo and Ste Johnston) are up to. There’s also some great moments in all of the crime scene … err … scenes.

Do you have any new projects which you are working on?

Pablo: Oh yes! A few. Film wise, we have The Last Twitch – another comedy-horror, not only from the same stable but set in the same village. Another supernatural phenomenon occurs to scare the locals and test the inept police. We have had a table read of the script already and it is widely regarded as a lot darker and a lot funnier. We cannot wait to begin filming this.
Ben: There are several projects and collaborations we would love to be further along with. It’s our plan to get more going. The Snarling has been a wonderful, tough, wonderful, long and wonderful experience and we are determined to keep going and build up a catalogue of great quality productions.

If someone is looking to direct their first film, what advice would you give them?

Pablo: Something that Ben and I have often noticed and remarked upon is how first-time film-makers often cast friends or family. This is something that stands out for all the wrong reasons and can be the downfall of many a well written piece. We realise that not everyone is lucky enough to know or afford top actors but there are lots of really good actors out there that will want to get involved because they simply believe in the project or that they want to get more experience or showreel material – but they are actors!  They get it! With social media and industry specific sites like mandy.com, there are opportunities to reach out to actors – equally, sound and lighting people. Get these right and you are halfway there. Contact local colleges or universities, there are lots of talented people that would like the experience.
Ben: I would definitely echo that. And speaking of echoes, sound is SO very important and often the last thing people consider. Emma Chilton did our sound recording and with Wayne Reay’s mixing and the soundtrack by The Unfinished it makes a huge difference to the overall feel of the film. Also watch lots of films. Look at what works and why, and also what doesn’t work and why. You arguably learn more from the bad films you see that tell you about how to make a good one. 

The Snarling will be playing at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Saturday 20th January at 8pm.

You can find out more information on the event and to purchase tickets for the Horror-on-Sea please see the website for details: https://www.horror-on-sea.com


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