08th Jan2018

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Kate Shenton talks ‘Egomaniac’

by Philip Rogers

Egomaniac is a new horror comedy from writer and director Kate Shenton, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Saturday 20th January. I got chance to ask Kate a few questions about how she came up with the concept for Egomaniac, how much of the film is based on her own experiences and having the film turned into a game.

egomaniac-poster

What can we expect from Egomaniac?

Egomaniac is a dark comedy with a horror twist that’s very meta. It’s a feminist revenge film, set in the film industry with a surreal sense of humour. Very satirical based on personal experiences. I have always said I will not go into what’s true and not true, but the line between fact and fiction is really blurred in this film. I think this film is for anyone that has ever made a film or endeavoured on a creative project and failed at that project can heavily relate too. I think it’s a film for anyone who is curious about the film industry and likes a bit of dry British satirical humour.

Its genre is horror, but I always see it as a dark comedy with a horror twist. If anyone is a little bit scared of horror the blood is by standard of film very minimal, but it is very dark, satirical, vicious, biting, comedy which is what I love writing and I doing.

Where did the concept for Egomaniac come from?

The original concept came from me being on the verge of giving up filmmaking. I’d had a lot of knocks and a lot of blows, and I was a bit like where is my career going to go next? It was the choice between taking on these crazy experiences and anyone who has ever been in film can say its quite surreal at times, write them into a script or personal story. Or I can give up, get a proper job and live out my life wondering what would have happened if I’d actually gone out and done it. So, I decided to choose the former. I have always loved Meta films, I really love films like adaptation, that was a really big inspiration for it. I have very satirical and dark sense of humour and I thought, what if I shone that on myself. With comedy there is a lot of self-deprivation to it. You have to look at yourself in a critical way. I don’t think I could have done a film where, I’m a saint and all this stuff has happened to me, I wanted to show the not so nice side of reality as well.

I had been trying to make a zombie horror romantic comedy at the time, which is a really good script, but I just couldn’t get it off the ground. It just kind of made sense just to mix it all together and write it into some crazy, surreal kind of film.

You actually touched on it there, does the character Catherine Sweeney reflect some of your own traits and personality, and do you consider yourself to be an Egomaniac?

(laughs) I don’t think you can make films without being an egomaniac. I think sometimes that the only thing that keeps you going is the blind belief that you are good at what you do. I’ve made a film called Egomaniac, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a bit of an ego when it comes to my creative work, but I would defy any other creative not to have an ego.

When it comes to the character Catherine Sweeney me and the incredible lead actress, we worked a lot on the character together. We always said it’s a third me, a third of her and a third of something that went really wrong and quite psychopathic. When I original wrote the first script I was really quite harsh on myself to be a very unredeemable character and Nick, who has known me for many years and we went to university together and we worked in many projects together, kind of took that and found the more redeemable qualities. There is definitely a huge part of me in there, but there are also a lot of other parts so she is not a direct adaptation of me, it is like a cocktail of influence. Working with Nick she managed to bring so much to that character. The hardest character I have ever had to write was myself. All the others were easy, but writing yourself I was thinking what would I say in this situation, what would I do. I think a lot of the excellence of Catherine Sweeney’s character is down to the lead actress, more so than me.

Why did you decide to write Egomaniac as a horror comedy?

When looking at something very dark and I think in Egomaniac there is a lot of very dark elements to it which are particularly more relevant with Harvey Weinstein and everything that’s coming out of Hollywood. But I think when you are looking at something dark you have to find the comedy. I always think with everything that tragic there has to be comedy and in many ways my won cathartic release was kind of finding the funny side. I always think that a lot of my work comes from finding something very negative that has happened to me and then turning it into something positive, entertaining and enjoyable and I think that is the case with Egomaniac. There is definitely a lot of sadness in it and it takes a very dark turn, but to achieve that you need comedy. You can’t look at the film industry and not find it funny, it is surreal and ridiculous not matter what level you are at.

With you shooting on a low budget, were there any elements in the finished film which were different to your original script?

Not so much in the story, but the zombie apocalypse location was different in a better way. Originally that was taken in a basement, but I lost the location and I couldn’t find another basement location anywhere else that I could film on that day. So, I had to sit down and thought what does the location need to be? Well it’s a zombie apocalypse, so I thought why not find a zombie apocalypse location and it turns out finding a zombie apocalypse location is easier than finding a basement in someone’s house to film it. That was a bit of a change, but the story never changed, and the actors were locked. The script I always like the actors to bring their own energy, ideas and personality to the role, have fun with the dialogue and do a little bit of improv. The Photography scene was mostly improvised. I think in the script it is about two lines, then it turns into a lot more than that. There are definitely things like that, but everything was planned and intended.

Another that did change, when we filmed the original script it came in at about 60 minutes, when it was edited so we did have to add some extra scenes to bump it up a bit. But actually I think they ended up bring a lot in Catherine’s character and filled in some gaps that were missing, so I don’t think it feels like the scenes are shoe horned, they are very natural and necessary. Sometimes when you get these problems they are actually blessings in disguise

What was your favourite scene in the movie?

It has got to be the photography scene. It is just so funny. Patrick and Adam were just hysterical in that scene and it is one of those moments where you just let the camera roll. I don’t know where a lot of that stuff came from and there is the most incredible blooper reel. Even though the scene is only two minutes in the film, there was about 40 minutes of footage of them just going on. Even that in itself was just pure entertainment and for me that is my favourite scene. I also think Nick’s reactions in the scene are hysterical. It is very difficult to react to that kind of stuff, but she does so beautifully and really shows her physical comic timing perfectly in that scene. That for me was the highlight and a fun scene to film. I remember biting my finger because I couldn’t stop laughing it was hysterical.

It’s rare for an independent film to be turned into a video game. How this this transition from movie to pixels come about?

It came from the company Feature Games & Breakneck Films, who I am working with on their next film and their goal is to set up games for their films, so they offered to pull together a game for Egomaniac which is absolutely fantastic, and the wonderful Paddy Murphy has been working on it. We did a demonstration at the Prince Charles Cinema and it really went down a storm. It is a really exciting and interesting model because things are moving towards a more transmedia way, where people don’t just want to see a film they want to play a game, they want a VR experience. There are lots of different things and that is something which I am very interested in as a creative. It all about world creating and when you create a mini world no matter what budget you have done it on, and you can do it on a low budget. There are lots of avenues for the story to be continued.

Does the story in the game follow the film?

It doesn’t follow the narrative of the film. Paddy has done his own narrative which is great. But follows the themes of the film. It is kind of another Catherine Sweeney out there. Another female filmmaker who begins this journey and you are in control of her story and the decisions which are made. You can play both as male and female, but it’s definitely a lot harder if you play as a female. So, there are a lot of clever twists and turns and I think its gonna be a super wonderful indie game.

Do you have any other projects which you are working on at the moment?

I have a number of projects which I am working on at the moment, sadly I cannot go into too much detail. But the next one I am working on is called Bloody Burrito that’s shaping up to be super exciting, I am wring a number of projects as well. I am just getting them lined up. I don’t like to say too much because I am always worried that I am going to jinx something. Its all looking really positive and super exciting.

What advice would you give to someone looking to direct their first film?

I give the same advice that I always give which is just do it and don’t allow yourself to get held back. We live in an exciting time in film making and I don’t think it has ever been so easy to make a film, Coincidentally I don’t think it has ever been harder to get a film out there. But I think if a film is good and you put enough passion into it, it will find its audience. I say be true to yourself, be true to your vision, that is so important. Every time I have been true to my vision good things have happened, but when I have compromised on my vision that tends to be when the shit hits the fan a little bit. Be true to your vision be true to your voice and just get out there and do it. Make the film that you want to make. Particularly in low budget filmmaking, even though you don’t have the budget you have the freedom to make whatever film you want, and it doesn’t matter whether it is going to sell here or there, all that matters is that you’re getting your voice across and demonstrating who you are as a filmmaker. That would be my advice just do it and be true to yourself.

Egomaniac will be playing at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Saturday 20th January at 12:30pm.
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For 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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