23rd Jan2018

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Laurence Saunders talks ‘The Snarling’

by Philip Rogers

The Snarling is new horror comedy from Director Pablo Raybould and Producer Ben Manning, which debuted at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Saturday 20th January. The screening was the official launch of The Snarling (and screening of the final release version). I got chance to talk with actor Laurence Saunders a few questions about what we can expect from The Snarling, the characters he plays and how he prepared for the role.

Laurence-Saunders

What can we expect from The Snarling?

A lot of laughs. It’s a comedy horror. One review said The Snarling was “laugh a second,” which is quite a lot of laughs. I’m not sure if it’s technically possible to achieve a laugh a second, it might be dangerous and lead to deaths in the audience. I guess we’d prefer it if the deaths remained on screen.There are scary moments too. Things that’ll make you jump. The movies about a film crew coming to a sleepy village to shoot a zombie movie, but the real horror occurs outside of the movie. A little like Hollywood by all accounts.

I think it’s a buddy movie when all’s told, about three friends, Mike, Bob and Les, and their police counterparts, the Detective Inspector and Haskins. The film is rooted in the relationships between all the characters.And there are a lot of nods to classic horror films. American Werewolf in London (1981) is an influence, and Albert Moses is in The Snarling. There are also references to classic British television. It doesn’t matter if you don’t pick these up though, it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the film. I only spotted a reference to The Sweeney the other day.

I’m really excited that The Snarling is being released this year. Pablo Raybould, Ben Manning and Jenny Binns, who together were the driving force behind the film, have done a fantastic job. It’s great that the film is playing Horror-on-Sea again, to celebrate its release. It’s where the idea for the film first came to Pablo, and the festival has been incredibly supportive of The Snarling throughout its journey. In a strange way, it’s like a sort of homecoming.

Can you tell us a bit about your character?

I play two roles, Les Jarvis and Greg Lupeen.

Les is the village idiot, although both Mike and Bob are idiots too. That said, Les is the biggest idiot. The three of them spend a lot of time in the village pub, the Dirty Hog, where Bob’s the landlord. The other character I play, Greg Lupeen, is an egotistical diva of an actor, and star of the zombie movie. He’s a real pain in the arse, and his arrogance far outstrips his talent. Actually, he’s definitely the biggest idiot of the lot. But not a nice idiot. Les, Mike and Bob may be idiots, but they’re lovable. Greg could probably do with some love to cure his idiocy.

Surprisingly, as I’m playing them both, Les and Greg look quite similar, and when something happens to Greg, Les is brought in by the film producers to dig them out of a hole.

Interestingly, all the male characters in the film exist somewhere on the scale of idiocy. The Detective Inspector and the hapless Haskins are lovable too, but they are clearly idiots. All the female characters are long suffering and have to cope with the male idiocy. This may say something about the world we live in. Perhaps Pablo is writing from personal experience.

How did you become involved in the film?

Pablo was looking for an idiot… We’d both worked together as actors on a couple of short films years ago, then Pablo got in touch asking if I’d be interested in reading a feature script he’d written. As soon as I read it I wanted to be involved. I think the same goes for the other actors too. The strength of the storytelling and the sense of humour really stood out.

What preparation did you do for the role?

For playing an idiot and a pain in the arse whose arrogance far outstrips his talent? I just played myself. Twice.

I wanted both characters to be very different in terms of personality and their approach to life, so I focussed on that. I also watched films I felt had influenced the script and the style it suggested. I thought a lot about comedy and what makes something funny. Pablo was a great resource in this respect, he has a finely tuned ear for rhythm and timing. I watched a lot of comedy. I came across Tony Zhou’s series of videos on YouTube, Every Frame a Painting, which are essays about film form and approach. There’s a really interesting one about Edgar Wright and how he does visual comedy and one about Jackie Chan and how his action comedy was better before he left Hong Kong for Hollywood. I also did some research into something that happens in The Snarling and disappeared down a particularly horrific YouTube black hole, far scarier than any of the horror films I watched.

Both Les and Greg reminded me in some ways of people I’d met and worked with, so I drew on that too. Just don’t tell those people.

Do you have any memorable moments from filming The Snarling?

I loved filming The Snarling. Pablo, Ben and Jenny pulled together a lovely, talented cast and crew, and created a real family feeling on set. It was a tight shooting schedule, but we had a lot of fun making the film. We just got on with it. Pablo, Ben and Jenny have a real can-do attitude. One great example of this was when it looked like we were going to have to cut the scenes in Greg Lupeen’s showbiz trailer, because the camper van that we’d been using (both as a location and a green room) had to be returned. I remember saying it was a shame to lose those scenes (and not just because I was in them). The next thing, Jenny had driven around the local area, spotted a caravan on someone’s drive and asked if she could borrow it for the film. Amazingly the owner said yes.

What were your favourite scenes in the film?

Do you know what? I have real trouble finding favourites in anything. I really enjoy the performances from everyone in the film. I think The Snarling is playful, both in terms of comedy and the horror. Pablo’s direction and Ben’s editing add another level to the humour and The Unfinished score underlines the drama.

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

Well, there’s a follow up to The Snarling in the pipeline, which is really exciting! You can see a couple of shorts I’ve worked on recently here. Shunk Films and Sascha May Productions Cell is for fans of 80s VHS schlocky horror sci-fi B movies: https://vimeo.com/215807215 I had an eventful Christmas, as you can see in BROD Films festive nightmare The Last Christmas https://vimeo.com/149752638

I’ve worked on a number of other films recently, including Mark Logan’s Father for the Hex Media horror anthology For We Are Many. I’m going to be working on Tom Anderson Pictures ambitious crime thriller love story 3 Feet from The Other Side soon too.

At the end of last year, I was in a fascinating play about radicalisation called There Is None Who Does Good. It was produced by the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton and hopefully it’ll tour later in the year. I’m also going to be working on a verbatim theatre production called The Dancing Club, which is about a little room above a butcher’s shop in a small Midlands town (not far from where The Snarling was filmed) that became a dance school, a Northern Soul venue and played host to gigs by acts like Marc Bolan, Led Zeppelin and Captain Beefheart. Last but not least I’m going to be in John Godber’s rugby comedy Up N Under directed by The Snarling’s Stephan Bessant for The Little English Theatre.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into acting?

Do it. Take some acting classes. If you decide that’s really what you want to do, look at getting some training. Get involved with local theatre groups. Make a film with your friends using your phone. You’ve got to start somewhere. The important thing is to start. And then keep going. I sometimes think my acting career is a little like the Shawshank Redemption, where I’m trying to dig my way out of a prison cell with a teaspoon. I just have to keep digging.

You can find out more about Laurence Saunders on the following websites:
http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/8450-0168-0757
https://vimeo.com/157060423
http://www.laurencesaunders.co.uk/

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