15th Feb2018

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Joy Harrison, Georgia Winters & Michael Boucherie

by Philip Rogers

Following the showing of Where the Skin Lies at Horror-on-Sea I got a chance to talk with producer Joy Harrison, actress Georgia Winters and director Michael Boucherie about the confinements of living together and filming on set in the house, finding the right cast and dealing with builders.

Photo courtesy of J.Douglas Imagery

Photo courtesy of J.Douglas Imagery

Is this the premiere today?

Joy – No, we premiered back in August at film at Frightfest, so we premiered in London, but we are very happy to be down at Southend-on-Sea for our second festival.

Michael – It’s nice because it is an intimate festival

Joy – It’s a fans festival, the people here really love the genre so its great. So, you enjoyed it?

It was excellent. I thought it was one of the most emotional films of the festival so far. It’s quite intense and towards the end it gets really emotional with the characters.

Georgia – It was your (Michael) directorial approach and how you cast it as well.

Michael – It was very important that it was about human beings, rather than a film about effects. The supernatural kicks it off, but it’s really then about how we act as humans in a situation like that which I found important to look at.

Georgia – Also the emotional basis comes from the rehearsals. Often you don’t get rehearsal time when you hop into a project and the respect you have for the craft to give us that opportunity to rehearse and get to know are characters, so we can hopefully all develop and deliver emotionally.

It really worked on screen, the relationship between the characters…

Georgia – It was all pretty intense rehearsals

Joy – And we lived in the house, so it was a very short rehearsal period then we shot it in three weeks in Kippford, Scotland. So, we shot it in 21 days…

Michael – 18 and a half and reshoots, because nothing ever goes wrong.

Joy – I remember now (laughs). It was very intense and although we did have another house, the actors all lived in the set.

Georgia – I shared a room with two other actresses, the wonderful Amelia (Bennett) and Louise
(Williams), they were amazing, and the boys shared a room.

Michael – I asked Joy not to mention in interviews anymore that I slept with the sound boy

Joy – You did, even the poor director had to share a room. But the money was all spent on what you saw on film. We had an amazing time and we did it all very quickly. We met in June, had a conversation the day after we decided to leave the European union, the day after Brexit. We actually went we are going to do this project before Brexit. So, we shot it in September. We did all the post production in Belgium; the film is very much a British/Belgium production. We have just sold our first territory and we are on Hulu next month. So that’s our first territory and it’s going to the Berlin Film Market next month.

With the filming and staying in the house do you think that helped to build the atmosphere?

Georgia – Yeah, it’s was kind of claustrophobic. Luckily there were no tantrums on set, it was a pretty good team actually. But I do think having that hermetically sealed environment, but we were in Kippford, Scotland, so I went out for a lot of walks. It was very beautiful.

Michael – Joy was very clear on finding a cast and a crew that could work in those conditions and actually fit well together. Because it is a small crew and for three weeks they have been locked up together and they would need to cope with that.

Joy – Particularly if it had been a four week shoot that would have happened

Georgia – Either that or it would have been a cult, we were nearly there

Michael –That sounds very good, let’s keep close for the next production (laughs)

Georgia – A group of people turn up to make a movie… It was a bit of a love fest.

Joy -We had to get on and that was really important when we got everyone together. People needed to know what they were getting into. We did look after them, we fed them, I looked after them as best I could, but they needed to know those really basic things like; you would be sharing a room together, there are no Winnebago’s, someone might be sharing beds with you and catering is me.

Georgia – Brilliant catering

Michael – Everyone was in it because they wanted to make as good a film as we could. Everybody on it loves films, no one was just there because it’s a job.

Georgia – It’s a passion project and it was amazing

Michael –It’s a delight working on that as a director and it’s been such a pleasure to work with Joy who really supports my actor-centric approach. She understands why it is important to me and to the film. I have been really lucky to have been introduced to Joy.

Joy – Same here, this is my first feature. I have made lots of short films and its incredible to think this is Michael’s first film. A lot of people sit around talking about making.

Georgia – Also to take a risk on a cast, where for a lot of us this is our first feature. It’s great to have a team that will take a risk on a cast.

Being on set and in the house for so many weeks do you have any stories of what happened on set?

Michael – Nothing fit for publishing (laughs)

Joy – When we went to recce the house, which is kind of isolated as you can see. There are houses around it, but about three weeks before we went to see the house for the last recce, I kind of looked and thought well that’s a bit worrying, there is a big pile of wood over there. By the time we came back they were building a house opposite. We were just laughing because on the call at the end I thanked the builders, because I spent a lot of time making tea and taking biscuits over to the builders to say can you possibly for the next 20 minutes not hammer that piece of wood.

Michael – And they were absolutely fantastic, so accommodating

Georgia – We had some night time adventures which were quite fun as well

Michael – Of which I have never been briefed. Yes Georgia, tell me about all your night time adventures

Georgia – The girls and I had a girly night escapade in the middle of the night. I don’t know what we were doing on a boat, but I think we got on a boat

Joy – This is all news to me and I am glad my insurance didn’t know about it

Georgia – Nathen gave me a piggy back from the pub, all the way back to the house which was…

Joy – As I say thank god, I didn’t know

Georgia – There were a few races and a pirate party

Joy – We did have a pirate party, one of the actors it was his birthday and, so I threw a surprise pirate party.

Georgia – The great thing about having a house in the middle of nowhere with not many neighbors is that you can use the sound system which had all these old records, so we were playing some loud songs, and no one complained. Top sounds in a huge house all to ourselves. It was amazing, what could possibly go wrong?

Joy – The fact for me that they were building a house next door. If you were a big production company you would just say, here have these several thousand pounds and don’t build for the next three weeks, but we couldn’t do that. We did have the owner come and say to me, we have been trying to get permission to get this house built for the last two years. We finally get permission and you are telling out builders to stop

Georgia – Which is why Craig the builder gets some special thanks in the credits as he should

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

Georgia – I am writing a project which is kind of a musical, comedy. Acting wise I have a few things bubbling

Are you writing the music as well as the lyrics?

Georgia –Just the lyrics at the moment. I will work with a composer at some stage and see what happens.

Michael – I am writing a science fiction survival horror. It’s thematically linked to this, but I am working on other aspects. I’m really excited about it, it’s trying not to die, but in a very different way. I am working hard on that and I think it is going to be really exciting as well.

You are both new film makers, what advice would you give to someone who wants to get into film themselves?

Michael – I benefitted a lot from taking formal training and making short films. That was really important. I understand these people who don’t thrive in an educational environment, but for me it was very beneficial. What I liked about the drama center is they allowed you to make a short as part of the program, so when you graduated you have something you can show and build on. That would be my advice, do things and get some formal training

Georgia – From an acting perspective meet as many people as you can, educate yourself, watch as many films and theater as you can afford. Film is probably the easiest to access because of Netflix. Study human beings, take risks, not listen to all the noise telling us we are supposed to be one way. Stay true to yourself, live your life

Michael – You have to live life, so you have something to say. We have different perspective on things

Georgia –Don’t be afraid to have an opinion. People might think it’s wrong but trust your instinct and work hard

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