Last week we got to talk with filmmaker Rob Worsey about his new film Among The Living that being distributed by Dread. We also take a look at how he expanded this film from an original short film idea. Favorite genre films and talking dolls as well favorite genre films.
AJ: All right, Rob. So how did you first become involved with Among The Living?
Rob: It originally started as a short film. We wanted an idea that we thought thought was easy and kind of effective. My wife and I had moved to near a canal and we walked past these canal boats and figured, let’s,make a short film, we’ll put it on a canal boat, it’ll be easy to get hold of and we’ll go from there. Turns out it wasn’t easy to get hold of a canal boat. It was really hard. A few friends of ours who’d made features, they were kind of pushing us to make feature films. They were saying, You’ve done a few shorts now and it’s the next step to get to and it is achievable. We took this short film idea, rewrote it quite a lot, and then, and then turned it into a feature film.
AJ: How was that process like? Expanding it into a feature film? Cause that has to evolve your character development as well as, you know, getting more cast involved. And of course the budget goes up with it into a feature film as well as that. How was it like overcoming those obstacles as well?
Rob: Yeah, it was interesting. I mean the short film that we’ve kind of written was almost like the last 15, 20 minutes of the movie, or at least the kind of the climax of the film when, when all the tension between the survivors comes to head basically. So it was nice that we kind of knew and started further back and kind of built further into that so that the decisions that characters were making were a bit more justified. And you could kind of leave clothes and hints along the way. But in terms of the cast and the budget, we, I tried to treat it as kind of lots of little short films that were just coming together and try and especially when I was on set directing, trying and treat each scene as a short film and just think, right, this is what we’re shooting today. This is the scene that goes before it this, so I know what’s gonna lead in, this is the scene after I know what’s gonna lead out. And just try and stick to this script and kind of keep it in mind that it’s just this part and worry about the rest later.
AJ: Right. And with the genre of film like this being a dystopian kind of end of the world, kind of people surviving, there’s been so many of those coming out lately and so much like there’s tropes inside of the genre. So while you were writing among the Living, how do you avoid finding yourself in some of those tropes or getting out in those tropes that you see so often in these films now?
Rob: Well, I think you can’t avoid everything. Can you? Like you say, there’s so many films coming out and so many things that people recognize throughout that there’s, there’s often gonna be similarities. The main thing for me was in the character of Harry, I wanted to, I didn’t wanna make a typical action hero character who kind of sort us through with the machete and kind of tidies everyone up and sort ’em all out. And so we wanted to really push for the, um, the normal guy in an apocalypse kind of situation where he’s just struggling with it and he’s struggling with his mental health and this kind of requirement to have to look after his little sister that he wouldn’t particularly choose to do cuz he doesn’t feel up to it. And so that’s kind of what we pushed for. The rest of the film was kind of built around that. There’ll be moments in it that people recognize in other films, I’m sure, you know, it’s almost impossible to avoid that. But, you know, we try to do a lot of original stuff in there and get some nice original scenes. So hopefully that shines through.
AJ: And whenever you start writing of script, where are some of the points that you like to start out? Do you like to start out in the end, the middle, or where do you prefer to start when you write a script or at least create an outline of the film?
Rob: Yeah, as I tend to think of scenes and I plot the scenes out, so there’ll be a few key scenes and it’s usually like the end in some, in key ones in the middle, I plot them out and then I’ll build a synopsis around it so I’ll have like a step by step outline and when I feel like that’s in as best a place it can be, then I’ll start writing it. I’m not, you know, you hear about writers who kind of, they don’t know where the film’s going and they start on page one and start writing. I can’t do that. I like to be right. I like to know exactly where I’m going. I like to be well prepared in that.
AJ: Right. And so how do you feel with Dread also putting Among the Living out very pretty huge in the horror community as well? So this has to be fascinating and exciting that they’re taking on you guys as well?
Rob: Yeah, I mean it’s awesome. This is our first feature film, and you know, getting out there is just, I mean, we’re along for the ride. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t go in with any hopes of kind of getting it distributed or getting on board with Dread. We knew how big they were compared to us. You know, we’re just kind of small independent filmmakers in the north of England. So we’re just excited. We’re just along for the ride. See what happens, you know, they’ve posted the trailer a few places, and we’re getting comments already, you know, mostly positive, which is nice. Some not so positive, but Right. Least, you know, most filmmakers struggle to get people seeing their films, let alone talking about ’em. So, you know, if people are talking nice things, people are talking constructive criticism, should we say then it’s great that people are watching it
AJ: At least people and talking. Right. That’s the main point.
Rob: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
AJ: Did you grow up in like loving science fiction or genre films as well.
Rob: Yeah, I mean I love all films to be fair. I mean some of the top genres for me are things like fantasy musicals, which are is probably unexpected to hear. But I do love horrors and love being scared and yeah, I mean, I’ll watch anything
AJ: So what were some of your favorite horror or science fiction films growing up?
Rob: I remember the, that’s a tricky one. I’m trying to think of what scared me the most. The moment I remember being scared the most, I was at uni, which is kind of embarrassing, isn’t it? You know, when I’m 18. But me, my friend we watched The Conjuring and that, I mean that told me that I was terrified of that. But one that stuck with me because my mum bought it for us on VHS cuz she thought it was about God, she thought it was about religion. She bought signs by M. Night. I suppose it is a little bit about religion, but I can, you know, it’s more about aliens and, and I love that, you know, the little glimpses that you see of the Alien when they, he kind looks up and looks through the window and you see it on the roof. And then that shot where he crosses the the hedge of the party. Yeah. As sounds he’s up there for me, I absolutely love it.
AJ: Right. And that’s gotten the same thing with me and my dad. We’d go to Blockbuster when I was a teenager when I was little, when they were still open and like I would walk down the horror section and he would just point out Magic with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Margaret. And he said, This terrified me when I was younger. And I’m like, well, I have to rent it if it scared my dad. Right. I gotta see what it’s about. And so from there on out, anything with like a ventriloquist dummy or talking dolls it’s like I am out .
Rob: Yeah. But yeah, I mean anything like, that’s creepy. Yeah. There is one, there’s a ventriloquist movie that I can’t remember what it was. It was a fairly reason I, like 15 years ago or 20 years ago, there was one that came out and I can’t remember what it was, but that scared hell out of me.
AJ: Um, Oh, Dead Silence
Rob: Dead silence. That’s it. Yeah. Yeah, that was, that was well creepy. Yeah, I like that one.
AJ: And there’s an older one from the thirties called the Great Gabo, I think, or something in black and white. It is terrific too.
Rob: The Great Gabo, I’ll check that one out. Who, who directed that?
AJ: So I can’t remember. I just seen it once on AMC Plus, so. Yeah, that’s a good one too.
Rob: Great. Yeah. But I’ll try, I’ll try and find that.