Please, let everyone know about yourself?
I’m Phillip Escott, co-writer/director of Cruel Summer. I also help create additional material on re-releases of classic genre films for boutique labels like Arrow Video, 88 Films and Eureka Entertainment here in the UK. I started off as a writer for cult genre websites like Joe Horror/Wildside Cinema and Lovelock and Load; amongst others.
For me, watching Nightmare On Elm Street in my teenage years got me into Horror. Being a big horror fan and filmmaker yourself, was there one film, television show or moment that got you into horror?
For sure, I was on vacation with my family in the Gower, I was around 10, and there was a showing of Night of the Living Dead. Being in a cottage in the middle of nowhere was the perfect location to be introduced to that film. I was already a horror fan by that time, but I was mostly into Stephen King movies, which in comparison were mainstream and somewhat safer for younger viewers; this felt different, dangerous even. It was rugged and dirty, and I loved it.
Cool, so who is your inspiration in horror? Do you have a favourite Director, Actor or Movie that you look up to and do they have influence on your own films?
There are so many who have inspired me along the years. My early years were dominated by the work of Romero, Craven, Cronenberg, Carpenter and the big franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. In my teens I discovered Argento, Fulci, D’Amato and the wild excess of Italian horror films and I was hooked, and still am! As I moved on from there, I was enamoured with the horror films that come out of Asia in the late 90s/early 00s: stuff like The Eye, Audition, Nang Nak, Whispering Corridors etc. Which lead to my last real obsession, which is South Korean cinema. Which, I still believe, produce the best films on the planet and have done for nearly two decades now. They’ve been going through a creative boom similar to Italy in the 60s/70s and 80s and are giving film fans so much material that we’ll be discovering and re-evaluating their films for years to come.
Is there was one horror movie that you had wished you’d made?
That would probably David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly. For me it’s a perfect horror film. I adore the crushing tragedy of Seth and Veronica’s love story, which adds real dramatic weight to the horrific, oohey-gooey, effects work as Jeff Goldblum physically deteriorates and eventually mutates into Brundle Fly. It’s one of the few horror films, scratch that; few films in general that makes me well-up still, no matter how many times I rewatch it.
You are known for Cruel Summer, tell us what it was like making it?
It was crazy. Like all low-budget shoots I’m sure. We only had 10 days to get it all in and the script was very demanding in terms of the amount of location changes needed. When you see a lot of low-budget films, just take a look at Blumhouse catalogue, they tend to take place mostly in one location. And there’s a VERY good reason for that. We however felt that if we went that extra mile in the locations it would add production value and give the film a bigger sense of scope… however it was A LOT of hard work, not to mention stress, as a result.
Do you have any funny stories from On Set? What happened?
There were a few funny incidents along the way, the most memorable would be during the scene where the three teenagers arrive at the campsite in which the protagonist has set up. We had a marquee for cast and crew to shelter from the sun, as it was pretty brutal standing around in the summer sun for 12 hours a day. However during break there was a freak gust of wind that raised the marquee up in the air and straight into the a nearby lake! That thing wasn’t cheap, and Craig my co-director and our DoP Lucas Tucknott foolishly decided to strip-off and try and save this marquee that was floating out on the lake, top-side up. Needless to say it didn’t end well for the marquee and it’s was sorely missed for the rest of the shoot.
Do you have any advice for others who want to make a horror film on a low budget?
Getting a great script would be my biggest advice, just because you have no money doesn’t mean you can’t create a great story. Digital technology has given us all a chance at making films, if you have a strong script you’ll find that cast and crew are more likely to commit to the project as a result. It’s incredibly hard work though, so expect it to consume you entirely.
So, what does the future hold for you? Are you planning to make more horrors? What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m putting together the finishing touches on a documentary I produced called Omega Rising: Remembering Joe D’Amato. It’s an extended cut of what appeared on the recent re-release of Beyond the Darkness. It will premiere at Sitges in October; so I’m very excited for that. I’m also developing a new documentary on the rise and fall of Italian genre cinema; things are falling into place with that, just waiting on a few more bits of confirmation before I can say more on it though.
I’m also working on a slate of feature film titles, some horror, some not. It’s all a case of seeing which one can get the money raised first however. Hopefully with the success of Cruel Summer, we’ve proved we can make a feature film of a decent standard with very little money, so with a bit of support – and an actual budget – I think we can produce something horror fans, and film fans, will enjoy and we can all be proud of.
I’m also putting the finishing touches to the extras for the French blu-ray release of Avenging Force, the Cannon film that is also a sequel to Invasion USA with Chuck Norris. It’s a great film, dark and ugly in places but still a lot fun to watch. I’ve spoken with the film’s director, the lovely Sam Firstenberg, and also Michael Dudikoff – who is one of the coolest guys alive. It’s been a fun project, and I’m incredibly lucky to have been involved with it.
How do we find out more information about you and your films? Do you have a website? Facebook page?
You can check our company website: http://www.441films.com
Add me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phillip.escott.7
Follow me on Twitter @Phill_Escott
I can’t promise it will all be film related stuff though, expect a lot of photo’s of my dog Merv!
Anything else you want to add?
I’d just want to thank everyone who has taken to time to check out Cruel Summer, who have helped us by leaving reviews and ratings on iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon and IMDb etc. It helps us indie filmmakers so much, word of mouth plays a big part in getting our little films seen by a wider audience and every little plug and mention truly does help us. So, thank you for that!
And to those outside the UK who may not have had the chance to see Cruel Summer, it should be hitting DVD in the US, Germany, Australia and New Zealand later in the year!