Dominic Brunt is rather a big name here in the UK, and with time, I am sure he will grow to be embraced universally, especially by the horror crowd. He plays the loveable Paddy Kirk in the British soap opera Emmerdale. Amazingly, he is also a huge horror film fan and a self confessed zombie addict, and along with his friend and fellow Emmerdale actor Mark Charnock (who plays Marlon Dingle in the British soap, and is also a self confessed zombie addict) they conduct the Leeds Zombie Festival, which began on 20th April 2008. This year saw the sixth Leeds Zombie Festival, which saw such great films as Argento's cut of 'Dawn of the Dead', Cuban horror comedy 'Juan of the Dead', and Dominic Brunt's directorial debut, the amazing 'Before Dawn' (my review of this film can be found by clicking HERE). Dominic also played the part of the chainsaw wielding cross dresser 'Podge' in Alex Chandon's terrific splatter/horror film Inbred (my review of which can be found by clicking HERE).
Dominic was kind enough to give me a chance to ask about his directorial debut, and about the Leeds Zombie Festival amongst other things. What follows is the complete interview. Many thanks to Dominic Brunt for taking the time to answer the questions.
D.C:- First of all, could you please give my readers a little history lesson about your annual zombie festival and how it began?
D.B:- The festival came about after my trip to Romania with the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) to help raise funds and awareness about bears being captured and held for various reasons in rural zoos and restaurants. I wanted to repay them for the flight and hotel and also give towards the charity. Myself and my work partner/mate Mark Charnock watch too many horror films anyway so we thought we could combine our love of the genre with an event to raise money.
How did your interest in zombie movies, and horror in general, begin?
Like most horror fans of my age, I was bought up on what was known as "Video Nasties". There was no certification for home videos at the time so you could legally walk into a shop and hire anything. So we did.
Was it hard moving from acting to directing?
Not really. It should all be hard work and well planned but we were surrounded by professionals so we had an enormous amount of fun too. Plus the fact that the film we had been working towards for so long was finally being put together.
In Before Dawn, you managed to create an aura of fear unseen in zombie cinema since the days of Lucio Fulci. How did this come about?
Well that's very kind of you indeed. I don't know really. I think that's up to the individual viewer to experience and decide. We wanted the scenario to play out as if the situation were real and was happening to real people. I think the dialogue has a lot to do with that as it's normal, un-flowery and conversational and the characters react in a very normal and upsetting way without grandstanding or playing up to any style.
What do you look for when selecting a movie for your film fest?
We look for something that will entertain a cinema full of people for better or for worse. There is a certain element of quality control but some awful trash has gone down a storm, I can tell you. Plan 9 from Outer Space, Nights of Terror spring immediately to mind and I want to show Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead next year given half the chance.
How did you achieve the depressing nihilistic feel for Before Dawn?
Ha ha!! Well, I think all the death, violence, loss and regret mixed in with superb somber music and deadpan performances will do that. I honestly feel that ending is a glimmer of hope though. Maybe just me? It's that European cinema style we were aiming for though.
The zombies in Before Dawn were practically unstoppable, and the scene in the garage was incredibly tense. Was it difficult to get right?
It was an amazing amount of fun. Knackering but fun. The worse the violence is the funnier it was to shoot.
Before Dawn is an incredibly emotional movie, as well s being tense and scary. Are all of these elements important ingredients in a horror movie?
I think most horror films are scary for their own reasons. Some have a certain formula and become franchises but I tend to leave them alone. I am a horror fan for as many different reasons as there are films within the genre. I love being entertained by a "worse case scenario" which is what I think the best horror films are. Certainly this would be the case for our future projects.
What are some of your favorite zombie/horror movies, and why do you enjoy them so much?
Evil Dead, Sleep Tight, Midnight Express, Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Demon, Colin, Inbred. I could fill so many pages. I don't enjoy the body horror side of things really as I'm not a fan of this spiteful need to show torture as entertainment without humor. I just love film and stories. I'm a massive comic book fan and I often feel the horror genre goes hand in hand with that obsession. For me anyhow.
Your portrayal of the lead character in Before Dawn was incredibly powerful. Was it difficult playing such a troubled character going through such a difficult time?
That's very kind of you. I'm an actor, and the script was a joy for me. Quite indulgent but that's food for actors. Also, I got to kill zombies in a feature film so I can now die happy.
Many thanks again to Dominic Brunt for answering these questions. His new short film 'Shell Shocked' will be shown at this years Film 4 Frightfest, which runs from 22nd to the 26th August 2013 at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London.
You can visit the Leeds Zombie Fest official website by clicking HERE.
You can join the Leeds Zombie Festival Facebook group by clicking HERE.
You can 'Follow' the Leeds Zombie Fest on Twitter by clicking HERE.