South African horror film, From a House on Willow Street, hit the local circuit today, and we had the opportunity (courtesy of UIP South Africa) to chat to the mastermind behind the entire operation: writer, producer and director Alastair Orr.
Shot in just four weeks, Orr's latest horror feature follows a group of thieves who abduct a teenage girl for ransom, only to realise that they've possibly made the biggest mistake of their lives when the girl turns the tables on them.
You wrote and directed this film, where did the idea come from?
Alastair Orr: I always wanted to make one of those old-school horror films. I grew up in Pietermaritzburg and my parents were working a lot. The VHS machine was my babysitter. So I grew up with a lot of those B-grade horror films from the 80's and early 90's. When I sat down to write a movie, that's just what came out. You've got no control over that – what's inside you comes out.
What excited you most about making this film?
Alastair Orr: To push the perception of what can be done in South Africa. I wanted to show the world that SA can compete on an international level with this kind of movie. We can give you special effects, cool shots and do commercial movies that international audiences are used to seeing on a local budget.
Why did the film use an American setting?
Alastair Orr: I've done quite a bit of horror films and have seen how local films struggle to break out [internationally]. Afrikaans movies, dance, and romantic comedies – they do so well here [in SA]. However, they just do not travel well. I had some connections overseas who were looking for this specific kind of film. So instead of trying to get this made in America for 4 – 5 million dollars, let's try and get it made in SA for $500 000.
Was the entire crew South African?
Alastair Orr: Everybody was South African, except the two lead actresses [Sharni Vinson and Carlyn Burchell].
Most of your filmography consists of horror movies; are you thinking of moving into other genres?
Alastair Orr: I have been offered a science fiction film overseas, and a 2D adventure series.
Any plans to make it big into Hollywood?
Alastair Orr: I’ve already made an international Hollywood film before. My last project was a film called Indigenous. So, I have made a film there already and am not dying to go back there. I would prefer to do my own here in South Africa by showing the world what we [South Africa] can do.
When crafting a horror film, what is your favourite scare tactic to utilise?
Alastair Orr: I love playing with the lighting. You fear what you don’t see and I like hiding that from the audience; so they don't know exactly what's around the corner, they don't know where the characters are going. And just by revealing with the lights in different ways: using flash lights, cigarette lights to twist the audience's attention.
Where was this film shot?
Alastair Orr: The whole thing was shot in Johannesburg. We shot in Auckland Park and Heidelberg.
From a House on Willow Street is currently playing on circuit. Read our full review of the film here.