An interview with :

David Ryan-Keith

DGE : The Redwood Massacre seems to be a slight nod to the old 70s/80s slasher flicks such as Friday the 13th, Halloween, A Bay of Blood etc .. Was this an intentional thing, something that was always in the back of your mind when writing the original script/story? How long had you had the Redwood Massacre in your mind before it actually went into production? And are you a fan of the original slasher movies?

David: Our first feature film 'Attack of the Herbals' came out in 2011 to mixed a reaction (that's putting it nicely), but it was a great chance for us to see what realistically could be achieved when shooting a micro budget feature film with next to no money. For me the horror genre is a great way to test out camera techniques, writing scripts, working with actors and so on , it's a genre you can shoot very cheaply and can be very rewarding cinematically. The choice we had at the time was to either try and come up with some kind of miracle original script and possibly spend years talking about making movies or just charge in a get something made. I've always loved old school 80's horror movies and wanted to try and capture the same kind of feeling from what I refer as the glory days of horror. It's a film that is in no way original by today's standards, but it's a movie I think some horror lovers will appreciate regardless of all its flaws.

DGE : I've read somewhere that along with yourself, there were only a handful of other people involved with the entire process of putting this movie together. Something in the region of a dozen or so that also included the cast? How true is that?

David: I'm the first to hold my hands up and say I'm not the best screenwriter in the world, but when your faced with financing a film by yourself you've got to do what it takes to get the movie up and running. We only had a crew of four, Director, Producer/Focus Puller, Sound Man & Grip. Money is something you're always worried about when doing a small indie film. Everyday costs money and soon adds up even if it's just paying for fuel and meals. The actors and crew had to be passionate about the project and put trust in me that I knew what I was doing or the entire movie would have shutdown. If the actors weren't in front of the camera they were helping move dolly track or lights, it was a real team effort and made the experience allot of fun, something making movies should be.

DGE : Being the writer/director/producer/sound director/visual effects editor - it seems you had your work cut out. How the did you manage to do all of this and how punishing was it to get the final movie finished? Where there any timescales you had to stick too?

David: Me and my wife Lorraine (focus Puller/Producer) run a small corporate video company which more or less financed the entire production, to keep the costs down I knew I would have to do the entire post production myself if we had any chance of completing it. I think the hardest part is directing and also having to shoot and light the film, you're so busy working with the camera, focus puller and soundman that the actors are normally the people that get the least amount of attention. I had to really let the actors take the script and work it out for themselves, let them change things and add in things they though would elevate my mediocre screen writing lol. I've found it's really important to find and surround yourself with people that love the process of making movies, it's amazing how many people are genuinely surprised at how slow and tedious the process can be at times, so it's important to find people that you can rely on and bounce ideas off.
Lorraine (producer) is also incredibly good at pulling the logistics of making a film together, it's fair to say I'd be still working on my first feature til today if she didn't give us a kick up the ass and drag us over the finishing line.

DGE : In the movie we have our serial killer, the evil Highlander I think we can call him. He is big, strong and extremely scary. Did you base this character on anyone in particular within the horror genre or did he just kind of come alive `himself` during writing and production? Was he something that just evolved in terms of his look, for example, as in the case of the hessian bag/mask - was this all planned?

David: We wanted the killer to be a complete throw back to the iconic 80's slasher killers that kick started the genre, this is really a movie made by horror fans for people that appreciate those old classic films. Today obviously this kind of film has been done to death, but we actively made the choice to get those horror cliches in, to get the audience shouting at the screen as one by one the characters made ridicules decisions. We found a great company in the U.S that make customised masks, once we had that traditional slasher look the costume just kind of fell together. The dungarees and red farmer style jumper was the result of a costume company sending us something so terrible we couldn't bring our self to shoot, we literally bought the dungarees and jumper 3 hours before shooting the bad guys first scene

DGE : The location was perfect for this movie. How hard was it to find an isolated farm/building in the middle of seemingly nowhere? I did read (again) somewhere that you had to basically take a few liberties here and there and just go with the flow during shooting.

David: We knew without a good location we didn't have a movie. We live up in Scotland so it's not that hard to find some wonderful strange locations. The barn in the film was made up of two separate locations and luckily the owners of the barns couldn't be any nicer and really helped us get what we needed. Finding old barns is one thing, but finding two of them with working electricity for the lights was another. It's amazing what you can get away with while shooting this kind of movie if you can find the right setting

DGE : The cast it seems, on film anyway, looks like there was good chemistry between them all. How did you get the cast involved in the project and have you worked with them before?

David: The cast was made up of local actors from Aberdeen. Aberdeen is a small place so we already knew most of them from other projects and corporate work. All the actors and crew committed to the film for no money with the idea being if the film did get picked up we would pay them once it made some kind of profit. I can't thank the people that agreed to make the film enough, it's hard enough to find people that would do this kind of movie for a pay-check up here in Aberdeen, so we were really lucky to find actors that trusted us enough to dedicate 35 days of their life in the hope it would be successful or at least get distribution.

DGE : Looking at your previous works, its looks like you have made a massive jump from the likes of Attack of the Herbals to The Redwood Massacre in terms of content and the how well developed Redwood is compared to Herbals. Are there any mistakes you may have learned from previous works that led up to Redwood?

David: We went into Herbals with a crazy scrip and the enthusiasm to try and make a feature film, once we completed the movie and actually watched the finished product we quickly realised we never had a plan on what we actually wanted to do with it. With The Redwood Massacre we knew we had a market for the kind of film but we knew if we could make the film look good buyers would be more willing to overlook some of the more important things like not having a known name starring in it. Judging by some of the reviews coming in we still have allot of things we can improve on which is something were trying to work on in our next production

DGE : We spoke about a possible sequel to Redwood. Do you think this will ever happen and going forwards, have you any other projects in production or in the pipeline we can all look forwards too?

David: I guess it all comes down to how well the film does when it finally comes out and if there's a demand for part 2. We have some good story ideas but want to try some other stuff out before we return to this type of movie. Our next film is called 'House of Shadows' which were trying to get into production this year, it's a fun paranormal movie which we hope will give us the chance to work with distributors more closely and hopefully set up some kind of relationship which will allow us to keep making movies.

DGE : When we first spoke on Twitter, we also talked about the movie being leaked on torrent sites. Apart from being illegal, just how damaging is this to the movie business and as a writer/director how frustrating is it to find all your hard work being shared the way it is? Can you see a way forwards in the future that will suit everyone and perhaps prevent the illegal downloading of movies (and other media)?

David: It's so disappointing. It's such a hard process to make a movie and even harder to get distribution and get it out there for people to watch. The Redwood Massacre doesn't come out in the UK & US until July but was recently released in Germany on DVD & Blu-Ray. We knew it was only a matter of time before it surfaced on the net and don't really know what kind of damage it will do regarding sales. This is a tiny movie in the huge world of movie making so I hope it doesn't affect any future projects or investment that might have come our way if it did well. There's not much we can do other than read reviews from people that have watched the pirated version. I'm not even sure you can stop piracy these days. These people have huge Goonie style boats with cannons and live on the sea.

DGE : The final question is : We have been inundated in recent years with remakes/reboots. Firstly, how do you feel about remakes and IF you were asked by company execs to choose ANY movie from the past to remake/reboot - which would it be? Let's just say you have a free reign to choose any movie!

David: I generally like watching all movies. It doesn't bother me they are making re-boots of old classic films but it can be annoying when they do them badly. Most of the time they seem to feel the need to change what made the original so good, sometimes it's best just to leave these thing alone but people forget that this is a business, as long as they don't remake Big Trouble In Little China I'll be fine. If I could direct one it would have to be Double Impact, where else can you make a film with two twins separated at birth and raised on different continents have the same accent, a close second would have to be one of the Hellraisers, for the love of god someone has to try and save that franchise!


The Redwood Massacre (2014)

Synopsis (IMDB) : What begins as a exciting camping trip to the legendary Redwood murder site, takes a terrifying turn when the innocent campers discover the legend is about to become a nasty and bloody reality.

Directed by : David Ryan Keith

Written by : David Ryan Keith

Cast :  Mark Wood, Lisa Cameron, Lisa Livingstone, Rebecca Wilkie, Adam Coutts, Lee Hutcheon, Benjamin Selway, Alec Westwood, Liam Matheson, Morgan Faith Keith, Claire Bearn

My Rating :

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