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From Leicester to Hollywood - Interview with Rhys Davies

By midlandsmovies, Jul 8 2016 05:40PM

Midlands Movies Mike meets with local Leicester filmmaker Rhys Davis to chat to him about his production company Hive Films and his latest 2 movie projects.

Rhys Davies established Hive Films in the Midlands during 2008 with a horror feature “Zombie Undead” before moving on to “Finding Richard” which starred the sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker. Taking that film to Cannes whilst also preparing for his next film, “Acid Daemons”, Rhys has always had a lot of projects on the go. Mike finds out how he juggles these many balls…

Midlands Movies Mike: Hi Rhys. How are things?

Rhys Davies: Great thanks. I recently finished a funded short "My Jedi Powers" and a second feature "From Leicester To Hollywood".

MMM: That’s great. We last met on the set of “Acid Daemons”. How’s the production going on that?

RD: It’s going very well. It was great to be able to shoot that weekend on a set which gives you much more control. In an office or a house location you can struggle to control the light so my director of photography really appreciated having the ability to influence how it should look. And, not to knock anything we’ve all been involved in before, it did feel like stepping up a level which was really nice.

MMM: With Actor John Campling (a Death Eater in the Harry Potter series) starring in “Acid Daemons”, how do you get stars involved in your predominantly local projects?

RD: John was contacted through fellow filmmaker Ben Jacobson as he starred in his previous film and then a part came up in Acid Daemons of an eccentric ‘chemist’.. He didn’t need to audition as he was perfect for the part and we knew he would deliver the goods. He’s gone on to work in motion capture in a very big forthcoming video game so keep an eye out for him in the future. Funnily though, the UK film industry is so very small that John said he was at a Comic Con recently sitting next to Colin Baker (the 6th Dr. Who that starred in Rhys’ “Finding Richard”) and both him and John were pleasures to work with.

MMM: So where is the project up to now?

RD: Well, we’re currently halfway through filming and raising funds for the second half. The first 30-40 minutes has been created in a rough edit and the trailer (https://vimeo.com/170838357) has come out as well. That’s very exciting. The trailer was cut by Richard Leverton of http://www.twistandshout.co.uk in Leicester’s LCB Depot with music by local composer Steve Baker. The film is set in two worlds yet the trailer cleverly only hints on the strange dark horrors we’ll eventually be going to as we want people to be intrigued and keep a few surprises up our sleeves.

MMM: Sounds like you are using a lot of Midlands, especially Leicester, talent?

RD: Yes, we even had a trainee stuntman, Paul Ginns, was a fantastically nice guy. He was helping everyone out and taught our actress how to fall with health and safety of paramount concern. The lead actress Ella Roebuck-Swain threw herself into it as well so nothing should be taken away from her. About Leicester, yes, the local scene is really taking off – Gatling Gun Productions and the Hamill Brothers in Coalville, Keith Allott, Kenton Hall and Doug Cubin in the city as well, are all doing great work and in the last 5 years film has really taken off in the area. Steve Lawson has been making great films for years too and helped us out with his studio for filming.

MM: What’s left to do on Acid Daemons?

RD: Acid Daemons is due to wrap in October and we’re currently looking for the final few locations which include a terraced house for one of the older characters and a tower block as well. We’re using camera techniques like tilt shifts, deliberately putting people in the frame in strange positions, crossing the line when you shouldn’t and lots of Escher-like locations to show the “other” world. We’re also looking for extras for a scene when there is a rave so are looking for lots of people that Midlands Movies may be able to help with.

MMM: Thank you. Moving to your other project - we featured your second film “How to Make a Movie for 43 Pounds” (about a director attempting to shoot a film on a record-breaking low budget) way back when we first launched. You’ve now resurrected this project. What made you think about going back to this film?

RD: I returned to it as I always knew I needed a named narrator and that would help us get some wider distribution for the film. We got in touch with Warwick Davis (of Willow, Star Wars & Leprechaun fame) before Christmas but he was in pantomime for 5 months so we waited for him to become available. We contacted him directly through his agent and he liked the film we had and then arranged a time at De Montfort University to shoot and record.

MMM: Did the script stay the same from a few years ago?

RD: We made some very slight tweaks to the original narrator script – one being an earlier reference to Leicester given the film’s name change – but it was pretty much 99%. He gave us a great performance, exactly how we imagined it but he brought so much more than we could have expected. We wanted someone with a recognisable voice and someone who carried authority and what is great about Warwick is that he’s such a physical performer we thought it would be nice to get him in for his voice for a change. He was just a joy to work with.

MMM: What are your favourite Warwick performances? And what did you think he brought to the film?

RD: It has to be Willow. My son is called Willow! He had a bigger role in that which I enjoyed and Life Is Short was great. The Harry Potter series. They’re all great actually. During the recording, we wanted the narrator lines to be delivered straight as the narrator is not in on the joke. The documentary style of the film meant we didn’t want a knowing nod-and-wink narrator but the comedy really plays off the straight delivery and how the actions in the film play out.

MMM: What have got planned next for the newly titled “From Leicester to Hollywood”?

RD: Well, first up is that we’d like to get Warwick back to Leicester one more time for a premiere screening at The Phoenix to talk about his career and get the DVD out to the public. When he came up to Leicester to DMU's studio people were amazed to meet him and you can tell he is well loved by fans and people in general.

MMM: It’s great to see such esteemed actors sparing the time to help up and coming filmmakers.

RD: Yes, he told us that when he was young he used to make films with his friends as well. Which really helped connect him with the film we’ve made. He was someone who knew what it was like to be in that situation.

MMM: Thanks Rhys. All the best in your new projects and us and our readers look forward to the both films!

RD: Thanks Mike.

Read about Acid Daemons here: click here

Read about How to Make a Movie for 43 Pounds: click here

Jon Campling interview: click here

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