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SuperfreakMedia's short film Sandman showing at Mayhem Festival

8 October 16 words: Harry Wilding
We interview local filmmaker Liam Banks about his short horror, showing as part of the film festival's Short Film Showcase...

Who is SuperfreakMedia?
Mainly me and then there’s Jonathan Butler who shoots most of the stuff we create. Also, Richard Parker who does a lot of the behind the scenes; camera assistant, photography that kind of thing. There’s a nice network of people we like to use, whether it be actors, crew, whatever.

Are you a Mayhem Film Festival fan?
I have been to Mayhem for the last couple of years and we all came together when at uni, which was cool. When I was at college, my film tutors were amazing and they always pushed me to enter stuff into Mayhem because it is a big deal. I have a full festival pass this year, I’m going to be there for all the days – I’m really excited about Raw and The Void.  

Tell us about Sandman...
It all came off the back of our film Mr Creak last year, which we were quite successful with. What we really wanted to do was improve upon that and make something a lot scarier, but still have that element of urban legends stuff attached to it. I wrote the script and it tells the story of Sandy – original name! – who wakes up in the middle of the night, hears a strange noise outside and then, basically, all hell breaks loose! Terrifying things ensue. It’s about five and a half minutes, nice and snappy.

How did the shoot go?
We shot it in last weekend of July and had until August 19th to get the film finished for the Mayhem deadline. I was going out of my mind; there was a good week of me just sat in front of a computer getting everything together. I worked with a ton of reliable people, who I’ve worked with before, so that was great. It was, however, the hottest day of the year when we shot it, so with us shooting in the day and it being set at night, we had foil on the windows – we were essentially just cooking ourselves. It went so well, though, it was brilliant.

Have you entered films to Mayhem previously?
Last year, we actually got in with Mr Creak but it was been shown on BBC so we weren’t allowed to show it at the festival. It was weird, because we were like: “yes, we’ve finally done it...but we can’t do it.” Sandman was made specifically with the aim to get into Mayhem.

How did you get onto the BBC?
They put a call out for horror short films; just on the off chance we had Mr Creak completed, so I sent it over and got a phone call four or five days afterwards to say they really liked it. We were placed fifth nationally – there were thirty-five shorts on the show, and that’s out of nearly 900 entries we heard. It is online now, for anyone to see, and we are developing that into a feature.

If people cannot make it to Mayhem, where and when will they be able to see Sandman?
We will be putting it on YouTube on Halloween night just for seven days. We were asked if we want to enter it into the Grindhouse Planet festival in Leicester at The Shed; that’s in November, and it’s up for an award there. I tend to start applying for festivals once Halloween is out of the way and such.

You did a series of One Minute Nightmares....
Yeah, it allowed me to do something different with horror each month. We did it for a year, October to October and that was pretty intense.

Why do you specifically concentrate on the horror genre?
It is my favourite genre to work in. Though I did shoot my first comedy last month which was a real departure for me - it is actually shot in daylight, no-one dies in it... But yeah, horror is my favourite genre to watch, my favourite genre to work in. You wouldn’t think that it would be that much fun getting blood everywhere and killing people; however morbid that sounds, everyone just has the time of their life on set.

Horror is a favourite for low budget filmmakers, why do you think that is?
Even with horror films you don’t necessarily have to have blood or gore – it could just be the concept that is horrifying and also something very real. An indie approach to it allows for plenty of experimentation without it feeling like it isn’t part of the genre. Whereas, with action you expect explosions, guns, lots more money being thrown at it. There are so many sub genres with horror, too, you can do what you want. People really like that feeling of being scared. It’s nice to create that feeling, people enjoy doing that. There are lots of avenues for filmmakers to get their work shown as well, within the genre, like at Mayhem – there’s a massive audience for horror.

What’s next?
Developing the Mr Creak feature to shoot next year. The comedy short is mid-edit and we’re aiming for a November release. We’re trying to work on something for release in December, along the line of our Season’s Greetings we did last Christmas. I don’t know why I set myself these challenges!

Sandman will be shown as part of the Short Film Showcase at Mayhem Film Festival, Broadway Cinema on Saturday 15 October 2016 at 7pm.

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