Indie Horror Month: Q&A with the Directors of UK Indie Horror Movie Patrol Men
Here at Dread Central we’ve been covering the UK independent horror movie Patrol Men ever since mid-2009. It’s been a long and arduous road for filmmakers Ben Simpson and David Campion so we knew that with the film’s overseas release happening this week, it was the perfect time to chat with the pair in honor of our month-long Indie Horror Month celebration.
We asked Simpson and Campion about Patrol Men (UK DVD review here), their experiences putting together the micro-budget film and what it is about the horror genre that will always feel like home to them.
Dread Central: Can you talk a little bit about how Patrol Men came about and give us a little insight into the story and characters of the film?
Ben Simpson: Dave and I got the idea for Patrol Men a few months after we finished university. It started as a short film set around a curfew, but as time went on, we kept expanding the story and decided to do a feature film. It’s all we’ve wanted to do since we where kids so once we had an idea that we could stick with, we got what money we had and made it.
David Campion: The plot revolves around this fictitious island, Peyton, where there is a curfew, preventing people from going out at night. The curfew is enforced by the Patrol Men, who are these big militant motherfuckers wearing gas masks and holding large bats. When a proper ‘Rebel without a Cause'-esque [or rebel without a clue as one kind reviewer referred to him] comes over from the mainland, he questions the curfew and disappears. Now it’s up to Alex, the quirky 15-year-old girl he was flirting with, to investigate his disappearance; and this leads her on an adventure into the dark heart of the island.
Dread: I know you guys said you’re both horror fans- what sort of cinematic influences did you use when filming Patrol Men?
David: The Wicker Man was a pretty big influence on the script, as was Romero’s The Crazies. Then, as always, we watched Suspiria just before the shoot. If you look at the scenes in ‘Granddad’s’ room you can definitely see the Argento influence.
Ben: I do remember those three having a big influence on our shoot, but it wasn’t all horror influences though. Mumblecore had an influence on the teenage aspects and their moods, and that definitely influenced us on a filmmaker’s level, too. It showed us if you had enough determination, you could make a feature film with nothing but a DV cam.
Dread: Let’s talk about your experiences during production of Patrol Men. I know you guys went through the ringer getting the movie made so can you discuss what sort of challenges you faced while filming?
David: Well, having no money makes shooting a constant struggle. We couldn’t afford set design so we just used a load of locations, which meant we were driving around a lot. Then, in terms of equipment, everything was super basic. We had a cheap steadi-rig so we could move the camera around without it looking like The Blair Witch Project. For the first week we had a tripod which wouldn’t sit straight. Now that’s indie!
Ben: We were very luckily to get all the locations for free. It’s amazing how helpful people can be when you’re making a film. The people we got in contact with for locations were very supportive and understanding. We learned to always get permission when filming, too; there were a couple of locations we had to shoot off the cuff, and on the last day of filming the police stopped us. Luckily we had finished filming and got to keep all of our footage.
Dread: I know politics definitely play a big part in the themes of Patrol Men, and I was wondering if you could explain that a little more for our readers who may not understand the political (and even filmmaking) climate(s) in the UK.