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Sickfest: A Severed Cinema Interview with David V. G. Davies Print E-mail
Written by Jay Creepy   
Wednesday, 10 August 2016

 Sickfest: A Severed Cinema Interview with David V. G. Davies

David V. G. Davies looks like an ordinary fella. Quite a nice bloke really. Speaks well. Acts like an average human. You could trust him with your Gran whilst she holds a kitten. However, this is one of the guys who created Animal Soup. Yes, the legendary sickfest which took the UK underground by storm a few years ago (my review). He's written so many things, worked on FX, acted and is planning something even more twisted very soon.

I met Mr. Davies at HorrorCon 2016 and we spoke a while about his terribly nasty career and this and that. This is an interview which was promised on the day, and I've finally got around to it...

Now then, you absolute sick bastard. Hope you're good. It was great talking to you in person at HorrorCon 2016. Of course you signed a DVD of Animal Soup for me (and charged me a wedge of cash for the said DVD... only kidding) which I reviewed soon after. You probably noticed I wasn't too overly impressed by the ending. Go on, buddy, what the Hell happened? Me and my Horror Soulmate were so glued by what was unfolding only to have like the last page torn out!

 Animal Soup from the outset was going to be a film where we toyed with the audience. We wanted to break certain rules and lure the viewer to make expectations only to veer off in a different direction. I don't want to give much away but we wanted the film to make every viewer look away in disgust at least once, so as an example, at times where you think you'll see a little too much on our lead actress, we suddenly cut to 'Mad Tom.' Regarding the ending, we encountered everything that could go wrong with a film and were often heading back to the script to make sure we could tie everything together. We wanted a bleak ending where the viewer would be left with a bad feeling. We may have misjudged certain elements of the film but we stand by it for what it taught us.

The movie is a rightful classic on the underground scene, all said and done. It's over-the-top in all the correct departments, including scenes of nature which will appeal to rural village folks looking for animal porn (laughs). You're a bloody workhorse aren't you? A tireless brutal self driving man who seems to be talented enough to hold up a whole movie production yourself. Please tell me how you evolved into the person you are. What are your roots in film making?

 From a very early age I was captivated by what I saw on screen. I grew up at a fantastic time being able to experience the video nasties and a plethora of films that haven't made their way to DVD as of yet. As a child I would spend hours drawing storyboards of TV shows and films and there where a few scenes from films that really inspired me -- mainly Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal (1981). That movie made a huge impact on my life, how they created the environment, as well as amazing characters and movement. I still to this day would love to work on a puppet film. That film lead me to pursue my interest in art and photography from which I branched out in to new media. It was while studying that when I met J.A.K. whom a few years later while I was working in a mundane retail job asked me to check his script. That project became Animal Soup. During the promoting of that film I sent a copy to be reviewed at a magazine. That magazine loved it and hired me to direct and shoot their monthly DVD show hosted by Emily Booth. It was a dream come true to work with her. She is amazing to work with and so funny. This show lasted a year before sadly the magazine folded. During my time there I had managed to set in motion many connections and was lucky enough to continue on with them. I worked on Forest of the Damned 2 (which I believe will be released with a different title) as well as a few horror shorts before making my own feature film called Monitor (more thriller based than horror). Since then I have put my dedication towards my original passion, that of special effects and gore, a field in which I am self taught but always learning. I love that every day is different -- one day I am making heads, the next is fake knives. It's been purely dedication and a lot of stubbornness that has brought me to where I am today, but so long as I still enjoy each experience and treat those I meet with respect then I will continue to do so.

 

So who are the ones who showed you the way? Which directors and writers, etcetera, have you watched the work of and thought “Hmm, that could be me!”?

Henson was the first to capture my imagination and from his work I found Stan Winston, Rob Bottin, Rick Baker -- the main founders of modern special effects. I love their work and have followed their careers which has allowed me to then discover others such as Dick Smith and Greg Nicotero. Their work has definitely amazed and made me learn more. While I was studying new media I looked more at graphics and discovered Kyle Cooper and Imaginary Forces. Their title sequences on films have been amazing and paved the way for so many imitators. More recently I became a fan of Eli Roth before he became involved with Tarantino that is.

 Animal Soup is so different. I think I compared it to TCM if Tobe Hooper had held a video cam in the '70s and filmed in England. What happened to the cast? I know Sophia has had a decent career since. What about everyone else?

Originally, the story focused on two guys who were the main protagonists but sadly one of their girlfriends didn’t like the project and they requested to leave the film after their death scenes had been shot. Both J.A.K. and I panicked and didn’t want to waste the footage we had already shot so we reworked the script and started looking for new people to fill the roles. We decided two women would work best as a way to have the characters looking to meet up (adding to the driving force of the film). We had a letter printed in Bizarre magazine and Sophia found us through that. She was great to work with and this was right at the beginning of her career, it was during the filmmaking that she settled on her stage name. 'Mad Tom' I heard moved to Thailand, J.A.K. having fulfilled a dream of making a film left the film life and continued with his career.

Scorpio Vixen. She left midway didn't she?

Sadly, Scorpio did have to leave the project due to personal reasons and she was very apologetic but it was the right thing for her to do. Her missing scenes were very few and I managed to stand in as a body double so long as we only filmed my legs. This lead to many comical moments on set but allowed for the remaining few scenes to be completed.

Of all people, Lloyd Kaufman in a cameo???!!! Please tell Severed Cinema how that came about.

Lloyd is a very entertaining character. From early on in the production of the film we knew this would be very much in the same criteria of Troma films and so I contacted Lloyd when I knew he was going to be attending a London convention promoting Poltrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006). Lloyd was really friendly and agreed to an interview and jokingly said we should put him in the movie. We took this as serious and wrote a scene that could be included. We gave him a prop and asked him to be a TV infomercial presenter. The origins of the prop were all his idea and were perfect for the film.

Have you ever been tempted into a sequel?

Animal Soup, we did at one time get quite involved with a sequel. Both J.A.K. and I scripted segments of what would possibly be three stories that belong in the same universe as Animal Soup. One story involved skinheads and we even got as far as potential cast. Another segment focused on the hospital that Hamish and Mad Tom may have escaped from. That story went through many rewrites and eventually became the inspiration for my film Monitor. Animal Soup has developed quite a following and I would love to revisit it, especially with how much I have learnt since then about film making. Perhaps a short or even a comic book, who knows really?

 So long as there's a proper ending, eh? Okay. At the HorrorCon, we chatted in depth about the Blaze of Gory monster which is due to rampage on the loose soon. You mentioned this was the brain work of a twelve year old girl? Tell me more....

Between films I've worked in numerous places and one was in a shop opposite a cafe. I became friends with the staff there and mentioned that I made horror films and was in the process of setting up a UK horror website (something that sadly didn’t come to fruition) and as part of that was looking for talented people who were either writers, artists or performers. One of the ladies in the cafe mentioned her daughter who had written some nasty stories at school that had caused some concern. My eyes lit up as this was the exact kind of person I was searching for to help get connections and a platform on which to showcase their work. On reading the first story that Blaize had written when she was 12 years old I was blown away and mentioned to her that this story would be great to be turned in to a film. After several meetings and chats with her and her mum we entered in to the first phase of what would become Blaze of Gory. Blaize had written several other stories and had a few synopses written and she allowed me to view them all. With a few tweaks during the screenplay stage we had in front of us the potential for a mass anthology where I could bring together all those who I had been recruiting for the website and people I had met while at the horror magazine.

You told me certain things had to be altered. Give us an example of what's had to be, shall we say, toned down? You said at the time about a scene involving two young boys?

 One story centred on twin ten year old boys. During an argument one of them would kill and rape the other. This was something that from the outset I said I was not willing to include in the screenplay and had to be altered. We opted for ageing the boy to early twenties and giving him mental illness with split personality disorder. This added a great element and also an uncomfortable one.

How are the plans falling into place? What's the next steps for Blaze of Gory?

Blaze is now complete and screener's are being made and sent to potential distributors and film festivals. The whole piece comes in at 2 hours 5 minutes and has been a long journey for me but one that I have enjoyed. I've learned a lot from it and worked with some truly amazing people.

On a different note, aside from one major guest at HorrorCon, who was perhaps the friendliest of conversationalists. I found myself welcomed more at the other tables of the underground faces, like yourself. Are you a man of the fans?

I am a horror fan and would normally be someone attending the convention and talking to traders and guests. I love horror and film and could talk to anyone about any element of it for hours. At the end of the day I see that without fans there wouldn’t be filmmakers. I make a film because I want to watch it. I don’t want to make a film just for the pay check. I'm not in this for the money I'm here because I love what I do.

 Silly question, then, but did you enjoy HorrorCon 2016? What lessons, if any, did you take away with you?

Horror Con 16 was a great event I would have liked more time to look around and talk to more people but that's what happens. There was so much going on. I wish I'd got a programme though. I will be attending the next one so that good.

Over the years you must have met and morphed with so many people in the genre. What's it like in the life of Mr. Davies? What's a typical day?

I class myself very lucky to have met and worked with so many talented people and feel privileged to count so many of them among my friends. A typical day for me is a rare thing, every day differs. But I guess over the course of a week I design something, create some prosthetics and props as well as complete website sales. I am currently working on a book to accompany Blaze's release. I recently worked on a film in Norfolk as the head of the FX department that was a great experience and I look forward to that film coming out. I am also currently working on some Halloween costumes for people as well as some decorations for my own Halloween uses.

I interviewed Brad Sykes some time back and asked him this question: have the distributors treated him well, or had his life of filmmaking been paved with scoundrels? His reply is of course from over the pond. So, to you my friend, the same question from an underground United Kingdom level, how have you been looked after via distributors?

Hmm, this is a very tricky part of filmmaking. When a film is finished, like anyone involved with its production, I am very attached to it and know what it means to me. When Animal Soup was picked up I was over the moon until I saw what they did, they had added horrific menu screens and altered the aspect ratio and cropped the image badly, they even altered the cover art and disc art. However I was very lucky, the company apologised, made some (not all) of the corrections I demanded and then cut me a really good deal. Needless to say they will not have any more custom from me. My other films have gone with different distributors and in all honesty I've been screwed over more times than not. I have not yet got much advice to give in this field other than do research distributors and get everything in writing and protect yourself as the distributors I have encountered, do not.

Have you ever planked yourself onto your bed, tears in your eyes, and screamed until your lungs bleed from your mouth, the words: “Why do I do this??!! What's the point??!!” Or has your labour of love's always given you the greatest satisfaction?

A lot yes, haha. It is a very tough business to get into and it is never a quick process, but I do this for the enjoyment I get out of it. I love what I do and love meeting the people I work with. Some projects you do end up working alongside a complete cunt, but that happens (luckily not often). I love working in film and all that it brings.

Sounds like any sort of job in that respect and there's no problems stating the truth, no matter what words you use! Thanks bud, you're an awesome bloke. I do hope your vile putrid mind continues onwards forever more. Thanks again for taking time out and a breather to do this interview.

No problem dude, my pleasure and was great to be asked fresh questions.

 

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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