It’s just a matter of weeks until horror comes home: from August 25th-29th, London’s Vue Shepherd’s Bush will be taken over by what Guillermo del Toro once described as “the Woodstock of gore”. Horror Channel FrightFest is back, and with 66 film premieres from all around the world, as well as a full programme of shorts, panel events and more, it’s looking like a great year for the festival and its organisers Ian Rattray, Paul McEvoy, Alan Jones and Greg Day.
One of those premieres is Broken, which gets its world premiere across the three main screens on Sunday August 28th. Featuring Martyrs star Morjana Alaoui, the film’s synopsis reads:
A young female escapes her past and absconds to England in search of a new life. She takes a job caring for a tetraplegic, but the burden of the job stirs up her past. It seems the limits of caring are not always as clear as they should be.
As part of our FrightFest preview coverage, star, producer and co-writer Craig Conway took time out to chat to us about his experiences making the film, and what lies ahead for him this year..
You co-wrote Broken with director Shaun Robert Smith, who has a few shorts and features under his belt. What was the origin of the idea for the film?
Broken is based on the short story Shaun wrote called A Carers Tale. Shaun had approached me to join him as an actor in early 2015 to discuss making a short, and when we read it through, I suggested that I’d like to produce – but only if we were to develop it into a feature. To me, all the essential elements were there, it just didn’t have the space to give it true conviction. So after some thought and more discussion we agreed to join forces to adapt and write together.
What did you take from the experience of working with a co-writer?
I’ve collaborated a lot on various scripts in the past for stage and screen, and most have been enjoyable experiences, but this process was a total joy – I think it’s purely because we were able to step away as writers and be critical of the work from a production perspective, and as we worked from our roles and responsibilities on the film as “actor with director” then “producer with director” throughout. This level of detachment as writers I believe is what allowed us to really explore far more than on other projects
Tell us about your character, Dougie, and the origins of that role for you.
In the short I was cast as Dougie, but as I was now producing and co-writing with Shaun I did step away from the role. We developed the character with a view to offering our friend and truly gifted actor Stven Graham to take on. Alas, he was extremely busy and so after asking our leads Mel Raido and Morjana Alaoui, Shaun and the team agreed that I take the role on again.
How did Morjana Alaoui come to be involved in the project?
I’d met and worked with Morjana on the set of Scintilla a few years ago after putting her forward to be on that project. I’d always loved her performance in Martyrs, and after suggesting her to Shaun he agreed that she would be ideal for the role of Evie.
The film gets its world premiere at FrightFest this August in the Main Screen, which is about as good an audience as you could ask for! Have you had any experience of the festival yourself in previous years?
I’ve been connected to the festival for many years through various projects, from Neil Marshall’s Doomsday as Sol, and then last year as co-producer/actor in Estranged, but this is my first time there in attendance with a feature as a solo producer, so I’m even more blown away to be invited as I love this festival.
How would you sell Broken to a festival goer?
“The Shining meets Misery!” How’s that?
Pretty damn convincing! To turn to your own career as a whole, can you identify any person/people you’ve worked with in the past that you found you learned a lot from? Do you have a favourite experience from your acting career?
I honestly believe that every project has brought an element of learning with it: some good, some not so good, but all worthwhile. I’m very fortunate as I’ve worked with a varied mix of producers, actors and directors, and the hope is that I’m able to continue to do so. What I would say, though, is that the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt are to be open and adaptable to change in the creative process, be honest and transparent in your dealings and share the knowledge as you go to inspire and make way for those who are seeking to do the same.
Sounds like solid advice to us. So what’s next for you?
I’ve recently launched BB88Films which has received investment for a three picture deal from Zhong Zee Cultural Investment in China, the first of which begins here in the UK In August. I’m also working with an executive producer colleague and friend of mine Kirsty Bell (Goldfinch Entertainment) and the team here in the UK to continue creating opportunities for up and coming first time feature makers of all ages to produce and support their work. Alongside that, I’m still taking on roles as an actor and looking forward to getting married this year, and seeing the birth of my new son – he’s due to arrive very near to the premiere, which makes it even more exciting!