Considering Giles Alderson’s new film The Dare recently won the Audience Award at the 2019 Popcorn Frights Film Festival, you’ll definitely want to check out Alderson’s recent podcast where he sits down with his co-writer Jonny Grant, his wife Lina Grant, and his lead actor Bart Edwards. On the Filmmakers Podcast, they talk about what it was like to be at the world premiere of a movie they’ve been working on for five years.
Listen to the full episode below.
Giles Alderson says he knew actor Bart Edwards was perfect for the lead role of Jay Jackson the moment he saw his headshot. After Alderson requested Edwards make an audition video, Alderson was still confident he was the right guy, but meeting him in person sealed the deal.
One thing Alderson appreciated about Edwards’ demo reel was that the first 10 seconds really grabbed him and he felt compelled to keep watching. With so many actor reels to sift through, it’s something all actors should think about when making their demo reels.
Grant says he always thought sitting in the audience at a world premiere of one of his films would be the happiest moment of his life. “It was a pretty horrible experience because I was so nervous,” says Grant. “Firstly, I had taken too much pressure on myself, I was nervous about the directing, I was nervous for [Alderson]. And I was sitting next to Bart [Edwards] and we’ve all bonded, it’s been such a team effort…and you’re getting judged by 250 people you’ve never met.”
Luckily, a ton of people came up to the filmmakers and expressed their affinity for the film.
Alderson shared his experience watching the festival’s opening film, The Haunt. “Everyone was giving big cheers, laughing, screaming out… Afterwards, if you like the film you go and say hello [to the filmmakers]. Obviously, The Dare is a different kind of movie; it’s darker, psychological, a revenge tale with quite a bit of gore thrown in, but [the audience during The Dare] was a lot quieter with a few gasps as well… But at the end, there was such a beautiful uproar of jubilation.”
Grant agrees. “At the end there was one cathartic release, a cheer. I was thinking, ‘I just sat here for 90 minutes thinking everyone hates this,' but they didn’t. They were just immersed in it.”
Alderson says people at this particular genre film festival are the hardest people to please. “These people are die-hard fans and they know this genre inside and out. So if you fuck with them too much, they aren’t going to be happy. And I think that was the beautiful thing – they were on board with us until the end.”
According to Alderson, the audience, ‘loved the fact that they thought it was going down one road and then it twisted. Then they thought it was going down another road and it twisted again. That’s something you always want to get in your script. So to get that feedback [from the audience], we achieved what we wanted to achieve.”
Doug from Popcorn Frights Film Festival
Doug joined the podcast about 20 minutes in, saying Popcorn Frights is the, “largest south-eastern genre film festival. We spend our time, half the year, maybe the whole year trying to bring down talent from all over the world.”
Getting Script Notes at… Disney World
Grant admits that when he and his wife Lina went on their honeymoon to Disney World, he had his laptop with him every moment. “[Alderson] was texting me, saying we need an edit, can you just have a look at this. I had to stop, sorry again Lina, get my laptop out, Lina would just sit there having a drink and I’d be editing in Disney World.” Just after that, they went to Bulgaria to film the movie.
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Two Endings to the Film
Alderson says he spoke about the film having two endings at the Q&A after the screening. “The reason we had to do two endings is because maybe it’s a better thing to do, to have the European version and the American version where we think it’s a bit more happy. But actually now, thinking about it, I like the American version. One thing that works about this is having the two sides of. ‘Who do you root for?’ One of the first reviews we got back said it was amazing to root for a villain.”
Different viewers admitted to rooting for different characters. One film critic wrote that he couldn’t remember feeling so much sympathy for a horror villain before.
Doing Pick-Up Shots One Year Later
Because of the actors’ busy schedules, it took a year before the filmmakers could re-shoot or add scenes to the film. But Alderson didn’t have a problem waiting. “You know what was good about that break, Jonny, and I think you’ll agree now, was that we really got to watch that film as it was and then re-work it and go, ‘We’ve got a chance now to make it better!”
The Original Beginning of the Film
Grant says the original beginning of the film lacked empathy for the lead character Jay (Bart Edwards) because, “he didn’t have anything to lose. We hadn’t met his partner. He didn’t have any kids, so it was like, ‘So what? This guy gets taken.’ But by setting it in a home invasion, to start the movie, instantly the stakes are higher.”
Limiting the Time the Cast and Director Spent Together
The actors and director stayed at the same hotel together, but Alderson was careful not to socialize with them too much. “I kept very separate on purpose. I knew that if I socialized too much with you guys, it would be much harder to then ask you to go further [with your performance]. Coming from an acting background, I understand that little bubble, that little world. You get so tied up in that wonderful world, but if you have too much fun with them, get drunk with them – then the next day to go, ‘You’re not really getting it,” they might say, ‘Oh yeah, fuck off.’ You try to keep boundaries.”
Different Camera Perspectives
Alderson says he had a different camera perspective for every single scene that took place in the frightening basement. “The first one started off very blocked off… and then I’d start to move to get further into [Jay’s] mindset.”
Alderson adds that the angle starts low down, so you feel trapped in the room. Then when the angle is higher, there’s more possibility for various characters to escape.
The Film was Shot in 18 Days in the Main Location
But the filmmakers were lucky enough to borrow a set from another movie. Alderson says they were going to build their own additional set, but, “there’s no way our team would have built something as amazing as that with the budget and time we had.” In the film, the borrowed set was in was meant to be a garage. “For me, it worked as the torture chamber, where all the pigs get hung up, the humans get hung up. Without that set, it could be a very different movie, but we had planned on six days for all those scenes but in the end, I got two nights. I was going mental.”
Working in Bulgaria
Apparently, some people on the crew spoke English, but many didn’t. Alderson says he learned he had to be absolutely clear about what he was asking for. “I couldn’t say, ‘Oh, I want this bluish color and just put it over there,’ because it would be a purple color and it wouldn’t be where I wanted it.”
Be Clear on Your Vision and Share it With Everyone
Alderson says he should have tried harder to sell the crew on his vision, but losing the original venue the night before the shoot made him nervous. “I knew I had so much to shoot that day – 73 set ups that first day – it was insane. It was freezing cold… I didn’t have time to go, ‘Everyone come 'round.’ There were so many people I’d never seen before, there were hundreds of people on my set!”
Given that The Dare won the Audience Award at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, it sounds like it all worked out.
Stay tuned to find out when and where The Dare gets distribution.
Shanee Edwards graduated from UCLA Film School with an MFA in Screenwriting and is currently the film critic for SheKnows.com. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her pilot, Ada and the Machine, is currently in development with America Ferrera’s Take Fountain Productions. You can follow her on Twitter: @ShaneeEdwards