The Fallow Field – An Interview with Leigh Dovey and Colin Arnold
At Monster Pictures we spend our lives searching the globe for the nastiest, most original new horror – sometimes they’re big, sometimes they’re small, always they’re quality and July’s release is a primo example of why the Brits can hold their heads high as producers of fine, demented horror.
John Noonan met up with director/writer, Leigh Dovey and producer, Colin Arnold, to talk about what they happily describe as a “backwards headfuck”.
‘The Fallow Fields’ is available from July 18 at JB HI-FI and all good retailers and rental chains across the land – read on my troubled friends…
Have you been pleased with the response you’ve been getting back in the UK?
Leigh Dovey (Director/Writer): Very. Most of the reviewers seem to get it and love that it’s so leftfield. I always set out to make a “straight, dark” horror movie that I’d like to see, but it’s been a nice surprise to find so many other people connecting with it too.
Colin Arnold (Producer): It’s been fantastic to get such a great response from people who have watched and enjoyed The Fallow Field in the UK.
I read it being described as having a ‘harrowing subtext’. Is that something you can agree with?
Leigh: It’s not so much a whodunit as a whatthefuck. You can see it as a straight, retro horror, a fear of what’s lurking in the backwoods, an old school tale of pagan rituals, a nature turns on us story, a morality piece on the evil of men, an amnesiac mystery, or a disturbing examination of insanity. People have been genuinely obsessing about the true nature of the film and we don’t give away easy all-neatly-wrapped-up answers to make it better for you to recover later. It’s horror; you’re supposed to feel disturbed and hopefully you will be.
And John Landis called it a ‘handsome thrilling movie’, that must have been pretty awesome to get praise from the Director of American Werewolf in London?
Colin: I am a huge fan of John Landis’ work on features films and music videos. We met him at a London party for the anniversary release of American Werewolf. He told us all sort of gems and tales about his movies and he was really interested in hearing about The Fallow Field. We kept in touch, got a copy of the film to him and he sent us the quote.
Leigh: That was a real validation and it’s really helped the movie. If you’re new film makers you need someone like that to be in your corner to give you a boost. And the thing about John Landis is he’s totally upfront about what he likes and doesn’t like; there’s no bullshit.
Were there any films lodged in the back of your mind whilst you were writing and later directed The Fallow Field?
Leigh: Definitely Blood on Satan’s Claw. It’s a terrifically nasty film that I saw when I was very young; it caught in my brain like a rusty hook. There are obvious nods to The Wicker Man and Stephen King, and there’s a bit of Lost Weekend, Hammer House of Horror and The Living Dead at The Manchester Morgue in there too.
So, the whole crew camped out for the majority of the shoot. Did it all go smoothly?
Leigh: One night I was so cold I went and got in my car to sleep. I couldn’t put the heater on as it would wake the others around me and I didn’t want to drive to another corner of the farm in case I ran someone over in the dark, so I just sat there shivering until I passed out.
Colin: On the evenings we were not filming a camp fire and BBQ was built which was great and really helped elevate the pressure of shooting. We put the actors up in a nice bed and breakfast on the farm. It was extremely tough shooting for 9 days straight and it was a great testament to the hardworking cast and crew that no sequences were dropped and no picks up’s required.
Monster Pictures also distributes Alex Chandon’s Inbred which is another take on horrific things happening at farms. What do you think it is about rural locations that make them ripe for use in genre films?
Leigh: Isolation. You’re isolated from help, you’re lost, disorientated, your phone probably won’t work; you’re on your own. And then the people that you might bump into? Well they’ve been isolated too, and they’ve been left alone to get up to no good and develop some pretty nasty habits in private. So if you do bump into them you’ll probably wish you hadn’t. For a movie it’s a frontier feel – anything can happen.
Colin: I think people can really relate to rural locations, we all know a creepy barn or house especially growing up as children. In genre films it’s much more believable, audiences can relate to spooky rural locations. I remember the day of the recce at the farm we noticed that all the hills rolled into this beautiful location, at night it turned into a whole new character with incredible shadows and rays of lights projected around the farm yard.
What else have you guys got up your sleeves? Do you see yourself returning to The Fallow Field?
Leigh: I’ve written a couple of films for other directors that are on the way: a post-apocalyptic thriller shooting in Oz (no, not that one!) and a dark psychological thriller set in England. Colin and I are teaming up again along with Simon Reveley to make the pagan thriller The Lands Beneath and we’re all very excited about that.
Colin: The three of us are producing and I’m directing, the film is called The Lands Beneath, it has been pitched as Pans Labyrinth meets The Wicker Man. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of directing my first fiction feature film coming from a music video and documentary feature background, and of course I’m thrilled to be working with Leigh again.
Leigh: There is an outline for Fallow Field 2 and it would be a lot of fun to make. I know we’d all be up for it again, everybody loved working together on the first one.