Lee Hardcastle's insane short "T is for Toilet" won him a slot as the 26th director of The ABCs of Death. He was nice enough to answer some questions for the Midnight Madness Blog.
1. Congratulations on being the 26th director of The ABCs of Death! When you first heard about the contest, how did the idea of a collection of death scenes strike you? Did you think, "Oh, this is me--I got this"? Or did you have some hesitation?
Thanks! I stumbled upon The ABCs of Death as it was just announced. I read the concept and saw which directors were involved and I instantly wanted to be a part of the project! And honestly, in a panic I quickly tried to find a contact for the producers so I could beg them to let me be a part of it--which is when I found the "26th Director" contest, the greatest film-making contest I'd ever seen in all my life. It felt like it was utter fate and I waited for a couple months in anticipation for the competition to start. I had not had so much passion and excitement for anything like that for a long time--like waiting for Xmas I tell you.
2. You went with "Toilet" as the mode of death in your ABCs short. What other "T" options did you consider? Did you get as far as writing out any other concepts? Or did you just always know it was going to be "Toilet"?
I went through hundreds of words. I came close to "T is for Toad." It was gonna be a group of redneck type hunters in the woods being picked off one by one by a huge monster toad. But I thought the idea of toad was too easy--it was a competition after all. I went with "Toilet" because, I thought about the title "T is for..." and I wanted a "T" word that was simple yet intriguing to the viewer. Plus "toilet" is such a beautiful word. I started with that word with no idea what the story was going to be.
3. You've made an impressive collection of what you call "Claymations that are NOT for children." How did you find this niche? What did you watch growing up? Were you a horror freak? An animation freak? Both?
It's a bit of a long story how I got into claymation but in a nutshell, I've always wanted to be a filmmaker and one day a video that I'd made went viral. It was a 60-second claymation remake of Evil Dead. And so, I found my audience and continued down that road.
I was very much a horror nut growing up, a real obsessive. Things got scary when the Internet came into my life at age 14. I was suddenly exposed to horror communities and websites. Mix that with eBay and I was ordering so many VHS tapes, bootlegs even of films that were originally only available on a German Laserdisc or something ridiculous. It peaked when I was about 17, I reckon, and then the obsession slowly faded.
I wasn't big on animation, but I grew up with Will Vinton, MTV animation, Wallace and Gromit, and The Adam and Joe Show, all of which are responsible for putting me on the claymation path.
4. The Midnight Madness audience went crazy for the world premiere of The Raid last year. Much of that audience no doubt went on to enjoy your wildly popular, sped-up claymation version of the film, Claycat's The Raid. How did the concept of a claymation adaptation of that film come about? How was the experience of it turning viral and even ending up as an extra on DVD/Blu-ray releases of The Raid?
I was hired by Momentum Pictures to do a claymation remake of the film. I'd never heard of The Raid, so I went to Soho and sat in a cinema by myself and watched the film and I was like "How the hell am I gonna remake this?!" Daunting stuff--I wasn't feeling confident. But it turned out to be one of my best works. The corny jokes get some big laughs--the ball of wool and stuff like that. I can't believe people find it funny. For it to go viral? I was not expecting that at all. That's the science of being a filmmaker--you unexpectedly do something that gets a good audience reaction and you keep that in mind for the next time you make a film.
5. I understand you're coming to Toronto for the premiere of The ABCs of Death. What directors' segments are you most anxious to check out in ABCs? Are you hoping to catch any other films in Midnight Madness while you're in town?
To be painfully honest, I've not seen too many of the directors' works, or heard of half of them. The 2 big names that got me excited were Ti West and Jason Eisener. But the way I see The ABCs of Death is like those sample CDs that record labels put out--you buy them because there's a band or two on there that you dig a lot and you end up discovering a new artist that impresses you. Then you go out and look at all their other stuff.
I want to see Dredd 3D!
You can read more about the "26th Director" contest in our earlier post here and see more of Lee's grisly claymation videos at leehardcastle.com.
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