Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Inside 'The Inside'

The Inside.

Where to begin on this one, it's been a strange sort of a journey on this little film. I'll begin this blog at the conception of the film and the idea itself and let it develop from there, cos that's the best way to do these blogs.

I'm currently eating strange american oreo biscuits that taste vaguely of peanuts. Just as point of reference.

** Note ** This blog, and the below video behind the scenes documentary is definitely spoiler ridden, but equally may enhance aspects of the film when you're aware of the ideas inherent in the piece. Or not. I've told you anyway, so I abdicate myself of any further responsibility. **

Just a little beginning note, The Inside premiered last year, August 2012, at Frightfest, London, UK, the biggest horror film festival in Europe, before having it's Australian premiere at Monster Fest, the biggest horror film festival in Australia, which was an awesome manner in which to open this film. Just so you know, cos I'm quite proud of that.....


The Inside was an idea that I conceived in a coffee shop one day whilst observing a homeless man get some change off two school girls with an undercurrent of malice behind his movements. It's not as tenuous a link as it sounds, I had a few weeks few where I wasn't working, and myself and Emmett Scanlan had been discussing various short film ideas and comedy skits. Then I thought about what would be the easiest and simplest project to make, one that I could get released and experiment with, and that would be a horror/thriller film. I had been fascinated with the idea of recreating some of the natural spontaneity that was evident in my acting classes in New York with Nina Murano studying Meisner, so marrying the two together made sense. I had wanted to create a framework where the actors could explore the real moments that were sometimes elicited in class, and not follow the usual filming structure. To this end I decided that the film began with the homeless men terrorising the group of young girls, for a myriad of reasons. It's a basic concept, but one that felt very real and plausible, and that allowed me to have 9 actors in one room at one time engaging with each other in real moments. I wrote dialogue, but kept it rough, mainly focusing on the actual story and movement beats, where the scene flowed from A to B to C to Y etc for a visual and movement scenario, culminating in the end of the scene which would then initialise the next act, or the beginning of the horror. I had wanted to shoot the entire twenty four pages in one shot. It eventually became three shots, but such was the energy and intensity of the takes, each lasting about 9 minutes as I split the bulk of the scene into two parts with a final 4 minute piece, that we could only actually do two takes per 'scene'. In fact when we finished after each take my sound recordist, Brendan Campbell, immediately did the rounds with the girls to check that they were okay such was the sheer emotion and intensity in the room. It really was an incredibly visceral experience and justified the entire endeavour just to have created those moments. Brian Fortune came to me a few days later to tell me that he couldn't sleep for the next few days because he had felt so truthful and connected to the darkness of his character that it scared him. That's one of the aspects of this film that I'm most proud of, the actors were all genuinely connected and gave fabulously real performances across the board, which is what brings the film to life, their realism. The fear, terror and angry emanates from them like a wave and pulls you into the movie, precisely as it was designed to do. I take great pride in this, not simply because I choose excellent actors, but because the environment was created to allow them to react and be believable. In all honesty, shooting this film where we did, in a disused old 3 storied house, with an underground catacomb, at night, in winter, really made it a dirty, cold and genuinely terrifying experience, and that comes across on the screen. When Kellie Blaise seems terrified going down those catacombs, it's because she was, and she simultaneously respected and hated me for doing that to her!

The rest of the film evolved from the idea of these scenes. I decided that the best, and most justifiable manner for a demonic creature to arrive would be from a calling of some sorts, like in all the best horror films, the demon is summoned. In this instance it is summoned by the pure evil of these men and their projection of anger and suffering. They are the worst examples of what humanity can offer, and that is what attracts the creature, the pure negative energy, which is what I associate ghosts and spirits with, negative and positive energies. When the creature does arrive
however it doesn't differentiate between good and evil, and simply embodies a primal horror, laying waste to everything in it's path. The film then becomes a simple first person horror film until it's denouement. I did initially film with a second camera shooting in a conventional third person style, and had hoped to be able to marry the two styles and cross between them both. This was the original plan, and what I think would have worked better, it would have opened it up. After the first day I realised how problematic this was however, as lighting the scenes for a conventional set up as well as in the rough and tumble first person style, where I operated the camera and so could choose my angles and frames instinctively was impossible with just 5 days and very little prep and the minimal crew that we had. So I reluctantly abandoned that idea and stuck to just the one camera, the first person blair witch type idea. The opening act of the film was the main section that I had problems with in the end, as the film was an experiment all the way through, and the first few days (of a 5 day shoot, with eventually 1 and a half pick up days), were figuring out that style and I was torn between using both that it suffered until I settled on the one technique. I had maybe too many characters to begin with, and it made it difficult because of the style of the film, to fully empathise with anybody in particular. The visual style that I ended up using I was very happy with, it really worked for so many moments, and for the central attack section it couldn't have been executed any better or filmed in a different way, it would have removed the visceral nature of it. The horror sequences in the second half of the film are really accentuated by the first person camera by not being able to fully make out the environment or see what's going to happen.

The beginning and ending of the film, shot with myself acting, and with David Laird DPing with Eimear Ennis Graham (DP on Cold), was shot almost 13 months after the original film was completed. I realised I needed the pick ups, but because I was working I could never get the actors I wanted back or the availability of the location at the right time, and so we waited... . Both David and Eimear worked with me also on Stalker and Charlie Casanova, and eventually it made more sense to have them shoot it, and I'd just act, cos it's what I've done a few times, and they're both very talented....so I ended up in this film, entirely circumstantially, but that's how it goes. Once we had shot my scenes, and I had edited in the new top and tail, I handed it over to Kevin Whyms who proceeded to do a magnificently dark and fucked up score, like I knew he would. Greg French had done the initial sound design - the original intention had been to have no music, and just a crazy chaotic sound design but with the new ending it needed an actual score to lift it at moments, and it was awesome, Greg is a talented fuck, but it ended up needing the cinematic atmospheric kick. Kev did the trick. His score is now one of my favourite things about the film, as it always is, along with the performances, which are all immense in this film.

 I have been asked, on numerous occasions where the darkness for the film came from, and if I have a love for horror films, and I must be honest, horror films scare the shit outta me. I could barely watch REC, and couldn't finish watching REC2 at first, in fact being made to watch The Exorcist is my idea of torture. I once watched The Ring alone late at night in Los Angeles, couldn't sleep all night, and had to go walking at 4am. So no, I am not a horror film buff. In actuality it would have helped had I been because I was a little bit egotistical regarding this film and did minimal research, must to the chagrin of my co-producer Franco Noonan, who adores horror and tried to get me to do a few more months research and sit down and watch as many films as possible. I declined, because I had wanted to go in with a relatively fresh eye. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The day that we finished shooting I heard of a film called 'Paranormal Activity', which I went and watched, and was a little dismayed. I only watched REC and REC2 after completing the film, and having watched those since and analysing my own film I have seen multiple ways in which I could have improved it.

One of the big regrets that I have is that I didn't explore more of the actual creature physically on screen. Myself and Franco spent a while trying to get the right look for the creature, and I wanted it to be humanoid, and influenced by Stephen King's monsters. I wanted it to be a little like the Descent also, slow, but being able to move instantaneously without being seen, and yet achingly slow when being watched, an inexorable sort of evil. Nadia Macari did an incredible job with the make up and designed this epic visualisation on the actor Patrick Moynan, with a grotesque spine and a latex face. I had wanted the film to be mainly psychological however, as part of the experiment of the idea, and to that end I only wanted brief glimpses so as to leave it more up to the imagination. The creature was so expertly designed though that it was a travesty not to use him more. I had only 5 nights to shoot as I have said, and 5 nights is no time to shoot a feature, let alone a decent short, so there was no time to change anything, it was structured from a time point of view. When we then did pick ups, it was impossible to get Patrick back, and the make up had been too expensive to react. A genuine missed opportunity. C'est la vie. Interestingly enough however, many people came to me, with mixed reactions of disgust and 'enjoyed shock' at the violence of some of the sections, yet there is very little actual violence on screen, it is all seen off camera or massively implied (well most of it), but you 'feel' like you've seen things, and you project onto the characters the fear for them, and the pain they feel. The same with the creature, people feel they saw him enough, or he was shocking enough to make an impact, so maybe it completely worked. That's the beauty of film making, you always feel that you can do things better, but sometimes things simply work and are what they are, and The Inside is what it is, and it is one of those films that is an entirely subjective experience, which suits me just fine!

Here is the behind the scenes documentary, enjoy, and hopefully if you liked the blog and doc you can go watch the film....BUT, you have to watch it alone, and at night. One thing I did discover is that it's very much a loner type of horror, it's not a social movie, or a cinema film, it's suited to the style I designed it for, being alone, in a dark room, with an open door behind you at all times.....and headphones on....go on....try it.......trust me. I'm right......

THE INSIDE is available across the UK and Australia with Monster Pictures Distribution, the amazon link is below, it is also available in Sainsburys and various stockists, which like when Christian Blake got released across USA in Barnes and Noble in dvd form is a massive kick for me. The Inside will be released across USA prior to Halloween this year, and keeping following my blog, twitter, instagram or whatever social media outlet I will be slaving away to for more updates.




  1. "it's suited to the style I designed it for, being alone, in a dark room, with an open door behind you at all times.....and headphones on....go on....try it.......trust me. I'm right......"
    Oh you sicko, Eoin.

  2. I know some people are not keen on the one camera film but for this I thought the concept was great - I really enjoyed the film I thought the female actors in it came across believable and genuinely scared when attacked. I can watch quite violent bloody stuff and it does not bother me, but it the psychological side to your films that really get me - and the endings well - they have never been what I expected.
    I also have to mention Christian Blake here as this is quite on old film now and can be a bit dark on the old You Tube but well worth a watch - this is actually my favourite film - having watched, Dreaming For You, Cold and The Inside.

  3. I am not usually a big fan of scary/horror films, but I have to say I really enjoyed watching The Inside. I female actors were genuinely scared when attacked and I really felt while watching are any of them going to get out of there alive. I felt really tense and scared while watching.

  4. I loved reading your insights but I'm afraid Eoin I've not seen the film and probably wont, horror scares the fuck out of me, I can't watch any, even relatively mild stuff. Probably cos I snuck downstairs to watch Poltergeist on tv when I was little and it terrified me forever after. So yeah, sorry, but judging by what you wrote, you probably get it.

  5. I actually thought that "less is more" when it came to the monster. For me, a film is more scary if I think "That could happen to me", whereas if a monster is too other-wordly, it's less easy to relate to and therefore less scary. But the biggest star by far was the location (we spoke all too briefly about it at Cold's premier) . . . seriously creepy which really ratcheted up the tension

  6. I can sympathize with your thoughts on 'The Exorcist'. It's a freaking horrifying film, even 40 years later. I literally cannot look at that demon face that they flash at odd times throughout the film, it haunts my nightmares.