We’re always keen to keep in touch with the emerging voices in British cinema here on HeyUGuys. You only need look at the BIFA and BAFTA nominations to see the fertile ground this country is enjoying, and in that vein we spoke to director Anthony Woodley for the release of his second directorial outing – The Carrier.
Following on from his debut, 2012’s Outpost 11, Woodley returns to the theme of the human reaction to disaster. The premise of The Carrier has a group of people on the run from an unfolding global disaster, and the maelstrom of emotions which take hold.
Starring Jack Gordon, Karen Bryson and Edmund Kingsley The Carrier is out on DVD right now.
Definitely. Fear can be deadly. It makes people behave in barbaric ways. And it’s highly contagious; panic can spread faster than an infection. We wanted to explore the way different people respond to a crisis. Setting it on the 747 means that they can’t get away from each other.
In the film compassion is also dangerous. If someone you love is infected, could you abandon them? Could you pull the trigger? The infected remaining sentient, makes doing the right thing a lot harder.
The contagion movie has almost become a genre itself – which films inspired you and can we see their influence in your direction? Or were your influences more straight-up horror?
Soderberg’s Contagion was a big influence. It has a realistic and clinical tone which I wanted to bring to our story. I think the more realistic the atmosphere, the scarier the film. With notable exceptions of course. John Carpenter’s The Thing is truly terrifying. There’s a few nods to straight-up horror, with the morgue scene and a makeshift amputation
The containment of tension is all important to the film – how did you work with your actors to achieve this
We had to shoot fast, with little time for rehearsal so I was very lucky to be working with talented actors who had great instincts. The Carrier is an ensemble piece and each character has a different journey, so my work with the actors focused on their specific character and their personal conflicts. Three weeks on board a Boeing 747 with eight actors and a film crew certainly added an element of claustrophobia.
Music and sound play a vital role in heightening the tension and our brilliant editor Mike Pike made sure the film had a good pace.
Can you tell us a little about your experiences working in the UK film industry, and do you think it’s changing for the better? As a director – what change would be most welcome?
It’s been three years since my first feature film Outpost 11 was released and in that time I have seen the industry change. It’s more difficult now to sell smaller UK films internationally. We have been fortunate to have been picked up in the UK by Altitude, a leading distributor, which has boosted our chances overseas, and we’ve signed deals in North America and Japan. But it can be tough out there.
The traditional model of distribution is failing independent films and it needs a platform where it can thrive. I am not sure what the answer is but something needs to change soon.
I am now at the stage where I am starting to work with larger budgets and am currently seeking representation. Our company Megatopia Films has a slate of features we are developing and I am also keen to work in television.
You’ve mentioned working in TV before, it being such an important and attractive medium to move into – do you favor longer-form storytelling?
TV is a cool place to be right now. The form gives room for complex and interesting character arcs. There’s time for an audience to build a relationship with each character… before their story ends or before they’re killed off (if it’s Game of Thrones).
I have some series ideas in development. I think there’s an opportunity to make a great British sci-fi. I am a big fan of the dark and intelligent sci-fi of recent years, Fortitude, Utopia and Black Mirror.
What was the most challenging limitation you worked with on the film?
The budget. We wrote an ambitious film that was always going to be a challenge on a micro-budget. When you have limited time and limited money there is no room for error. When Rebecca Johnson’s character gets shot on the wing of the plane, we had to get it in one take. It was a complex shot and every element, camera, sound, special effects, had to work first time. Luckily the independent film gods were smiling on us and we got the shot.
To make the film sellable to the international market and compete with bigger budget films, a lot of creative thinking was required. The cast and crew understood the budgetary constraints we were working under and all went above and beyond.
We also had the usual filmmaking challenges; night shoots where there was dense fog and temperatures well below freezing. The fun stuff.