We spoke to Rose and some of the cast at the HeyUGuys/Who’s Jack night during the London Film Festival and there was a clear sense of pride in what they had achieved as well as an infectious enthusiasm for the film.
Earlier this week I spent a lovely evening catching up with Arjun Rose at the Swanky Soho House and discussed how it feels to have directed his first film, the actors involved and his future aspirations.
Stylish teen slasher film Demons Never Die follows eight very different London students with one deadly secret: they have all made a pact to end their lives together. However, a mysterious masked killer emerges from the shadows to grant their death-wish in more terrifying fashion than they could ever have imagined. Misfit Archie (Robert Sheehan), model Samantha (Emma Rigby), wide-boy Kenny (Jason Maza), star pupil Ashleigh (Shanika Warren-Markland), conflicted Ricky (Jacob Anderson), goth-girl Jasmine (Jennie Jacques), and weakling James (Jack Doolan) are all battling their own private demons, from eating disorders to lost parents. But as a much deadlier assailant hunts them down one by one, their quest for death becomes a desperate fight for their lives. Can these friends survive long enough to discover what they have to live for? Or will their bleeding hearts be brutally slashed wide open?
HeyUGuys: With Demons Never Die to be released in cinemas at the end of this week, how does it feel to have made your first film?
It feels very exciting, I’m really overwhelmed to have had this opportunity and for it to get such a large theatrical release is just icing on top of the cake.
So starting from the beginning with your title, I understand that it was originally called “Suicide Kids”? Whose idea was it to change the title?
It was first brought up by the distribution company but not as a command to change the title. I then did an interview piece with Sir Alan Parker for Screen International and we discussed the fact that he’d had to change the name of one of his films, Fame. He gave me advice on the topic saying that it wasn’t worth having battles over small issues and also because the name Suicide Kids was never essential to the storyline I decided to go with something more media friendly.
With reference to the actors, you have some great names in the film, Robert Sheehan and Tulisa come to mind, how did you go about getting them involved?
Well, a lot of the guys I knew already from social circles. Robert Sheehan I didn’t know, but we ended having lunch together and he called his agent straight away after lunch and said I really want to do Arjun Rose’s film. So that was really good, we got on well and he came to my house most nights to do rehearsals because we didn’t have the budget to do it anywhere else. With Tulisa, after sending her the script to see if she was interested, she asked whether I could make her part a little bigger, so of course I said yes and she was in! Idris Elba came on board because he’s a big supporter of my career and wants us to do a lot of things together. Originally, he came on as a favour and I think he saw the value in what it was about, read the script and got excited too.
How do you and Idris know each other originally?
We actually met years ago, which he probably won’t remember, at a photo shoot. But then more recently I’d written a script, Swift, and I bumped into him, gave it to him and he called me from America saying he loved it and has to be involved. He then called me when he came over to London, he was a nightclub, and I went and met him and I said look, I’m doing this film Suicide Kids, it’s real low budget, do you want to exec? And he said, anything you want to do, I’m involved.
Are there any actors, from Demons Never Dies in particular you would like to use again in future films?
Well, me and Jason Maza are very close friends so I’d like to work with him again. Robert Sheehan, I think he’s got a fantastic future so I’m sure, well I’m not sure, but it would be nice to do something together again. All of them, I just get on with them all. I think Reggie is a really good actor but I don’t think he will the recognition easily because he’s so well known for being a radio DJ. Emma Rigby, me and her are very close friends and her career is going well. Everyone- I want to work with them all again!
With this being your first film what pulled you towards the horror genre?
I think that a slasher is a great genre that you can really get away with making low budget and people appreciate that. It’s also something which really appeals to actors because they can come in and do over the top performances or try things that they’re not allowed to do every day drama. It wasn’t the only script I’d written, it was just the most appropriate for this budget.
So if you could choose your ultimate genre, what would it be?
Well my next film is a sports oriented film, a bit like a Billy Elliot coming of age. But eventually, I would really like to make a Superhero film.
Is there a possibility of Demons Never Die being a sequel?
Great! Ok, moving forward you’ve already mentioned that you’ll be directing an Olympic based film called “Swift” with Idris Elba being the leading actor, can you tell me more about this? The storyline…which actors you hope to get involved?
I can’t tell you much about that at the moment, not because I’m not allowed, but just because we don’t exactly know. The story line is basically about a young boy from the wrong side of the tracks, an ex-sports agent, and what happens when their worlds collide. That’s all I can really tell you at the moment!
Finally, just a few general questions! Was becoming a writer/director something you always wanted to do?
Yes but I think it took a long time to realise that. I think people in general have to have a lot of experiences and journeys before they know exactly who they are and what they want to do.
And in the future, can you see yourself possibly in front of the screen?
Yeah, I’m just waiting for my big opportunity really! I’ve emailed Scorsese and Tarantino a couple of times, so I’m just waiting for them to get back to me then it’s all on (laughs)!
Where can you see yourself or where do you hope to be in 5/10 years time?
I’d like to be making my huge budget superhero movie-that’s where I’d like to be.
Demons Never Die is out in UK cinemas Today.