Director Chat – Katie Bonham

Director Katie Bonham’s tale of horror, MAB, gave us the story of a troubled girl making mysterious deliveries to a witch-like lady, only to realise that a creature does some killer requests in exchange for the deliveries. Katie gave us her thoughts on the judgments made throughout filming, struggles seen on set, and making a delightfully disturbing creature…
So, how did you find FrightFest?

Frightfest was awesome, I had so much fun. I was very lucky that MAB was received so well and it was an honour to be able to host the World Premiere there. It’s always great to showcase your work to die hard horror fans and to see their reactions. FrightFest offers such a great variety of films and horror sub genres that everyone can find a niche they particularly connect with.

Any standout short films you saw that really gave you a good fright? creepy vibe?

I loved Real Gods Require Blood, which was a British made short. I thought it was beautifully shot and the pacing perfect. I am a fan of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, upon which it was based, and seeing it adapted into modern times, set on a council estate, was an interesting take on the story, showing how this renowned Victorian story still translates its creepy and unnerving elements within a contemporary environment.

MAB! Great success, what inspirations did you have when making it? Tell us about your journey on making it.

I really wanted to create a British folktale, a slow burning piece of social-realist drama that gradually inter-weaved fantastical elements. I think the British view of horror is slightly overlooked, mainly because we are so used to the American ideals of horror. I really wanted to explore a British tale, incorporating social commentaries with fantastic elements and the journey our lead character goes on through these two worlds. We were very conscious to create two worlds for the audience, using different shots, movements and colours to show a clear contrast between the ‘real’ and fantastical locations.

How different was it from other Short Films you have made? Any difficulties in making it?

MAB is my longest film and most complex shoot to date. We had a bigger budget, with cast and crew on a much larger scale, and multiple locations to shoot in as opposed to a few tight sets. I was very lucky to work with so many great professional creatives on this project, in particular my DOP Sashi Kissoon. Sashi and I had discussed the concept of MAB in great depth, from the particular style we wanted to achieve with composition and camera movements to the best way to utilise and explore the locations; this open dialogue ensured we could convey the best story possible and bring the world of MAB to life.

Katie Bonham (sitting) on location with her team for MAB (Photo Credits – Mike Shawcross)

I think MAB is a very layered and mysterious story and there was a concern about conveying too much information to the audience within the short 15 minutes, especially as I am known for not writing heavy dialogue pieces, but we had pre-visualised and explored each shot and through a great cast and crew we were able to express each element of the story without giving away too much.

The monster that did his ‘job’ was extremely creepy! What made you think of a character like that?

Well I had never used monsters in any of my previous films, supernatural elements yes, but monsters was something I really wanted to explore, especially moving towards the more fantastical element of British folklore tales. The idea was to create a strange new monster and to accentuate the mystery of its origins and its connection to MAB.

Paul While, our Special Effects Makeup Artist, and I worked very closely in creating the monster, in both look and movement. Paul did an amazing job and managed to create a very original and realistic monster, while also ensuring that we never showed too much of it on screen. I think it can be difficult to create a good balance and you run the risk of treading the thin line between creepy and silly, especially in low budget films, which is why we chose a minimalist approach of less is more; and the less we know and see of him, the more mysterious and obscure his origins are to the audience.

I got a folklore kind of vibe from it, did you purposely shoot it in this way?

Yes, we wanted to create a very British folktale style to the film. We chose to shoot Rosie’s ‘real’ world within the bland and confined location of her house and the fantastical world in wider open landscapes alongside the mysterious, colourful location of MAB’s secluded residence. The movement and the shot choices for the camera were dependent on which world we were shooting in. In the ‘real’ world we used smooth dolly camera movements around Rosie to create a sense of entrapment and suffocation, and in the fantastical world we let the camera breathe by using handheld wider shots incorporating the endless countryside and symbolising the freedom Rosie has, to a certain extent. We also had a great set designer, Catherine Stepien, to really explore the world of MAB, creating a mystical and colourful unknown realm.

Finally, would you think you would ever use the services of the monster? or something to keep handy in the future?

Maybe something to keep handy in the future!

Want more on Katie? Check out her Twitter @ktbonham

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