POPULOUS Dystopian science fiction short film and interview with writer and producer Dan Horrigan

The FilmQuest Film Festival and GeekTyrant have partnered to promote and share officially selected films from FilmQuest filmmakers to promote their films, their work and their careers.

Today’s short is a science fiction project titled Populousset in a world reeling under ecological ruin and self-imposed eugenics, a couple searches for a little hope in their lives.

The film comes from the director Aaron Bevan Bailey and writer and producer Dan Horrigan. We’ve also included an interview that gives you the opportunity to learn about Horrigan and the film he made.

Tell us what your film is about, its characters and its themes. It’s a proof of concept or a story in itself.

In a world reeling under ecological ruin and self-imposed eugenics, a couple searches for hope in their love. John and Helen share a life, but what do they really know about each other? On John’s side he works for the sinister Orwellian society Populace and on Helen’s side she has become pregnant without a license – and neither knows the truth of the other. The film examines the contradictory positions of human agency within a tightly controlled world where the pursuit of perfection drives a seductive evil.

What was the inspiration for your film? How did the idea come to you?

The film was heavily inspired by the rise of authoritarian control over women’s bodies, and in particular the pervasive and increasingly eugenicist views of the 21st century that date back centuries and have been renewed and encouraged globally. In terms of popular culture, the film was inspired by 2000AD, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 and Brave New World. Director Aaron Bevan Bailey is also a phenomenal visual artist and had a very clear vision for the aesthetic of the work.

Tell us about yourself. What is your background? How long have you been a director?

Since 2015 I have worked across the scif, horror and drama genres with over 100 festival appearances and recently in the UK I screened at the British Museum and Curzon Soho. Populace was my path to film as a writer and executive producer and was handled exceptionally well by Aaron Bevan Bailey (director) and Jamie Pigott (FilmQuest Best Actor 2017) with a wonderful team and post production at The Frame Store.

What inspires you to work in genre cinema and tell these types of stories?

For me the genre provides the kind of territory where you can play with big ideas in different aspects and present ways and means to look differently here, today and now. It’s both familiar and strange, and the further you can take the audience away from the continuity of the familiar, the more fun you can have.

What was your favorite part of the filmmaking process for this project?

Adapting the script to Aaron Bevan Bailey’s vision was and remains one of the most fun I’ve ever had as a screenwriter. His central idea was to introduce the clone’s story which would give the film a decisive genre change. I embraced it immediately and it produced a wonderful moment in the film that delighted audiences around the world.

What are you most proud of about this film?

That something I wrote connected with a team to such an extent that it provided work for a large and talented crew and then delighted audiences around the world. The film debuted at the London SciFi Festival alongside Mad Max Fury Road at the Picturehouse in London before being selected for Danny Boyle’s Shuffle Festival which took us to America and then FilmQuest. Now he’s curating Dust in great company and people are still appreciating him ten years later.

What is a favorite story or moment from the making of the film that you would like to share?

We would like to thank the Alice Through the Looking Glass team for being super efficient because we got the location three days early – and then we were ready to shoot. The screenings at the Frame Store were also very warm and celebratory and Aaron’s vision was fully appreciated by the audience. Aaron has one of the best minds when it comes to genre that he’s ever been lucky enough to share. I will always remember his ideas for the world that we shared over a beer in Brick Lane. Then there’s Jamie’s work and the tearing. A wonderful moment of cinema. Going back, I knew as soon as I laid eyes on Aaron’s storyboard that it was going to be good. Other moments include fireflies at outdoor screenings giving their atmosphere, discussions about the status and what it means from the audience and, above all, hanging out with Jamie and Aaron at festivals in London and the US and meeting beautiful filmmakers and people from Worldwide. .

What was the most challenging moment or experience you had while making your film?

For me it was about delivering a script that could sustain the level of talent involved in the film and that supported not only the director and actors but also the cinematographers and crew – and then hold up in post production as well. I am fortunate to have been treated with respect and when I watch the film I can still trace the path back to the original impulse to write the screenplay – and along the way it became the director’s film and I am proud to have been his screenwriter of his debut short film.

If so, how did your film change or differ from the original concept during pre-production, production, and/or post-production? How has it changed the way you approach future projects?

The film began as a play (recently produced in Quebec, Canada) called Still I See My Baby, which I had written in 2014, and through a process of immersion in Aaron’s vision it became a wonderful short film. It was a real pleasure to be trusted and encouraged to make a compelling script for such a fantastic and imaginative director and team. I like to think that because I had firmly established the source or impetus of the idea, I was able to be flexible and deliver results for Aaron – this freed him up to do his own work and really delivered results. At the same time it provided something complicated and human to the actors within the genre setting and that synthesis is really where I want to be in the film.

Who were some of your collaborators and actors in the film? How did you start working together?

Jamie Pigott and I met at an acting class and he was really paving the way for real, authentic work. To my great joy he came to see my comedy Still I See My Baby and he was moved. He knew that he wanted to do something with it and that it would become a film. So he put me in touch with Aaron – they are old school friends from the same remote village in Scotland – and together we managed to make the film. Aaron’s imagination and eye for composing a scene, as well as his tenacity to deliver a performance, were the perfect catalyst for Jamie’s work, who had already tapped into the spirit of the script so easily. Jamie’s performance is truly top notch and this was recognized at FilmQuest where he won Best Actor for the short film.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a filmmaker and what would you like to say to new filmmakers?

Be confident and worry only about what is essential.

What are your plans for your career and what do you hope this film does for that? What kinds of stories would you like to tell moving forward?

My plans are to move forward and produce images that add something to the world. My philosophy is really about making sensations possible – and if I can do that where it was previously impossible, then I’ve made a difference.

What’s your next project and when can we expect to see it?

My next project is Murder Song, a short horror film starring Nicholas Anscombe (he’s the body of Merv Pumpkinhead in The Sandman on Netflix which is great TV). It’s a visceral adaptation of Buchner’s Woyzeck, a German opera that inspired Mernau to make Nosferatu.

Where can we find more of your work and where can interested people contact you? Do you have a website or YouTube/Vimeo channel? Social media handles? Give us what we can share and we will share it!

www.danhorrigan.co.uk @dan_horrigan_productions covertfirmament@hotmail.com @danhorrigan9782

Bonus question no. 1: What is your favorite movie of all time?

Don’t make me choose, I have such love for so many people! Is the house on fire? Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bonus question no. 2: What is the film that most inspired you to become a director and/or had the greatest influence on your work?

I recently made a film called Seine and the film that was my point of reference was Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. There are many films that for many reasons inspire me The Lives of Others – a short film called Table 7 – there are many. Probably the film that inspires me the most in science fiction is Gattaca, a beautiful exemplary film. There are also the Children of Men of Cuaron. Little Joe by Jessica Hausner – a great way to make a sci-fi horror rated 12. Also I should point out that I get to judge film festivals and every year I am blown away by the quality coming from all over the world – what a privilege this IS.

by Joey Paur
Source: Geek Tyrant

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