THE SNARLING SET REPORT
Written by Daniel Benson
It always seems like I end up yomping through woodland whenever I get a chance to do a set visit. In the case of The Snarling it was no different, although a double bout of illness had prevented me from getting this done a week earlier when they were shooting indoors. On this particular day, though, the sun is shining and the shoot is but a mere 10 minutes from my front door. Well, 10 minutes to get to the general area and another 10 buggering about trying to pin down where the crew is. That awkward moment when you call the director for his whereabouts and he's in the middle of shooting a scene...
Taking a wide route to avoid walking into the shot and messing things up further, I finally emerge from the bushes and happen upon a group of people gathered round a car, peering in through the windows with cameras and sound equipment. Either I've found the shoot or I've stumbled across a very sophisticated local dogging group. Thankfully they're not outdoor sex enthusiasts and sound engineer Emma Chilton and producer Ben Manning give me a warm and cheery greeting. Director Pablo Raybould is in the car in the guise of the D.I. As is the norm for independent features, everyone has multiple roles. Pablo is directing, acting, producing and writing. Ben is co-producing, acting and will eventually edit the final product.
I have a brief but weird conversation with Pablo via the microphone in the car that's relayed via Emma's headphones. It's like having an interpreter present for a foreign national. Once the introductions are out of the way, they crack on with another take of the scene where the D.I. and his hapless constable, Haskins (Ste Johnston), are discussing the lab report on some murder victims.
Click images to enlarge.
Today the car is the star and they're making the most of it. It's a restored police Volvo owned by Tony Latham of The Blue Light Vehicle Preservation Group so all the scenes involving the officers in their car are being shot. Nobody dies today. Released from the confines of the car, I finally get a chance to speak to Pablo without my capable interpreter. These are the last two days of filming and the energy and enthusiasm are still running high despite the punishing schedule. I ask him about the reaction to the film so far.
"Some people have moaned about it being zombies", he tells me, "they've said 'not another bloody zombie film', but they've missed the point – it's not a zombie film". I'd missed the point too, reading the info on The Snarling I'd wrongly assumed it centered on a zombie movie shoot beset by the undead (in the same vein as last year's I Survived a Zombie Holocaust). Pablo explains the actual premise; the zombie film shoot is there, but something altogether different happens. It's something they're working hard to keep under wraps, so I can't mention it here. He shows me pictures on his phone from the previous week's warehouse shoot; mutilated bodies, severed limbs, zombies and... other stuff. I curse the illness that kept me at home while the really meaty stuff was happening.
Time goes by and Pablo's adding stunt driver to his list of jobs. "It's only a handbrake turn", he shrugs, "I was a rally driver for 13 years so it'll be no problem". No problem in a wide open space maybe, but this is a forest track with trees pretty close on each side and that car's a long old beast. After a few tries to get a feel for the car, they're off and rolling. The Black Magic camera is jib mounted for this scene and through a few takes it becomes apparent the only thing keeping it from clattering off the roof of the police car is the quick reactions of the cameraman. It should make for a good shot at least.
Click images to enlarge.
"Once we're finished here we're into grading and editing", explains Pablo, "about six months I reckon, before we have a finished product. It's going to premiere at the Horror on Sea film festival". I'd kinda hoped for Frightfest, as I'm always at that one, but Pablo and team have a good relationship with the blossoming South Coast festival, so are keeping the film as an exclusive for it.
With the sun beginning to set and my feet starting to get cold, I bid the crew farewell. Later they'll be murdering some cyclists, but it's not going to involve any bloody remains. I stop in at the fishing lodge they've been using as their base for shooting. Not a dead body in sight here, but an impressive conversion of the former empty shell into a pub that features heavily in the film. I chat with co-producer Ben about some of the challenges they've faced, the biggest being funding. He's invested his own money, as has Pablo, with the remainder coming from a crowdfunding campaign. When I mention that I was impressed with the teaser trailer (shot to raise interest for the funding) he's adamant, "From what I've seen, from what we've shot, the finished product will be a hundred times better".
You can't really argue with conviction like that.