Director and producer James Bushe is a multi-award-winning filmmaker. Not only has he written, produced and directed several short films (Blackout and Predator Dark Ages) that have featured in various international film festivals. but he has also managed to serve up the juicy and original Cannibals and Carpet Fitters.
James has had a keen interest in making movies from an early age and has been creating films ever since. He is currently working on several feature film projects, along with more short films and promos.
The synopsis for Cannibals and Carpet Fitters reads:
“A group of carpet fitters are sent on a job to an old Country house in the middle of nowhere. However, they soon discover it’s a trap set up by the savage, cannibalistic family, the Hannings. The carpet fitters are forced to fight for their lives or risk ending up being the evenings dinner. Unfortunately, they are not quite your typical heroes!”
I managed to grab James in-between projects to chew the fat about the production.
Emily: What inspired you to make horror films?
James: I have always enjoyed watching horrors since an early age. I’ve been an avid zombie fan since my dad introduced me to Dawn of the Dead when I was 8, haha (one day I will make my epic zombie film!). Although it is not the only genre I am interested in (I love action and sci-fi, and of course comedies), I do enjoy that horror films are for adults, and so can have scares and gore, something that made them stand out when was young. Horror-comedy I especially love, and that comes down from the bulk of the horror films I caught in the 80s, like Lost Boys, Fright Night, Evil Dead 2 etc. I think the two go so well together, whilst also allowing the film to be enjoyable, not just shocking or super downbeat.
Emily: Is there a particular director you admire?
James: Oh I have a good few (the usual suspects like Spielberg, Cameron). But two huge Hollywood directors that also link perfectly to the horror genre that I love are Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. Both started making horror (comedy) films with their mates on little budgets, which I could relate to perfectly. They also made some of my fave horror comedies with Evil Dead 2 and Braindead, and went onto make amazing big budget movies. When I heard Peter Jackson was doing Lord of the Rings, I remember thinking he was the perfect choice – and he nailed it!
Emily: What do you feel your biggest challenges are as an independent filmmaker?
James: I think it really has to be time and funding. It is very hard to get investment in films, so that then forces film makers to have to cut down their budgets and schedules. A lot of the time that then means you end up not having enough days to attempt more complex scenes and so must compromise. So, we end up having to build these factors into the pre-production to see how best to tackle the script. Sometimes, you work out what can be cut, or what can be done a different more cost-effective way, just to still go into production knowing you have the best plan now in place. It can be tough. But in the indie filmmaking crowd, a lot of cast and crew know this, so are happy to help out to get the film made if it is something they are passionate about.
Emily: What’s your favourite film that you’ve made?
James: Hmm, well, I am rather proud of most of my films for one reason or another, but if was choosing, it would have to be between Cannibals and Carpet Fitters and Predator Dark Ages. With Cannibals, it is my first feature film, and so was a mammoth task to get my head around. But Richard (the writer, who also plays Dean in the film) wrote a great little script that had so many funny moments, plus options for set pieces. I remember a lot of people saying there was too much in the film to shoot on our tight budget, but we went for it and shot all of them regardless (and makes the film better for it). The end result is a film that I am genuinely proud of and do feel is nice and tight. The cast we had were amazing (especially with the balance of horror and comedy) and the film has some great shock moments, a fair bit of gore and a nice fun tone throughout. It delivers exactly what you would expect, yet also looks and sounds way beyond our budget limit.
With Predator Dark Ages, I got to make a short film based on one of my favourite films of all time and set in an era of history I love. Although a fan film, I wanted to make something that looked more like a professional production and would be well received with Predator fans. Luckily, we had an amazing cast and crew and the short looked beautiful, the sound and score were exceptional – plus we had a perfect Predator costume too! It was very well received when we launched it, with nearly had 6 million views with a 95% like ratio.
Emily: Where did you study to be a filmmaker (if you did)?
James: I studied with my mates at the Saturday school of filmmaking, haha. Basically, a group of us would meet up on Saturdays, or school holidays, and just film stuff, usually action films or spoof comedies. We had to edit in-camera as there was no such thing as cheap editing software back in those days. But it helped us to learn what was needed to build the edit and disciplined us in shooting just what was needed. We would of course also watch films together and chat about certain scenes, or lighting, or camera shots etc. Best film training, I think.
Emily: What’s your favourite method of filming?
James: For me, I really like to storyboard my scenes before. I can spend ages going through what I think is needed, and where a push in should be used, or a crane out etc. It helps me visualise the scene and then gives me a blueprint to work with the cinematographer or certain special effects crew what I am after. On the day of filming, things of course can change, possibly due to the location, or the cast run through bringing a new angle to the scene, but it is great to have that reference to check back and make sure I have (hopefully) covered all the basics I need to make work in the edit.
Emily: What was your favourite part of shooting Cannibals and Carpets Fitters?
James: To be honest, in general, I had a great time pretty much for most of the shoot (minus the odd days when things would a bit wrong due to weather or equipment not working), as this was my first feature and so quite a big experience for me. The house was amazing, and we had our main big block shooting there, so it was a crazy 2 weeks of filming. We had so much to cover but all being in one place helped and the house really was stunning. Some of us even stayed there, haha! We also got to build a basement set (our only one) for a few scenes and a great fight set piece, and that was a pleasure to shoot. The set option made things a lot easier to work on, and we scheduled nicely for it, so we weren’t too rushed too, which was nice. The fight is a favourite moment in the film for me too. The comedy stripped back and replaced with a straight up brutal fight.
Writer and producer Richard Lee O’Donnell is not only one of the producers at Pretty Dead Pictures; he is also the writer and one of the lead characters: Dean in Cannibals & Carpet Fitters. Richard has been a professional actor for over 6 years, experienced in film, TV, theatre and corporate work and has an excellent reputation in the independent film industry. It was Richard that was responsible for bringing the team together for the award-winning short film version of Cannibals and Carpet Fitters using his knowledge and experience and seeing his vision through. He will be doing the same thing for upcoming feature films.
With its UK release pending, for now, you can sink your teeth into the trailer for Cannibals and Carpet Fitters below!