Samera Entertainment and the Chloe Chronicles chat with Writer, Director, and Producer
Q & A By ~ Chloe Brown
Discussing Indie Filmmaking, the future of Horror and Thriller films, his new television series Case Files: The Series (2021), and what is next creatively for him.
Q: It is great to speak with you Damien, you are a very versatile artist known for holdingarious positions on-set from director to screenwriter and even producer. What would you say is the biggest takeaway or lesson you have learned from doing each of these different positions?
A: The biggest lesson that I have learned is how to build rapport with different types ofpeople. People that come from different backgrounds, ethnic groups or have disabilities,because at the end of the day we’re all individuals with different personalities, whatever the role or responsibility to the film set is; you have to learn to adapt to the way other people work, and make it a healthy working environment. In my opinion, this is such an important aspect of it because a cast and crew are going to be spending a lot of time together, and if there are any uncomfortable vibes it can make it hard to do your job.
.Q: How has this knowledge helped you as an artist creatively?
A: I think both creatively and personally it has certainly made me stronger as a person; it’s given me the confidence to walk on a set and know that I have the experience in many roles and can handle the responsibilities placed upon me. I have the ability to communicate with the whole cast and crew. It has pushed my limits and what I thought I was capable of because when you are on a film set it is Tempus Fugit, time flies. Sometimes you can do 18 hour days
and it feels like only a few hours have passed.
Q: Damien, you attended both Nottingham Trent University Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies as well as, Raindance Film School in London, England for a degree in Directing. How did those educational and environmental experiences impact your creative vision now?
A: Going to school and studying the fundamentals of TV and film definitely helped with cultivating my skills, breaking down creative barriers, and opened up resources and outlets for me. Learning about the technical aspects of film such as the walls and rules of film, different cameras, camera lenses, shot types, genres, how to deliver a well-formatted script, post-production, working alongside different people and how to build a pre-production folder, in which I really enjoy doing.
Q: How did this film education and knowledge change how you approach film today?
A: It’s helped with being able to execute different shot types, how to draw out a storyboard on a budget, and create an organized shot list. Going to study film certainly made my vision sharpener; now I can approach a production and have a good idea of what the outcome is going to be. It also gave me the confidence of working on a small budget but executing the production as professional and high-quality as I could get it done.
Q: For our Samera audience who may not know, can you tell us how you became interested In pursuing a career in the Entertainment Industry, specifically, filmmaking?
A: I first became interested in pursuing a career in film from watching American movies from the 80s and 90s, they played a huge part in my fascination and passion for filmmaking. The 80s and 90s birthed narratives that are still being made today like Star Wars , Aliens , Terminator , Indiana Jones , Ghostbusters , and Jaws . Those were the types of movies that have really inspired me. I think there was just something so truly special about that era, it had some of the best Film, TV, and Music made.
Q: Damien, was there a catalyst experience that sparked your passion for film or an industry professional role model you had?
A: There has been a lot within British TV and Film that has inspired me, but my preference was American films which really opened my eyes to strong narratives, interesting stories, and iconic characters. I followed a lot of the work of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Lana and Lilly Watchowski, among several other directors and producers. I wouldn’t say I have a role model, but I do have a top-shelf full of “My Number One Favorite Creatives,” and James Cameron is on that shelf.
Q: Your first feature film came out in 2018, when you co-directed the Sci-Fi Erotica Thriller Prototype with Rae Lim, how was that collaborative experience?
A: Well it was the first time that I had ever been on-set where there were naked people around me, so as a professional you have to see past that and concentrate on bringing the script to screen. Rae Lim sent me the screenplay, I read through it and I really liked it, it had a lot of elements that were intriguing to me, the characters were interesting and I just loved That it was written by a female. It was fantastic working with the cast and crew, they were very professional, focused, and intelligent, I learned more about working in the Erotic genre as it was something that I hadn’t done at the time. We built really good friendships, Rae Lim, Edis König, and I, keep in touch and are planning to work together again in the future.
Q: So, what would you say was the most challenging part about bringing the scenes from page to picture on that project?
A: Well 50 percent of the script was shot in a hotel, I think we did 36 hours of film inside that one location, and it was summer, it was very warm, and all the windows had to be closed so we could get a good sound, we also were falling behind on time, so we only had a few hours remaining before we breached the hotel’s deadline, so it was challenging fulfilling those parts of the script.
Q: Case Files: The Series (2021), is currently in post-production and also marks the first one that you both wrote and directed on your own. What would you say was the most gratifying part of conceptualizing and bringing this project to fruition?
A: I think the best part has definitely been to see the actors portraying the roles, it’s amazing watching them become the characters and hearing how the actors themselves deliver the dialogue, being able to bend the rules to meet an open-minded audience is also a blessing.
Q: What inspired you to make this series?
A: A growing passion for the industry, and a huge interest in film, as well as, wanting to know how a film was made. I grew up playing horror video games which added to my inspiration for wanting to make a series that was my own narrative about a virus that sweeps the earth infecting people, and the protagonists having to escape the city. My friends and I would all play PS or XBOX together, and it was much fun, we would imagine what it would be like to make a zombie film/series. Although I was the only one crazy and brave enough to do it.
Q: What was your favorite scene from Case Files to see translated from page to screen, and why?
A: I would have to say my favorite is Foster’s Retail Park in Episode 5, there is a scene where the protagonist travels to an abandoned retail park, and the retail park itself is one of the biggest in the city. When I would go shopping there, I would say to myself wouldn’t it be great to film something here and have it all abandoned, and we managed to achieve that! On Xmas 2019, Francesca Hill who plays Leticia, and Angel May Webb who plays Megan, gave up their Christmas morning to come with me to the retail park, so we could capture the location with no other shoppers anywhere in site and film an explosive scene. I'm truly grateful for that and their commitment.
Q: Case Files centers around a deadly virus infecting the youth of highly populated cities causing an epidemic that must be stopped and escaped from, how or do you think this can eerily relate to the current pandemic today?
A: It’s really spooky to see an actual pandemic happen and so soon after writing and directing a story about one happening. Summer 2019 we were going out for weeks at five in the morning busting our behinds to capture the city abandoned, and literally a few months later, a real pandemic happened, lock-downs were active, the streets were abandoned, and everywhere was shut down, so it was quite surreal and my heart goes out to all the families of the people who we have lost.
Q: As a writer of Science Fiction, what do you think of these parallels between fact and fiction, and how we as a society can write ourselves a better ending?
A: My active imagination humorlessly began thinking any minute now people are going to start mutating into zombies. No, but seriously I think the lock-down affected us all dramatically, nobody had experienced anything like this before, and none of us were prepared. I think the government did a great job with helping people from all different backgrounds, companies who were furloughed, the rent on properties was frozen in some places, and the homeless were given shelter at hotels. For me, it was really sad to see that some shopkeepers were raising the prices on thing that we as people needed for our survival such as face masks, sanitizers, anti-bacterial wipes, etc. We as a human race need to continue to help one another with each footstep we take into the future , believe me, I know: the only way to get there is together.
Q: For the making of Case Files , you heavily involved your community by having people come from all over the UK to serve as zombie extras in the series, how did this idea come about?
A: Primarily, it was from the 1 st Case Files trailer, I had written an action screenplay on a small budget, went out and executed it as professionally as I could get it. We only filmed a few scenes and then I did an edit, we put out a casting along with the trailer on social media and it received a huge response. People from across the UK began applying for roles in the series, I had to hire admins to help me with the casting process because there were just so many applications coming through, and I wanted to make sure we got back to everyone. Bringing people together and seeing them all so committed to the production was a very phenomenal thing to see.
Q: With that, how surprised were you that it got so much media attention as you mentioned from outlets like BBC , RadioSky , and many others?
A: I was very flattered, humbled, and honored to receive interest from such outlets, I was only in the first few weeks of filming when SkyTV was contacting me, along with several magazines and radio shows. The BBC came on set and they were so professional and inspiring, they really encouraged me to continue with my career. Later on, I also had the amazing opportunity of hearing from Zygi Kamasa from Lions Gate UK who gave me great advice and intuition.
Q: Damien, many of your projects fit under the genre classifications of Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, and Supernatural, what led to your interests in these stories?
A: I guess being open-minded to the possibility of many things led to an interest in telling stories this way, writing enabled me to bend the rules of a present universe, create characters and work them into the story and make them feel organic. I hope by bringing my projects to completion they will inspire other people with an interest in filmmaking to put fingers to keyboards, create a script and go out into the field, even if they only have a small budget, all you need is the mind and confidence to try to achieve the best results that you can get.
Q: What fresh perspective do you think you can bring to the table with your films?
A: I think I bring lots of likable characters, different personalities, and certainly more leading female roles. I also love to execute challenging shot types, I have a notepad full of camera shots that I have mediated on, then drew them out onto slides. I am always trying to bring the best of the best in the mechanisms of how I tell a narrative.
About Bounty Films:
Q: You are involved with the production company Tricell Films , can you tell us about your role there and where do you hope to take the company in the future?
A: I have several roles at Tricell Films , Producer, Director, Editor, DOP, and I also help the admins with the casting and auditioning process. If I’m not multitasking I don’t feel like I’m doing enough work. We often go out and show the younger generation how to use cameras, set up lighting, other equipment, and in general help the kids with building their confidence in Acting and Performing Arts. Eventually, I would like to take the company into Film Distribution and help other filmmakers who have brilliant stories, the passion, and the motivation to get out into the field and create something phenomenal, specifically for younger people with open minds and active imaginations.
Q: You have worked with many public figures and acclaimed performers, can you tell us who was your most inspiring person to work with and why?
A: Everyone that I have worked with has been really inspiring, they are all truly amazing people. I spent the most time working with Piers Linney from Shark Tank/Dragons Den , we would do days where we began filming at 9 am and finish up around 1 am the next morning, this cycle repeated for around 6 weeks. Piers Linney is much fun to work with, he is extremely intelligent, professional, creative, and super motivated. It was very inspiring working alongside him, and we have since become good friends; we keep in contact and are planning more work for the future. I learned a lot about running a business from Piers Linney, though primarily I learned that no matter how successful the person(s) is, everyone had to start somewhere. Everyone no matter who they are had to graft hard, stay committed under pressure and keep at it for years with determination to reach their desired goal.
Q: Damien, with all this in mind what is coming up next for you?
A: Well, I have just completed all the Pre-Production work for Case Files: Season 2 and Season 3. Porter Pictures will be pitching the productions to various TV stations out in the United States, so I have my fingers crossed as both seasons are very exciting and uniquely written during a real pandemic. Ultimately, it was magical writing the script and screenplay for both seasons.
(310) 407 - 9457
(310) 407 -9457
(310) 407 -9457