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Friday, October 26, 2012

13 Question Marks of Horror with The Other Side 's Santoro Brothers

Alex and Oli Santoro are a directing team to be reckoned with. Their first feature "The Other Side" is technically a short, but plays so complete and is shot with such scope that it defies the format definition. Not only that, the their creation; Death Face is a thing of beauty. Though they are in the process of touring the film all over the world, they took a time out to chat about 13 question marks of horror...

1.       You obviously have a love for horror. What was the first horror film that really got under your skin?
We’ve been watching horror films since we were very young. Since about 2 or 3. The stuff we were seeing perhaps shouldn’t have been seen by kids so young but… I guess it worked out for the best. There are a few movies that I recall as having some kind of impact on my life. It’s always too hard to name just one. Child’s Play, American Werewolf in London, The Candyman, The Exorcist & Halloween were our favorites. These films have certainty had a sub conscious effect on our psyche. 
(Alex) For me it’s not about a movie getting under my skin, I am very rarely scared by a film (if ever) I just really love it when other people get scared around me! I kind of get a buzz off of them. My brother and I were always dressing up and trying to scare the hell out of people. 
I remember in school once when I was extremely young, the teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said ‘a murderer’. Unfortunately I never lived up to my potential and had to settle for killing people on screen rather than in real life. Similarly, my brother always wanted to be a vampire and once asked my parents for a coffin for Christmas! Haha. 
2.       You are based in the UK, so I’ve gotta ask, who did it better, Classic Universal or Hammer Films?
(Alex) It’s a toughie but I’d have to go with Universal. Personnel favorites are Frankenstein & The Wolf Man. Although, I’m a massive Christopher Lee fan so it’s close. That said, we would love the chance to work with him!
3.       How did you get into working in film production?
(Oli) I left school at 15 without any qualifications or degrees. Alex has both but I don’t think they have come in handy at all! Film is an industry where experience is key. Also it’s all about who you know sadly rather than what you know. So at times it’s been a struggle but The OTHER SIDE is a good example of the good times. We’ve both done our fair share of running around film sets like headless chickens but the experiences we gained have proved invaluable.
4.       When it came down to jumping behind the camera, how did you choose your subject?
It was always going to be horror. We came up with the idea for The Other Side a few years ago. The story just organically evolved over time. Being our first narrative film project, we didn’t set ourselves any restrictions whilst generating ideas. We wanted car crashes and people being thrown into walls etc. But when it came to making it, we were like, ‘how the hell are we going to get this made!’. We knew that we had given ourselves an uphill task and written an incredibly ambitious short project. We did everything in our power not to compromise too much and hopefully stayed true to our original intentions and vision.  
5.       The hardest thing to come up with is creating a memorable killer. How did you come up with Death Face?
(Oli) We always envisioned having a killer crying. Black tears running down a white, rotten, torn and tattered mask provided the perfect contrast. We also wanted someone huge, a towering figure, a monster of a man with straggly hair! We tried to make Death Face into a ‘super slasher icon’. 
6.       You’ve spoken about possibly expanding the film into a feature. Is what we’ve seen the beginning or would you fill out the events in fuller detail?
Oh we need to go much deeper. The original script was a lot longer. It came out at around 30 pages. The shooting script was 15. So we already have a lot down on paper. Also the original ending was much more Hollywood that the one we went for. We were forced into a few decisions mainly due to budgetary constraints. 
7.       Do you have a full mythology to be explored in the future?
We already have the complete story for ‘The OTHER SIDE’ feature and if anyone came to us and said they were interested in making it, then we would definitely entertain the possibility! 
8.       This is possibly the most engrossing short that I’ve ever seen. It actually plays like a pilot. Was the film completely storyboarded? 
Thank you. Yes. I must give a special thanks to Lianna Wield (our artist), she really helped us out. We had a storyboard of over 500 shots. We loved every single one of those shots. We only managed to get around 150 so thankfully whilst you claim it to be engrossing, you can only imagine what we could have produced if we managed to get all our shots. That was one of the hardest things, selecting the right shots to make a potential mini feature in to a powerful short. When we sat down with our 1st AD Joe Geary and DOP Wedigo von Schultzendorff they thought we were crazy but admired our spirits. Sadly, we had to cut down on the day. Honestly I cried over every lost shot! I literally just got over it, thanks for bringing up bad memories! Haha. 
9.       The biggest mistake that new film makers make is treating their Cinematographer like an afterthought. The Other Side looks great. Was your D.P. involved from the very beginning?
When we got to the nitty gritty part of pre production, we were very insistent on having an experienced DOP as we were fully aware whilst working on other projects the importance that this role could bring. We really wanted someone special and we saw ‘Pandorum’ in the cinema a few years earlier and thought it looked phenomenal. He remained in our minds and we sent him the script, he read it three times before he even got back to us. He knew it was an ambitious project with some young guys at the start of their journey and was excited. Wedigo remains a close friend today and we shared something very special with him. He’s an incredible guy and I feel very grateful just having the opportunity to work alongside him. A true professional and incredibly passionate about filmmaking. He graciously came down a week early and gave us his time for free. He spent one week at our house going over each scene and shot meticulously. Wedigo is the king. 
10.   Not only is the look of the film spot on, but the actors turn in such complete performances. Was the dialogue set in stone or did you allow improving?
We will always allow for improving. If someone makes the scene better then we are all for it. The dialogue will never be set in stone with us. The film is a collaboration of every person we came in contact with, especially the actors who were at the forefront of the project. An actor has to feel comfortable saying his line otherwise it just won’t feel right. We had a circle of action etc but we employed the actors to do a job and we tried to leave them to it as much as we could. We had full faith and trust that they would do a fantastic job and they didn’t disappoint. 
11.   You’ve put so much into the film including the poster. Since horror posters today are less than inspiring, did you have a specific idea in mind for how you wanted the film represented?
Yes. We wanted something different. Something with a classic feel. Graham Humphreys is a legendary British artist and we knew he was exactly the right person to pull off that kind of old style movie poster. His work speaks for itself. 
12.   Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen our slasher icons like Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees, stumble. Do you think it’s time for a changing of the guard?
Yes please. I think they need to go back to basics. It’s so why so many horror films fall down today. They need to go much darker. The number one rule is you have to be a fan! And please just stop selling out! 
13.   You and horror seem like such a natural fit, do you plan on continuing or do you want to explore other genres in the future?
Our next film that we are writing at this present moment in time is a classic British horror / thriller. I’m very excited about it! I can’t say too much but it’s called The Practice (working title) and we are about half way through the script. We are writing it with our cousin and best friend Ben Scott, an extension of The Santoro Brothers, so much so that we were considering changing the name to ‘The Santoro Triplets’. He also wrote The OTHER SIDE. An incredible talent and in all seriousness we feel very fortunate having someone this good apart of our team. 
In our minds, Thrillers and Science Fiction films run very closely behind. But for us horror holds a great sense of nostalgia and will always remain close to our heart. It’s the only genre where it really feels like a ride at an amusement park. And hopefully people will enjoy our future rides. 

Other Horrific Musings:

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