The Overlook Theatre has always championed those in the Horror Community that dare to bring new and exciting ideas to life regardless of financial restraint, lack of industry connections, or naysayers. Incredible things are happening every day in the world of independent horror and sadly, even in this age of information, most of it passes by without the respect or recognition it deserves. One such form of media often overlooked in our genre is the short film. Even though full length features have been made from shorts such as Mama and Lights Out most still don't realize that a well crafted short film can in many ways have more of an impact than a full length feature and all within a fraction of the time. I was lucky enough to dig up the dirt with director Adam Butcher on his new thought provoking and visually stunning short film The Prevailing Winds.
KillDozer: Is the decision to work on a short film one of artistic freedom? Does budget ever come into play or cause a film maker to go the short film route rather than full length feature?
Adam: Short films are very freeing to make - you don't have to think "who's going to pay to watch this?" or "will anyone sit through 90 min of this?" or "if this goes wrong is my career over?". That said, you don't have any money so you're also very constrained! I would've added a lot more to this film if I had double the money - ask my producer.
KillDozer: How did you become involved in The Prevailing Winds? What inspired you to join the project?
Adam: I was browsing the internet looking for opportunities and came across this great IdeasTap short film competition. They had 10 scripts, each given funding and a producer - they were just looking for directors. I read The Prevailing Winds, loved it, wrote a treatment, and thankfully "got the job". A great script and a bit of money is enough to get my heart pumping!
KillDozer: The visuals of the film create such a specific mood and atmosphere that is consistent throughout. Was this something you envisioned through the direction of the script?
Adam: You couldn't help but read the script and get a picture in your mind. With hardly any dialogue and lots of landscape I instantly got a No Country For Old Men vibe. DoP Mike thought of The Revenant - and we both went from there.
KillDozer: The wind felt like a character in some ways. Was this intentional?
Adam: The wind had to be pretty key - it's in the title and the whole plot kinda hinges on it! I wouldn't say it was a character, but maybe an antagonist. Like the truck from Duel, but made out of air.
KillDozer: The sound of the film was incredible and really added a lot to the film's mood and atmosphere. What difficulties if any did you face when working with sound on this film?
Adam: The audio was a real joy on this. Despite the windy outdoor environment, we thankfully recorded perfect sound on set (no planes or car noises helps!). So the rest was just creative. Me and sound designer/composer Alex just experimented with lots of things, taking inspiration from Under The Skin and the Utopia soundtrack. When the threat is invisible, the audio has a big fun job to do.
KillDozer: Did you know from the beginning where you were going to shoot the film? Did you use natural light?
Adam: The script always said "The Peak District" because the screenwriter Lawrie grew up around there, and Saddleworth Moor had spooky links to the Moors Murderers. But ultimately we kept that choice because it was the nearest moor to London (where the crew was based). Practicalities come first on shorts!
Likewise - we used mostly natural light because we had to. Only for the cottage scene could we get a generator and some big ol' lights.
KillDozer: How long did the film take to shoot?
Adam: We did the main shoot in 3 days, then went back a month later to film pick-ups, like all those nice grass and landscape shots at the start. We still needed 2 days to get them because the weather was so unpredictable and we kept waiting for the mist to roll in...or roll out.
KillDozer: Have you been able to experience a screening of The Prevailing Winds with an audience? What has been the feedback or reaction?
Adam: I've seen the film play at a few festivals and the reaction's been good. Normally my films have a laugh or two in them, which helps you measure people's engagement, but this one's kinda serious! Thankfully you can feel that people are feeling tense rather than bored - and I always get asked about the ending afterwards.
KillDozer: The ending was incredibly moving for me. What have you been asked about the ending, its meaning, or how it plays out?
Adam: When I read the script the first time - the ending of the film was really clear and unambiguous to me, but the more people that read it and the more edits they watched I realized that it's a lot more perplexing and open-to-interpretation than I first thought. Me and Editor Napo really went round the houses on making it work but I'm really happy with it in the end. I'd say 50% of people see it in the way I do, and others come to their own conclusions - which is great. I had one commenter on Vimeo talk about Shrodinger's Cat - which had never occurred to me!
KillDozer: What do you hope audiences will get out of seeing this film?
Adam: Thrills and chills. I think the film's saying something about death and the way we pretend "that won't happen to me", but first and foremost I wanted to make a tense, visceral and ultimately entertaining film.
But enough teasing it, now check out The Prevailing Winds for yourself! It's currently enjoying the coveted Staff Pick title on Vimeo, and with good reason.
Check out Adam's other films at Adam-Butcher.co.uk.
THE PREVAILING WINDS from Adam Butcher on Vimeo.