The Fallow Field is a low budget chiller written and directed by Leigh Dovey. It yet again proves that we are in the midst of a resurgence in British horror and we were lucky enough to talk to the producer and editor of the movie, Colin Arnold, to find out more about taking the film from page to screen and more.
Love Horror: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
Colin Arnold: I studied a BSc in Film Production Technology at Staffordshire University and trained at Reuters News Agency in London as producer, sound & camera operator interviewing the likes of Steven Spielberg, Tony Blair and Bernie Ecclestone. Following Reuters I joined design agency Flaming Pear producing over a hundred promos and commercials. After directing and editing my first music feature documentary in 2007 GUILFEST: GRASS ROOTS. Leigh Dovey handed me the script of The Fallow Field at the British Film Institute, I immediately attached as producer and editor.
Love Horror: How did you meet Leigh? And how did The Fallow Field come to be created?
Colin Arnold: Leigh and I were introduced to each other through a mutual friend, writer and director Stephen Ellis at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2005. We immediately clicked and shared similar tastes in good films and red wine. Following the festival we went our separate ways for a few years– I went off to direct a feature length music documentary, Leigh continued writing and 3 years after that we had a meeting at the BFI Southbank bar. Leigh handed me the script for The Fallow Field. He was going to direct it and asked would I be interested in a role on the film. The next day I read it, two days after that I signed on as Producer and Editor.
Love Horror: You produced the movie. Can you take us through some of the trials and tribulations that you went through to reach this point of release
Colin Arnold: Producing a low budget feature film is extremely hard and you need to make sure you are committed for the long haul. The first thing we did was write a schedule, then location scouted for the farm, then held castings. Once the shoot dates were locked with all the cast and crew we were on the inevitable ‘run-away train’ – which just keeps on building more momentum with people boarding it. It’s your job as producer to keep it going in the right direction.
Building a great team around you is vital for long shoot days and surviving an indie film shoot. All the crew camped on-location and we turned into one big family for the two weeks of the shoot. The weather probably helped us the most as we did not drop any sequences due to poor conditions and the night shoot went of without a hitch. Post production took about nine months and then we headed off to Berlin and Cannes Film Festival to secure a sales agent and distributor. It took a little time secure a deal however it was a great ride across the UK and Europe previewing the film at film festivals and getting some great feedback.
Love Horror: How was the shoot? And how long did the film take from start to finish?
Colin Arnold: The farm sequences took 11 days to shoot. It was all recorded in sequence which not only helped on set but also in the edit suite as continuity was pretty good. B-Roll and the town sequences were shot over a period of two weekends following the shoot.
Editing and Post Production took around nine months to complete. With indie filmmaking you are at the mercy of other people being generous with their time, the sound mix probably took the longest to get right and lock, CGI and the grade were pretty straight forward.
Love Horror: You also edited the film. In your opinion, what sets editing horror apart from other genres? And do feel that any movies influenced you in your style of editing?
Colin Arnold: You have to really be aware of the pace in horror editing. Leigh and I have a lot of experience in editing news and documentaries but horror feature editing is entirely a different kind of beast. It’s fantastic cutting sequences containing the jumps and scares. I remember previewing it in the edit suite one afternoon and we had edit assistants running out of the edit suite and our sound designer fell off his chair due to the jumps – this was great and told us we were doing something right.
The film was cut over weekends and Leigh and I on the breaks would walk around the town to DVD stores and in the evenings watch a couple. I think we watched Se7en, Deadwood, and The Zombie Diaries. These didn’t have a direct influence as it’s important for the film we were cutting to have its own voice, but they certainly got us in the mood.
Love Horror: In what ways did you and Leigh try and set The Fallow Field apart from other horror films?
Colin Arnold: The script is the blueprint for the shoot and ultimately the edit. We wanted to make an original British horror which can be compared to some of the classics from the 1970s. I think the best horrors are usually timeless and take their time to set the scene and introduce the characters. I’m a huge fan of The Shining and Psycho –Kubrick and Hitchcock let the audiences breathe and you get comfortable with the characters and then it suddenly goes up a gear – I saw that in The Fallow Field.
Love Horror: In the press release for the film describes it as being “both terrifying and quintessentially English”, which is an excellent and wholly accurate quote. Can you expand on this further for us?
Colin Arnold: Pretty much everyone in the UK has grown up near the countryside – seen dark woods or spooky old farm buildings. That’s what makes The Fallow Field so terrifying and quintessentially British. I first read the script on a train going through the countryside and it totally resonated with me.
Love Horror: What’s your best advice for budding horror film makers out there that want to get their movies made and seen on the big (and small) screen?
Colin Arnold: Write a script which is achievable. Then beg and borrow to get it made. It’s easier said than done but once you have a budget and dates (no matter how big or small) then the momentum starts to build, people are very generous with their time if they are passionate about the project. That is the underlying factor for indie filmmaking – getting people on board with the dream and sharing the end goal. Be polite and keep going. Lots of people are going to say no, or that won’t work, however keep going and find those people who’ll say yes, let’s do it. Above all though be honest and up front with people from the off-set, and don’t cheap on the food – a film crew marches on their stomachs!
Love Horror: What’s your favorite horror movie and why?
Colin Arnold: My favorite horror film is Psycho. I love the simplicity of it, and am a huge fan of Hitchcock’s work particularly Rope and Rear Window. I used to work in a cinema whilst at college and watch people’s reaction to such films as The Blair Witch, and The Grudge Although I think those films are interesting I don’t think they resonate the same way psychological thrillers do that break the formulae. It’s almost like there are popcorn horrors you’ll go to the cinema and watch for a laugh and scare, then there are the ones that stick with you, days or weeks later – these are the ones that get me excited about filmmaking.
Love Horror: What’s next for you?
Colin Arnold: Last year I released my second documentary feature SUBSOURCE A Dubumentary which is available online, in-stores on DVD and VOD (iTunes and Film4Od)
Leigh and I both meet up regularly to discuss other projects and future collaborations. I’m actively developing numerous fiction feature projects which I would like to direct and we are aiming to shoot another genre based feature this summer which blends my passion for horror with underground music. If Leigh wanted to direct again I would certainly be first in line to read the script as a producer. I’m still film and video producer/director at Figment Production in Guildford. We produce work in Film/Video, CGI, Museum and Theme Park installations,,iPad apps, and digital design worldwide.
Love Horror: And finally, the main character in The Fallow Field suffers from memory loss. What memory would you lose if you could?
Colin Arnold: I once worked on a project and was up for 38 hours straight – music was being pumped into where I was editing and sound mixing – it was pretty horrendous – I still shudder when I hear the soundtrack… I’d like to forget that for sure!