Mike Tack goes for the throat in his latest urban horror short.
We’re fans of film-maker Mike Tack here at Excuses And Half Truths. He channels a love for horror and an inventive streak a mile wide into the creation of films with a very distinctive look and feel. His latest, Two Careful Owners, a sequel to fan favourite One Careful Owner, is rolling out to festivals this summer. He was kind enough to let me have a review copy, and to have a bit of a chat about urban splatterpunk, working with a less-than-zero budget and how to document the violent application of hammer to kneecap…
Rob: Mike, Two Careful Owners shows a new level of sophistication in its cutting style, look and of course, the gore FX. What was the setup for this one? Any particular challenges?
Mike: Well the sophistication comes mainly from equipment changes and becoming more familiar with the whole process. I now have a DSLR – One Careful Owner was shot on my iPhone4 in 720p! I invested in a cheap Canon 600D and a Manfrotto fluid head tripod – I used to use a flimsy Velbon £30 tripod which was awful.
I agree, the look is much improved. I used my DSLR on a yet unreleased film to get some practice in. I had to learn about Magic Lantern, how to use the bloody camera and how to render out the correct quality. So I have had a really steep learning curve. I still don’t think I have mastered it yet but I am getting there.
The cutting style is evolving like all my other filmmaking skills. I guess I have learned to shoot more coverage than you need as it can get you out of a hole in the edit. I did list the shots beforehand on an Excel sheet which really helped as you can often miss stuff in the heat of a shoot.
The Gore fx are brilliantly realistic as ever, thanks to my partner in death Tim Richards. Tim really steps up when I give him my ideas for the violence I want to shoot! He is so artistic in nature that he makes my life relatively easy. Although the knee and foot gags did present me with some challenges. Just try filming a stone foot with sandal straps and make it look convincing!
Rob: What made you decide to revisit the characters and setup of One Careful Owner?
Mike: Well I really feel that I want to stretch my legs and make a feature so I had my eye on developing one. But I had a brainwave one lunchtime and said to myself, “what if Chris Lee gets interrupted when trying to kill Pete at the end of One Careful Owner?” I then brainstormed it and felt really motivated to explore more of the character and the theme of vengeance. Plus I really enjoyed Richard Nock’s bulldozer fury at the injustice he had to suffer.
Rob: Bulldozer frenzy is an accurate description! Rich Nock is very convincing as the lead character, Chris Lee. How did you tease that performance out of him?
Mike: I didn’t have to do any teasing at all – Richard is a psycho! Seriously though, Richard nailed the character from the word go – he gave me a very easy job.
Richard and I worked on the script I had written and seeing as I am pretty weak on the spoken dialogue, Richard was invaluable. So that’s why he and I co-wrote the screenplay. We both have a similar sense of humour so we both contributed sarcastic one liners for Keith Eyles to enjoy in his monologues.
Rob: What’s next for Apocalyptic Conservatory Studios?
Mike: Lots! we have a Turn Your Bloody Phone Off ident for the Frightfest 2014 festival which will be screening outside the competition – we won last year with our Phoneraiser ident.
I entered a short called Zombie Hunter in the Short Cuts From Hell competition and as luck would have it we made the final 26 which means a VOD release and a screening on the Horror Channel. I’ve submitted a feature length pitch as part of being one of the 26 finalists, so if we make the final 3 I am in with a chance of some decent funding to make my 1st feature which would be amazing.
Last but not least 2 CAREFUL OWNERS is getting great reviews and the World Premiere will be hosted at the prestigious MILE HIGH HORROR film festival in Denver, USA this October. So it’s all go at the moment. Looking towards the end of the year, I will be releasing my Halloween EC comic inspired short THE ALLOTMENT once I have the soundtrack completed by my stepson Kyle Parke.
As you can see, Mike is always full of ideas and enthusiasm, and is pushing hard to make his bloody dreams come true. Great news about both the Mile High Horror and Short Cuts From Hell gigs, don’t you think? If you get a chance to check out Two Careful Owners, do so: it’s gritty, brutal splatter with a harsh urban edge. Unlike the man behind it, who’s just an incredibly lovely person. Just goes to show: horror people get all their demons out on screen.