I interviewed actor/director Harold Gasnier by e-mail in August 2008 after reviewing his film The Demon Within.
What did you set out to achieve with The Demon Within and to what extent did you feel you achieved that?
“I set out to achieve the look and feel of an ‘80s-style horror. Something that made you think, more than just a slasher picture. I feel this was achieved, but primarily I wanted the movie to look good. Great photography, good looking cast and above average performances.”
How did you gather cast and crew together?
“The cast were picked initially from various casting notices placed on a few good sites. This was shortlisted to about forty after the initial CV and photo session. The shortlisted ones were invited to live auditions and from the taped auditions the final cast selected. I was looking for fresh new faces that worked together.
“The crew was a different matter. I have worked in the past with the DOP and he could interpret my ideas - but more than that I could trust him. The rest of the crew were either word-of-mouth or once again crewing notices placed on the web. Nearness to the locations and availability on the four-week shoot were paramount, as being low budget our greatest expense was accommodation and excellent food. Keeping them all well fed and watered meant it was the most joyful of movies I have worked on.”
What aspects of your experience directing your previous films were you able to use on The Demon Within?
“In a nutshell, planning. As much as you can plan a movie, especially when there are a lot of outdoor locations, that is vital. Especially as the weather before the first day of photography had been dreadful, just weeks of constant rain. On the first day, as if by magic, it cleared up. A good schedule, reasonable hours and a good night’s sleep are also high on the list.”
How does being an actor help (or hinder) you as a director - and vice versa?
“Being an actor helps you know what the cast are thinking and helps you working with them to conquer their inexperience. Explaining to them why you are doing something instead of being left in the dark. After all we are, in a form, training the actors of tomorrow. Going into technical overdrive alienates them; bring them on your side and you can show them what you want and get it. I don't feel being an actor hinders the production but I did make one concession as an actor: rehearsal. Rehearsal before first day of photography commenced. This is an expense that low budget films often can't take, but believe me, if we all know what we are doing before the first day of shooting it speeds up the process much more. Have your DOP there and work out those angles and that lighting.”
Geek Alert: what parts did you play in Doctor Who and Blake’s 7?
“I am surprised at the attention Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 still attract after all this time. At the time I didn't think it was going to be a cult sort of thing. In Doctor Who I played a Parliamentarian in ‘The Awakening’ and another character in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ but for the life of me can't think who it was. Both with Peter Davidson. Blake’s 7 was again two episodes in which I played Zordon, a Mecronian with the lovely Glynis Barber in a catsuit - very nice behind had Soo Lin.”
What are your plans for your next project?
“What next? Hmm, where do I start? First off an anthology with three other directors. No title as yet but set in a brothel. Casting early September, shooting mid to end, ready for AFM in November. Then I have a script being optioned and three others in development, plus I am midway through a Summer Season as an actor. Life is never dull, I wouldn't have it any other way.”