Hello Horror/Sci-Fi fans, I’m Silvia Garcia here to conduct the interview with Gareth Morgan – the owner of Zenithfilms – an independent film production company – along with a recent interview from Everything Horror Podcast and I mixed in an old interview from Silent Hill Historical Society way back in 2014.
Here’s the new full interview with the film-maker – Gareth Morgan – mixed in these are just highlighted links to the full interview:
General Background Questions
1) Where are you from?
Born and raised in East Anglia, which is the South Eastern part of the United Kingdom.
2) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I had no real aspirations as a child, I just did what I enjoyed doing, which was creating stuff, radio plays, scripts, pictures based on my stories, that sort of stuff. I have never really looked to the future, preferring to concentrate on the here and now.
3) What do you do to unwind and relax?
Play video games mainly and try to be as social as I can be, since my work takes up much of my time.
4) What is your favorite food?
Spicy food mainly, I eat Chicken Fried Rice maybe too much lol but generally food from the South East Asia region. But you can never go wrong with a Traditional Sunday Roast or a good ol’ English fried breakfast.
Questions About Film-Making
1) When and why did you begin film-making?
As with much of the things that have happened through out my career – I had no plans on becoming a film maker. I have worked in the arts all my life and have moved through various artist fields, drawing, writing, acting and the one I did prior to film making was running a Contemporary Dance and Physical Theatre Company.
While running the company we started to make dance for camera pieces, but to edit them we either filmed the pieces in order or I had to string together two VCR’s and play-record-pause to cut the pieces together. When we finally got a PC for the company, I started to use better and more complicated software and just enjoyed the control I had over our recorded work compared to the live work we also did.
After closing the Dance Company, going travelling, and returning to the UK – I decided it was time to get a degree, but rather than do a full degree in Dance – I did a split one in Dance and Film. Over the three years at Uni, my interest and skills in film making vastly improved while my interest in dance waned, and when my graduation film got me my First Class Honours Degree I figured ‘lets have a go at running my own film company and see where it goes’
2) When did you first consider yourself a film-maker?
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t consider myself a film maker. Basically I see myself as a storyteller and film is currently the medium I use to tell my stories.
3) What inspired you to direct your first movie?
I just wanted to see if it was something I could achieve. When you are raised in a working class environment you hear ‘No’ and ‘You can’t do that’ a lot. And I learnt from a very early age, I do not like being told what to do and the more I’m told ‘I can’t do that’, the more determined I am to prove them wrong, lol.
4) Who or what has influenced your work, and in what way?
I would have to blanket say ‘Japan’ or at the very least Asian Media in general. I seem to get the most inspiration from 80’s/90’s Anime and Video Games from the 90-‘s onward. Most of the really influential stuff for me comes from the far east. I have always loved the myths and legends the world has of the ‘Ancients’ or the ‘Gods’, and that also seems to be a heavy influence on older anime in general, so I would assume why I gravitated towards it upon discovering it at an early age.
5) How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing/film-making?
Anyone that has been following my work will see a strong leaning towards having female protagonists in my stories. For the longest time I did not know why, until my parents informed me of something that happened when I was 8.
Basically as a kid, my father didn’t really care about movie certification, so he would have some really dark horror movies on while me and my brother would be playing with our toys in the same room (suffice to say nightmares was a regular occurrence for me and my brother lol). Apparently though during another low budget slasher movie, I asked my dad why girls were always the ones being killed? My dad just said because that’s the way they are and I replied ‘Well I don’t like it and besides Mum would fight back’.
So a huge assumption on my part would be that was the spark that formulated my of subject matters and characters
6) What roadblocks did you face when you were starting out?
The same road blocks I face now. Money and Reach. Nepotism is the basis for many industries and since I am relatively unknown within the film industry and I don’t have any influential friends in that field, it’s hard to get the attention needed for my work.
7) Do you have a specific film-making style?
Currently, I work in Green Screen, because it affords me the ability to have maximum control in the studio and doesn’t limit me to locations or time periods, as I can make, within reason, any world or background I need.
8) What genre are you most comfortable film-making?
I only work in genres that interest me really, those being Horror and Science Fiction, so I’m super comfortable with those. But I have tried my hand at other genres and haven’t had any major issues working within them, so at this moment in time I feel comfortable working in many genres and am always up for trying something new, but time will tell if this answer will change.
9) How did you come up with the title for your company?
My dance company was called Zenithdance, lol. Zenith means the highest point before something begins to fall back down. I have always considered that I live on the raggedy edge, inches away from falling to my doom, lol.
10) How do you come up with ideas for your films?
They kind of find me in a way. Seeing something that is seemingly unrelated can cause an inspirational reaction. Conversations with friends, or just random things I come across. A lot of my work is based on something from real life (Bonnie and Clyde, Violet Rain, Babel) and then it gets turned into a hyper reality of itself in my work.
11) How do you pick yourself up after a failed film if there is one?
Failure is par for the course, so I always consider my work is going to fail from the offset, that way if it does, it doesn’t hit too hard and if it is successful, it’s a welcomed surprise lol. I’ve been making art as far back as I can remember, so I just soldier on regardless of the outcome.
12) What are your current projects?
My next project is Splatterhouse: Jennifer Smells of Rot web series, based on the game of the same name and set between the first two games. After that, I will be working on my next feature film, T.L.E. A cyberpunk adventure. As well as the sequel to Silent Hill Requiem, Silent Hill Lazarus.
13) Can you tell us more about your upcoming projects?
Splatterhouse: Jennifer Smells of Rot is a continuation from the ending of the first game. Jenny is dead and Rick has been arrested for her murder and placed in care due to his ramblings of monsters and demons. Meanwhile the Terror Mask finds Jenny’s soul in the Void and offers her the chance to save herself.
T.L.E. Is my own Blade Runner, not in the sense of story but style and setting. Set in the year 2123 Tle needs a way out of New Babel City and is approached by a mysterious woman offering her a way out, but first she has to kill a selection of seemly random people for her.
Silent Hill Lazarus is set 16 years after the events of Requiem and follows Jessica, a British Psychology student who has come to Silent Hill tor her thesis only to discover her own dark and twisted connection to the town.
14) Which film has inspired you the most?
That would have to be Blade Runner 1992 Director’s Cut. It is my all time favourite film.
15) Which book/manga or video-game or anime would you love to make a film out of one day?
I would love to make a Bioshock film, the underwater city of Rapture is such an amazing environment to work within. But it would require a hefty budget to do it justice.
16) Do you think it is crucial to go to a film institute in order to become a successful film-maker?
Education is very important, especially to learn the basics of story telling and composition. But whether going to an dedicated Institute or not is essential, I guess that’s down to the individual as both have pluses and minuses to them. I didn’t go to a dedicated Institute, but if I had the opportunity I may of well done so.
17) How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Not really, I start with an initial idea and just flesh it out over time, adding and subtracting elements as the project grows.
18) What were your feelings when your first Silent Hill Requiem film was completed?
19) What tools do you feel are must-haves for film-makers?
A camera and editing software is a good place to start.
20) Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?
I have a book that is ready to be published, it just needs one last go over for grammar etc. It’s called Constellation Gemini and is set during the last day of Atlantis.
21) How long did it take you to complete a Silent Hill Requiem film?
It took 4 years; working 6 days a week.
22) What is your work schedule like when you’re film-making?
5 am – 2 mile run, breakfast and then work (writing, editing, filming dependent) until I drop at 8 pm. Rinse repeat every day.
23) Do you hear from your fans much? What kinds of things do they say?
All the time thankfully and they are always pleased and grateful of my efforts in my projects.
24) Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My fan base has been extremely positive and very helpful towards my work, whether that be financially or just helping spread the word to others.
Horror Genre Questions
1) What about the horror genre interests you?
The struggle of the characters against the suspense of the unknown.
2) Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?
As I live in the UK, I’m afraid Halloween isn’t something that really happens very often.
3) What scares you?
Being cursed with immortality.
4) What was your first introduction to horror film/anime/video-game/manga, the one that made you choose that genre to film?
Evil Dead 2, I think is what solidified a real interest in the genre. I had seen many horror films prior to that but it was that one that really grab me as a method for telling interesting stories.
5) What is your favorite horror video-game?
Silent Hill series, Resident Evil series, Condemned, F.E.A.R series, Bioshock…
6) What is your favorite horror movie?
Evil Dead 2
7) Where do you as a film-maker draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
There is no line for my work, as long as it fits the narrative and is necessary, then anything goes as far as I’m concerned.
8) Do you feel any competitive pressure from horror films? If not, why not?
No, I don’t believe I’m in a position to compete with them due to my limited budgets.
9) The perception of the horror film-maker is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most. Do you find yourself — and other horror film-makers — to be more oddball than the average person?
We are all weird in our own way.
Now, That’s A Wrap!
1) Tell us your latest news on Zenithfilms.
2) If you got the opportunity to remake a classic, which one would you go for?
Not a fan of remakes really, I think you should just make new stuff or at the very least continue the stories already told. But if you had me at gunpoint then, Highlander.
3) Do you have any suggestions to help a person become a better film-maker? If so, what are they?
Practise makes perfect, if it’s really what you want to do, then just keep doing it. Look to your peers, follow your inspirations and take criticism on the chin, roll with the punches.
4) Is there anything additional you would like to share with your fans?
Just a massive thank you for being there and continuing to support me, my team and the work we produce.
Now Gareth needs your help again for the next project. Donate here to back Silent Hill Lazarus, which will be a 12 Episode web series. Learn more about this as well during this interview.
Comment below your thoughts as always. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to check these links out for more Zenithfilms stuff: