I first met Simon Hunter at Fantasporto in 2000 where he was introducing his first feature, the enjoyable serial killer movie Lighthouse (released in the USA as Dead of Night). Six years later, and with only two weeks to go before the start of principal photography on his second feature Mutant Chronicles, Simon very kindly answered some e-mail questions for me.
I remember writing about The Mutant Chronicles back in the 1990s when I was working on SFX. Why has it taken so many years to get to this point?
“I never really know with projects. A combination of things but the stars seem to have come together for us this year. We have really worked hard on the script and have a distinct vision for the film which I hope people will find fresh and exciting.”
Apart from obvious technical advances in special effects and the contribution of your good self, how will the 2006 film differ from the version that was in development in the 1990s?
“The title is the same! I wanted to try and take the movie in a radically different direction. There is nothing left of the original draft, it's just my vision and I hope people will like that.”
What have you learned from your experiences with Lighthouse that you can apply to this film?
“Lighthouse was not a pleasant experience for me. It has some good moments but I think the story wasn't fresh enough. I have been directing commercials since then and learned so much. We are trying to make Mutant a war picture rather than a horror picture.”
What are you most worried about as the start date looms?
“It's a massive undertaking. Millions of elements. Most of all I want to focus on telling a tight story and getting good performances. That's what I want to do most of all. We should have had a lot more rehearsal time on Lighthouse and I really regret that. It's not good for the movie and unfair to the actors. In Neil Marshall’s The Descent you really care for the characters - that, combined with the danger of the creatures and the set pieces, made it an excellent film. But you have to care!”
And what are you most confident about?
“Technically we are breaking a lot of new ground. It's something I know quite a bit about and I am very confident we can make everything work. The film is an almost virtual shoot and we are recording everything onto huge data drives. It’s a totally tapeless digital workflow. Editing, sound and visual effects will be totally integrated. We have a great crew, Tim Dennison is a superb producer and Ed Pressman has been 100 per cent supportive all the way along. So we are in good hands.”
What one piece of information can you tell me about the film which has not yet been made public?
“Ummmm. Not sure I can help on this. But head to Mutantchroniclesthemovie.com and I'll try and post some stuff up soon! It's a smaller movie than people might imagine but all the better for it. A tough ‘men on a mission’ film, not a sprawling sci-fi and ten thousand Mutants versus ten thousand humans! The Mutants will be prosthetic not CG. Paul Hyett is in charge. He did The Descent but he also did Lighthouse for me years earlier!”
interview originally posted 15th May 2006