Cannes : Sea, Brits and Sun. What else ? I had a nice meeting with the “Warhouse” team during the film festival. Here is an exclusive interview with Benjamin Read and Luke Massey about their thrilling indie movie, starring Joseph Morgan (Klaus in the Vampire Diaries) and Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds). Learn more about the friendship behind the movie and some behind-the-scenes stories… And guess where is the best place to chat with Brits ? In a bar of course, sharing a beer.
– MWOF : Can you tell us a little bit who you are and what’s your job on Warhouse ?
– Ben : Yes, I’m Benjamin Read and I’m the co-writer and the lead producer of the movie.
– Luke : I’m Luke Massey and I’m also the co-writer and director of Warhouse.
– MWOF : Who had first the idea of the storyline ?
– Ben : Well, Luke and I were looking for something we could make together. I write comics and I wrote a graphic novels which has a central image on a man kept prisoner in a room. And when the door opens, there is something that is trying to kill him and that was the main idea. And then, we took that and Luke and I wrote the script back together and expanded the huge idea.
– MWOF : How long did it take to write it ?
– Luke : Well, we both wrote like, maybe once or twice a week in a space of about four months. Only near the end- just when we started shooting- we were writing five or six days a week. Until then, it was just once or twice a week, because we were both busy at that time.
– Ben : Ideas were developed while we were on set. Something scenes just didn’t worked like planned. We were actually filming all day and we had very, very long days… We had to go home to have coffee with Brandy, and then, sit and write about what we’re going to film the next day. But yeah, happy times !
– MWOF : Luke, you’re from Stratford-Upon-Avon, the city of Shakespeare ?
– Luke : Yeah, the little town of Shakespeare ! Shakespeare, it’s something that’s very typical. But the reason is… It’s a really small town, I think there are like 22 000 people. There’s one cinema and there is obviously three big theatres. But I grew up watching theatre.
– MWOF : How did you guys get together ?
– Luke : Matt Ryan was doing drums school at the time of “Revenge” and he did short films when I was 17 or 18. And five years later, I was making a short and came down to Stratford and he brought Jo along, and that was the first time I met Jo. I was away a couple of weeks to shoot that short and we just got really well. Leon Davies was on that crew and later on « Warhouse » and we were like : “Let’s make a feature”. And then I met Ben… Well, I was walking down the street and Ben drove and passed me. He knew me through some people … “Hey I do films, maybe we should talk about making films together”, and that was literally the same with Jo. It kind of happened very quickly. And about four months after that, we shot “Warhouse”.
– MWOF : So you wrote “Warhouse” before you met ?
– Luke : No, we wrote after, as it was written for Jo.
– Ben : We were talking about a film and he got scripts on tape that he wanted to do anyway. I got four or five ideas, some Comics ideas that we talked about and well… We just sat down and we wrote together. And we learnt a lot about writing scripts : we actually didn’t finish the script before we started shooting ! But yes, we wrote for the guys and we also wrote the film for a specific location. We hadn’t got a lot of money, so « let’s do something with some decent actors ». Jo and Matt despite being best friends, never actually crossed parts on set, because Jo would shoot from Monday to Saturday and Matt was doing a big, big theatre job at that time… He got one day off in the week – and bless him – he finished theatre, got on the midnight train, came up to film and so the next day, going home for rehearsals and back to the theatre again.
– MWOF : It must be a lot of work to switch from one character to another every day ?
– Ben : Yes, absolutely it was amazing ! I mean Matt is a very, very capable actor and it must have been an exhaustion to do both jobs, getting off of the train and started working again. He actually played very well the character in the film who is the opposite number of Jo. When we see Jo entering the house for a first time, it was as if he had been there for decades.
– Luke : Me and Matt had two weeks together… through the phone when he came down, it was perfect. He was physically tired. Anyone who knows « Hamlet », knows how exhausting it is to play it on stage. And Jo had to go through all kind of emotions and it was quite similar with that.
– MWOF : How long did it take to shoot ?
– Luke : Like a month… We did a month with a week without Jo. So there is a lot of stuff you can see, like someone is picking up a drink, that’s not him ! We ran out if time. We shoot a scene like in five shots.
– Ben : I’m Jo’s hand double ! These hands are famous… The rest of me is not.
– Luke : We shoot a scene like in five shots and Leon wrote down the shots and the we got back to the shots. There is actually one scene that has two minutes or two and a half minutes, it’s got Jo in it, but there is no Jo at all ! So there is a whole scene without Jo. That’s quite funny because when we showed Jo for the first time, he said “I can’t remember shooting that !”
– Ben : It was hectic, Luke has done a bit of film work before and it was my first featured so it was kind of crazy !
– MWOF : What do you expect, being here at the Cannes Film Market ?
– Luke : Not a lot actually, all the work that has been done is being done by the people from our sales agents for the film and it has all to do with companies and stuff… I mean, we’re here supporting them, we’re trying to get a bit of buzz about the film. The real hard work is with the release at the festival premiere. The one thing why we really wanted to come here, was because Stratford is a really small town and we are the only filmmakers there. So we don’t have any friends in the film industry. We’re going to learn by mistakes and doing our own things, which is fine. But now we have realized that we are having network people who have gone for this, like it and talk to people. There are a lot of people here who are really generous with their time, like other filmmakers or people who want to be filmmakers. That’s mainly one of the big reasons why we are here : it’s because we are the only filmmakers we know – each other and the crew of “Warhouse” ! It’s quite nice to meet other people, so we don’t feel so lonely…
– Ben : We worked in isolation a bit.
– MWOF : Like in the movie…
– Ben : Yes, absolutely ! But we’re also independent and to have a community is a great thing. I write Comics as well and there is really a community for graphic novels and Comics as well. That’s the part in the film that we really have to get alone at the moment. But that is changing, because our career is developing as more attention gets through the web and that’s great. We just met people from the industry and are surrounded by people who do what you do. It’s a good place to be !
– MWOF : You shoot another movie with Joseph Morgan as well, an “outside” movie so to speak ?
– Ben : Yes, the outside movie. We’ve done an inside movie, now the outside movie ! (laughs). We shot a movie called “500 Miles North” which is a complete change from “Warhouse”. It’s a road movie actually, in its purist form. It’s the story of two brothers as part of a quest. It takes place in the middle of England, 500 miles North to Scotland and you’ll discover what happens on the way. We wanted to do something that wasn’t… in a house. That was outside and we wanted to take advantage of the scenery. We had a much larger cast : Kevin McNally, Sue Johnston and we got Matt and Joseph again. It’s a completely different base, it’s not horror, it’s a good dark drama. That’s coming up next.
– MWOF : So it’s the same team as for “Warhouse” : one writes and the other directs…
– Ben : Yes, absolutely.
– Luke : Yes, we wrote together the story based on me and my brother – Matt and Jo play the two brothers. Yes, it’s the same team, it’s based on our own experiences. It’s the same team, we learnt a lot. We shot in three weeks, we travelled to Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Highlands. It was me with a minibus and a crew ! We had a car and a lot of fun. It was a great experience. It’s the complete opposite of “Warhouse” in a lot of ways. I think “Warhouse” was really, really hard to shoot for everyone. Each of us worked so hard : Jo was there 12 or 14 hours a day for a month, with one day off.
– Ben : When Joseph wrapped “Warhouse”, it took us 26 days to get all these scenes and we shot 40 scenes in a day. We literally handed him a bottle of whisky and put him on a plane, because he had to make a movie in America immediately afterwards.
– MWOF : In Warhouse, there are a lot of make-up effects…
– Luke : We had two amazing people : we had Michelle Webb – I’ve worked with her four or five times. She’s an amazing make-up artist who is now doing big movies. She has been doing cover shootings, music videos for British artists for a long time and she’s very talented. And then Gayle Cooper who did special effects make-up for “The Fallen” (played by William Troughton). She came like 3 months before we started shooting. She did everything on her own, all the prep work. The funny thing is, we started feeling guilty because she was doing, like 10 hours a day for 2 months before we started filming. She was working harder than anyone for a long time ! And once we were there, when Jo had a make up change, it took a couple of hours and for Matt as well. Yes, we were really fortunate with that.
– Ben : I can tell you that there are no make-up changes in “500 Miles North” and no blood ! We said we’ll never work with blood again…
Behind-the-scenes photos by Matt Rawlinson.