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Thursday, 3 July 2014

An Interview with Adam J Spinks: Director of 2 upcoming movies, Survivors and The Expedition

The rambling self indulgent section

Picture the scene. It all takes place on a freezing winter’s evening many years ago as my girlfriend and I were driving back from a rather fine Rock concert (Whitesnake, to be precise) – and we were lost, badly lost. It was partly my fault that we didn't have a clue where we were, well actually it was completely my fault that we were lost, having had the bright idea of taking a ‘short-cut’ across the Yorkshire Pennines instead of the usual route home via the motorway. If there are any of you from further afield who are unsure what the Yorkshire Pennines are, well just think of the opening scenes of An American Werewolf in London, and you should get the picture. I can’t quite remember why I suggested this alternate route, though it probably had something to do with wanting to spend some naughty time alone with the said girl – which actually reads a lot creepier than it probably should.

Just like this, but with snow......and no werewolf. Oh, & no Americans.
Soon after we realised that we were lost, two things happened. Firstly it started snowing and secondly it quickly became rather clear that we were getting dangerously low on petrol. The fact that we would have been fine if I hadn’t been thinking with certain parts of my body, rather than my brain, didn’t cross my mind – which again reads a lot creepier than it should.

It soon became apparent that we were going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, with just a jacket each to keep us warm, a couple of bags of crisps and one chocolate bar for sustenance. We were in serious trouble and quickly decided rather than risk completely losing mobility in some death crash scenario, we would park up and see out what was becoming a bitch of a snowstorm. In fact This was getting very seriously worrying; people had died after getting lost in that part of the world from cold and exposure and it swiftly crossed both our minds that this could quickly turn into a life or death situation.  My idea of sharing body heat to help us cope was swiftly treated with the contempt and cynicism that it probably deserved and after a rather intense argument it was decided that she would sleep in the back, I would have the front.

It's difficult for me to convey just how dangerous the situation was that we were in, we were lost in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard. The other issue was the food – we were both as hungry as anything but didn’t want to risk completely running out of the meagre supplies that we had – after all, it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we could be there a day or so if the weather became as bad as it often could in those parts.  After much deliberation (e.g. whining on my part) we decided to share the chocolate and save the crisps for the next day – and off we then went to spend one of the most fitful, painful and genuinely scary nights of sleep that I can ever remember.

I woke up the next morning to three things – the end of the snowstorm having been replaced with a lovely sunny morning and the sight of not one, but two empty crisp packets next to me. Yes, she had eaten the bloody lot, and not only that, when confronted with the evidence she wasn’t in the least bit guilty about it – she had made a decision based upon the very real possibility that we could die and her need to eat won out against the feelings that she had for me. It seems that given the circumstances as to how far she would go to live at the possible expense of someone she professed to care about was actually, well, bloody well far as it happens.  What neither of us realised that by pure chance, we had wandered the previous night within 2 miles of the one and only petrol station in a 30 mile vicinity. 

What do you mean "This is a crap story" it was life or death, matey!

The actual point of this article section

You may be wondering why I’m blathering on about my near-death experience (well it felt that way at the time) from a lifetime ago. Ok ok, maybe it wasn't exactly the best of stories, it didn't quite have the plot from 'Alive' or Scott of the Antarctic. However, putting that little fact aside for a moment, I’ve often pondered on my ex girlfriends decision (naturally, we soon split up after that) to forgo whatever feelings she had for me and ensure that when the situation became seriously dangerous, she looked after number one. I've often wondered what I would do with the choice of saving myself at the possible expense of others when faced with a potential life or death scenario.

This very conundrum, "How far would you go to survive?"  also seems to have been on the minds of some filmmakers from England, which their upcoming film Survivors explores this very theme – albeit to a far more extreme scenario than my getting lost in the middle of nowhere. The movie comes from Initiative Motion Pictures and Organised Chaos TV and Film. It is produced by Award-Winning filmmaker Michael Beddoes and Directed by Adam J Spinks (The Expedition).

The actors involved in Survivors include Joanne Gale (Red Dwarf X, Run Fatboy Run) Simon Burbage (Pulp: The Movie, Hollyoaks, The Expedition), Adrian Annis (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Art Of Darkness) alongside David Anderson and Lydia Kay (Christmas Slay).

The plot synopsis is as follows:

" In 2014, the dead will rise and the infection will spread in Initiative Motion Pictures and Organised Chaos TV and Films’ “Survivors”. From director Adam J Spinks (“The Expedition” “All In The Method”) and Producer Michael Beddoes (“The Third One This Week”, “Lolotte”) comes a remarkable, ambitious story about the depth of human courage in the face of an unstoppable enemy…"

The footage shots you see with this piece are the only visual material released so far, and with only a limited amount of information available from the press release, I thought it best that this intrepid blogger dig a little deeper into the background of this movie. Hopefully it would provide both a greater insight of the details of the film and also possibly help me get some dirt and gossip that could benefit me in some unscrupulous way.

So When the director of Survivors, Adam J Spinks foolishly agreed to take part in an interview it seemed the perfect chance to lull him into to some cunning trap and trick him into letting slip some secrets or even a little piece of juicy info. It might also give me the chance to find out whether the J in his name actually stands for something or is a made up film luvvy type trick to make us think he knows what he's doing..........

We shall see, Mr Adam J Spinks. We shall see.

Me) Many thanks for taking the time, Adam, to answer my piecing questions. Before we start, tell us a little bit about yourself & your previous work.

(AS) My pleasure. I’m a Director/Writer and sometimes Producer of film and television. I’ve been working in the industry since I graduated, moving up from short films through web series and finally on to feature films. It’s been a dream of mine to make movies since I was a child so for me, this really is the ultimate job.

You'll never get phone reception after the apocalypse, mate.....
Me) Why specifically does the horror field interest you?

(AS) I love horror so much because, it’s a bit like Sci-Fi in that often these films, with all their excesses,become an allegory for something real- they’re a way of talking about something we can’t really talk about.

Certainly, there’s been a shift in visual style since the atrocities of September 11th, in that more films are relying on first person storytelling and the idea of the unseen enemy, attacking without a clear cut motivation. Whereas before, the camera may have stepped back to allow us to see the grand scale of destruction (Independence Day), now the camera is rooted among the chaos. Cloverfield is a particularly good example of this.

Horror is at its most compelling when it’s character driven. Give us characters to root for and we’ll care so much more when the blood starts flowing!


Me) You first 'sold' the concept of this film to me as a 'horror movie set in a fictional cadaverous apocalypse' - That alone pulled me in! Tell me more.

(AS) Survivors is a character-driven horror movie set in amongst the unfolding and aftermath of a deadly contagion that turns the populous (if infected) into the living dead. Through their ordeals in trying to escape this outbreak, our characters, in differing ways, discover to what lengths they would be prepared to go to survive. Lets just say, that concept doesn’t end well for everybody!


Me) You say in your press info that with SURVIVORS you want to throw away the rulebook & shake things up a little - could you enlarge upon that?

(AS) I wanted to do something nobody has tried before which is to take traditional, cinematic film making and mesh it with the first person storytelling style of something like “The Blair Witch Project”.

As we were writing, it became very clear that we wanted to tell the story across two time lines and this seemed like the perfect way to execute that concept. We found a way to narratively motivate the shift across styles and it’s worked out really well for us.


Me) Besides I'm assuming, money, what other challenges have you faced so far in the making of the movie?

(AS) Making a feature film is a massive undertaking, it’s not something that should be taken lightly and also, in my opinion, not something a filmmaker should just do straight off the bat.

There are loads of unexpected challenges, questions and tests of character that lay around every corner and that’s what makes it so exciting. From writing to re-writing, casting to scheduling and then from shoot to edit, every day was a challenge but we embraced the experience.

We had such a great cast and crew for the film, the shoot days were long but everybody stuck together and really bonded, which was great. I think, with film making, it’s all about the team and who you choose to surround yourself with. If you don’t have the team, then you can easily not have a movie.


Me) So what lies behind the question of what lengths we could go when face with the choice to save ourselves or the ones we love?

(AS)I’m really fascinated by certain aspects of the human condition. No matter how much we have become socialised, we are still animals and we’re still predators. We didn’t become the top of the food chain by accident.

I wanted to take that idea and explore what would happen if the rules of socialisation didn’t exist anymore… What if there were no laws, what if there were no phones or internet… what if we could no longer take our safety for granted and every day was a fight to stay alive…

I wanted to explore the idea that when faced with the choice, would you save yourself at the expense of somebody else or would you go back and save them?

I’d like to think that in a situation like that, I’d save somebody but, as we see in countless news stories all over the world, a lot of people don’t.


Me) So how far would YOU go to survive?

That’s a great question and one I’m not totally sure I can answer truthfully! I’d like to think I’d be the kind of person to help people and stick together, to get through it together. I’m a hopeful kind of person and I always try to see the best in people and in situations… but then I think we all would!


Me) Any idea of a timescale for trailers & full release?

(AS) We’re in the final stages of quite a lengthy post-production now, with just the VFX and Colour-Timing left to complete. It’s our intention to have the film finished late this summer with a view to hitting the first film market in America and then in Berlin in February. For a release date, it depends when the distributors want to release the film, so we have to be led by them! We’re hoping to have a trailer hit around August and we can’t wait to show people just what we’ve been up to!


Me) A film that you're involved in, which I believe is now completed, is THE EXPEDITION. What can you tell us about the story & the inspiration behind it?

The Expedition is indeed completed, we wrapped photography on that late last year!  The film itself is about a team of researchers who journey into the uncharted Amazon rain forest where they inadvertently make the discovery of a lifetime. Unfortunately, as tends to happen in movies, this discovery of a lifetime has a tonne of razor sharp teeth and isn’t too keen on them being there!

I think the film itself came about because of a love for the natural world and for the spirit of discovery. I’m a bit of a closet cryptozoologist and to me, the idea that a remnant species of dinosaur could live in the Amazon was just so exciting that I couldn’t say no. Making the film has been one big learning curve and I’m very proud of what the team achieved in the making of the film.


Me) When is the movie due to be released?

The exciting news is that The Expedition has been selected to receive it’s World Premiere screening at FrightFest UK in London this August. The screening is on Monday 24th I believe and hopefully a few of us on the team will be heading down to meet and greet people at the screening! I’m incredibly proud of everyone on the team.

In terms of an actual solid release date I can’t tell you anything at the moment. I know there’s a lot of dotting and crossing going on at the moment so as soon as I can announce that I will!


Me) Will it be distributed nationally in cinemas?

I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment about the release details as nothing has been 100% confirmed but I know that there are some very exciting announcements coming from Expedition HQ in the coming weeks and months.

"It's ok, he's, er, just being friendly......"

Me) I was involved in a very small way in the early social media promotion of the film. Just how important now is social media involvement in indie film making?

Social media and indie-film have become inseperable… social media has allowed filmmakers to connect with their audience and for the audience to connect back. It has been a key factor in the democratisation of independent film and a cornerstone in the crowd funding machine. So many filmmakers owe social media a debt for giving their dreams flight and certainly, I’d like to personally thank each and every one of you out there who have gotten involved with any of my projects.

You are all incredible people…

Me) Aww shucks :-)


I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Adam for taking the time to answer my questions. He may have in some unfathomable way outfoxed my cunning plan for him to dish the dirt - bugger, but I'm still incredibly excited about the forthcoming release of Survivors and The Expedition.

If you wish to learn more about the man and his work then visit his personal website at http://www.adamspinks.co.uk/

Oh, pants. I forgot to ask him about the J in his name.............


Find out more about Survivors at www.survivorsmovie.com

Follow Survivors on twitter @survivorsmovie

Find the Survivors Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SurvivorsTheMovie?fref=ts

Find out more about The Expedition at www.expeditionfootage.com

Follow The Expedition on twitter @expeditionmovie

Find The Expedition Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ExpeditionMovie 


UPDATE - 9TH JULY

This afternoon I received an email from the wonderful people at SURVIVORS  thanking me for the most excellent interview that I did with director Adam. Now I know that I'm not exactly backwards at coming forwards when it comes to blowing ones own trumpet, but those were their words, not mine. Honest Guv and scout's honour.

In addition to their kind words, and probably far more important in their eyes) they also wanted to take a moment to share the World Exclusive First Look at SURVIVORS. 

It may only be short (but who said that size is everything?) at 29 seconds, but what the trailer does is give us a rather tasty tease of some of the possible cinematic delights that might lie ahead - hence the term 'teaser trailer' I suppose. The clip shows some shaky video footage from a military raided office that has been procured by the Department of Homeland Defence which shows a scene of apparent death and devastation that has taken place. Either the Infection has wiped out the people inside or it was one hell of a Christmas party. Either way, it doesn't look good for the folks in the film but looks blooming promising for the rest of us who will be watching it! 

The youtube link for the trailer cane be located at http://youtu.be/D148n2WivtA or via the Fifth Dimension Facebook page RIGHT HERE


I can't wait to see more!












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