Exclusive Interview with One Piece Composer Kohei Tanaka (Feb 2015)

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photo by Exhibit 108

To add to the excitement of the One Piece Music Symphony earlier this month, MCM Buzz were granted an exclusive interview with composer Kōhei Tanaka. Kōhei has worked on numerous anime, films and video games, but is most known for his work on One Piece.

Q: Please introduce yourself, and tell us what you do?

Kōhei: My name is Kōhei Tanaka. I’m a composer. I focus predominantly on games and animation. Of those One Piece is probably the most famous. I’ve done stuff including Dragon Ball, and things like that. There’s too many to mention. I’ve done over 10,000 so far, so that’s a lot of songs.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

Kōhei: That’s quite difficult to answer (laughs).  The thing that makes me happiest is, you know after having written a song, once you present it to fans, you know everybody is very happy to receive them, and everybody loves them so much. That’s what make me happy.

Q: Who are some of your inspirations inside of music, and outside of music?

Kōhei: If you talk about inspiration, there’s obviously lots of different sources, but predominantly when I’m sat in front of the piano everything comes to me in my head. Especially when I’m with an orchestra, I see the score fully formed in my head. So all it really is, is me writing it down on a page.

Q: Much of your work is done in anime. Why did you choose to go down that path?

Kōhei: Long story, I’ll make a summary for you (laughs). In Japan, there wasn’t really any specialists who focused solely on anime in my field, so by focusing in one area I thought that would be the best way of getting fans, and making my fans happy. Also I like anime.

Q: Did you think that the music you made for One Piece would be as big as it became?

Kōhei: At first, the manga came first and at that point I thought, ‘This comic is going to do well, it’s going to be a hit’. However, with the anime, at first it was going to be a one year contract. I didn’t realise that it would go on for fifteen, sixteen years. It was a bit of a surprise.

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photo by Exhibit 108

Q: Which have been some of your favourite pieces from One Piece to compose?

Kōhei: It’s quite hard to say from my own songs which was the best, which was the most fun to write, because to a certain extent they all are. Although the first one I wrote was ‘We Are’, so I’ll probably say that one.

Q: Which have been most well received in Japan and abroad?

Kōhei: Of the 10,000 songs I’ve written possibly ‘We Are’ is the most well received and most known. After that ‘We Go’ is really well known. Then everywhere I go in the world another song that is very well received is ‘Binks no sake’.

Q: Do you have a favourite One Piece character, and arc?

Kōhei: That’s difficult to say as well (laughs). Contractual things make it quite difficult for me to say, so I’d rather not say.

Q: If you could compose the music for any game, television show or film, what would you choose?

Kōhei: I like old songs from Disney, but I wouldn’t want to put my songs to old anime or film because they’ve already existed. I just don’t think they would fit. So I would prefer a new anime, or a new idea.

Q: You’ve also worked on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, how was it working on that?

Kōhei: It was an honour to do it, and it was very enjoyable. I love it. You love it?

Q: What are your plans in the future?

Kōhei: This is the eighth country that I’ve visited on this live tour, and because One Piece is world famous, to be able to do this work has been very enjoyable. I’ve been to America, the Middle East, Asia etc. So I’ll continue this for a bit, but thereafter I will write new songs, for new anime that will come out.

Q: What do you want people that have come to the symphony to take away from the experience?

Kōhei: For everyone to enjoy the concert, but also if I could get everyone to sing together in Japanese I’ll be very happy.

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

One Piece Music Symphony at Cadogan Hall Review (Feb 2015)

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photo off One Piece Orchestra Facebook

With a franchise which has amassed over 680 anime episodes, 775 manga chapters and 12 films, One Piece has clearly cemented its place in the anime hall of fame, and shows no signs of slowing down. Whilst it’s taken a while for One Piece content to fully get distributed within the United Kingdom, 2012 saw the release of the Pirate Warriors video game franchise, and in 2013 we began receiving licensed boxsets. However, something special came to us in the form of music; One Piece Music Symphony at Cadogan Hall.

On Saturday 7th February 2015, Cadogan Hall in London opened its doors for many One Piece fans to enjoy much of the music from the anime. The lobby was swamped with many fans grinning from ear-to-ear, as they eagerly discussed their favourite characters and arcs. There were many fans in cosplay, emulating some of their favourite characters such as Monkey D.Garp and Sabo. Leaflets were being handed out for a raffle, in which names would be drawn during the show to win some One Piece DVD’s. At the lobby were three key sections, one for fans to purchase programmes for the show, one for fans to purchase drinks and snacks, and the most important for fans to purchase merchandise such as shirts, and CD’s.

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photo by Hongann Dao

Before the show started there was a lot of chatter, but as soon as the orchestra was ready, the hall fell deeply silent. The orchestra was conducted by Jean Thorel and included the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The show was presented by Kōhei Tanaka (One Piece series composer), with the help of his translator Alex. The orchestra was split into two main sections, which essentially were focusing on One Piece before and after the time skip. They had a fifteen minute intermission between them. The track list was as follows:

1 – Kaizoku-o ni narunda
2- Hamaguchi’s Medley
3- Fuyu ni saku kiseki no sakura
4- Yurusenai Yatsu to wa tatakae!
5- Katayoku no taka
6- Ihen ni kizuku
7- Ogon To Oden ~ We Are! Piano Version ~ TV BGM-M50
8- Unan to ghanzho
9- Dainagan kibaku!
10- Inochigake no last battle
11- Binks no sake

~Intermission~

12- We Are!
13- Nusumareta Going Merry Go
14- Iza, okanjima e!
15- Ore ga kiru
16- Z o osotta higeki
17- Luffy
18- Soshite shinsekai e
19- Yabo no tame no kakugo
20- Hirake! Otasuke box
21- Karakuri-jo o bukkowasu!
22- Aokiji kaku katakiri
23- Nakama no shirushi da!!
24- Hangeki no noroshi
25- We Go!

The show began with the piece ‘Kaizoku-o ni narunda’, which for many One Piece fans (such as myself) had us swimming in an ocean of nostalgia, flowing back to the inception of the series. The collaboration of the visual anime scenes in conjunction with the songs had me thoroughly invested and grinning. Looking around the crowd, as the orchestra steadily went through the pieces, the applause passionately grew. Throughout the songs we’d have the occasional breather when Kōhei Tanaka would come on stage. He was full of humor, and joy as he would mention forgetting to introduce himself way later into the show. He had a way of comforting the crowd, and etching them into the performance.

Whilst listening to the songs fly by with pieces such as ‘Hamaguchi’s Medley’, and ‘Ogon To Oden ~ We Are! Piano Version ~ TV BGM-M50’, there were four songs in particular that I did want to hear – ‘Binks no sake’, ‘We Are’, ‘We Go!’ and ‘Ocean Guide from Film Z’. My wishes were answered when prior to the intermission Tanaka-San himself came out on the piano and began playing and singing ‘Binks no sake’, which you could tell the crowd were excited for. He encouraged the audience to participate, but we were either reluctant or embarrassed to sing along (with the most memorable part being a bellow of ‘yohohoho’). The use of this piece, with the anime visuals truly was emotional due to the back story this song covered.

Photo by:Matthew Jackson (@noisiestmonkey)
photo by:Matthew Jackson (@noisiestmonkey)

After the fifteen minute intermission, a raffle occurred in which some of those in the audience won some One Piece DVD’s courtesy of MangaUK. After the intermission the crowd seemed much more livelier than before. Their applause for each and every song was rapturous. We had fan favourites such as ‘We Are!’ and ‘Luffy’ play. With the intended last song being ‘We Go!’ which the whole crowd were singing to. After this performance the audience stood up whistling, clapping and in adoration of the whole performance. Some fans were in tears in sheer admiration for One Piece. However Tanaka-San wanted to return their adoration and did multiple encores, including songs such as my favoured ‘Ocean Guide’ from One Piece: Film Z, as well as an orchestral version of ‘We Are!’ which the whole crowd sung along to while standing up.

During the show Tanaka-san was full of enjoyment, energy and laughter. Emulating cartoon characters, as well as jokingly saying that some of the audience who weren’t caught up with the anime may be spoiled with some of the scenes. What completed the night was Tanaka-san’s repeated encores, constantly teasing the audience that the show was over. At one point during the encores, Tanaka-San took over the composer role from Thorel. It was an experience that was completely different.

Whilst all of the great songs were played, there were some missed opportunities, including a legendary scene with Roronoa Zoro in the Thriller Bark arc. However the performance was thoroughly pleasing, a new way to experience music, and hopefully one which inspires other series to follow in suite.

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX UK Community Event Coverage (December 2014)

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It seems that the Kingdom Hearts franchise has some of the most dedicated fans around. When the tickets were announced for release on Eventbrite for 21st November at 12:30pm, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated that the free tickets would all be claimed within four minutes.

Fast forward to Wednesday 3rd December 2014 and just under 200 fans queued outside of the Old Billingsgate building eagerly waiting to be let in. A combination of shivering fans (some of whom were cosplaying) were wide grinned as they spoke to each other about the franchise they all loved.

As soon as the clock struck 6:00pm the doors were open. We were let in and went down the steps into the vault. The first thing that met my face was a Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMix wall, which we were encouraged to sign. This definitely was a factor which continued their emphasis on who this event was for. We then signed in, got raffle tickets and were met with beverages, and a beautifully coloured lounge which matched several worlds found within the games.

Within the lounge we were also met with various opportunities. We were implored to take part in the infamous balcony scene within Kingdom Hearts 2, and take photos. There was also an opportunity to make your own flipbook with your images which were taken there along backdrops found within the games. The Square Enix shop was also open, giving fans the opportunity to buy merchandise, such as soundtracks, figures, plushies and keyrings.

Just before 6:30pm, we were allowed to go into the theatre. The presentation began with several quotes, and an interesting introduction by Square Enix Japan EU Community Manager Daniel Seto. Before the presentation went into full swing, we were asked to not photograph or record any of the presentation. Daniel introduced a fan video which Square Enix created with fans around the world. The video featured fans sharing what Kingdom Hearts meant to them, what it did for them and their most memorable moments.

It was followed by rapturous applause. Then Producer Rie Nishi and Co-Director Tai Yasue appeared and the theme from the video by sharing favourite moments of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. The fans were gifted with a free raffle which included limited edition artwork, games, figures and manga.

Before concluding the quick presentation, they gifted the fans with a sneak look at Kingdom Hearts III. The footage highlighted Sora’s new Keyblade form, which was greeted with screams, as well as designs of newer Heartless. Notably, the graphics of the new game were absolutely stunning. The clips ended with the promise of more information coming in 2015.

After the presentation, a signing commenced. Whilst the event was different from the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 ReMix event which included visits from Producer Shinji Hashimoto and Composer Yoko Shimomura, it definitely got fans excited for what was about to come from the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

“Being able to watch Christopher Nolan make worlds come to life is amazing” – Interstellar UK Press Conference (October 2014)

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At 11:30am the doors to Claridge’s Hotel Ballroom swung open, as press began preparing themselves for the Interstellar press conference. We are here to gain a greater insight into Warner Bros. sci-fi blockbuster.

With Hollywood constantly evolving, one of the leading directors is none other than Christopher Nolan. Joining him were producer and wife, Emma Thomas, as well as actors Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Mackenzie Foy.

For those of you unfamiliar with Interstellar, the film shows how life on Earth is coming to an end. To save the human race a team of explorers undertake an important mission, travelling beyond the galaxy via the use of a wormhole to see whether humans have a future among the stars.

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As the cast entered they were greeted with a tremendous applause, which reflected the admiration for them. The host begun the round of questions by mentioning the inception of the project, which written by Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan, and was initially set to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Christopher Nolan was asked what the reasons were for him making the project. Nolan listed several factors, such as the speculation between a potential moment where “human kind would have to reckon with its place in the wider universe.” He mentioned that the father-child relationship also drew him to the project, as being a father himself he related to it. Another key factor was its similarities to the films that were released in the golden era of cinema, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which had elements he wanted to give to the current movie going audience.

During the conference McConaughey and Hathaway spoke of their admiration for each other’s work ethic. “‘It’s a real pleasure to work with someone who knows how to take their job seriously, but also has a real light touch,” said Hathaway. “Matthew never lost focus, he never lost his connection to why we were there, but that didn’t mean we didn’t laugh.”

McConaughey returned the compliments, noting Hathaway’s professionalism as well as mentioning that he learnt something from her, which was the variation of takes. “She would back off, and find a new rhythm and never look at it the same way and never repeat a performance.”

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Speaking on the differences about working on Dallas Buyers Club, as opposed to Interstellar, McConaughey mentioned that Dallas Buyers Club was independent, shot very quick and earthbound. However he did reveal that acting in a Christopher Nolan film felt ” just as intimate, and just as raw and natural as most independents like Dallas Buyers Club are forced to feel, because you don’t have the time, you don’t have the money. But we had the time, and we had the money on Interstellar, but when you’re actually shooting it’s very intimate, and it’s very raw and natural as I said.”

McConaughey’s answer in turn gave birth to another question for the other actors, and that was what it was like for them to work with Christopher Nolan. Chastain spoke of being afraid to jump onto a big budget film, however a high point to working with Nolan was his heavy use of practical effects. “You actually have things to react to as an actor which is awesome,” said Chastain. “There’s no green screen, they were chucking dust in my face everyday, there was real corn that they grew.” Nolan as a director does not impose anything on the actors, however Chastain notes that with a small sentence he opened up her performance when it came to her character, telling her, “This is her zen.”

Interstellar is the sixth Nolan film Michael Caine has been a part of and the first for Mackenzie Foy. Foy dubbed Nolan as “awesome” and an inspiration for her as she aspired to become a director further in her career. “Being able to watch him make worlds come to life is just amazing,” said Foy.

Caine mentioned that “nothing is what it seems with Chris,” when he initially speculated that he was going to just play a butler in the Batman franchise, not realising that Alfred was much more complicated than that.

Nolan is known for being comfortable with people he has previously worked with, and one of those is composer Hans Zimmer. Interstellar makes for Nolan’s fifth collaboration with Hans. A question was asked about how they achieved the amazing score. Nolan revealed that he often changes the way he works with Hans, and this time Hans went in blind, with just a letter that had a tiny bit of dialogue and mention of a father-child theme. He was given just a day to work before having to come back to Nolan with something. At the end of the day Hans played the music to Nolan and that became the score for the film. They spent two years tweaking it, but the initial score was forged on minimal information.

Another question had everyone being asked who their favourite science fiction characters were. Nolan replied with Darth Vader; Foy with Darth Vader or Spock; McConaughey with Chewbacca and Murph; Hathaway with R2-D2, Ripley and Starbuck; Caine with “Sandy Bullock” in Gravity; Chastain with Princess Leia and Hal, and finally Thomas with Ripley.

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The subject of shooting and projecting on film arose, specifically targeted at Nolan and Caine. “It’s not really a question of whether it should or shouldn’t have a future,” said Nolan. “It sort of has to, simply because even from an archival perspective, the libraries of film studios can’t function without it. It’s very important to preserve its place in the filmmaking process.”

Caine also added that he had “an actor’s attitude towards it. If you have film instead of digital, they have to cut it eventually so you don’t have to learn all that dialogue. If you’ve got digital, it goes on forever, it’s a nightmare. So I like film, with nice short takes. I just worked with Paolo Sorrentino and he had four cameras, and he doesn’t even rehearse, because he’s got digital. You just go in there fluffing through it, and he doesn’t care, you just keep going and going, and then you go home and come back the next day. So I prefer film.”

To conclude the press conference, Christopher Nolan was asked about Brian Cox’s opinion on intelligent alien life. “There’s a thing called the Drake Equation, which pretty well establishes from a mathematical point of view that it’s extremely likely actually,” said Nolan. “Everything is speculation beyond that.”

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

Teen Wolf panel at MCM London Comic Con (October 2014)

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I guess it’s safe to say that the Teen Wolf family are no strangers when it comes to MCM London Comic Con, having always been greeted with open arms by the fans at the convention. However, this time it was the turn of creator Jeff Davis and new cast members Arden Cho (who plays Kira Yukimura) and Dylan Sprayberry (who plays Liam Dunbar) to bless us with their presence.

For the unfamiliar, Teen Wolf is a supernatural drama which follows Scott (Tyler Posey) through the trials and tribulations he faces after being bitten by a werewolf. Though in his evolution Scott is not alone, he gets help through his best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), and resident bad boy werewolf Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin).

When the guests walked on stage, there was nothing short of admiration from the crowd who were eager to hear them speak. Interestingly, questions via the crowd was the first thing that happened.

As the question and answer from the attendees begun, Jeff Davis was asked about the Teen Wolf writing process. Whilst he is obviously the showrunner, he also does have a writing team. However the attendee was curious to know whether he tells them what to write, or whether he gives them free rein when it comes to writing. Jeff explained, “I’m actually there everyday,” and as a team the writers work collaboratively. Where a script may have one or two writers names on it, it is a joint effort with input from the whole team.

He reminisced about working on Criminal Minds stating, “When I started in TV doing Criminal Minds, I found that [outlines are] an exhausting thing to do.” In a sense the story was already told before the script was made. He decided that he made sure the whole writing team were going to outline it together, and even though it’s a joint effort Davis still maintains he does a lot of the writing and redrafts.

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Another question followed regarding Arden Cho’s character; Kira. She was asked whether fans were going to see Kira’s power develop a lot more in the next season. Arden quickly replied with, “I hope so,” as Jeff dove into it a bit more.

He explained, “One of the things we did last season was we pulled back a little with Kira’s character, because [season] 3B was so much about her.” However, he did reveal that fans are going to get more into Kira’s ability in the forthcoming season. Jeff went on to say that the supernatural abilities of the characters in Teen Wolf are analogies for teenagers finding themselves. He wants us to see these characters struggle with their powers, and develop, just as teenagers would do as they develop as people.

Another topic of discussion was the idea of keeping props from the set. Jeff revealed that he keeps a lot of props in his office, such as a katana and a club. He went on to say that he really enjoys props and revealed that the well which Liam climbed from was the same one from the feature film ‘The Ring’, which they had bought from Universal. Arden mentioned that she asked for a katana, but Jeff didn’t allow her to have one. It was revealed that she wanted the more expensive one, though she didn’t mind which one she had gotten. Dylan Sprayberry revealed that had a piece of rock, as well as a lacrosse stick.

An attendee noted the parallels between Jackson and Danny’s relationship, and Liam and Mason’s relationship. Dylan mentioned that people may believe that his and Jackson’s character are different, simply because Liam comes off as arrogant because he has to put up a wall. Jeff continued by saying that there were initially intended parallels, such as a replication with the weightlifting scene with Liam and Mason, which occurred similarly with Jackson and Danny earlier in the series. Jeff explained with Liam that he wanted to introduce a character who seemed like he was going to be like Jackson, although his issues were much more on the surface, and his arrogant attitude is more of a façade.

Jeff then revealed some information about the forthcoming fifth season, which was going to be 20 episodes and one long arc, as opposed to the usual two. The intention is to make the fifth season much more intense by raising the stakes, because it could potentially be the last season. Upon hearing this the audience let out an upsetting “NO”.

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As the panel was coming to a close, the final question was an intriguing one in which an attendee asked Arden and Dylan how similar they were to their characters. Arden noted that she was very much like Kira, in that they are both very awkward, though Kira is much more confident. Arden noted that she has become a lot more like Kira in life. Dylan mentioned that he feels like he is very much like Liam, though flipped. Whereas Dylan is usually nice and happy, and gets angry once in a while, for Liam it’s the opposite. Jeff concluded by saying that the writers get to know the actors and write to their strengths and weaknesses. He noted that Holland Roden was the most interesting to write for, because of her ability to reach a wide range of emotions, and, out of all the cast members, she is the most different from her character.

Photos by: Sarah Tsang

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

Interview with Welcome to Purgatory director Gene Fallaize (October 2014)

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The fantasy genre is really brewing, and a new, exciting addition to that pot is the movie Welcome to Purgatory, which is currently in pre-production.Welcome To Purgatory follows three strangers who die in a terrible accident, and consequently awake and find themselves in purgatory. However, the gates of heaven and hell have been broken, and these three strangers must find a way to rectify the situation to prevent an eternal battle between good and evil.

To find out more about the exciting project we spoke to the director of the film, Gene Fallaize.

Whilst Welcome to Purgatory has been gaining some buzz, information on the project has been under wraps. What can you tell us about the film?

Welcome To Purgatory is an action/adventure/fantasy movie about three strangers who die in a terrible train crash and awake to find themselves in Purgatory. They are greeted by the trusty Guardian Paul, who is tasked to lead them to their ultimate destinations – Heaven or Hell. On their journey, however, they discover that the boundaries of Hell have been broken and all its evil has escaped and is destroying the Afterlife. So these three new arrivals must not only adapt to being dead, and that Heaven is now in ruins, but with the help of Guardian Paul they take it upon themselves to try and make things right again, only to find they’ve become the main target of the evil Shaitan King.

How did the idea for Welcome to Purgatory come to pass?

Marcus Ako came up with the original idea whilst on a train at Waterloo Station, and wrote a first draft which formed the basis of some of the final script. Myself and Tony Cook, along with Scott Spiegel (Evil Dead II, Hostel I-III) revised the script to its final shooting draft.

How long has it taken to get the project from your initial idea to the where you find yourself now?

It’s always difficult to pinpoint a start point for a picture as rarely do producers or directors work solely on one project at a time, especially if you have a slate of pictures in development as we do. For example we have produced several other pictures during the development of Welcome To Purgatory and I have directed three others. We are currently developing other projects also, so they inevitably take longer than they could if one was able to focus solely on the one project at a time, but that extra development time also helps to mature the project too. Without that extra time this would have been quite a different picture altogether, so it’s better for the project. Looking back, I first became involved in the project in 2010, but having produced several features in between, time it is a shared workload that leads to the length of time it takes to produce a picture.

Whilst life after death has always been a curiosity for humans, how did you feel when it came to tackling the subject matter?

On one hand it’s a difficult one, because everyone has their own interpretation of what Heaven and Hell are like, but on the other hand that same issue allows us a lot of scope to design an entire dimension and everything within it. The important thing for me was committing that Welcome To Purgatory would not be a religious picture in any way, but an action adventure movie that is set in a place that is totally strange, yet somehow familiar to everyone. There aren’t many pictures that use the afterlife as a whole as a setting, so we’ve used that to its maximum potential, by creating this world where Heaven and Hell are physical places – we don’t have any clouds or fire in our picture, nor do we feature God or the Devil – it’s all done in a much more realistic and believable way. Our afterlife is in kind of a parallel dimension to our own, so as real as our own lives are, they are in the movie too. When you remove the fluttering angels walking on clouds aspect, the idea of having Heaven destroyed by all of the combined evil that has ever existed, it becomes quite a frightening and unnerving place.

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Whilst it can be inferred that Welcome to Purgatory will be action packed, you also have comedic actors such as Bruce Campbell and James Buckley starring in the film. What can you tell us about the tone of the film?

It is totally an action/adventure movie, with dangers and perils that are truly frightening, in a place where if you found yourself there with no way of ever going back, you’d be faced with the possibility of an eternal hell. So the adventure comes from the desire of our main characters to be in a place that is safe, more like the ideal image they would have had in their minds of what it would have been like before they died. It’s certainly not a kids film, and having horror-master Scotty Spiegel on board gives an indication that this isn’t going to be a light movie, but it does have occasional comic relief from a few characters who break up the tenseness, as a couple of hours of keeping up the tension in a movie like this can be tiresome for audiences. The verisimilitude is really important to me on this project – in my mind as director everything is real; the characters, the creatures, the places, so inevitably you would have a mix of personalities too, some that are maybe lighter than others, which is also why we have these few characters to break things up.

You are working with Joseph Bennie, a composer from your previous project, Superman: Requiem, and Scott Spiegel with Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead 2. Does it make it easier working with those you are comfortable with?

I’ve known Scotty for a few years now having first worked with him a while back on another project, and knew he’d lend just what we needed to this project in terms of helping us create this crazy place where everything good and everything bad are thrown together at war. Scotty has been invaluable to the picture, contributing to the script, aiding production, and bringing Bruce on board too, so working with him again was a no-brainer. It’s the same with Joseph Bennie my composer, who I knew would be able to create a perfect soundscape to suit the feel of the picture. Working with those you know do a great job, and more importantly are perfect for each particular picture, is hugely important. If you have a good working relationship with someone and you know they are right for the project then why change that? On the other hand if someone isn’t right for a project for whatever reason, no matter how well you may get on with them, you have to go with another option, because ultimately everything has to be for the best for the picture.

What was it about these individual actors, which made them ideal for the film?

Casting is always a tricky blend of getting who is perfect for the role, and who is going to bring in audiences who will ultimately pay for getting the movie made. If you can find someone who ticks both those boxes then that is casting gold, and we’ve been lucky so far to have found so many perfect actors for each role. Bruce is obviously a legend, so we were thrilled when he signed on, the same with our leads – Jillian Murray as Danni who brings the girl-next-door aspect, whilst bringing sex-appeal to the film, Tony Cook who brings an earthly-groundedness to the character of Taylor, Serena Lorien who brings a strong-willed determination to the warrioress Nina, and the actor who is playing the lovable Guardian Paul (who we are announcing at the MCM London Comic Con panel) is just brilliant as he’s able to play both the lighter and more serious aspects of the role just perfectly.

Are there any plans in place, for spanning the movie into a franchise?

Yes, Welcome To Purgatory was originally conceived, written and picked up for production as a trilogy. When I signed on to direct we adapted the ending so it could be watched and enjoyed as a standalone film and still make sense and have a proper story arc, but parts II and III are currently in production, which will continue the story in a progressively bigger and more spectacular way. They will be filmed back-to-back after the release of part I.

What can the audience at MCM London Comic Con expect from the Welcome to Purgatory panel?

We have put together a very special panel for the audience, including a detailed story overview, and in-person Q&A session with several members of the cast and crew, including the lead characters, plus Scott Spiegel and Jack O’Halloran (Superman I & II). Also we will be screening an exclusive teaser trailer specially made for Comic Con, as well as an exclusive animated storyboarded opening-scenes preview of the first few minutes of the film, and video messages for the audience from some of our other cast, including Bruce Campbell. The highlight however will be the live in-person announcement that I will make of our newest cast member who has signed on as Guardian Paul, who is a legend due to his vast film credits on films that Comic Con audiences love due to his ability to take on highly serious and also totally fun roles. He will be announced live on stage and join us for the Q&A, and the autograph session that will follow the panel itself.

When can we expect to see Welcome to Purgatory in theatres?

We commence filming at the start of 2015 at Pinewood Studios, so look out for it in theatres towards the end of next year.

Originally Published: MCM Buzz

Dracula Untold Review (October 2014)

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Dracula Untold is a film which takes some elements from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and re-envision’s Dracula’s origin story. The titular character for Stoker’s novel is based on a real life historical figure, Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, which is geographically Romania. Vlad is a popular folk hero in Romanian lore, and Stoker’s book adds a mythical element to an already established character, pushing on the idea of a vampire, and is actually responsible for the archetype of vampires we see today.

The story of Dracula Untold merges fact with fiction and follows legendary Transylvanian prince Vlad III Tepes (Luke Evans), who has an issue after an old tradition which had previously been abolished returns. SultanMehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1000 boys from Vlad’s kingdom to join his army, including Vlad’s own son. In order to stop Mehmed, protect his wife, son and kingdom, Vlad seeks power from the ancient Caligula (Charles Dance) who is located on Broken Tooth Mountain. He is gifted and burdened with a power that gives him the strength of 100 men, and superhuman abilities. However there is a catch; he has the thirst for human blood. If he succumbs to the lust of blood within these three days, he will become a vampire forever. And so begins the legend that is known as Dracula.

I always try to go into a film with an open mind and leave all my preconceived notions about said film at the theatre door. However, this was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I understand that Universal are going to kick off their Monsters Cinematic Universe, beginning with a reboot of The Mummy in 2016, however Dracula was originally the first of that line-up. So is it possible that Dracula Untold is a part of that universe?

There were many reasons I wanted this film to deliver, and it did just that. When mixing action and romance together, at times we can have an unhealthy balance, where films either have too many daisies or testosterone. However, whilst establishing the character of Vlad and the relationship he had with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon), we have some intimacy, but not too much. We gathered what their relationship was, and we had a feel of how they felt for each other, and for their son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) also.

A key feature which I found interesting was that Vlad was by no means a saint. In the past he did some immoral deeds, and at a point felt hollow himself. When it comes to the character’s development, he acknowledges that he wasn’t perfect, yet he still has people he cares for and people that he wants to look after. Vlad had developed as a character both on screen, and off the screen.

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Whilst being quite a dark film, there are subtle parts where it allowed the audience to take a breather and laugh for a moment. The CGI was absolutely spectacular when it came scenes with narration and even the unique camera angles.

There are however three issues, which were not major, but nonetheless noteworthy. It could have been brightened up a bit, for it was dark in some sections, which made it difficult to see what was going on. The final fight scene was quite lacklustre, and could have been grander in scale, seeing as the rest of the movie gave off a grand vibe. Another issue was the soundtrack. Ramin Djawadi’s score was very subtle and as such was easily forgettable. Yet the film was engaging enough, making this more of a minor issue.

Dracula Untold had great pacing, and didn’t go the route of leaving you wondering for too long. The ending was satisfying, and tied up neatly, which left me yearning to see more of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would go and see it again.

Originally Published: MCM Buzz