INTERVIEW: Judson Vaughan
– By @TheBlueTook
My next guest is originally from Greater Manchester, just down the motorway from The Slaughtered Bird HQ, but has since been lured away by the bright lights of London. He also happens to be the winner of our ‘1-Minute Horror’ competition we ran a number of weeks back, creating the extremely twisted PEDRO for our debauched delectation!
We recently showed his mental, 60-second creation to a few members of the general public at a horror convention where we were guests and it was greatly received – its link is also below for you lucky, lucky people.
So let’s learn a bit more about our new mate, Mr Judson Vaughan…
Hello, sir! We finally speak, free from the shackles of Twitter! How’s things, mate?
Good thanks, thanks for asking me to the interview. I’ve just come back from the Maldives where I rested on holiday, but me being me I couldn’t help take a camera and film some more. Seriously incredible footage. Beautiful place.
Nice! Another filmmaking jetsetter!
OK, setting my brief intro aside, tell us a bit about yourself.
Well what can I say really… I’m an actor-come-film maker with a passion for acting and film making, writing too. The first movie I saw at the cinema was Star Wars. I do remember jumping up and down on my seat and shouting excitedly at the screen. When told to get down, my parents still couldn’t stop me from gesticulating and noisily interacting with my first cinematic experience, quite an experience it was. We were banned from going in there again on a Friday evening, being told I was only allowed on less busier days, or at least I was.
Although we only got talking a couple of months back, we’ve discussed all weird and wonderful things to do with film, more specifically horror – which is obviously my (and the site’s) favourite genre – is it yours?
Certainly one of, but I do equally like all genre’s believe or not! You’d never think so watching Pedro! I love a good thriller, or a comedy, a great sci-fi goes down a treat and even yes.. a romance can stir the emotion.
A man of my own heart. I cry every time I see a Matthew McConaughey rom-com. Thinking of horror though, tell us a few of your favourite horror films.
Kubrick’s The Shining is in my top ten films of all time, (One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest is also in there) I think Hellraiser was something of a classic. I’ve always loved 28 days later, Mama (which I only saw very recently, great stuff) Texas Chain Saw Massacre (the original) really liked Cabin in the Woods too. Alien.. although I realise it’s a sci-fi horror, but just a seminal piece of work now and indeed for it’s time. A masterclass in suspense and building atmosphere. Insidious, Sinister, The Ring (American version) A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Grudge. Man, so many.. these are just a few I like.
What are your main influences? Do you have a favourite era or director?
I find film like music I listen to, I go through fads, phases where I revisit a theme or era. At the moment I keep watching and am intrigued by old noir films and big epic war films that span over the last 25 years. I do love a good thriller though.. there’s been some utterly brilliant thrillers over the last ten years; Prisoner’s, Insomnia, Gone Girl to name just a few. Michael Mann’s Heat, I have to mention that, it’s in my top ten of all time also. Seminal. In the same section I have to talk about Goodfellas. A film where improv brought incredible truth to an already very well structured film. Predator, man, what a classic ay? Love that too. Sci-fi really is awesome when done good. I can’t wait for Interstellar this week! Some of my favourite directors and in no particular order and just to name a few:
As well as directing, you’ve also produced and written – how different is the approach, depending on the role you’re filling?
They’re different yet inextricably linked, all three have creativity at there core. Directing is being responsible for seeing out your vision and directing the team around you, bringing everything together around for an end goal, galvanising and utilising your knowledge of every department and bringing all in to harmony hopefully, a sense of synchronicity. Crafting look, feel, a perception of a story and guiding your actors. There’s obviously a lot more to it than that though. Ultimately, you as the director are responsible for realising your vision.
Producing is similar in someways, but more of logistics, organising, keeping everything ticking over so you can best provide for the team too. Of course it depends on the type of producer you’re working as, you may well be responsible for bringing in the funding for the money for the film in the first place. That’s enough to send anyone grey! If you’re lead producer, then often you’d be responsible for bringing in the Director in the first place. Of course at an indie level, producing crosses over and you can often merge roles and responsibilities, but a good producer is by it’s very nature, a film maker. I think a good producer will support his/her director and thus set them free to truly create the vision of the screenplay, to truly do the project justice.
On a great little short I recently was brought into line produce, Put Down, I was bringing in actors for castings, organising locations, getting permission with local boroughs and various bits of negotiating, endlessly finding suitable parking areas according to time and venue etc. Again, a lot more to it than just what I’ve mentioned here, but I’ve found depending on the project, your role shifts and morphs depending on the film and the need. Sometimes as producer you have a significant role in the script development, evolving the screenplay into something much more.
Writing is a great process too.. it takes patience, sometimes you get a block, well I know I can sometimes.. other times it comes in floods and you can’t get it out fast enough! I’ve got a huge amount of respect for writers, producers and directors.. they have a massive amount of work to do and it’s never easy. It takes real application of mind and spirit and even when climate prepared is seemingly perfect, it can and often will still go wrong! But I love that about it, you learn to juggle whilst swimming so to speak. It’s challenging and sets new challenges minute by minute. Preparation is everything though, yet still be prepared for anything.
Everything here I’ve mentioned is in someways just scratching the surface! Man all of these roles are big jobs! Most importantly, it’s about the team, a good team will bring better results and when things don’t go 100 percent, you need to be able to think on your feet and still get desired results. A connection with the material and in turn your team is invaluable. I’ve found real value in not being set in my ways too, it keeps me spring heeled and able to achieve great results. Flexibility is key. I am now, I can officially say, completely and utterly addicted to directing, producing and writing, as indeed I am with acting.
WOW, I now know I am cut out for NONE of those things!
More than any of the above so far though you’ve ACTED in several things from stage to TV, TV to film, The Bill to Dream Team, from comedy to thriller, with Matt Horne to Calum Best – explain yourself, man!!!
Yeah I’ve been acting for 12 years now. I love it and it’s where this all started. It’s funny because I never consciously thought, ‘Right, I want to produce and direct’, it’s just sort of happened really. I had a quiet period of acting and saw a short film competition and thought ‘Hmm, why not have a go at that’. It’s gone on from there. After producing and directing the first, I got asked to guest direct on a second with Calum Best yes, I actually acted in the first short and that one too. Calum’s a nice guy, humble too.
Up to now, you’ve stuck to short films when directing – what are the main reason behind this? Funding?
To be honest, yes and no. Shorts first because logistically they’re obviously more manageable than making a feature. Funding is necessary for a feature, you can make shorts for micro-budgets. But more than anything, I wanted to find my feet first and make shorts. I do now feel ready for a feature and have felt ready for a little while. I’ve got a great feature screenplay or two ready to go. Need the funding!
GIVE THE MAN SOME MONEY!!!
If you could work with anyone in the movie business, who would it be?
Right now, I’d have to go with Ben Jagger as we’re hoping for some great things coming. I’ve worked with him before and he’s a top guy and great director. There’s this edge with his material that he’s producing, it’s exciting and enticing. I expect big things of him. Also, I’d love to work with Christopher Nolan, hell of a director, along with Tarantino and Kathryn Bigalow. I’ve got to give Richard Anthony Dunford a mention too, because I expect great things of him, he’s one to watch. Actor wise, Ben’s brother Dean is a very talented guy, a really good actor, looking forward to acting with him again. These two don’t tire, seriously. They match my energy which is saying something! I’m a massive fan of Jack Nicholson, I’d love to be opposite him in a scene, Meryl Streep another one, what a wonderful actress. Man to have a scene with Al Pacino or Robert De Niro. I tell you what, I’ve always admired Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Both really good actors and surprisingly versatile if you look at their catalogue of work over the years. Of course all these aforementioned are just for starters! There’s so many more I want to work with.
You’ve gathered quite an impressive following on Twitter. Do you think it’s important to keep in contact with fans, etc, using such things?
Yeah I guess so… I don’t really think they’re fans per se, but rather contacts, people showing an interest maybe and a common goal, to widen our circle. It’s good to network and you never know what door can open and change your life for the better.
C’mon, JV, they’re FANS! 21.5k GROUPIES!!!
I believe one of your short creations, Psyche The Prologue, is the prelude to a possible feature film? How far along is this project?
Yes it is, a funny screenplay written by Dziko Kazembe. Funnily enough we’re working together again soon on something else. It’s a comedy favourite of mine that I’ve read. The producers are currently trying to raise the money. Hopefully it won’t be too long.
You also worked with an old friend of the site’s on this, Mr Charley McDougall?!
Yeah Charley’s in that!! He’s funny! Love his scenes. I didn’t actually work in a scene with Charley in the film, so I never met him on the film.
He really is a top man. Gave a great interview here.
Right, so, PEDRO! The main reason we starting messaging each other. What the actual FUCK, man?!!!
Hahaha! Yeah it’s dark right?
The darkest. Where do you pluck your twisted ideas from?!
I saw your advertisement about the competition and it started my mind thinking.. I came up with the idea within 48 hours of seeing it.
“The Slaughtered Bird – The Site That Inspired PEDRO”!… I LIKE it!
Tell us a bit about the shooting process – it was all mind-blowingly done on a phone I believe?!
Yes I shot it on a Sony Experia. I shot 90% of the footage on that. I stayed up 6 nights in a row until 7/8am finishing the edit to get it ready for the competition.
Who plays the lead? WHAT a beard!
Well there’s Pedro Caxade as PEDRO and Bill Hutchens as The Killer LUGER. They both did great jobs. It was an intense day as I simultaneously shot two versions of the film. One, the mobile phone version for your competition, which of course is the reason I wrote the script in the first place, and second, I shot roughly a 5 minute version on a 5Dmark2.
Another old mate of ours, Aaron Mento, used an iPad for a full feature. You 2 psychos would probably get on like a house on fire!!!
So, you’re set to unleash Soul Breaker on us very soon – what can you tell us about that?
Yes!!! I’m hugely excited by Soul Breaker, it’s got a really special place in my er.. soul! It’s a 24 minute fantasy horror. I was on the phone today to one of our VFX artists, he’s great and we’re just trying to finalise things on a couple of shots. It’s about a London house share where the protagonist Freddie Dale is cheated on by his girlfriend. His best mate and he have a few drinks to try and console Freddie one night and Viz Verdi (Freddie’s mate) decide to conjure up the art of Jadoo (Hindi magical arts; the manipulation of cosmic forces) and the consequences are somewhat strange. I really wanted to play with the idea that Evil doesn’t just come from Hell, if of course Hell even exists.. www.facebook.com/SoulBreaker
What’s next for Mr Vaughan?
Who knows.. I just recently did a little Sony Sing Star commercial which was great fun.. please send me work offers, they’re more than welcome haha!
I do have ‘Trigger’ the feature film that I’m looking at making soon..that’s a cracker! I’ve got a couple of shorts I want to do before Spring next year and then try and look to get Trigger off the ground.. I’ve also got this amazing project I’m writing about the afterlife. Hoping to work with Gil Kolirin again soon, I think he’s going to break through too, we just worked together for the third time. He directed the Sony Sing Star commercial I did. He’s like a Duracell bunny on Red Bull. Good actor too.
I’m also looking forward to hopefully working with Mumtaz Yildirimlar soon too, he’s great and a fun director to work with, I love acting in the roles he creates.
Will you keep in touch, send us some of your future creations to review and spread The Slaughtered Bird love around your ever-increasing circle?
Yes absolutely, I’d love to. I’ll keep you up to date with progress on Soul Breaker, I can’t wait to show you. Cheers Slaughtered Bird, a pleasure talking to you. Great site, great name and great vibe.
Join JV’s Twitter squad here: @Judsonjvaughan
Watch his 60-second horror competition winning film right here: