INTERVIEW: Liam Regan
‘Banjo’ Director Liam Regan chats to us ahead of premiering his debut feature at this years FrightFest.
I was extremely lucky to attend HorrorCon UK in July this year as we were an official sponsor of the event. It was a fabulous weekend with some of the biggest icons in the Horror World such as Bill Moseley, Tom Savini and Ken Foree jetting into Sheffield. Apart from those legends, there was Director creating a buzz amongst fans, showcasing his trailer to his debut feature ‘Banjo’, which has been selected for this years prestigious film festival ‘FrightFest’. I attended the trailer and Q&A with Director, Cast and Crew and was instantly intrigued by its subject matter, quite frankly bonkers imagery and boasting a cast made up of Human Centipede star Laurence Harvey and Troma legend Lloyd Kaufman, I knew this is a Director I needed to chat with.
Ladies & Gents may I present a filmmaker you’ll no doubt be hearing of a lot of in the future…Liam Regan.
Liam thank you so much in taking the time to speak to us, I know you’re a busy man.
Always have time for people who wish to support me and my little horror movie, thank you for conducting this interview and giving me a platform to promote ‘Banjo’.
I first attended Film4 FrightFest five years ago, and it’s crazy to think five years later, my first feature length movie has been selected to be a part of a festival that I love and respect. I think its okay to die now, the bucket list is complete.
For anyone who doesn’t know what ‘Banjo’ is about can you tell us how it all became?
I’ve heard people describe ‘Banjo’ as ‘Drop Dead Fred: The Horror Movie’ which I guess is a fair comparison. ‘Banjo’ is a love letter to the movies directed by Lloyd Kaufman, Frank Henenlotter and Charles Band, movies that I used to rent from the video store, movies that I was inspired by. With ‘Banjo’ I wanted to create a zany black comedy horror movie, that I wanted to see on the big screen, and I hope others do too!
I recently met you at Horror Con UK where you showcased the trailer premiere and a Q&A afterwards with the cast and crew. The buzz that was in the room was fantastic, is it slightly overwhelming or are you just on a high at the moment?
The whole experience is overwhelming, I just hope that the movie delivers, and is everything that people want. I am in this business to do nothing but entertain people, and serve the movie. I couldn’t stop smiling when I heard people react as they did to the trailer, it really made my day. I hope they enjoy the movie!
It trailer was extremely well received at Horror Con UK and I overheard a lot of people discussing it afterwards. There was also a lot of interest in you guys at the event, which must of be a joy considering the company you were in (Savini, Moseley & Hansen)?
Without a doubt, I remember my Mum importing an NTSC VHS of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) one Christmas, when it was still banned over here in the UK, and watching that movie Christmas morning, just blew me away. So to be in the presence of genre heroes, is just really awesome.
I was lucky enough to purchase one of the limited edition DVD’s of the original short of ‘Banjo’. Watching that and the special features, you’ve come a very long way in terms of budget, production values and cast as it’s not been an easy ride. What has kept you focused and intent on making ‘Banjo’ as you initially envisioned it?
The past four years have been a rocky road for the Banjo project, highs and lows, however throughout, I have always championed and stood by the term; story is king. I don’t believe in self censorship, and because to this, I wanted to keep the intent and soul of Banjo as true to the source material as I could. We made a very nasty 13 minute short film, with zero resources; it was the first completed short film, which I attached my name to. However when you’re developing a movie, based on a 13 minute short film, you must be wary not to blow your load in the first act of the film. Pacing and structure are key to any movie, so I took the characters in the short film, and placed them into another universe and fleshed them out, so they could work in a feature film environment.
The cast you’ve assembled is pretty cool, Laurence Harvey, Dani Thompson and the legend that is Lloyd Kaufman. How did you manage to land them and it must be a dream getting Kaufman?
I’m a huge fan of The Human Centipede franchise, especially it’s sequels, and after seeing Laurence’s performance at the UK premiere of The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence in London, I knew I had to write a character for him in Banjo, he’s such a talented and versatile talent. I knew of Dani Thompson through a mutual friend and fellow filmmaker Dan Brownlie, and after viewing her show-reel, I was convinced that she was the ultimate “Deetz”. And in regards to bringing Lloyd Kaufman on board, I’ve been a huge Troma fan all my life, in-fact Troma inspired me to become a filmmaker, after watching The Toxic Avenger Part 2 on VHS. Over the years, I helped out at Troma conventions, and attended Lloyd’s filmmaking masterclass at Oxford University, and a year after, worked as a production assistant on Return to Nuke ‘Em High volume 1 & 2 in Buffalo Niagara, NYC. We developed a friendship, and it’s such a dream to have the man, who single handily inspired you to be a filmmaker, appear in your first movie. Troma was my film school.
‘Banjo’ is semi-biographical as it features your sexual-mishap during your time in London, ha-ha. Any other crazy stories you can share about yourself or are you keeping that for the sequel?
More sexual accidents with yours truly will be featured in Banjo 2: Make Room for Daddy… haha.
Obviously you’re a horror fan, tell us a little of your influences and the films and directors you enjoy?
I’m a die-hard Troma fan, Tromeo & Juliet is my favourite movie of all-time, I could quote that film from beginning to end, and it’s a perfect movie. I grew up on the Troma back catalogue, so I would say Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz are huge influences, along with Frank Henenlotter who directed Basket Case and Brain Damage. My favourite horror movie franchise is Child’s Play, I just can’t get enough of that killer doll.
You attended the Cannes Film Festival with ‘Banjo’, that must have been surreal? Please tell me you got absolutely drunk and danced on tables with George Clooney & Brad Pitt?
Cannes is an eye opening experience, I first visited the festival back in 2013 with Troma, promoting Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Volume 1, however this time around, I had two market screenings for Banjo at the festival, it was probably the most important experience I’ve had as a filmmaker so far. Especially as I screened an unfinished 107 minute work print of Banjo at the festival, a part of me was dying inside, seeing the movie screen in-front of a bunch of strangers, and realising what works and what doesn’t work.
You’re obviously all prepared for FrightFest? Excited, nervous, what’s the feeling in the camp?
Yeah, I think nervous is a good way to put it, I made a movie, that I as a horror fan would like to see up on the big screen, so I hope the movie entertains others. Art is there to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable.
Apart from yourselves, what other features are you looking forward to at FrightFest?
I’m looking forward to Dominic Brunt’s Bait, Summer Camp and Worry Dolls.
So what about the future, what has Liam Regan got up his sleeve?
I’m currently writing a feature length screenplay titled Parents’ Evening, which I guess is best described as I Spit on Your Grave meets Mean Girls. I hope that’s the next project, but we’ll see.
Liam, it’s been awesome speaking with you man. I love your quirky style of filmmaking and cannot wait to see the full length feature of ‘Banjo’. All the very best a FrightFest and for the future and please promise us you’ll spread The Slaughtered Bird love with all you famous buddies?
But of course, thank you for all your support. The movie is better than the short, pinkie promise…
Interview by- FOLKLORE
Twitter @folkloreart & @SlaughteredBird