Q&A with Lauren Cooney & Isaac Tomiczek, Directors of “Shut Eye” and “Shut Eye 2”

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ALTER: Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Isaac: Isaac from Children of the Corn.
Lauren: I haven’t even heard of that.

A: You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
Lauren: The first film idea I had was to shoot an improvised guerrilla sci-fi in India. We shot it. It’s called Pendulum. It was a terrible idea to go and shoot something that ambitious, with little script development, with barely no zero experience, and cost me five years of my life and turned my hair grey. But most things have felt comparatively easier since.
Isaac: My latest feature script is about John Carpenter. The idea is good but the first draft hit a wall at 90 pages and felt like a bad idea. It had way too much going on; Aliens, cults, President Reagan, Kurt Russell, Top Gun…it goes on. However in getting to that stage I got all the bad ideas out of the way and onto the page so now I know what is definitely good about my original idea and what isn’t. The new draft is f***ing ace!!!
Lauren: I don’t think I answered the question properly… Right so, since the rigmarole of Pendulum I’ve become quite militant about development. My advice to everyone (including Isaac, but he never listens) is to get all your terrible ideas out the way in early development: write your story in ten beats, do another ten bits, then another, then a one pager, then a treatment. By the time you hit scripting you should be flying cos your characters are ready to talk and know what they want.

A: Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Isaac: Yes, if that means being somebody who enjoys and gets scared by horror films Lauren: A very tiny community, made up of the two of us.

A: When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Isaac: The world. It’s a scary f**king place right now. Also, have you ever been to Brixton on a Friday night?
Lauren: Depends on the film. They’re all set in different ‘worlds’. I use other movies, general internet trawls, and ideally a bit of travel for inspiration. For a while all my films were based in exotic locations. But that got expensive, so now they’re mainly set in my flat.

A: What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Isaac and Lauren: Been there, done that. (*Watch Shut Eye 2*).

A: Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Isaac: In goal, the Alien Queen (Aliens). In defence, the alien (The Thing) and Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre). In Midfield Damien (The Omen). In attack Michael Myers (Halloween).
Lauren: Me and the cannibal sisters from Raw can go on the rampage.

A: Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Isaac: Freddy. H.P. Lovecraft. Practical every f**ing day! The Thing, The Thing, The Thing!!! Post Apocalypse.
Lauren: Im going to be contrary – Jason, Stephen King… Amazing VFX if it’s done really well… Pre Apocalypse (with some dutty VFX sky replacement at the end. Always)

A: And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Isaac: Surprisingly I’m not a massive fan of the Halloween “holiday”. So every year I spend it watching the same three films. Halloween, The Omen, The Thing. They’re absolute perfection.
Lauren: I got too freaked out by watching I Know What You Did Last Summer as a kid that I took a long hiatus from being scared. But the ‘horror’ genre has produced some of the most hauntingly beautiful movies out there, which have been massively influential: Don’t Look Now, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, and more recently the female-driven Raw and The Babadook.