Q&A with Christian Burnett, Director of “Night Land”
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Brundlefly is my spirit animal.
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?
Good ideas write themselves, so if I’m really struggling to develop something sometimes I have to admit it’s a bad idea. I get a lot of ideas from dreams. I had a dream just recently about sentient muffins that fly around with little wings. I’m still trying to figure out if I can make it into a film.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I’m not sure, but I have met people involved with horror festivals and horror magazines/websites and they’ve all been lovely, despite their macabre fixations.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
The idea for Night Land came from a time when I was walking to a countryside hotel at night for a shoot in the morning. I started in a suburb, but all the lights in every house were switched off, for miles. I didn’t see a person, didn’t hear a dog bark, or see a single moving car. Then I ended up on a country road, walking for what seemed like an hour in pitch black, my phone battery eventually at about 8%. I felt like I had wandered into a parallel universe, or time had stopped altogether. Definitely something of Stephen King’s ‘The Langoliers’ about the whole experience. I saw a silhouette of a person standing in the road about 200 yards ahead, perfectly still. Then I realised I’d reached my hotel, so I didn’t have to walk past that person. I’ll never know what they were up to! But the idea of darkness, the road, an uncanny threat and a liminal sense of time stayed with me, and became Night Land.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
I would go to the toilet before leaving, then stay inside the car for the whole trip. That wouldn’t be a very good story though!
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
I want a dinner party with Hannibal Lecter, Annie Wilkes, Dr. Mabuse, Freddy Krueger, Jack Torrance and Morticia and Gomez Addams. Cujo can have the leftovers.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy, Stephen King, practical… and mid-apocalypse!
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
We wanted our monster to be pitch black but highly reflective, so we would see only shimmering white specks of movement and white eyes and teeth coming out of the darkness. I talked to makeup and special effects experts as well as lighting experts, and tried a mixture of different chemicals. I self-applied a few of these experiments at home. We ended up using a food thickening agent with water and lots of black food colouring to create the slime, and we covered the actor with it. For the torch that Sam uses, we needed something that would plausibly look like a camping light but would also be bright enough to actually light the scene, and fit in with the rest of our production design. Since we couldn’t find something that fulfilled all of our requirements, our extraordinarily talented and resourceful DOP made it himself.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Ghostface, we’ve been over this. Please stop calling me… but The Shining is my favourite movie (scary or otherwise).