Q&A with Bailey Tom Bailey, Director of “Dead Dad”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

Frankenstein’s Monster, I feel that angst and worry about whether I’m stitched together right.

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?

Dead Dad was written really fast but it had been percolating in my mind for weeks, the best stuff leaps from your subconcious. However I did struggle with the ending. I wrote several versions and one involved the mother and son re-burying dead dad under concrete and making peace. It was too sweet and felt wrong.

If I’m stuck, I ‘think on paper’: write stream-of-conciousness about what I think is wrong. Sometimes you find a solution or having thought about it in depth, you walking away and your subconcious figures it out. Billy Wilder said his breakthroughs came in bathroom breaks.

I also loosen up by writing down lots of wild ideas on scraps of paper (even index cards are too formal), spreaing them out and seeing them alongside each other can spark something new.

Your gut tells you when you’ve got it right, you get excited and it seems easy to write. I also ask, would teenage me think this was cool? It keeps you close to the instinctual reactions that got you excited about creative work in the first place.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

I’m starting to become more involved through Frightfest and my recent work.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

The idea tends to call an aesthetic to mind which will fire off a load of references in my head which I revisit: things from life, photography, painting and film. They help solidify these ideas and any references give me a way to communicate with collaborators.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

Cover graves in concrete seals, or be nicer to people before they died.

Who would be at your ultimate horror villain dinner party?

Jack Torrance and Frank Booth for drinks, Pinhead brings the main course, Candyman and Minnie Castevetes provide dessert.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?


Probably Stephen King, but I’d take Clive Barker over both.

Practical, but compositing is allowed.

Pre Apocalypse

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

On previous films I have built sets and made practical effects, both myself and with the help of great design teams. I usually have a clear vision which I solidify and communicate through sketches, mock-ups and research.

On Dead Dad I wanted a small footprint so I built the film around the existing locations. My parents room had one wall with floral wallpapers, so the design concept became bringing the garden into the house. I made a consistent colour scheme from what existed: green, browns, greys, whites. As I couldn’t control the whole location I focused on costume. I tried out various combinations from our wardrobes, collaged online images and made a few orders online.

Living in the location sparked many ideas. I came back to my parents house for lockdown, which was familiar but strange, somewhere I hadn’t stayed for more than a week, in years.

Much of the film was shot in a blue half light which created a strange atmosphere where things appear and disappear.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

My fears are many and fuel my work. The human body; the invisible world of disease, the power and fragility of the mind and the struggle between our animal instincts and civility. Then there is the impossibility of knowing our purpose and likely reality that we don’t have any.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’