Niall Shukla

Niall Shukla is known for A Doll Distorted (2018) and Guilt (2014).

Alter Films


Q & A

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

There are times when I have locked myself away to write, that I feel very much like Jack Torrance in the Shinning, trying to finish his novel….except without the drinking problem.

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?

For me, an idea has to stand the test of time. That’s how I get through the bad ones. I used to start writing an idea too quickly -- after only a few months of its conception. Then I discovered months later when I read the 1st draft, that it didn’t quite live up to my standards to pursue further. I could have waited longer before writing. When an idea stays with me after at least a year or 2 years – and I’m still obsessed with it – that’s a sign its worth writing.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

I absolutely love horror. I don’t really consider myself a part of a particular genre’s community per say. I love every genre of film. What I do love about horror fans though, is that they are some of the best you could possibly ask for as a filmmaker. I noticed this particularly when taking my film to horror festivals. I loved the passion and support horror fans gave me with this project. Real horror fans have such a thirst for new horror projects they have not seen before, and they often champion lesser known projects. This can really help support up and coming filmmakers with their films and get them noticed by a wider audience.

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

I personally find there is a power in just staring at a single photograph, frame of a film or painting that you feel holds an atmosphere of what you want your film’s world to feel like. I also find music really helpful. It’s a good starting point for daydreaming about your world further. As an artist I also find sketching ideas really helps. But they don’t have to be anything sophisticated, just something to get the imagination flowing.

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

I would not get romantically involved with anyone and try to escape immediately!

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Probably the creature from the Thing, although it’s just as likely to kill me as it is my enemies. Maybe a Gremlin then… they’re kind of cute.

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

Freddy / Stephen king / Practical /Post

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

For props and sets I have a trick for making them believable and making only as much as I need. I was the cinematographer on my film as well as the other jobs. Inspired by the Godfather and Rembrandts paintings, I would light the characters by shining only one light down on them from above. Why? It looks really cool and moody, but an added benefit is it shrouds the subject in darkness so you don’t need to show much of the props and set design. People use their imagination to fill in the void. Also if you barely see the room, you spend less on making it look perfect.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

I am mainly scared about issues of the mind. The idea of losing your own mind, or having a severe mental health issue that ruins your life or causes you to ruin others is what scares me. I think you can see the influence for that in my short films. So I guess it does inspire me.

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

The Exorcist. I watched it when I was way too young. And it would keep me up in the night. As I got older I was actually equally as terrified about the doctors explanations for Regan’s illness as I was for the supernatural element.