Challenges + Budapest: A Conversation With Acclaimed Director Neil Marshall For THE LAIR
ACCLAIMED DIRECTOR Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) returns with The Lair, a lean, mean creature feature, which, according to the director, is inspired by the ‘classic genre movies like Alien, Predator and The Thing’.
This spine-chilling Shudder Original features terrifying monsters, gruesome violence and tougher-than-tough characters. Claustrophobic, fear-fuelled and strikingly shot, this mighty monster-thriller gets its highly anticipated Blu-ray, DVD and digital release on 17 July courtesy of Acorn Media International.
When Lieutenant Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk – The Reckoning, Ocean’s Eight) is shot down over Afghanistan, Sergeant Tom Hook (Jonathan Howard – Thor: The Dark World, World War Z) is sent in to lead a specialised team of SAS troops to find the missing soldier and bring her home.
As Sinclair desperately tries to evade her pursuers, she stumbles across a forsaken military bunker and seeks refuge, but little does she know that this seemingly abandoned base holds a dark secret… a horde of nightmarish creatures known as Ravagers, half-human and half-alien, ravenous for flesh.
Narrowly escaping from the bunker, Sinclair finds safety at a nearby army base led by Major Roy Finch (Jamie Bamber – Marcella, Signora Volpe). But it’s not long before some unexpected and extremely dangerous visitors arrive, eliciting an adrenaline-fueled mighty battle for survival…
Enter The Lair at your own risk in this nightmarish, pulse-pounding and action-packed feature.
In our interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Jessica Lipinski spoke to acclaimed Director Neil Marshall about The Lair, he tells us about what got him started in the industry, COVID challenges and his love of Directing…
If we went back to the beginning. Was there ever a defining moment for you within the entertainment industry? This could be within your recent film or this could also just be in general.
A defining moment, I mean, I suppose in a way there’s been a lot which is great, But I mean, the defining moment for me was when I was 11 years old and I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. And I wanted I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker from that day on and never looked back.
Now, that’s the defining moment for me.
Without any spoilers. What made you want to be a part of The Lair?
Well, it’s the latter tonight It’s kind of June covered of of one or two. I wanted to do something within COVID restrictions. And so the notion of doing something out in the desert was hot because I read all this stuff about like, you know, the COVID doesn’t last very long out in hot environments or something like that. So it was like, okay, you’re working outside in the desert, then that’s going to be better. And with a minimal crew, minimal cast and minimal locations, it was like, can we keep it contained? Inevitably, during the writing process that blew up into it’s Afghanistan and it’s got soldiers and it’s got alien invasions, it’s got Russians and all this kind of stuff and underground bunkers. And it got way, way more ambitious as it went on. But we still managed to do it despite doing COVID tests every day so that thankfully nobody came down with COVID during the filming and and we got away with it. But but it was and we ended up not filming it in a desert country after all. We filmed it in Budapest, but we were in these quarries which were unbelievably hot and stifling. So it was felt like being in a desert. But yeah, so it was a combination of all these things.
Would you say with the pandemic that was the most challenging aspect with everything, or was that actually not so much.
I think well, that was, that was definitely part that was challenging, definitely because we were doing tests every day and like if somebody had come down, the whole film could have folded. I mean, it could have ended really badly. Luckily, somebody, one of the cast members got it like about three days after we wrapped, like it was tested positive. It’s like just insane. Working in Budapest in the summer time, it was very hot, but also because we were doing a lot of night shoots and there’s only 6 hours of darkness there and in the summer time and we needed, you know, so our filming days were getting shorter and shorter, which was really difficult. Doing the creatures and making the the creatures look as good as possible is always tricky. And it takes work and there’s a few kind of stops to start with them of like trying to refine the look of them to make them work better on camera. And then just practical effects generally are quite slow and they’re worth it in the end. But you’ve got to take your time to do them right, but they pay off. So there’s like bad blood effects or creature effects and things like that. They kind of slowed it down a bit. So it was kind of a. A difficult shoot from those respects. Sure. But we got there in the end.
Now, that’s always good to hear. Glad that you’ve been able to accomplish everything through all those challenges. Yeah. Has been wondering as well, is this sort of your peak of storytelling or is there other aspects of stories that you would love to show and tell in the future?
Oh, I sincerely hope it’s not! I want to have peaked yet? No, I mean, I’m interested in being a versatile director. I’ve already done a lot of different genres, a lot of different styles. I still want to keep on doing that. I mean, you know, The Lair was very much a kind of action horror film last year, I shot a gangster movie last summer, and then I would literally just come back from Malta where I’ve been shooting an erotic thriller. So it’s like those films from the nineties that I just love, Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction and all that kind of stuff was like, Nobody’s done that for a while. So I thought, Let’s do an erotic thriller, which is a little bit that little bit of a giallo slasher movie. So again, something completely different. So I’ve just finished shooting that and it’s doing it now, and I have many more stories to tell of different genres.
Nice. Is there anyone that you would have preferred to work with or sort of an icon? You would say that you would just love to collaborate with?
Yeah. There’s so many great actors out there I’d love to work with. I’d love to work with Tom Hanks. I’d love to work with Tom Cruise. I would love to work with like Ryan Gosling. I think he’s also like, you know, there’s so many great actors out there I adore to work with.
Yeah. Any any particular reason…
Just because they’re extremely talented at the end of the day, the kind of films that they make And, you know, just I hear Tom Hanks is a nice guy, so that’ll be a good reason to work with him. Yeah, just work with good actors. Get good performances.
Are there any other sort of aspects besides directing that you would want to pursue, or do you feel like you’ve found your place with writing and directing?
I think yeah, I definitely found my calling with directing. I do love it. I love what I do. I love the process of it. I mean, I also edit, but I kind of I started out as an editor and got into directing. So I do that, as you know, if necessary. I’m not editing the new film, but I did at it the last three films, so I know I can do that and I enjoy doing that. I’ve started producing as well, but that’s not really. I was out of necessity, not out of choice. I don’t have any desire to be a producer now. I’m happy where I am. I just wanted to keep directing.
Okay, that’s good. And is there anywhere online that people can find your work? See what you’re up to, whether it be on a website, social media.
Don’t have a website, but I’m on Instagram as Neil Marshall underscore director so I can be found. There is enough.
And finally, what inspires you to keep you motivated and keep you in this industry despite all of its hardships?
That’s that’s a good question because it is kind of like an addiction once you once you’re in it. Like, I know people who, like, have joined the industry late or whatever, and I talk to them about that, like kind of like it is like once you once you get in, it’s difficult to get out because it is it is strangely addictive. Despite despite all the problems, despite the hardships, it’s not easy. Every single film is a task to get the money together, to get it made, to get all the team together and do it. It’s hard work, but there’s something about the fact that you’re not really you never doing the same thing twice like you. Never you never doing the same film story scenes. You’re usually working with different people. You get to meet some incredible creative people talents on both sides of the camera. You know, you get to travel because of it. I’ve just been to Malta. I was in Tenerife the year before making something, then Budapest the year before, making the places that I am I never go to. Otherwise. You got to go round festivals with the film when it’s finished. So I went to Norway for the first time last year, taking glamour there and Spain and Italy. And so there’s so many like upsides to it. It’s, it’s a it’s not necessarily a particularly lucrative thing to do and it’s this is a struggle, but creatively it just keeps your mind going all the time and that keep it that keeps you going. I mean, I hope to be working till I drop dead, basically. Like I don’t I’m not going to retire. I’d rather like call cut and then fall over dead, and that’ll be it.
Is there anything specifically about you do that keeps up motivation going, or is that just how you are as a person personality wise?
It’s because I love what I do, you know, I absolutely love it. It’s so challenging and, you know, constantly challenging and. Creative constantly. I just. I don’t know. I couldn’t do anything else. I’m not even qualified to do anything else. So, yeah, I mean, I love what I do and I get to, you know, Yeah, if you if you’re lucky enough to, like, do what you love for a living and get to work with friends essentially, like on a daily basis, like it doesn’t really get much better than that. So. Yeah. I’ll keep going to.
THE LAIR COMES TO BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL ON 17 JULY