Tuesday, March 15, 2022


A salute to everyone reading this interview. The interview I post today I made it last year in December, different situations made me publish it today, I said this because today's interviewee is HOWARD FORD and we talked about his movie THE LOCKDOWN HAUNTINGS, it was his latest movie by that time, but he released a few days ago his new latest movie THE LEDGEThe movie was released on October, 2021 on VOD format and on DVD format on November, 2021.

As I said this interview focuses on THE LOCKDOWN HAUNTINGS, a clever British movie crafted during the Covid Pandemic and thought as a reinvention by HOWARD FORD side, A proficient and artistic mind always is thinking about how to adapt himself to current situations and his mind bounced around the idea to shoot while all people were isolated and fearful due the pandemic conjuncture back then, it flourished his cleverness and decided shooting a movie taking advantage everyone had to stay back home, that's how was born THE LOCKDOWN HAUNTINGS, a movie that incorporates everything that independent filmmaker means, cause HOWARD FORD was director, cinematographer, cameraman, gaffer, everything. Because of that and much more, be able to have the possibility of having his words on this blog and reach it out to many indie filmmakers out there is truly priceless

We talked about his filmography, 8 feature films, more than 250 commercials, and 7 short films so far, what numbers ah! I know you'll like it a lot, come on indie filmmakers, just have to scroll down and read this plenty of valuable advice interview for you, come on!

EFF:Thank you for giving me the chance to chat with you, really. Howard tell us where are you from and how did the curiosity about filmmaking stem from?

HF: Thank you too for the interview. I started making short films from the age of 13. I had wanted to do so even a couple of years before that. I had been so impressed with the fact that films made me feel a certain emotion, be it fear, excitement, tension, whatever and I wanted to tell stories that did that. It took a while to get going but I made 7 short films and my first feature film aged 21. By now I have directed 8 features and more than 250 commercials which has taken me around the world.

EFF: Very impressive background so far. Let's talk about your latest film "THE LOCKDOWN HAUNTING", obviously the concept emerged from you thanks to the pandemic context we're living in now and the isolation we suffered last year. But, tell us, why you decided to make this movie with supernatural condiments and create this story specifically?

HF: I knew a couple of weeks into the lockdown I was going to make something. I had considered making a more family-friendly film given how grim a situation we were all in; but I’d done that pretty recently with Adventure Boyz, which was one from the heart. I thought, what do we have right now? And it seemed to be FEAR, ISOLATION and ANXIETY and I wondered, can I do anything cinematic with that?! More importantly perhaps, can I do it on my own. With just actors and I felt a ghost story I could pull off. Mainly because you don’t even need the ghost half the time! Plus, I could tap the story more into the reality we were experiencing.
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EFF: Tell us about the project conception, the timeline. How did you get funding for the movie? If you had to pitch it out or if you used another way to get the money, explain to us that, please.

HF: I had no time at all to even write the script, let alone go and seek funding. I really wanted to do the Lockdown Hauntings IN the Lockdown, socially distanced, right then with all the actors stuck in their homes. Once I had the idea that their homes could be (and had to be) the locations and that the actors were prepared to do it and there was a legal way of me doing it; I started shooting within 2 weeks of getting the idea. I literally drove around the UK on my own with a car full of equipment and props. The actors were all amazing. Half the time they had to come up with the dialogue as I often only had time to write a framework of how I wanted the scenes to go.

EFF: Tell us a little bit about the casting process, please. You had Tony Todd in your cast, how was the looking for actors to play in a movie where they had to be locked in their houses during the stressful situation we were living in at that time?

HF: Tony Todd was incredible and I was super lucky to be able to work with such a legend and I was very blessed with all the cast – to be honest, in speaking to the cast between shots they were happy to be doing their ‘art’ in this moment, even if it was without a crew. Although I did try to make the lockdown hauntings as cinematic as I could, the scenes with Tony Todd had to be done via zoom, but they were shot as if both he and star Angela Dixon were in the room together if you get my meaning. I filmed the screen as they spoke together, not just hitting record on the zoom call. That way I could try to do it as you would if both the cast were there. Tony was such a blast!
EFF: What was the most complicated thing to manage regarding pre-production, planning the movie before shooting?

HF: The most complicated thing was that I had to be the Director, Cameraman, Focus Puller, Sound man, lighting man, smoke machine operator etc etc and often I would also be doing special effects (a lot by fishing wire) at the same time I was shooting! For the actors, they didn’t just act, they did their own make up, costumes, often re-gigged their locations and made fabulous contributions to the story. It was truly a unique situation. To put it in perspective, my next film had 64 crew members having come from zero.

EFF: I can only imagine the meticulosity you did it. How did you manage the shooting process? I mean, I assume we were all in quarantine by that moment, so, each person recorded his own material and sent it to you or was it different?

HF: At the beginning, I thought most of it would have to be done that way, but I wanted tracking shots, I wanted steadicam shots and I wanted decent quality recorded sound and all the details within shot-flow that one has in a film. Plus the ‘format’ of the film needed to feel like it was on the same camera and style rather than bits put together so in the end I just went and shot it. The rules were such that I could not have a person from outside my ‘bubble’ in the car with me and I had to be 2 meters apart from the cast. It was a challenge but I wanted to give it a go. I had no idea if I could get anything done, let alone 90+minutes of finished film! It was a unique experience and I should add that no one caught Covid due to any activities on The Lockdown Hauntings!
The Lockdown hauntings

EFF: Any anecdotes from this movie?

HF: I’ve never mentioned this before, but on the first day of post-production, in the middle of the night, my closed and switched off PC started playing shots and sound from the film. It was honestly terrifying and I pretty much couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I felt it was some sort of spirit having a laugh, but who knows!

EFF: The PC got haunting hahaha. When was the movie released and where can people watch it?

HF: The Lockdown Hauntings came out in North America digitally in October last year and is available now, also on DVD it numerous retailers including Wallmart. In the UK it is available now on Amazon, SkyStore, Apple TV, Virgin Media, Google play and others. It is also getting theatrical releases in numerous countries - very soon in Japan. Sadly I’ve not been able to catch it on the big screen, ironically due to lockdown restrictions.

EFF: How has the audience's response been so far?

HF: We’ve had some truly fabulous feedback from both the public and critically, particularly from those that know something about how the film came about. I have seen a bunch of comments from the horror community feeling like I should have had ‘more blood and nudity’ (Fair enough) That might have been tricky for me to propose that whilst on my own in an actors house, but noted and let me consider that for ‘The Lockdown Hauntings 2, second wave’.
Howard Ford
EFF: It could be start off a franchise, who knows? The distribution is a complex subject for indie filmmakers, especially the first-timers directors, you know, trying to sell the movie and maybe obtain revenues or at least not lose money. But it's for sure that many distro companies pass over the filmmakers and receive the most revenues from the movie. Tell us how has been your experience in that subject with this movie in general, and if you could give us any advice about it?

HF: When I’m a guest speaker at film schools or such, I often say: there’s only one thing you need to bring with you to a distribution meeting; A condom, because your gonna get screwed. Harsh I know, but you really are. Financially at least.  I’ve made movies that have made many millions of dollars and I’ve seen it on paper, and you think you’re going to get a fair share of that. Let me tell you, you’re not.  So brace yourself for that. 99% of what you will get, is only the advance (the MG) that might be offered when you agree a sale for a particular country for your film. You’ll likely need a sales agent to do deals like this so you’ll be lucky to see half of that amount too once the sales fee and ‘expenses’ are lopped off the top. If you’re in bed with the wrong people even this will disappear. I have been lucky enough to deal with a lot of decent people on The Lockdown Hauntings, so I will say that relationships are everything. You need to ask other film makers what experiences they have had with distributors that are interested in your film. I have several film out there with distributors who never sent us any money at all and they are still selling. It’s no wonder everyone wanted to sell all rights to Netflix or whomever as soon as these possibilities popped up.    

EFF: Harsh words, I mean, filmmakers have to deal with top stress when making their movies and when trying to sell it, really harsh. What camera did you use and why?

HF: For The Lockdown Hauntings I used a Cannon 1DC as it was manageable for me and my ghost crew and I liked the small depth of field. I also owned it and pretty much everything I shot the film with so given I financed the film myself it was a way of not spending too much!

EFF: What kind of director do you define yourself? How do you set up your day-to-day shooting? Do you like to make storyboards, do you take many shots or only a few? I don't know... (Not only this movie but in general).

HF: It’s hard for me to define as I often ‘feel’ my way through films (Particularly the framing, I feel what is right) and I don’t like to talk too much before we shoot something. You can over think it. I tend not to take too many takes. If I think it’s right I move on. If I think some of it is right and something is wrong I try to just pick up on the bit that was wrong from another angle. Then you have more options rather than more options of the same thing. It makes for a better edit. Some actors love doing less takes, some get very nervous and think they want to  ‘go again’ and go again’ on the same thing and that will be better. But they are not in the edit so it’s often a frustration if you know you have it and you are going again when you have a big list of stuff to get done. I don’t use storyboards much unless it’s a particular VFX scene that needs to be done a certain way. Storyboards can make it boring, but they can be helpful if you loose your mind on the day!
Howard Ford - The Lockdown Hauntings BTS

EFF: What advice based on your experience in this movie would you give to newbie filmmakers out there hesitating about making their first movie because of money, equipment, etc? Obviously, you have the “moral” to provide this advice…

HF: Start by what you DO have. Do you have a great location you can use? Do you have a great and interesting prop? If you can’t afford to re-invent the world around your film, bring all those things first and make a story around that. Do whatever you can to hone your skills and learn each time. Films do cost money though, especially if you are to sell to the distribution world as the ‘deliver’ items alone to be accepted for distribution cost a chunk so at some point you will need backers or to raise money. Just try to put as much of it ‘on screen as you can. Think about what you can pull off, but life is short so if you feel it, you really do have to just go, do it!

EFF: What advice on pre, shooting or postproduction could give us based on what you learned from this production? Tips to be more efficient.

HF: Don’t shoot too many shots of the same thing! I may have mentioned this already. Move your camera to a different frame or lens if you have to do it more than twice. Also, find good people that will work with you on your vision, not try and just carve their own. Also sound is so important. Not just good clean crisp dialogue, but also post-sound, score and all. It makes the world of difference even to not the best shot and this often gets overlooked on very low budgets.

EFF: What are your inspiration; directors or films?

HF: Sergio Leone. I loved his use of the environment and his framing and movement. I really liked a lot of Tony Scott’s work too. Sadly, neither are with us. Directorially ‘The Sixth Sence’ is as close as I’ve seen to a perfectly crafted film. Every shot bar maybe one is on point to further the story. It’s such great ‘film language’.
Howard Ford

EFF: YOu have shot four horror movies, so I could assume you're a fan. Tell me how do you see the genre lately, good movies, directors?  What movies do you like most?

HF: You might not like me for this but I hardly ever watch horror! I was incredibly impressed and affected by some of classics like The Excorcist and appreciated the craft behind films such as The Evil Dead or Dawn of The Dead, and very well crafter horror such as Nightmare on Elm St, but I got put off by some of the more disturbing stuff. For me it has to have some heart or I can’t go there.

EFF: As a director what does horror offer you?

HF: It offers me a way to explore our deepest fears. To be on a bit of a rollercoaster but safe in your seat so to speak. As a filmmaker horror has a very loyal fanbase. I have met a lot of them at festivals and they are super nice people with more depth than non horror fans might imagine. It’s one of the few markets you don’t need big famous actors to get your movie out there to a crowd who will properly give your film a shot.

EFF. What do you think about crowdfunding? Do you recommend it or do you consider it's useful to use another form of funding collection?

HF: I’ve never done crowdfunding, probably because I’m not very good at asking for money and the idea of doing it so publicly just doesn’t appeal. That said, I might do it one day, perhaps just for a project like The Dead 3, which has a fanbase from the original films and the fans might fancy a piece of it. I see a lot of it on social media so it clearly works for some but I hear it take a lot of commitment.

EFF:  What new projects are you working on now, anything you can anticipate us now?

HF: I have a climbing thriller called ‘The Ledge’ which PR starts early 2022 for Distribution from February. It’s set in the Italian dolomites and has one woman, a witness to a heinous murder, trying to survive the night on the side of a mountain with several guys trying to kill her. Not an easy film to make ‘at height’ but hopefully something a little different in the genre.

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why?

HF: Well if it was a zombie film I’d say it would have to be Zombie Creeping Flesh as it had so much atmosphere and potential on the island and all, but a few things I’d like to see differently, but the loyal fans would slaughter me! There was a fabulous film from Bernard Rose who directed the Candyman films called ‘Paperhouse’, which I felt, was beautifully done. It doesn’t need remaking at all but I’d love to do it. That and The Others which is a superb film. My worry is how much patience to modern audiences have for a story that does not unfold all at once…

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally...  

HF: Well I’m doing this interview with Covid right now! Yup, ironic right. I also lost my uncle to the virus but I’ve been lucky enough to be closer to my family in this time and of course I had to adapt and use the situation to make The Lockdown Hauntings which only exists due to the pandemic, so that’s been an interesting experience. I just hope we come out of this much more positive and appreciative of each other and our time here…

EFF: I hope you get well soon and sorry hear that of yout uncle. Would you like to say anything else?

HF: Just make sure if you are wanting to be a filmmaker as a career, you must be prepared for disappointment – you must be ready to have your heart broken many times over, both financially and creatively. It is extremely hard to make a film and even after many sacrifices and years of hard work there are always people who can’t wait to jump online and publicly comment that it’s ‘the shittest film ever made, and even if it’s a success, you might not personally see much of the money, but if you can keep going despite all these blows and have a ‘Win or you learn’ attitude, then it can be an extremely interesting adventure and perhaps better than stacking shelves! Good luck to all and thanks for the interview too and to all who watch my films.

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