One of the highlights of the recent Liverpool Horror Festival was the screening of Joshua Cleave’s POV viral apocalypse short The Rage.
We got the chance to ask him a few questions about the film and the upcoming sequel.
Tell us where the idea came from for The Rage?
I’ve always been a huge fan of horror films, everything from the classic zombies, ghosts to slashers and the paranormal. Ive wanted to make a horror film for ages.
I saw a short GoPro music video (bad mother fucker by the Broken Elbows) and I was blown away by the action and I knew straight away that’s what I wanted to do.
The Rage just kind of came to me after that. I wrote the script in a few weeks and it went from there.
Was it always your vision to have it from POV perspective?
Yeah, as soon as I saw how immersive the GoPro pov was, I knew that’s how I wanted it to look. I was amazed at how immersive it was, you really feel like you’re in the film, feeling the panic and terror the main character goes through. The script had a lot of blood and gore in it plus I’d never shot on a GoPro before either so this was definitely going to be a challenging one to film.
Were there any films you took reference from when writing this?
Oh yeah definitely, I’m a huge fan of 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead . I love how the whole zombie genre has evolved. I find the infected/running zombies are so much more terrifying than the slow, stumbling zombies. It really ups the pace and energy of the film too. You’ll spot a few references in the Rage, but I won’t say what.
Films recently like The Villainess have employed this filming technique, was this your way to tell a viral outbreak story in an original way?
I haven’t seen it yet, but I will now. I’ve always wanted to shoot a film in a pov style but there seemed to be a lot of similar parkour style zombie chase films about so I didn’t want to just make another one of those. It was only after seeing the Bad Mother Fucker video that I thought, holy shit, that’s what I want to do but with an zombie/infection style storyline.
I wrote the script with the POV style in mind, and it all just came together. I knew from the start The twists and reveal at the end would be perfect in pov, as you’re hearing the fear and panic in his head but to everyone else he’s something else. Hopefully you didn’t see that coming.
The film was shot in Liverpool, how hard was it to secure the right filming location?
It wasn’t as hard as I thought, it was only after writing the script that I started to realise, who the hell is going to let me film a zombie film in their lab, let alone let us roll around on the floor fighting.
As you can imagine the first few companies politely refused, but then I contacted the Liverpool Science Park where they hired out lab space to companies. I couldn’t afford to hire and dress my own lab as i had no budget so I contacted all the companies that already hired labs and to my amazement most of the companies loved the idea and said yes, now we had a several labs to choose from.
Bio Grad (a pharmaceutical research laboratories and clinics run by Dr Natalie Kenny) was perfect and they were extremely welcoming and they loved horror films too, I couldn’t believe my luck, it made the whole film look so much more realistic.
Tell us about a typical day on set?
Lots of fun, I had a great crew and actors, including, Christian Greenway, Noel Ross and Harriet Davies. Everyone loved the script and they all shared my passion for the film so it made it a lot of fun.
Most of the shoots went really fast and everyone chipped in where they could, most of the crew played extras in it too, I even played a cameo when one of the actors didn’t turn up.
That’s not to say we didn’t have our bad days though.
On the first day of shooting we found out we couldn’t film around the park as the new management hadn’t been informed. Our final shoot was probably the biggest and most stressful. Once again, on a different location, I was told the day of the shoot that we can’t get onto the rooftop location as the staff had called in sick. That’s something no filmmaker wants to be told, especially when you have a dozen crew, five sfx makeup artists and ten Ragers (the infected) all ready and waiting.
Luckily, after a quick rekkie round town, we found a quiet corner on a car park rooftop where we could film the final scenes.
We hide all the Ragers, in full bloody makeup, a few floors below and snuck up to the roof with the main actors. Of course, we were only up there five minutes before we got reported to security. They were very helpful and after a bit of sweet talking they allowed us to film the last few shots before being asked to leave.
How long did it take to film?
The actual filming didn’t take long at all, probably less than five days in total, but the whole production from script to screen took nearly a year.
I’m actually a full time welder so I could only film at the weekends, plus the problems with filming locations set us back massively too. Then to make things worse our editor went awol half way through the year, so I decided to edit the whole film myself. Luckily we had an amazing assistant editor join us, he then took over to blend all the shots and add the after effects once I finished. After that it was ready for the music composer and the sound designer, it was then finally completed in August last year and since then it’s been doing incredibly well at film festivals all around the world, it’s even won seven best horror film awards.
A sequel has been announced which is currently crowdfunding, was it always your intention to do a sequel?
No, originally it was just meant to be the one film, it had a nice rounded story with a twist at the end. I had no plans to make a sequel at all, it was only when I released it on the festival circuit that everyone loved it and wanted more, it was getting into loads of film festivals and it even premiered on tv on the short film show and then started winning awards, including best horror film and best short film at the short film show awards earlier this year.
I then had a great idea for a sequel that I just couldn’t get out of my head. I started writing the script and again it just all fell together. it’s insanely huge compared to the first film, so this time I decided I’d raise a budget through crowdfunding rather than self fund the project myself.
How will The Rage 2 expand on the story?
Without giving to much away, it’s ridiculously ambitious. It’s more like a mini feature and has so much more action, blood and gore in it.
It follows straight on from the Rage so you’ll see the aftermath from the first film and what remains of the lab and the scientists.
There’s a lot more back story in this one too, you learn about the company (New Bio Energy) and their intentions for the virus (The Rage)
We will be shooting on the latest 4K GoPros, so you’ll see the Ragers in all their terrifying glory.
Well revisit the original locations too, including the bio lab (Bio Grad) and the underground tunnels in Liverpool (Williamson Tunnels) it’s going to look incredible, I’m excited just telling you about it.
If successfully funded when will filming begin?
We’re already really far into pre production, if all goes well I ’m hoping to start principal photography in October. We’ve have a full cast and locations ready to go, we just need to raise enough budget for equipment, props and tons of special effects makeup and blood. We’ve got a great cast, including Scot Metcalfe, Stuart Davies and Nathan Head. I can’t wait to start filming. It’ll be a long journey again but it’ll be worth it, the script is incredible, if you like the first Rage this is going to blow your mind, literally.
If you love 1st person horror and want to join the Rage journey, you can support and donate the Rage 2 below. We also have tons of great perks in return for your support, including, movie posters, scripts and gruesome props all signed by the cast and crew. Exclusive downloads of the Rage 1&2 and we will name a Rager after you, plus invites to the official premier and you can even play an actual Rager in the film.
You can support The Rage II on IndieGoGo HERE