With its world premiere on the horizon at Arrow Video Frightfest 2022, we caught up with prolific British director Andy Edwards to discuss Midnight Peepshow plus plenty more!
What can you tell us about the concept of Midnight Peepshow?
It’s a classic portmanteau, harking back to films like Creepshow and the Amicus anthologies. And that’s both in terms of structure but also theme, with the whole thing being very much a cautionary tale. The linking story sees our lead character of Graham (played by Richard Cotton), a down-on-his-luck businessman, stumble across an old-school Soho peepshow establishment. There he meets a mysterious madam (played by Chiara d’Anna) who instructs him on how the peepshow booths work. But once he pays his money and peers through the slot, instead of the kicks he’s after, he’s treated to our three stories, each introduced by the lead characters who are trapped in the limbo of the Midnight Peepshow.
It’s a great concept for introducing each individual story, and you know you’re going to get something seedy and disturbing. And unlike some other anthology films, which play as a collection of unconnected shorts, all three stories and the wraparound are all very much interlinked, and part of the same world. We’ll see how this one is received of course, but I know the producers are hoping to turn it into a franchise and start regularly visiting the Midnight Peepshow for fresh stories from new filmmakers.
What was the collaborative process like between yourself and Airell Anthony Hayles, Ludovica Musumeci and Jake West?
I came to the Midnight Peepshow party relatively late. Jake West and Airell Anthony Hayles had already written the wraparound and the sections they would direct when they asked me to come aboard. I knew both Jake and Airell from the UK horror scene, and I think when they saw Graphic Designs (aka Graphic Desires), which is an erotic thriller I directed which is released shortly in the UK, they knew I had the chops to join what they were calling “a horror threesome exploring the nightmare side of psychosexual fantasy”.
My challenge was then to come up with a story for the middle section of the film that would fit both thematically and tonally, but also be different enough to keep the audience engaged. As the other two sections were both quite dark, I went with a more blackly-comic angle, so that my story serves as a palate cleanser sandwiched in between them.
Once I came up with the concept, it was then about making sure it integrated with the world that Airell and Jake had come up with – the mysterious world of “The Black Rabbit”, a place where everybody’s darkest fantasies come true…
And then once the script was locked in, and Ludovica joined to direct the wraparounds, both pre-and-post were very collaborative. We all cast the films together for example, and myself and Jake have been sharing editing duties across the whole film. Four directors of course means four egos and four ways of doing things, but it’s all been a harmonious process and no-one’s fallen out!
Does having multiple directors take some of the pressure off or is there more pressure to match up the stories in terms of style and tone?
Feature-film making compared to shorts is always a marathon rather than a sprint. This film was more like a relay race, with the baton being passed from director to director, as all sections were shot consecutively, with largely the same crew. Having the same crew, especially the same cinematographer (the wonderful Vince Knight, who also has Wolf Manor at Frightfest), was a big help in matching style and tone across all the sections, and making them feel part of a cohesive movie.
It also meant that by the time I came to shoot mine (which was third on the schedule after Jake and Ludovica’s), the crew was already a well-oiled machine, and I just had to step into the vacant director’s chair for a few days.
As for pressure, having multiple directors brings a different kind of pressure. There’s not the feeling of having an entire film resting on your shoulders, but equally, there’s a pressure to not let the team down and drop the ball, to mix up my sporting metaphors. There’s also a competitive element at play – you want to raise your game around other talented directors.
The focus is someone’s deepest fearful sins, so can we expect this to go to some dark places?
In a nutshell, yes! The Midnight Peepshow is a dark place, where you go in looking for your darkest desires, but may just get what you deserve instead. And personally, I shot all of my section in a dank basement in East London, so I went to a dark place, both literally and metaphorically.
What was the shooting experience like for you?
Being on set is always fun, though the Midnight Peepshow shoot was challenging as all independent films are. Our main constraint was time, as we only had a ridiculously short schedule to get the film shot. In our favour was the fact that my story takes place in one location, with only four characters – and three of those are tied to chairs for most of the movie.
Also to my advantage was the fact the crew had already shot Jake & Ludo’s sections, so it was only me who had to get up to speed. And as well as the crew, I’d like to give a big shout out to my cast – Derek Nelson, Jamie Bacon, Jack Fairbank – and in particular Miki Davis who joined the project late in the day – for nailing their characters and the script on such a tight schedule and generally being troopers, despite being tied up in a cold, wet basement not wearing a huge amount of clothes…Now if that doesn’t make you want to watch the film, I’m not sure what will!
I didn’t get to see as much of the other sections being filmed as I’d have liked, but I did see Ludovica shoot the climax to the movie, so it was good to see her and the cast and crew in action before I took the baton. I’m gutted I missed the shoot day for Jake’s climatic scenes though – there was some crazy shit happening there!
I’d also like to give a final shout out to horror legend, Zach Galligan, who joined my story late-on in vocal-only form as the mysterious “Games Master”. He was the final piece of the puzzle for my section, and adds a touch of Hollywood class to the whole proceedings. We lucked out because he was in town recently for Comic-con, so we were able to grab him to record the voice-over, before treating him to a good-old British curry.
Are you excited about screening at Frighfest?
Absolutely. Frightfest is a festival I’d be attending as a fan, regardless of whether I have a film screening. Jake and Airell are also regular attendees both as fans and as filmmakers, and I think all of us had the Frightfest audience in mind when we were making the film, so showing at (almost) midnight on the main screen is the dream premiere. And just minutes from Soho where the film is set!
You are also part of The Ghosts of Monday, another Frightfest selection, what can you tell us about this?
The Ghosts of Monday is screening appropriately enough on the Monday, and I’m excited for this one too. I co-wrote this with another Frightfest regular (Barry Keating) who I actually met at the festival several years ago when we both had films playing, and we’ve co-written a few things together since. It’s a classic haunted-hotel story, set and shot in Cyprus, and it stars Julian Sands as the host of a ghost-hunting reality show. My involvement with this one ended once we’d handed the script in, so I’m as intrigued as everyone else as to how it’s turned out. I know the director (Francesco Cinquemani) has put his own spin on the script, so there’s going to be surprises in there even for me I think. Once I found out it was premiering at Frightfest I deliberately haven’t asked for a screener, so I’m going to be seeing it for the first time with the audience.
Will you be focusing on more of a slasher with your next project Punch?
Yes, my next film that I’m working on is the seaside-slasher, Punch. We shot most of the film in Hastings, and have just completed a few days pick-ups in Clacton-on-Sea, so it’s very much about capturing that proper British seaside-vibe. We’ve been shooting on piers, in arcades, in fish and chips shops, the works. Britain doesn’t really have an iconic slasher like a Freddy or Jason etc and my plan is to fix this injustice with Mr Punch – an instantly recognisable and iconic slasher villain. We also have a great cast, with some super talented newcomers joined by experienced actors such as Kierston Wareing (Fishtank), Jamie Lomas (Hollyoaks) and Daniel Fathers (The Void, Pontypool). There’s also appearances from faces familiar to the UK horror scene like Dani Thompson, Ayvianna Snow, Sarah Alexandra Marks and May Kelly, several of whom have films showing at this year’s Frightfest.
It’s currently in post at the moment so hopefully will be ready to hit festivals before the end of the year.
The Ghosts of Monday and Midnight Peepshow both screen at Arrow Video Frightfest 2022.