Interview with AD Lane – Director of Invasion of the Not Quite Dead

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Antony Lane, known as AD Lane to almost 160,000 followers on his Twitter, is the director of the crowd funded British independent horror movie called Invasion of the Not Quite Dead and is also the managing director of Indywood Films. For the last three years, AD Lane has been raising money through the Internet for his movie whilst offering various perks to those who donate.

AD Lane answered my questions this morning during the Halloween fundraiser for Invasion of the Not Quite Dead, a project that I’ve been a backer of since 2009.

Hammy Havoc: What is Invasion of the Not Quite Dead?

AD Lane: ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ is a unique take on the zombie genre, but more than that, it’s been a passion, an obsession of mine for over six years to see this film made…

HH: How do you deal with the sleep deprivation when you have been doing the amazingly long fundraising sessions on Twitter? Do you have any secrets for staying awake for so long?

AL: It began as a bit of a gimmick, doing something silly to get people to talk about my project, but then it took on a life of its own, with me wanting to better my time awake each time, I’d do a 50 hour no-sleep fundraiser then followed it with 60, then 70, 72, 75, 80, 85 and then in December 2011 I did my biggest one, 107 hours– it was absolutely nuts, I began hallucinating blue horses in the office as I fund-raised! Unfortunately doing such a huge no sleep fundraiser took its toll on my health throughout the course of this year, so that was my last big one, but to answer your question, I guess doing them monthly and adding to the amount is what helped me to adapt and stay awake for silly amounts of time and I’d say it’s because of the incredible support people give me on Twitter, that helped to keep me awake, do I miss doing them? Nope… [Laughter] that part of my life is over now… a new era begins… away from Twitter.

HH: Has the dedication to crowd funding Invasion of the Not Quite Dead had any impact on your personal life?

AL: Yeah, it has taken a huge toll, and I’ve been very lucky to have such an incredible wife supporting, and a close family that support my dream, and such amazing friends, if it wasn’t for those guys and the people on Twitter, I wouldn’t have been able to keep going, the truth is, doing a project like this creates personal demons, that you have to battle against to keep going, to say it’s taken its toll on me and my personal life is a bit of an understatement, but I think that any person fighting for their dreams will be pushed to their very limit, and it can be anyone doing anything that they love or believe in, the hard part is not giving up.

HH: Did you ever feel like there was another way to fund the film that was more appealing? Looking back, are you glad that you took the route you did?

AL: From 2007-2009, I tried everything to fund my film, I always say that it’s from my failings that I was able to find success, but do I regret anything? Hell no! To regret anything would mean not being happy where you are in your life, and I am very happy to be now in a position to shoot my movie and do it the justice our backers deserve.

HH: What was the best advice you received when you initially started crowd funding and who was it from? Do you think we’re experiencing Kickstarter fatigue after the UK launch of Kickstarter?

AL: When I launched my idea on Twitter in 2009 to offer producer perks, it was the first of its kind on Twitter, no one else was doing it, no one else saw the potential in using Twitter to reach out to the fans to have them back and be part of your movie project, so there was no one around to give advice, but my how things have now changed, now every other tweet from people is “Please back my Sponsume or Indiegogo or Kickstarter”. Now it’s just a typical day on your Twitter feed to see people trying to get you to back their projects, I’m proud to have been one of the first to show that it could be done using Twitter.

HH: Which web browser do you use? Any particular reasons behind this choice?

AL: I use Google Chrome the most, and that’s only because I was having problems with the other browsers, they kept messing up with Twitter!

HH: Did the crowd funding for Invasion of the Not Quite Dead work as you expected it to or has the response been much better than was anticipated?

AL: When you do something new, it’s always incredible when people embrace a new idea, and I wasn’t expecting it to be an overnight sensation, so I was more than willing to put the time in, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to do it for over three years, overall it’s been an incredible journey and experience, the support this project has received over the years has been nothing short of inspirational.

HH: What is your video editing suite of choice and what are the reasons behind your decision of that?

AL: For many years I’d been a Final Cut Pro man, before that I began editing on Adobe Premiere back in 1997, back when digital editing was introduced and unleashed upon the world, I remember being at college one day editing analogue and then the next day they said, things have changed, now it’s all digital, [Laughter] and in a weird twist of fate, I’ve just this last month moved over to the new Adobe Premiere CS6, which in all honesty is a dream to edit with and it’s the only program to move me away from Final Cut Pro– I’d read great reviews about it, gave the free trial a go, and I’ve never looked back, the great thing about it is that you can throw pretty much any format uncompressed into the timeline and it works great and it saves a lot of time.

HH: What is your current film editing setup for Invasion of the Not Quite Dead?

AL: I am on an iMac with Adobe Premiere, I have a lot of hard drives, I’ve now started to see hard drives as the new currency… now we’re being judged on how many hard drives we have, success is now based on that alone! [Laughter]

HH: Making a movie involves a huge amount of footage, I remember hearing about you stacking up 2TB just from a scouting trip. Can you talk us through the logistics of dealing with so much data?

AL: Well, when I shoot something, I shoot the hell out of it, let’s take for example a charity Ben Nevis climb, I filmed the entire adventure, which will be a 30 minute video diary made specially for the charity Joss Parkes Searchlight, we don’t like doing anything by halves, [Laughter] so when it comes to making Invasion of the Not Quite Dead to paraphrase a famous line from Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” comes to mind, except we mean hard drives!

HH: What technology has been most critical in the production of Invasion of the Not Quite Dead so far?

AL: At this point I’d have to say social media and the Internet, without it, we wouldn’t be on the verge of making this movie happen, being able to bring our dream to the world and get them to embrace it and want to be a part of it, so I’d have to thank Apple Inc. the most at this point for the Mac, ask me in a few months and I may say the Steadicam, or something more on the film-making side of things.

HH: How did you find the process of coming up with characters and their dialogue?

AL: I found the easiest way for me to get to know my characters was spending a few days just writing out a full page of their lives, where they came from, some of the struggles they’ve had, it’s almost made them family in a weird sort of way, I can see them and feel for all of them in different ways.

HH: Are any of the characters based on people you personally know?

AL: Yeah, me… I have put a lot of me and my different aspects into the characters, which can range from someone I was, or I am now, or someone who I’d love to be, so there are a few of the characters that have been inspired by that process.

HH: Other than funding, what has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced while producing Invasion of the Not Quite Dead?

AL: I’d have to say the biggest challenge has been its toll on me mentally, even more than physically, fighting for a dream for over six years and fundraising for three years can really take its toll on you, this year especially.

HH: What were your reasons behind choosing makeup and prosthetic based gore versus CGI?

AL: I am a huge fan of films from the ‘70s and ‘80s, I grew up on them, but to me the films of today rely heavily on doing the impossible, so the motto is ‘CGI it‘, in fact the majority of horror films of today prefer to just CGI everything and to me there is nothing worse than seeing cartoon blood spray out everywhere, 9 times out of 10, it’s obvious it’s a cartoon and it brings you away from the movie world that’s been created, it’s actually my biggest pet hate and I’ve been known to spend hours on Twitter just venting my rage for CGI gore in horror films, so from day one, I’ve been a huge campaigner for filmmakers to bring back good old fashioned prosthetics and practical effects, a great example of this is the movie The Thing, now watch its prequel, they killed that movie with the horrible over the top CGI gore effects… We have an incredible makeup and prosthetics artist called Michele Mulkey flying over from the States, she’s worked on such projects as Firefly, CSI, Seed of Chucky, and The Chronicles of Riddick, we can’t wait to work with her on making Invasion of the Not Quite Dead as scary and as real as a zombie movie can get!

HH: How do you feel digital cinema cameras stack up against film cameras?

AL: I was always a bigger fan of film cameras, it was tough to beat that 35mm look, but now the times they are a-changin’, and with such huge developments from RED, we can now get close to that 35mm look, from digital cameras.

HH: Is there any reason that you chose to make a horror movie rather than another genre?

AL: I grew up on horror films, so I guess it’s in my blood, it’s not the only genre that I want to make, I have a time travel movie idea and two World War II movies, so I’ll be moving into different genres after Invasion of the Not Quite Dead, that is something that excites me a lot.

AD and Katie Lane with Previous Magazine Pendants Wearing Invasion of the Not Quite Dead T-Shirts

HH: I love time travel and I also love World War II movies so I’m excited to see where that leads you. What made you want to make a movie in the first place?

AL: I’ve always had a love for film-making, when I left school I made a lot of shorts with my college friends, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve wanted to make a feature film professionally and aimed directly at the big screen, which is in itself a bit of cliché, what filmmaker doesn’t want to see their film on the big screen? But I guess the turning point for me was after recovering from an 11 month illness, that’s when my film-making journey began, that was over the Summer of 2004 and I’ve not looked back since…

HH: What are your top three perks of being a director and fundraiser for your own film?

AL: It all comes down to having complete control over your film, its vision and also how it gets to the fans through distribution, so for me it’s just that one big thing, having complete control over my movie.

HH: Distribution is an interesting topic, how do you feel about streaming movies and downloading digital copies versus owning the physical versions?

AL: Call me old school, but I’m a DVD and Blu-ray Disc collector, before that I was a Laserdisc collector and before that a VHS collector, to me, owning the physical version is seeing all your favorite movies in one place and taking pride in building up a collection, something that is taken away by just using a service like Netflix, but don’t get me wrong, I love my Netflix, and I am a fan of having films and TV shows at just a click away, but I’d much prefer to browse a shelf full of titles.

HH: Did you ever see yourself doing anything else other than film making?

AL: Not really, I’ve always been working towards this, when you have such a strong dream, it pretty much sticks with you for most of your life and this one just wouldn’t go away…

HH: When you were growing up did you have any inspirations in the film industry? Who were they?

AL: I guess when I was growing up, it was watching the classic episodes of Doctor Who that really got me into wanting to do something in the film-making field, I’ve always been a huge fan of making-of documentaries and it always gets me excited seeing how films are made and watching them on set creating magic, so I’d say my biggest inspirations always came from watching behind the scenes of my favorite movies or TV shows.

HH: What is your favourite kind of cake?

AL: Chocolate fudge cake with a side of vanilla ice cream… one to take away please! [Laughter]

HH: Mmm, that sounds delicious, but if zombies really did invade, what five items would you take into your bunker?

AL: Music, food, weapons, DIY tools to reinforce the bunker, and my wife Katie, if we can call her an item…

HH: Staying in that bunker is going to require adequate facial fuzz, do you have any beard growing tips?

AL: I am a proud grower of beards, some call it laziness, others call it eccentricity, I call it laziness, [Laughter] how do I grow the wild beard that looks like it’s had no work done to it? Well… it’s that simple, you let the bugger run wild… let it grow, no beard should be cut down in its prime!

HH: What would you say has been the highlight of your film making journey so far?

AL: I think it was meeting up with Zach Galligan a few months ago and just chatting about the project and him telling me how concerned he was about me doing epic no sleep film fundraisers, he’s a great guy who just so happens to be the star of one of my favorite horror films, I watch Gremlins every year on Christmas Eve night, it’s now tradition, all being well, we’ll be having Zach taking a featured role in Invasion of the Not Quite Dead and this is something that excites the hell out of me, he should be in a lot more movies.

HH: Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

AL: My biggest bit of advice is to follow your dreams and to never give up, and if you’re new to film-making, just get a camera and start shooting, the only way you can learn your craft is by shooting a lot of things; Just get out there and create, put your work on YouTube and get it seen, get people to give you advice, and also, when you make it, pay it forward!

HH: Is there anything else you would like to say? How can readers participate in making your movie a reality?

AL: As I have this interview, we’re in the middle of doing our final Invasion of the Not Quite Dead fundraiser, if anyone reading this has a few pounds or dollars spare, please visit our films fundraising page, www.indywood.co.uk, and consider backing us, and for the next 12 months we will show the making of the film in real-time, and this time next year, a finished movie will be going online specially for the amazing people who have backed us… please also help us to spread the word over on Twitter, @indywoodFILMS, we look forward to tweeting with you and bringing the finished Invasion of the Not Quite Dead movie to you!

HH: Thanks Antony! This is a teaser video for Invasion of the Not Quite Dead; not a trailer, just a collection of clips from when the project first went into production when AD Lane and the crew travelled to Bulgaria.

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