Director Phil Claydon takes us behind-the-scenes on his lesbian vampire flick.
Gavin and Stacey do vampires this weekend in the eagerly anticipated lesbian vampire flick – adeptly titled Lesbian Vampire Killers. In it the comedy duo Matthew Horne and James Corden play two hapless losers whose idyllic country holiday is shattered by the arrival of an army of blood thirsty lesbian vamps. It’s ever straight man’s dream to direct a bevy of beautiful babes and as if that’s not enough, director Phil Claydon gets to work with twenty odd lesbian vampires. We spoke to the director about the film, working with Gavin and Stacey (aka Matt and James) and the future for those lesbian vampire killers:
Q: I read the title – “Lesbian Vampire Killers – was the result of a drunken night out for the writers. Is there any truth to that rumour?
A: (Laughs) I don’t know if it was a drunken decision exactly. I think they came up with the idea in a pub. Most films have to begin somewhere – whether it is in an office or at home watching TV and I think this is one of those films that needed to be thought up over a glass of wine or a beer. From there they actually came up with the screenplay, which is more interesting and funnier than the title would suggest.
Q: At what point did you come aboard?
A: I knew about it when they were writing it. It was originally set up as a real micro-budget movie – that was the first half of Lesbian Vampire Killer’s life – it was a really small film. About two and a half years in it started getting a lot of attention; people were interested in the script. So from that point it changed into something that could really be done properly. It had one life where we had the wrong financers and producers attached and it kind of fell apart – that was back in 2007. The good thing about that was I had done a casting process and I managed to get James Corden involved, who I had loved since “Teachers” and “The History Boys”.
Q: It certainly felt like the film was written with James Corden and Matthew Horne, are you saying that wasn’t the case?
A: Yeah James was the first one to come onboard. He contacted me with Gavin and Stacey DVDs and on the back he wrote a note saying “if you build it, he will come” cause we were looking for the right Jimmy. Bizarrely Matt had already auditioned but for the role of Fletch, which just didn’t work but he’s just hilarious as Jimmy.
Q: There is much talk of them being the new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost – what do they think of the comparison?
A: I think they are ok with it. I mean we live in a country, unfortunately, where the only comparison we’ve got is a film that was made five years ago. Saying that the great thing about Shaun of the Dead is that it’s a straight forward comedy-horror – it felt like a George Romero film with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Lesbian Vampire Killers isn’t full on horror, it’s more a comedy – we’re more like Ghostbusters with added lesbian vampires!
Q: It’s certainly no small feat getting Paul McGann (Withnail and I) involved – how did that come about?
A: It was such a last minute addition but a great one! The writers had originally pitched the film as Withnail and I with lesbian vampires so having Paul involved – the “I” of Withnail and I – it kind of felt we had come full circle. The character was really designed as the Peter Cushing character – he’s saying a lot of crap but you have to believe every word of it. Obviously we couldn’t have Peter Cushing but with Paul McGann you really believe every word.
Q: Speaking of classic films, what movie(s) inspired you to become a director?
A: Watching The Empire Strikes Back at the age of four. I’m really a spawn of the ‘80s. Early Spielberg and John Hughes are big influences. In terms of Lesbian Vampire Killers, it was things like – Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Goonies which showed the fun side of going to the pictures. Then there are things like the late night Hammer movies, which were always less about the horror more about titillation in my eyes. I loved the world they created – the set designs, the graveyards and the castles.
Q: There’s a lot of buzz around the Vampire mythology today – Let the Right One In, True Blood, Twilight et al. What sets this apart?
A: Aside from the lesbians, I think our vampires hark back to the old classic style vampires – all fangs and drinking blood. This isn’t your teen romance; it isn’t a story about adolescence and growing up. That’s the great thing about the vampire mythology, it can be an allegory for so many things – but in our case it’s straight down the line – lesbian vampires are the bad guys and our heroes have to do something about it.
Q: It’s ever straight man’s dream to be casting two dozen girls as semi-clad lesbian vampires – how did they react to it?
A: All the girls really got into it. They loved the costumes – they felt really powerful and beautiful in them. That was a key thing; they had to be confident to make it believable. When it came to the lesbianism, we really didn’t have to do much. Once one or two got going, they all did and it became almost a contest of one-upmanship!
Q: The film leaves the door open for a possible sequel or indeed franchise – what have you in mind?
First things first, it has to get a fan base and not just in the UK and Ireland but internationally. I think if that happens James, Matt and I would be very happy to come back and finish the story. There is another half to be told – they’ve only just become the Lesbian Vampire Killers. I think this could run in different formats – television, computers, novels, comics, I really feel the material and concepts are there!
“Lesbian Vampire Killers” is in Irish cinemas Friday, March 20th.