Interview: Hollow director Michael Axelgaard and writer Matthew Holt Simon Fitzjohn January 17, 2013 Features, Interviews 1988 British found-footage horror Hollow hits UK cinemas on January 25, offering a chilling tale to match the current temperatures that we are enduring. To be fair, we were not raving over the film, but it certainly stacks up well against other movies of its ilk, and the final 20 minutes or so is a slam-bang terror ride that leaves a lasting impression. Set in the sleepy Suffolk town of Dunwich, Hollow tells the tale of four young adults who find themselves wrapped up in tales of ancient evil, a crumbling monastery and an ominous tree that seemingly triggers suicide. We caught up with director Michael Axelgaard and writer Matthew Holt to chat about their project: Q. What was the inspiration for bringing a project like this to the screen? MA: I’m a big fan of ghost stories. I was eager to do one, but a ghost story that was told in a modern way. I used the found footage format as a way of bringing a new take on things, while still steeping it in a legend. MH: I visited Dunwich years ago for a short break and I ended up in a local pub. Some of the guys there were talking about the local legends and then I came across the old monastery which I thought was a great location. I thought there was such a rich theme and mythology that it would make a great story. Q. What was the thinking behind going with the found footage format? MA: I’m actually a really big fan of the found footage format. I admit it is definitely a love it or hate it kind of thing, but I’m one of those that love the genre. I think it puts the audience right in the centre of the storm and really personalises the story. Q. After a slow build-up, all hell breaks loose in the last 15 minutes or so. A lot of that is the main characters sat in a car in the dark – how difficult was that to film? MA: Filming something as ‘found footage’ is actually a lot tougher than you would think. A lot goes into making stuff seem as though it is happening accidentally. We were lucky enough to have a really good Director of Photography and we closely choreographed everything to make sure it worked on screen. Q. The opening scenes involving the police pretty much tell the audience exactly what is going to happen at the end – what was the thinking there? MH: We call that our framing device. It was a conscious decision on our part as we wanted the audience to be wondering just how the characters would ever get themselves into a situation where that could happen to them. I think it drives the narrative and keeps the audience guessing. Q. Although this is classed as a horror film, you spend as much, if not more time, exploring the various characters and their feelings. MH: That’s right – we take our time because we want the viewer to be really invested in the characters. By spending a lot of time on the four and their various relationships, we hope that people will feel as though they are the fifth member of the group. I think that is why the whole POV/found footage idea works, as it feels as though you are sharing the story with them. By augmenting the horror with plenty of human emotion hopefully the characters become people you care for, so when it all kicks off you really feel for them. Q. Having had to work hard to finance and film Hollow, how pleasing is it to be getting a full cinema/DVD release? MH: It is absolutely fantastic. This really is what we have been striving for. We got to show the film at the Tribeca Festival in New York and it was a massive buzz to think that you had made your mark. I think the height of our expectations was to get some sort of cinema release in the UK, so to get that is a truly great experience. Q. What can you tell us about any upcoming projects? MA: We are throwing some ideas around at the moment regarding a couple of sci-fi projects. We want to take a different approach and do something that could elevate the genre, so hopefully things come off.