Horror Channel Frightfest interview: Accountable director Matthew Heaven Simon Fitzjohn July 28, 2017 Film4 Frightfest, Interviews, London Interviews 1816 Matthew Heaven’s £10,000 debut feature Accountable look set to be one of the more intriguing offering at this year’s genre festival. A tale of anger, frustration and social anxiety, the film stars Oliver Towner as Warren, a directionless young man set on righting the wrongs of his past and present. Here’s a quick chat with the director where he fills us in on how the film came to be……. Q. What was your inspiration for the film? In basic terms, a dark and volatile protagonist will always appeal to me. Putting a potentially dangerous lead character in situations that provoke strong conflict, reaction, and survival grabs my attention – especially when that character is backed into a corner. ACCOUNTABLE started as a short film about a troubled individual that chooses to visit a psychiatrist to overcome his past troubles, and from that initial 10 pages the protagonist grew organically as did his journey. Due to the pretty extreme budgetary limitations I was restricted as to where exactly I could take the character, but his path was always going to be difficult to tread. Q. How did the film get off the ground? Once the script had advanced to a level that was both compelling and achievable, we moved into preproduction quickly. Performers were sourced from online talent sites, a crew was put together from past contacts, and locations were gradually scouted and secured in Surrey & Gloucestershire. Rehearsal was completed over several weeks, I worked with my DP to ensure we were in the right place technically, and with the AD for scheduling. When I was satisfied that every eventuality was covered, we hit the GO button. Q. How long was the shoot, and where did you shoot? ACCOUNTABLE was shot across 10 days, all of which were long as hell and not without their hurdles. Certain shooting days consisted of multiple locations and ran from early morning into very late night. Massive credit to my cast and crew, all of whom took the work in their stride and committed to every aspect of the production. The locations were split between Surrey & Gloucestershire, both UK. Q. Was there a moment where you thought ‘this is really working’? As with anything you put good time into, choosing a specific moment is always tough. The scene of Warren watching Greg from afar before stalking and attacking him tends to stick with me. Its significance is very evident as the film unfolds, but it gets to me for another reason. The first time I showed my wife the initial cut of the film and this scene commenced, she instantly became uncomfortable – to a point where her hands came up over her eyes and her head turned away. She wouldn’t watch it, it put her in a very agitated and edgy place – that reaction was key to that point in the film and it felt good to hit it head-on. Q. What was the hardest scene to shoot? Without a doubt the three psychiatrist session scenes. We had the location from 10am to 4pm on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. In that time we had to get all three scenes and the subsequent shots that accompany those scenes completed. That 6 hour slot was to unload equipment, set up, block, shoot, and breakdown equipment each day. Shooting what were three pivotal sequences in those circumstances was way too restrictive for the atmosphere and look I wanted to obtain. What originally were my favourite scenes in the script, the sessions ended up being a source of massive frustration for me. I couldn’t help but feel like a beautiful opportunity was missed. Those restrictions meant we only had time to get a wide, a few CU and MCU, and the key interactions that come at the end of the film. That coupled with a lack of time to secure enough really strong takes meant we were left with rough performances that didn’t quite hit the mark. Q. What technology and format did you shoot / edit on? BlackMagic Production Camera and BlackMagic URSA were used for principal photography, we shot digitally in 4K and in 2.35:1. Editing was completed by myself on an Apple iMac 5K in Final Cut Pro X. Q. What key experiences will you take onto the next film? There are too many to mention. It’s not just experience around practical items like logistics, scheduling, editing and equipment that improved, it’s a clearer understanding of a performer’s emotional processes and how to better manipulate those for the benefit of the film. I know where to push harder, where to step back to let creativity flow, and where to step in when a cast/crew member is on the wrong track. Writing, directing, and filmmaking is a continual evolution of skill, of understanding, and of ability to tune into an audience to deliver compelling material. Its constant progression, and I love that.