Book of Monsters was produced by Principal Learning Officer, Paul Butler, and Senior Learning Officer, Stewart Sparke, this summer. The film was crewed by 16 students on the BA (Hons) and MA Filmmaking courses at Leeds Beckett University, taking on a variety of roles including: script supervisor, grip, gaffer, camera assistants, production designers, production assistants, art director, camera trainee and actor. Two graduates also took on the roles of Director of Photography and sound recordist.
Paul said: “After the success of our first feature film, The Creature Below, we wanted to follow it up with something bigger in scope and more focused on action. We are big fans of action horror-comedies like Gremlins, Tremors and Shaun of the Dead. We were keen to test ourselves at producing a film that lives up to those classics.
“The students from the Northern Film School were incredibly professional and all extremely talented: it's a credit to the way they are taught. I would have anyone of them back on set with no hesitation.”
Joe Armstrong, a final year BA (Hons) Filmmaking student, who worked as Clapper loader on the film, said: “Working on Book of Monsters has provided me with considerable insight into the expectations and responsibilities that I will encounter after graduating film school. The shoot enriched my knowledge of the role by giving me hands-on experience in an intense, professional environment.”
“Taking part in the Book of Monsters shoot has shown me what to expect when working on larger productions after graduation, has given me lots of hands-on experience in professional situations with industry-standard equipment, and above all has reminded me about why I wanted to be a filmmaker in the first place... because making films is so much fun!”
Frankie Maiden, a second year BA (Hons) Filmmaking student, who worked in production design on the film, added: “I was able to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds. I’m used to very small-scale shoots, but being a part of a feature allowed me to see how larger-scale productions are organised. Meeting and working with people from the school not only made me feel like I was part of a community but also that I’m really making the most of my time here in Leeds.”
Professional actor Nicholas Vince, who stars in Book of Monsters as well as Hellraiser, Hellraiser 2, and Night Breed, said: “For me, the real sign of how well trained the students are, is that I really couldn't tell who was a student and who was a seasoned professional. Everyone I worked with knew their role and what was required of them and were diligent in carrying it out.”
Book of Monsters tells the story of six women who fight off a horde of terrifying monsters at an 18th birthday party. It draws its inspiration from the cult horror cinema of the 80s and 90s, including Scream, Gremlins and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With gory practical creature effects and a dark comedic edge, the film is a fun and bloody trip back to a time when making it through high school was truly life or death.
The film was successfully funded through Kickstarter in August 2017, raising £45,000 and becoming one of the 15 most-funded horror movies on the crowdfunding platform. Principal photography was completed in October 2017 and the film is now in post-production. It will be completed in early 2018 and will seek international distribution.
Andrew Fryer, Dean of the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett, said: “With the forthcoming completion of their second horror film, Paul and Stewart have 'carved out' a niche for themselves in what is becoming an increasingly popular genre. I am delighted that our students at the Northern Film School have had the opportunity to go on this creative journey with them and contributed to the production in such a significant way.”
Speaking about what is next for the film, Paul added: “We can't wait to show everyone the film once it's finished, we feel we have something that’s fun, scary and filled with gore. We are planning to send it to festivals next year with the aim to seek distribution after that.”
This is the second feature film by Paul and Stewart, whose previous film, The Creature Below, premiered at London Frightfest in 2016 and has since been released on DVD and Amazon Video around the world.
For more information, please visit the Dark Rift Films website.