So about a year ago a little teaser started doing the rounds online for a new Predator film. Some months later came the full trailer. The film was dropped live on YouTube in May 2015 and has since then gone on to acheive over one million views. That film was Predator: Dark Ages.
Cult Film Reviews have been lucky enough to bag an interview with James Bushe, the Director of this fantastic fan film and the upcoming Cannibals and Carpet Fitters!
James is a multi-award winning filmmaker, having written, produced and directed a number of short films that have featured in various film festivals including Cannes short film corner, Leeds International Film Festival, Hollyshorts, Shriekfest, Chicago and New York Horror Festivals. He is also one of the founders of Fascination Pictures, an independent film company.
In the Beginning
So how did your life in film begin and what inspired you to make a career out of it?
I’ve always had a love of films and filmmaking from a very early age. When I was around 8 or 9 my family got a vhs camera that never got used so I pretty much was the only one who bothered using it, and would try recreating scenes from my favourite films and comics. From that point it became a hobby and a great way to spend weekends with friends having some fun. As we had no editing software back then we had to learn to edit in camera, which I think has actually helped in learning about what shots were needed and timing etc. I’m still trying to push the career angle of it though haha. So far I have made several well received short films but am currently working away on a couple of future feature projects so fingers crossed.
Which other directors/actors have inspired you over the years?
It was defiantly the directors that I grew up with. I’m a kid of the 80’s so am heavily influenced by those times. Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckes, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Paul Vahoven, John Mctiren. Those guys just made classic movies that we seem unable to produce these days.
I’m a kid of the 80’s so am heavily influenced by those times…James Bushe
What’s the best bit of advice anyone has given you?
It’s a simple one that you hear a lot. Just go and shoot something. Especially when it comes to short films. The best way to learn is to go and do it. Make mistakes, see what works etc. Also collaborate with likeminded people.
What inspires you to make your next film?
For me it’s usually once a simple idea creeps into my head. Maybe something I read, or possibly a dream. They then just get bigger and bigger over time. I have over half a dozen idea I’m sitting on, waiting to make happen haha.
The Love of Cinema
What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
As said a lot from the 80s. One of the first films I remember seeing in cinema was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was such an amazing adventure for me, so many exciting set pieces, all of which was filmed so well. I just wanted to make films from then. Along with the Star Wars films and other classics like Back to the Future and Ghostbusters. I think they were all such great films that mixed action, adventure with great stories, acting and a lot of fun. Plus they made such an impact on me. I also got into more adult films like Aliens, Terminator, Predator, Die Hard and Evil Dead 2 which I think is where I got my love of violence and gore. So the combination of the two has defiantly been a big influence on me. I saw Predator when I was 10 and it has been a favourite of mine ever since.
I saw Predator when I was 10 and it has been a favourite of mine ever since…James Bushe
Being a director you’ve most likely got to work with some great actors. When was the last time you were really blown away by someone you’d cast?
It would be on Predator Dark Ages, both Amed Hashimi and Adrian Bouchet. I had never worked with either before (I actually only got to meet them the evening before properly – being a fan film Amed was suggested and Adrian contacted me regarding a role) and I was so impressed with the intensity they brought, especially to two key emotional scenes. I couldn’t have been happier when watching the performances and thinking how better they brought the lines to life compared to how I had wrote them. They definitely raised it above a mere fan film.
Name your top 10 films
(no particular order, need a bigger list too lol)
Raiders of the Lost Arc
Terminator/T2 (cheat I know)
LOTR (another cheat lol)
Back to the Future
Empire Strikes Back
Predator: Dark Ages
Cult Film Reviews are a huge fans of the Predator films and having grown up with these, we have to say were ecstatic when we started hearing about the possibility of another one and intrigued by the concept of it being set in the medieval times! Just how would cold steel swords be any match for the Predator’s high tech weaponry?!
So tell us a little about the concept. How did this come about?
I never actually had any plans originally to make a Predator fan film. I have been a huge Predator fan since I first saw it when I was 10. Everything about it was just perfect. Even today it still holds up so well for me as a lean action/monster movie. Not bogged down by too much story or building characters backgrounds. You knew everything you needed to know by a few lines etc. It was so good.
My dream was (and still is) to one day make a Predator feature for Fox. After Predators didn’t do too well and the franchise seemed dead I thought one day “I’ll reboot it”. Once I realised this probably wouldn’t happen and I discovered Philip Lane and his amazing Predator costume I decided maybe a fan made trailer of my film idea would at least get it out there. Possibly fool a few people too into thinking it was a real film. Unfortunately (though I am also happy and excited) Shane Black announced he was rebooting the Predator franchise, so that sort of ended any movie chances haha. This was announced just as we lauched our Kickstarter campaign too doh!
…when the Elder Predator handed Danny Glover a flint pistol. Instantly combining it with my love of medieval films sprang to mind…James Bushe
I also have a big love of Medieval/period films like Braveheart and Kingdom of Heaven etc. A few years ago a friend and I were going through various possible Hollywood movies we’d love to do in the future and of course this was when the idea of a Predator film came up and instantly we wanted to set it in the past. This was something first touched on at the end of Predator 2, when the Elder Predator handed Danny Glover a flint pistol. Instantly combining it with my love of medieval films sprang to mind.
For me, as a fan, I thought the combination felt perfect. People mention that if the Predator can not be beaten by guns (like in the modern films) how can Knights with swords win, but with Predator 1, 2 and Predators, he was defeated by hand to hand combat. So to me makes for a very interesting confrontation. Not to mention how people in the past would mistake an alien for a demon or magic. But it all came down to the first visual I had; a knight in armour, sword and shield in hand, facing off against a Predator. I was so happy I was able to incorporate it into the short.
Where did you shoot it and how long did it take to put everything together?
We ran our campaign to crowdfund it back in May last year, during then we was getting the story in place and working on getting a few people on board. Once the campaign finished in early July I think we went into proper development as we now had our budget. We shot in Hungerford mid-October so it was roughly three months (probably a little less) getting everything in place. We was a little pushed and was still organising things right up to the beginning of the shoot. I had actually been speaking to Simon the DOP and Philip (our Predator) way before though. We filmed for two long weekends.
I can see in some of your shots that you must have used a drone or quadcopter to get the angles. What’s it like as a director in this age of rapidly evolving tech? What effect does this have on the film making process?
Yes we were lucky enough to get a couple of days using a drone for 2nd unit shots. Something I didn’t think we would have because of our smallish budget. They made such a difference in bringing a bigger and more professional scale to our short, even though we probably had about half a dozen shots in total.
I think the way technology is advancing means we as independent filmmakers are now able to go out and shoot our own projects and have them look very professional, which is exciting. When I was young we would have to edit in camera as we could not afford to edit but now you can get amazing professional software for your computers, even phones which is crazy. I think it helps us to bring a more professional look and feel to productions. Though at the end of the day it still comes down to a great script and a good bunch of people to collaborate with.
My other project I’m working on: Cannibals and carpet Fitters. Winner best horror short in the Dead Shorts competition at Leeds International Film Festival. Currently working on feature version.
Thanks again to James for giving us time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for us and we all look forward to your future releases and wish you the best of luck.
A full review of Predator: Dark Ages be going up on the site soon!
Official YouTube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_Fe3w0n37z0A5ePp5uJ2-Q
James Bushe Official site: www.jamesbushe.co.uk
Cannibals and Carpet Fitters Official Site: http://www.cannibalsandcarpetfitters.co.uk/