part II

In recent years, it seems to have been the Brits responsible for bringing back the zombie film
with a vengeance, as illustrated in 28 DAYS LATER, SHAUN OF THE DEAD,
and now, the thrifty but fantastic COLIN - making its African debut at the
South African HORRORFEST

an exclusive interview with Alastair Kirton
portraying the title character in the highly original and accomplished UK zombie movie COLIN

How did you get into acting?
I stumbled into acting while at school. I was trying to get out of Army Cadets so volunteered for the school play and ended up with the main part.
I was terrified but found it the most amazing experience. Over the following years I kept acting and then went to Drama school at LAMDA (London Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts).

How did you land the lead role in Colin?
(Director) Marc Price and I had met working on a short film. We got on really well and had a lot of the same references film-wise. I loved the way he worked. It was really collaborative and exciting. Marc and I stayed in touch. We would hang out and chat about film ideas. He pitched the idea of COLIN to me quite early on in its development. I thought it was a really bold and interesting idea and although I was a bit overwhelmed to start off with, I was pleased he thought I could bring something to the part and wanted to get involved. He was so excited bout the film and wanted to do something different, I couldn’t say “no”!

What was your first impression of both the script and Marc as a person and a director?
Marc is brilliant, just full of energy, totally in love with film and making movies. The first script reading was a bit odd. Marc just read it out to us in the pub, describing the gore and adding grunts and growls! It was a pretty busy pub as well…the people around must have thought we were pretty odd. The script was a starting point. The story and sequences were all there but the film evolved in a lot of ways while we were shooting.

What was your thought process / technique / approach when it came to the character of Colin, both as a human and a zombie?
It was kind of daunting to begin with. The first thing I did was my Zombie movie homework. Day of the Dead and (Bub the Zombie) was a big influence on Colin. When it came to shooting, we filmed the human Colin section first. Having asked a lot of questions earlier on about who he was, and knowing his back story helped. We also shot some additional scenes that, while they didn’t make it into the film, helped with the character stuff. It also helped with Zombie Colin as well, I think.
For the Zombie stuff we gave ourselves the time and space to work out a physicality that would be expressive and have character. It was about trying to find the right level - Marc would occasionally shout at me “Too human!”. We wanted Zombie Colin to be childlike in his handling of objects and have limited field of hearing and vision so that he was just reacting to the things in his immediate area. It was fun finding the moments for him to be animal like as well.
We also listened to lots of Joy Division while shooting around the house (as there was no dialogue). I think Colin died to New Dawn Fades and came back to Atmosphere.

How did all the actors prepare for their roles & how did all the make-up FX work?
All the FX stuff was really interesting. Make-up by Michelle Webb was amazing and we tried to use Colin’s make-up to show his deterioration. The most important thing was for the Make-up and FX to help tell the story. We didn’t have money to use, so all the effects were just creativity by Marc and Leigh, problem solving and cheating. We would just use whatever we could get our hands on to get our shots….
It was great the way that all the actors who came down and got involved, took the film seriously while still having a good time. Lots of them came back again and again with friends and relatives.

How much did this role take out of you, and how much did it make you grow? Did Colin ever spill into your real life?
Well, I was working on the film the best part of 10 months (while also working full time!). Days off, evenings, weekends, holidays… so it was my life for a really long time. It was also a pretty physical shoot, so there were a few cuts and bruises along the way and I was usually covered in fake blood or having it spat in my face.
It was also quite scary to think that a whole feature film was on my shoulders. That kind of responsibility made me grow as an actor I think.

What are your favourite zombie movies and why?
Obviously, Dawn of the Dead is amazing but I also really love Day of the Dead as well. The first Zombie movie I watched was David Cronenburg’s Rabid. That really freaked me out when I watched it, Body Horror and Zombies. I also think Shaun of the Dead is very ace and I watched Dead Snow recently. It is amazing the way that Zombie movies can be taken in so many different directions. We wanted to do something different with Colin, have a different look at the zombie films while still respecting the genre.

What are your favourite movies in general?
Too many to mention! Depends on my mood really but I am happy watching almost anything (not a fan of Love Actually though!). Horror wise American Werewolf In London, Wicker Man (the Original) and Don’t Look Now spring to mind. Let the Right One In was awesome as well.
I was over in Sitges this year and we were also screening at Frightfest in London as well, so I’ve managed to catch up on lots of horror films. Definitely a perk of the job!

(American Werewolf and its new documentary Beware The Moon are also screening at the 2009 South African HORROFEST)

What's next for you?
I’ll be working with Marc again next year on Thunderchild. The script is ace and really different. I'm hoping to work on more films in the future. I’m open to offers……

click here for an exclusive interview with COLIN director Marc Price



- Paul Blom

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