UK based Dominic Hailstone’s incredibly vivid short movie The Eel was selected for screening at the
2006 S.A. HorrorFest, and won the Best Foreign category.
Shadow Realm slithered its Dozen Questions over to him …

1. What do you do when you’re not making visually stunning short movies like The Eel?
Ho ho thanks. I'm pretty much always working on something but I enjoy walking, listening to music and playing video games when I'm not.

2. Have you made any other shorts or features?
I made a short called 'Logboy goes Walkies' in 2001. I'm currently working on a feature film.

3. What was your motivation / impetus / inspiration behind The Eel?
It arose from hearing the music that Robert Clunne wrote; as soon as I heard it I saw the film in my head. I had to change it quite a lot really, but I tried to stay true to the inspiration along the way.

4. How has the movie been accepted? Any awards thus far?

No awards but good reviews, people seem to like it but have trouble recommending it to others since they think it's a bit strange. If it wasn't for Onedotzero and Frightfest UK nobody would have known it was there!

5. What format was it shot on / what FX packages did you use?
It was shot on a basic 1 chip DV camera and I used Afterfx for post.

6. What was your budget?

7. Tell us a bit about the pre-production / shooting / post-production process.
It was shot in my bedroom so the process was basically six months of:

i) Wake up,
ii) Storyboard,
iii) Shoot the board
iv) Do a rough comp in AFX to see if it works (if it doesn't, go back to the storyboard)
v) Finish shot to 80 percent.
vi) Go on to next shot.
vii) Fall asleep.

So all the work was happening simultaneously. Each shot had a massive knock on effect on those next to it and I filmed and roughly completed almost a third more fx shots than you see in the film. Once I was happy with the basic edit I spent the rest of the time polishing everything until it was finished.
All the fx work was done in camera using very basic puppets made from foam, tape, string and bamboo and then composited together using After Effects. There's nothing in the film that couldn't have been done in the past photochemically by some maniac with a bluescreen. I can't do CG properly so it was the only way.

8. What is your association with Cradle Of Fear director Alex Chandon?
I did effects for some of his films years ago: Drillbit, Pervirella etc. and we've been friends ever since.

9. How does music influence your visual style?
Music is pretty much the most important influence I have. I'm constantly listening to music, I couldn't really function properly without it.

10. Your favourite movies / directors / bands.
Movies: Harold and Maude, Jaws, The Thing, Made in Britain, Come and See, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Directors: Stanley Kubrick, Alan Clarke, Steven Spielberg, Hal Ashby, David Lynch, David Cronenberg.
Bands: The Melvins, Meshuggah, Ween, Tool, Black Sabbath.

11. Do you think there is a niche for directors with dark, intense visions who can make a living bringing their creations to the big (or small) screen without having to shoot crappy washing powder ads on the side to pay rent, or have their ideas pillaged and watered down by commercial segments of the industry?
The thing about advertising executives is that arguing with them just brings more of them into the room, telling them nice things causes them to retreat. That's how they operate and that's why most of what they produce is worthless - These people are so annoying that most people just want them out of their lives and will eventually agree to absolutely anything just to get them to disappear.
There's certainly a 'dark' niche there to work in but like any niche you have to work a lot harder than in the mainstream. You have to be prepared to do multiple jobs and that's pretty tough for most people, the niche just has less advertising executives living in it so it smells better.
As so far as having your ideas pillaged: - Anybody who is good at anything will have it happen to them whether they like it or not so it's best just to get used to it. A friend of mine put it well - "It's the worst compliment you'll ever get".

12. How do you feel about the recent spate of Hollywood remakes of old Horror / Chiller movies?
I don't really have a problem with them if they improve or change the formula somehow ie: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing etc. It's when they follow the same plotline and still can't improve on it like The Omen or Hills Have Eyes that it scares me. I wonder what process happened on the way to the screen; they had a working blueprint and they still fucked it up! That's pretty terrifying I reckon.