Spending Time With…Alex Churchyard ( @iscreambeach )

Writer, Director, Producer, Actor, Editor.   Alex does it all! UK filmmaker is one busy creative, and recently i saw his work in Video Shop Tales of Terror and previous to that his awesome film I Scream On The Beach. I’ve been social media friends with Alex for a few years now (now that we keep count) and definitely had him on the list of people I wanted to send the Spending Time With…questions to and read what I knew would be very interesting answers (and spoiler! they are very interesting answers So less from me, and more from Alex. 

What is one of your most favourite locations you have filmed or performed in?

Well the set we had for Video Shop was awesome, it’s in an unused space so quite dusty and dark. We use Freesprite studios quite often which is a real treasure trove of everything you might need to build multiple sets – we’ve made bedrooms, a stripclub, a shed interior and even a spaceship there.

Actually, we recently built a laboratory set in that space and that was definitely my favourite set that I’ve put together.

Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from any of your films or shows?

Lots – I guess there are those that I keep to reuse on future projects – severed arms, costumes etc and then specific keepsakes like the two sock puppets from I Scream on the Beach!, the video shop miniature from Video Shop Tales of Terror and some of the masks from Mosaic.

Do you remember who got your first autograph?

Well I don’t think too many people are vying for my autograph but I signed a fair few at the I Scream on the Beach! premiere at Horror on Sea which was strange.

Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?

The Chuckle Brothers were probably my first autographs at a holiday in Butlins. Most memorable would be Lloyd Kaufman – we met him in London to film his I Scream cameo and afterwards he graciously let us loop his audio in his hotel and right at the end my co-director Mike and I both presented him with some Troma movies to sign. Likewise when I filmed with Simon Bamford on Mosaic I brought a copy of Hellraiser for him to sign. Shameless.

What is the ONE single coolest movie geek thing you own? 

I have a section of the old BFI imax screen – I think that’s pretty cool… Not sure that fits the bill exactly though. I also have lots of Neca figures, but that’s not a single thing… 

What is one film that gives you the ‘creeps’? Or scares you

I was listening to an interview with Reece Shearsmith who (unsurprisingly) loves horror and he commented about not actually being truly scared of any horror film that he could think of, that got me thinking about whether I am actually really scared of any films and I don’t know that I am. I sometimes find surgical gore quite hard to watch – so I could watch Jason slice a persons leg off and not flinch, but if it was a surgeon doing it with a tool, then that might freak me out a little. 

Do you have an ‘off switch’ when not working, and how does it work?

I like watching slightly mindless stuff – Taskmaster is my go-to for really switching off. I watch less and less films as I get older as I think I spend so much time on my own stuff now.

What’s the first thing you do when you get on ‘set’

Get a coffee.

Do you prefer day shoots or night shoots?

Day shoots, nights are really hard. We did a few on Mosaic and two on Mary Whitehouse, you’re ****! – though, the last one we did for that was fun in terms of what we were doing, which was all the little FX shots. I spent most of it wrapped in plastic to protect the camera (and me)! 

If you had to make a ‘bucket list’ of people you’d love to work with, tell me one name who would be on it?

Oh, Sam Raimi – like just to make him a coffee or something. Especially if he went back to horror.

Do you read reviews of shows or films  that you are in?

I do yes, sometimes that can be tough, and good or bad you have to take it with a pinch of salt. But you have to appreciate people taking the time to not only watch your film, but also write about it. Big fan of indie horror directors who post reviews for their stuff (good or bad) and sometimes even lean in to the bad reviews and use them for promotion. 

Let’s shine a light on some of your past work. Which of your projects are you most proud of?

It’s not past as it’s out at the moment but I am most proud of my Video Shop segment ‘Mary Whitehouse, you’re a ****!’, it’s the thing that has most turned out the way I wanted it to and I think the cast really nailed the whole thing. Overall I am so pleased with the Video Shop project.

Out of all the projects you’ve done, which one do people seem to ask you the most about? 

I suppose there aren’t that many, but likely I Scream still. It’s nice because there’s a lot to be proud of with that one, it was our first feature and we literally had no money. We managed to wrangle a cast and they trusted us to make this crazy idea work. It got some nice attention and good or bad I love it when we get a review for it online.

What’s the most difficult thing about your creative journey?

 I think I initially struggled on set as I am not naturally a very direct person and really struggled with my nerves, these days I do have some struggles but it doesn’t interfere with me enjoying being on set. I’d say these days I struggle most with the post-production – it’s completely self-motivated and in some ways the most isolating. Even with pre-production people are waiting on the script, schedule etc so there is an interactive element to it. 

And, the flipside. What’s the most enjoyable for you?

I enjoy the production the most now, having done a 180 in that respect. Just love watching stuff coming to life and trying out variations on the script. It can be really hard and tiring, but yeah it’s definitely the best. 

I was tweet chatting with Mick Garris (The Stand, Hocus Pocus) recently and asked him which name spring to mind when he thought ‘Oh MY God i’ve met them’ My reply was George A Romero (Night Of The Living Dead), Mick’s was Steven Speilberg.  Who would yours be?

I already mentioned Lloyd so does Benny Southpaw count?!

Many Thanks Alex for taking the time out to join in the Spending Time With series 

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