Born in Russellville, Arkansas, writer and director Eric England has already made a mark in the horror world having directed more than 10 films. Now residing in California, Eric is continuing to add more to his already impressive resume. I had the amazing chance to speak with Eric and can’t thank him enough for this opportunity!
HMF: The first question that we love to ask is: Which is your favorite horror film and why?
EE: My favorite horror movie is SCREAM. Mainly because I was young when I saw it and the style and tone were so unique, it had a profound influence on my life and taste. I had never seen anything so self aware. It had a lot of unique aspects and layers to it that I had never seen in a film before. So it made a lasting impression.
HMF: Many in our group adore that film (as do I). What would you say first got you into the intense idea of directing horror films? Is it everything that you hoped it would be?
EE: The first interest I had in directing, period, came from horror and it stemmed from my love of movies in general. Horror films seemed to me like they would be the most fun to make. I had never touched a camera before age 18 and made my first movie at 21. So it was a fun and sloppy ride at first. The business side is always the bummer but when you’re in the middle of making something special with other special collaborators, there’s nothing like it.
HMF: Would you say that you developed an eye for it from watching so many films and noting different directing styles?
EE: I think so. Style was and remains something that I’m fascinated by. I think it’s why all of my movies are so different from one another. I love seeing consistency in directors with their visual style, but I also enjoy watching them challenge themselves to be versatile. A great example is someone like Sam Raimi. He’s able to tell stories on various genres, but retain a notable consistency in tone and style.
HMF: (I have to ask) Upon reading more about you, I stumbled across the fact that you are color blind. Given that you have an amazing eye for angles and view, does that become a challenge at times because vivid colors are such a key element in horror?
EE: I personally don’t know how it affects my work because I don’t know what colors always look like, ha. But I’ve had reviews and audience members make mention of the saturation in my films. I tend to boost my colors and that’s probably an over compensation of some sort. I view color as a tool for emotions. So I tend to use them in broad applications as opposed to very specific ones.
HMF: Which project that you have done are you most proud of or one that stick out in your mind the most?
EE: CONTRACTED definitely stands out to me as a film I’m particularly proud of. Making films is a challenge from beginning to end. It’s almost as if in your mind, it’s perfect but as you create it, little by little, it begins to take on a life of its own. And you just want to make sure that when it’s done, it’s as close to what you had in your mind as possible. CONTRACTED was definitely the closest so far. And that’s a satisfying feeling for a filmmaker because at the end of the day, most people will watch your movie at home and you can’t force them to enjoy it, or even pay attention for that matter. And if they don’t like it, I at least want them to not like it because it’s exactly what I intended and they just didn’t respond to it.
HMF: Backing up a little bit to SCREAM being your choice as your favorite. Did Wes Craven influence you a lot in your style or what would you say had the biggest influence on how you approach a film?
EE: Wes has and always will be a massive influence to me. Not only as a filmmaker, but as a human being. He was one of the sterling examples of how intelligent the horror genre can be. In terms of how I approach a film, that’s been shaped by my experiences in life. Style/visual processes are always in flux and dependent upon the story I’m telling, but the approach to any film is about my passion for the subject matter and getting to the heart of the story.
HMF: A question that came to mind is your position on CONTRACTED: PHASE II. You did not direct the sequel and was curious as to what transpired with that?
EE: I wrote a detailed account (from my side) of that situation on my blog. It’s pretty simple/classic Hollywood. A small movie did really well for the producers and they wanted to focus more on the business side of the process, than the art. I’m about the art first and foremost. Always. So they made the film they wanted to without my involvement.
HMF: With the cast of CONTRACTED (who were no slouches by a long shot) and your other films, was it difficult to work with the actors/actresses at times and were there memorable cast members that you felt were very excellent to work with?
EE: I thankfully haven’t had too many “difficult actors” in my films, so the majority of my experiences with actors have all been stellar. When the process allows, I try my hardest to be very thorough with casting. The actors are some of your closest collaborators and you tend to have the least amount of time with them to perfect everything they need to do. And it’s like any other working relationship: you work differently and interact with everyone differently. But the advantage in films is that you get to choose your co-workers. So if you have a bad experience, you can usually trace that back to where you made your initial mistake in the process. And I try to always keep that in mind. Casting is a very undervalued process in Hollywood.
HMF: the next question is the most intriguing in a lot of ways, but what is next for you Eric? What can fans look forward to with your work?
EE: Always a fun question. Well, I had a new film called GET THE GIRL released this January from the legendary Orion Pictures. Seeing that logo in a movie theater with my film behind it was definitely a bucket list moment. My next film, HUNTSVILLE, will either be out late this year or early next — waiting on final word. But Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones and Dylan McDermott from American Horror Story are in it and they’re great. It’s a little more quirky and dramatic than my horror stuff. So that makes 2 films away from the genre, so everything that I’m looking at doing next is back in the horror genre. So I’m excited to be getting back into the culture and telling stories that are new and exciting in the genre I love so much. That’s what I’m personally looking forward to.
HMF: Last fun question to wrap things up. Very difficult to narrow down, but what are your top 5 favorite movies of all time? Regardless of if they have impacted your work / style
EE: It’s interesting because I was just thinking about how my top 5 may have changed recently. To me, “great films” are not always films that I want to watch all the time. I want to cherish and appreciate them. So I tend to skew more toward amazing films that I personally love. It fluctuates, so I’ll just go with the ones that I feel I could watch anytime: SCREAM, FARGO, TRUE ROMANCE, Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, (and) SEVEN
Do yourself a favor and check out his work! It absolutely will not disappoint! Thank you again Eric!