As the third instalment of the hit Nazi Zombie action horror film series, Outpost III: Rise of the Spetsnaz, is released on DVD, Paul F Cockburn speaks with producer and director Kieran Parker.
Paul F Cockburn: You and your partner Arabella Croft had to mortgage your Glasgow home in order to fund the first Outpost film, released in 2008. Is it now any easier for your company, Black Camel Pictures, to get films made?
Kieran Parker: It’s certainly easier than on Outpost, but that doesn’t make it easy. Because the first film did well, Creative Scotland supported us with their Slate Fund; they gave us development money to put into our projects, and that empowered us to actually go out and pursue rights, which is how we did Sunshine on Leith.
When you work in this industry, you help yourself by making films that people want to finance. I think my advice to any producer is to really seriously think about how you’re going to finance your film before you go along the long path of developing the project. Basically, as long as there’s a market for it, then good luck – but budgets are dictated by the demand. Its not much easier for us because, at the end of the day, every script is a new project but, at the same time, we get calls now about projects at this kind of level of budget, because people know it takes a certain skills set to be able to make these kinds of movies.
The third film in the Outpost series is a prequel; was there any particular reason for this?
The first two films were directed by Steve Barker, who I’ve known since arts school; he’s a very close friend. Because this was my time as director, I didn’t want my work to effect his work, and vice versa. The first two films are set, essentially, in the present day, so when we decided to do a third film, it was a very conscious decision to say: “Actually, let’s make this a prequel, set during World War Two.” Automatically, I had a 60 year gap between the films. So his world didn’t interfere with my world, and vice versa.
Is directing something you’ve always wanted to do?
I was never a frustrated director; I’ve always been a creative producer, so I think the transition was relatively straightforward. Being a producer was very much at the forefront of what I wanted to do in the movie industry. And because producing low budget movies in the UK is something you have to throw yourself into with both feet – and, in my case, my wife and my mortgage! – I’d never gone about saying: “Oh, I’m a failed director, therefore I will produce.”
This was more a case of being a producer that had managed to get a few movies made, and was in a situation where, if we wanted to do a third Outpost film, then why not have a go at it myself? The ideas for the films had come from my head, we had the sets still standing from the first ones, we had the money to develop it, and I had a really great relationship with the writer Rae Brunton. Plus, as a producer, I knew exactly what we needed to deliver for the third film.
How would you say Rise of the Spetnaz compares with the first two Outpost films?
Steve and I are very different kinds of filmmakers. Of course, there was an awful lot more pressure on Steve as he had to outline the franchise, or what turned out to be a franchise! He made a conscious decision to go with a haunted house feel, all silent scares which only kicks off near the end, whereas mine… you just go straight into it! Five minutes of dialogue, then an action sequence and it doesn’t really stop until the end of the movie.
I think the underlying storyline about the technology is still very present from what we created in the first two films. But, certainly from my point of view, I love 1950s and 1960s Hollywood, where I know that Steve was much more influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien and the work of Stanley Kubrick. He wanted a much more haunted house feel to his film, whereas what I wanted to do – and this is an advantage of being the third film down the line – was to make it really much more big and noisy and spectacular.
Will there be an Outpost IV?
There are certainly plenty of ideas for an Outpost IV; we’ve talked about the idea of potentially doing something for TV, which wouldn’t necessarily be about the Outpost but the search for super-tech secret weapons throughout history, almost like a Raiders of the Lost Ark/X-Files thing about a team of researchers trying to find interesting things from history that were used in war.
Wait and see. At the end of the day, we make films because we we love to, but it’s also really important to understand the audience, and to see how they’re received.