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Fantasia International Film Festival 2018: Five Moviemakers Talk Genre Films in Montréal

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018: Five Moviemakers Talk Genre Films in Montréal

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Mike Mort (Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires)

On Creating an Action-Horror Mashup

I came up with the Chuck Steel character when I was maybe 15 in high school. I used to draw this character in my book, probably inspired by my love of action movies and horror movies. Over the years I tried to get a film made, because I’d been in the stop-motion industry for many years. I would always return to this character and progress with it. It always seemed a little impossible, because R-rated stop-motion films don’t get made very often. But then I started writing a live-action horror script called Night of the Trampires, which was supposed to be a cheap, low-budget horror film. I eventually joined the two ideas.

I made the short film [version] in my basement, and luckily it’s led to [the feature] now. The script only really started taking shape when I started making it as a Chuck Steel story. 

Mike Mort voices many of the characters (including the titular Chuck) in his feature debut Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires. Image courtesy of Fantasia Film Festival.

On Financing an Independent Animated Film

I would love to give you some advice on how to do it, but basically I got lucky. I was introduced to my investors at the right time, and it’s all sort of private finance. One of them was a huge fan of something I did years ago, in the ’90s and was a huge fan of animation in general. He came to see the models that I’d built in my basement. Based on what I’d started doing on my own, he financed the short film, and as soon as we’d finished the short he said, “Let’s make a feature.” I’d already written the script, so we dusted that off and just went for it.

On the short film, I did the voices myself. I had no option; I didn’t have enough money. The intention was to re-record them, but we didn’t. I entered this project in the same way, because we were trying to do it for less than other stop-motion films and wanted the money on the screen. So we went with the same approach, and a lot of the voices I did myself. We had Jennifer Saunders as the main lead, and also Paul Whitehouse, who are also well-known in the UK…but we don’t have any big names attached, which is a strange thing for an animated feature. Getting the money on the screen was our ethos from the start.

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