Interview: M.J. Dixon “Slasher House”

Interview: M.J. Dixon “Slasher House”

Feb 2, 2016

12606998_10153799387654030_1219802294_n

I recently had the chance to catch up with British director M.J Dixon, head of Mycho Entertainment, a production company that specializes in low budget horror films. We chatted about the industry, crazed killers and the ‘Mychoverse’.

What’s been happening in the world of Mycho and what can we expect soon from you?

Currently we’re preparing for the Premieres of our last two films in Stage 1 of our series of interconnected horror movies set in the same universe that we’ve dubbed the ‘Mychoverse’.

Cleaver : Rise of the Killer Clown is an American set Thriller/Slasher that sits very much in the same place as Halloween/Nightmare on Elm Street. Our intention was to make something that felt like it had been part of that period of horror movies.

The production itself was a challenge; back when we were shooting Cleaver’s first appearance in Slasher House, we made the choice to make the character South American, which meant that our film needed to be set in the Southern States. That was huge undertaking for us as a small team based in the UK.

The second film in the stage is Hollower, which takes another character from Slasher HouseNathan Robbins and places him in a Psychological Thriller setting. The plan was to create something we could shoot in 2 days whilst our actors were free and we really went at it with no budget.

As we were about to start filming, we got an email from Nicholas Vince, famous for starring in Hellraiser, who we’d approached with the script a few weeks earlier, saying he’d like to be involved. So we added an extra day in order to accommodate his schedule.

Frustratingly, we lost the footage from the original 2 day shoot and had to reshoot it all a few months later over 3 days. It was worth it though. The film itself is a different kind of animal for us and the result is pretty unique.

Both films are Premiering at Horror on Sea Festival at the end of January.

4624273773_287x161

How did the Mychoverse begin and what can you tell us about stage two of the plan?

It all really started with Slasher House, which I started to develop around 2000, eventually wrote in 2005 and we finally shot in 2010, which contained 5 of our original characters and the plan from there was really to expand on the characters using that film as a jumping off point. The film took even longer to find a release, not coming out until 2013. Since then, three of the characters from that film have had their own movies, these four movies comprise Stage 1.

As we started Stage 2, the idea was to do the same thing again. Starting with Slasher House 2, we’re introducing four new characters, only this time with the idea of spinning off into some solo movies and some sequels to our previous roster. We have a long term plan for whom and what we’ll be introducing, but a large part of it comes down to who our audience wants to see more of. So far we are prepping two new movies to be the first wave of Stage 2.

The first, Mask of Thorn, is an 80’s set, shot on video style Slasher, that tells the distant back-story of what we come to see in Stage 1’s Legacy of Thorn. We’re calling it a ‘premake’ as the intention is to make it authentic as a previous entry in the series right down to shooting on 8mm cameras from the era that it’s set. The film will delve into the origins of Thorn a lot more too.

 12606972_10153799390629030_2117545136_n



The other is The Violent Dark, which is an original story set in the Mycho Universe that sets up new characters and elements that we haven’t seen yet. It’s very much a homage to Lamberto Bava’s Demons, along with elements of Evil Dead and Japanese gore culture, set against the backdrop of a girls boarding school. The plan is to really get down and dirty (or slimy in fact) with our practical creature effects and create something a bit special that people haven’t seen before.

After that we have a few others things in the pipeline, although nothing final yet, as we like to give a bit of time to see which characters really connect with the people who watch our films. There are plans to bring back Cleaver, which will be exciting considering how his first solo film ends.

Your blog Micro Budget Massacre gives aspiring filmmakers insights into the world of micro budget filmmaking. Can you tell us what kind of highs and lows you’ve experienced during your years as a director?

Yeah the blog is really there as a source of help to people who just want to do what I did – go out and make movies. I always wished there had been some kind of resource like that when I started out, so I knew that once I had a couple of films under my belt I’d get to doing something that would help people like the young me get their start in making stuff of their own. That’s really how and why the blog was born.

In terms of highs and lows, it really has been a mixture of both. The lows really come from lot of financial strain that filming puts filmmakers under. When you’re making movies for £1000 or £2000 things are tight and all your personal money starts to disappear into them too. Coupling that with the fact that making money from these films, even when you’re doing very well is a tough, tough game and it can be depressing at times.


The thing that really overshadows that is that everyday you’re doing what you love. You’re living your own dream and that’s a great feeling. I get to meet and work with so many incredible people and that really is a gift that I couldn’t give up. The bad times become distant memories really quickly, but the good times? You can laugh about them forever.

I loved the first Slasher House film. What can we expect from the sequel Slasher House 2?

unnamed

Slasher House 2 is really our tentpole movie in terms of tying a lot of the stories we create together. The idea this time round is to make something that is a large step up from what we’ve been doing and so far and that’s exactly what it is. It’s the most ambitious script that I’ve ever written, but probably the best in terms of my personal taste. It’s a continuation, of sorts, of Red’s story and her place in the universe we’re building.

We’ve added four brand new Slasher villains in this time around. We worked really hard to make each one very unique; both in terms of character and in terms of how we bring them to life. In the first film, it wasn’t too important how the characters affected the plot, but this time round each one had to serve a huge role in moving the story forward; and although it was challenging, it makes for a much better experience.

The thing we’re really excited about is expanding on the ‘big bad’ that we hinted at in the first Slasher House, Francis ‘The Demon’ Harley. He appears briefly during a flashback in the first movie, but here we really get to expand on his place in the story and the universe and he’s really a very exciting character to write and develop.


How have you found using the Indiegogo scheme to help fund your films?


Crowdfunding is certainly a double edged sword. Running a campaign can, at times, really feel like begging and it causes a lot of stress behind the scenes. It’s a 24 hour a day job running one those things and as such we really only use it as a last resort when we have a shortfall. It takes a lot out of you and it’s probably as hard as making a movie, except you then have to go out and make one too.

That said, it’s an incredible way of connecting with the people who buy, watch and enjoy your work and I’ve had some incredible experiences with connecting with people around the world trying to raise money for films. People who have since become part of our filmmaking family. I’m always in awe of how much support people really show us when we do one of these things and it really makes it all worthwhile knowing that our films are affecting a group of people, no matter how small, enough that they want to help us make another.

As someone involved in the indie/underground horror community, what other indie films do you like? Any favourite directors?

I think, thanks to technology today, there are an incredible amount of filmmakers out there who are getting their work out to an audience and these days there is more choice than we could possibly know what to do with. There are so many people making incredible and unique stuff now it’s hard to narrow it down.

I am and will always be a big fan of Full Moon Pictures and whatever they make and I have the same feelings toward Troma and always will do. Currently though, I’m really enjoying what Necrostorm are doing, and their style has had a huge impact on my own stuff; the madness and energy of their films really speaks a great deal to my sensibilities as a film fan. I also especially like an unsung indie filmmaker named Daniel E Falicki, who makes some beautiful indie horror at such an alarming rate he’d make Roger Corman look lazy.

I’ve also had the privilege of working with some immensely talented filmmakers over the last year or so. Jason Impey is an indie master who’s resume is close to the 100’s and we collaborated on a lot of projects together since we moved closer to London, especially as we share very similar outlooks on things.

Eileen Daly, Of Razorblade Smile fame, is another unique filmmaker that I’ve worked with recently and she has an incredibly unique way of looking at things that I’ve really brought away into my own work. She’s like a machine, anything that goes wrong, she has solved in moments, it’s really staggering to watch.

I also did some work on a short with Pat Higgins last year, he was one of the filmmakers that inspired me in my early years and it was an amazing experience just to see him putting one his films together and as an added bonus I got to meet a whole bunch of people on his team who I’d watched and admired in his movies for years.

On behalf of Beneath the Underground, Id like to thank you for taking part in this interview and we wish you all the best with all your future projects.

It has been my pleasure.