Steph Du Melo (Director, As a Prelude to Fear)
The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?
Steph Du Melo: I’ve never been scared by a movie because they’re only movies. The scariest thing really is life because it’s scarier than any movie could ever be. But probably my favourite horror movies are Kubrick’s The Shining and, another film I don’t know if anyone’s ever seen, the original Howling but all the rest of them were rubbish after that.
THR: As a Prelude to Fear is more of a mystery/thriller than a horror movie, but it certainly has elements of horror sprinkled throughout, as well as a pretty horrific plot. What inspired you to make the film?
SM: Basically seeing a lot of stories about women disappearing. A particular one I saw was in Ireland and this girl had disappeared and the police kind of said “oh she jumped off a cliff or something” but it was obvious that she hadn’t because they found a key somewhere else and there was also talk about other women disappearing and there was talk about maybe something being in the woods or something - I can’t remember details now - but I thought “that sounds like a good story” so it was based on stories and true life.
THR: I know that the big reveal at the end also shows the audience where the title to the film came from. I said in my review that it feels like more of a Hitchockian title than it does something that most modern horror marketing would choose. Is there a bit of those older Hollywood films in this one?
SM: Absolutely Hitchcock has been. I love all the kind of Psycho and Vertigo and Rear Window. Also North by Northwest is one of my favourites I used to love that film as a kid so yeah there’s lots of Hitchcock inspired things. Strangely I’ve seen a lot of reviews for A Prelude to Fear and almost every
review I’ve seen they’ve seemed to completely miss there’s any twists in it at all - very very strange you’re the first person that’s noticed the twist.
THR: What inspired you to become a director in the first place? Was there any particular film that you saw that made you want to do this for a career?
SM: Yeah, I think probably every filmmaker says this, but I remember as a kid looking through the little porthole windows in the local cinema and I remember Star Wars being on and, it was Star Wars that really did it for me. A lot of the 70s films tended to have funky kind of music and they were very kind of realistic a lot of them but then Star Wars got back to the traditional kind of filmmaking with epic film scores by John Williams; back to this whole epicness that started. So yeah, it was Spielberg and George Lucas that really got me and Star Wars was the one where I thought “That. That’s what I want to do.”
THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
SM: Alive or dead is difficult ‘cause there’s so many great directors. Hitchcock would’ve been funny. He’s a funny man apparently, says a lot of funny things. I quote his jokes quite often. Early Ridley Scott I’ve always missed out working with him. I know a lot of people have worked with him. I suppose I’ve gotta say Spielberg because as I said it was like George Lucas and Spielberg, especially Close Encounters, Indiana Jones all those kind of early movies, that really kind of inspired me to make
THR: I actually really appreciated the direction in your film, and I felt like it looked a lot better than most other indie films. Did you go to film school, or what other training do you have for becoming a director?
SM: I went to film school after I became a director but I didn’t really learn a lot. I learnt everything I knew from watching movies and other people have done that as well - not everyone went to film school. I know Tarantino didn’t go. I think he did the same thing - he watched hundreds of movies and he had a love of movies. That’s how it happened really - input from other films.
THR: How much of working in the film industry is related to the feeling of wanting to be an artist? Do you consider it art, or are you more of the belief that it’s entertainment first and foremost?
SM: In a way art is entertainment. If it’s not giving something to the person looking at it – it should be entertaining them even in a negative way. It is entertainment if you want people to look at what you’ve done and get some kind of emotion from it.
THR: Tell me about the distribution process for the film. I know folks can see As a Prelude to Fear streaming on Tubi now, has that been an enjoyable process, and it is surreal to see your films somewhere where anyone can check them out?
SM: It’s the worst thing you could possibly want to do. The whole process of distribution is a terrible experience that if you knew about it you wouldn’t make any films. Yeah, I didn’t even know it was on Tubi so that’s interesting - thanks for telling me. I think that kind of sums it up. For some reason there are 2 versions of Prelude on Amazon with different thumbnails and slightly
different titles! In Buffy there was a big Hellmouth that opened up and probably distribution is somewhere under that Hellmouth. For legal reasons I probably shouldn’t say anything else!
THR: What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects that you’re working on?
SM: Me and Ant (Antony Meadley, who was a producer and cinematographer on Prelude) have got a project that we’re working on at the moment and it’s going to start off as a webisode. We don’t know where it’s going to go we’re just going to see how popular it is. We don’t want to go down traditional distribution routes because that just destroys you as a filmmaker. We’re working with some other local film makers and it should be a really nice project and we can kind of go where we want. When you look at Prelude it’s full of special effects but you wouldn’t know they were there but now we’re going to do special effects where we know they’re there. It’s going to be great.
THR: Finally, what was your favorite Christmas present you got this year?
SM: A coat which was nice and a bottle of Captains Morgan spiced rum which I could drink while thinking
about film distribution.