MJ Dixon Interview

Slasher-HouseRead the review for Slasher House here.

Matt: Slasher House is an incredible achievement on a budget that could generously be described as “shoestring”. How the hell did you pull it off for such little cash?

MJ Dixon: In all honesty it was written as a low budget Hollywood production, and I always thought they could make it on about 1/2 Million. When I decided to make it myself, the team talked about how much it would cost to do it our way. We reckoned we could at a push, thanks to our investors get hold of ยฃ5000 and it was simply just a matter of putting the blinkers on a hoping for the best. We never considered that it couldn’t be done; it was always more that how can we do it on this small amount.

Matt: The bane of low budget filmmakers is getting decent locations. Your main location is fantastic – how did you come upon it?

MJ Dixon: It all started when we tried finding a location in the UK, and very quickly found that no one would let us use the kind of thing we wanted for the amount of time we wanted. Mainly due to health and safety regulations. It was only after casting our male lead Adam Williams that we had any kind of progress. During script meetings Adam heard that we were looking for a location and out of interest made a couple of phone-calls to his family on the Isle of Mann, within a few hours we had an appointment to view an old prison in Douglas, we sent Adam and within the week we had landed the location we wanted for about half our budget.

Matt: How long was the shoot? Both on the Isle of Man and back on the mainland?

MJ Dixon: All together the shoot was about 17 Days, 14 On the Isle Of Man (We also prepped on the island for 5 days before everyone arrived) and 4, maybe 5 in the UK over the next year due to peoples work schedules as well as our own.

Matt: Perhaps even more impressive than the film itself has been your ability to get it out there and obtain distribution and coverage. What’s your secret?

MJ Dixon: No real secret. When I started out I had a few ideas of who we might want to release the film. I had watched others like myself for a few years and done my research, watched what labels were releasing the kind of thing we were doing and then approached them. We ended up with more offers than we really knew what to do with, which is always a bummer as you always feel like you’re letting someone down. But I think that it helps that we tried to make a good commercial film, that although ticked the boxes for Horror fans, was also something fresh and new, it probably doesn’t hurt that we opened the film with a naked chick too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Matt: What advice would you give other indie horror filmmakers, maybe eyeing the possibility of making a feature?

MJ Dixon: Just do it. Don’t think. I spent years surrounded by people who told me it couldn’t be done. That I would never do it. That I couldn’t do it. Eventually I took the steps to remove those kind of people from around me and just ran at it, learning as I went. Not for a second did I let myself think that I couldn’t do it. So that we be my advice. Don’t be afraid to fail, because failure only slows you down, if you have conviction it can never stop you.

Matt: How has the film been received?

MJ Dixon: Pretty well for the few screenings it’s had thus far. I think we’ll have a better idea once it is released in the UK on April 29th. But as of now it’s mostly positive, and in some cases stellar. I’ve had a lot of fellow filmmakers compliment it and that is really great to know that someone who understands the craft enjoys your movie.

Matt: Perhaps the stand-out aspect of Slasher House is its rogue’s gallery of villains. They seem almost comic book in nature, more in line with the 80s horror icons like Freddy, Jason and Michael rather than the more ‘realistic’ modern villains like Jigsaw or Hannibal Lecter. Was that a deliberate choice?

MJ Dixon: For definite, this was my take on Freddy vs. Jason really. I was always kind of disappointed in that movie to a degree and this was kind of a gut reaction to that. I had a collection of slasher villains from various other projects and just started picking them out and redeveloping them and in the end we wound up with our four killers. I’ve always been a huge fan of the big 3 and that is something that has inspired me in my work since I can remember. I did my best to pick out the archetypes that you find in the sub-genre and for the most part each one embodies a different kind of serial killer. It was very deliberate and a little wink to slasher fans.

Matt: The movie plays with a lot of horror conventions – was it important for you to hit a lot of genre touchstones?

MJ Dixon: If I’m honest the film kind of rested on that, I kind of almost wanted it to be a spoof of the kind of conventions that you find in slasher movies. But from the off set I decided to play that spoof completely straight and throw real drama in there. These movies have been my life for over 2 decades now and it was important that I got to really show that I understood the genre.

Matt: What do you think of the current state of horror films?

MJ Dixon: I think it’s the same as ever, what we forget is that our golden age of horror is always different. I know people who say it’s the seventies and look down on anything that came after that. I know people who consider it to be the 90’s with the likes of Scream and all those new age slasher film and won’t look back before that. Fuck, I know people who didn’t even like horror movies till Saw came about. The truth is that there have always been crap horror movies mixed in with the greats, we just all have a golden age, a time when we were more susceptible to them. There are some great new movies appearing right now, and with the digital revolution and more specifically the DSLR revolution we’re getting to see more and more independent releases than ever and some are fucking killer :). In regards to Hollywood, it’s always been a gamble, I heard the new Evil Dead is shit hot though :).

Matt: The film has a lurid green and red colour scheme that is reminiscent of Suspiria. Why choose those colours?

MJ Dixon: I get asked this every time lol. Some people consider it a gimmick, which suggests that it is there for no other reason than to make it look interesting. The fact is though that my brain works in colours and when I start creating a project I choose a colour palette and work from there. When I started designing Slasher House, I took some inspiration from Saw and then with our lead character being called Red, I ended up using those as my primary colours. To be honest I never thought it would work the way I wanted it to. But to my amazement it did and I just kept it. But yes, the overall reason for me thinking in colours is down to the work of Argento, and in particular my love of his film Suspiria. It’s important as an artist I think to look at things in that aspect, I simply just combined Argento’s approach to visual style with comic books that I loved. I could try and justify it more, but really it’s just something I have always done since I started making films. All you have to do is go back to any of the short stuff I did in my teens and every single one is colour coded, simply because for whatever reason that’s how my brain works.

Matt: There are plenty of unanswered questions at the end of the movie – Slasher House is actually meant as part of a series, isn’t it?

MJ Dixon: Yep ๐Ÿ™‚ Not everyone gets that. But this is simply the central anchor for a universe of stories. I can’t really go much further into that at this point, but there have been talks and we haven’t seen the last of Red. There is something very special planned for the journey ahead and behind us. Slasher House is simply the centre point that brings the whole bigger story together. But if you look at our upcoming roster, you can already see it starting to unfold.

Matt: If you magically stumbled onto a big pile of cash for your next movie, what would you sink the money into first?

MJ Dixon: Casting for definite. I have a dream that involves getting together what I have dubbed around here as ‘The Expendables Of Horror”, the idea is to draw Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Gunnar Hansen, Doug Bradley and One of the millions of guys who played MM (Probably George P Wilbur) into a huge Horror Epic that will bring the whole Mycho Universe together. But currently we’re about 4/5 years from that. But that’s what I would spend the cash on, essentially living a dream.

Matt: And, of course, what is up next for yourself and Mycho Entertainment?

MJ Dixon: Next up for us is Thorn, which is our first tie in movie to the Slasher House movies, but it’s been created to stand completely on its own. After that we also have our Christmas Slasher ‘Blood On Santa’s Claws’ which I’ve want to make for a few years now. We have a couple of other projects on the go, including a segment for anthology movie Blaze Of Gory and a couple of others that we’re not a liberty to discuss currently. Also I’ve been working round the clock trying to finish our first film Creepsville at the moment. There are some other HUGE plans for further down the line, but I just don’t wanna jinx them ๐Ÿ™‚

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