Filmmaker Q&A Charles Mathieson

by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

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DCP:

I absolutely loved JITTERMAN! It's one of my favorite horror shorts of all time! Can you tell us about the genesis of how this film came to be, where did the idea for Jitterman come from, what was the experience like filming this short, how long did it take you to shoot, how did you get connected with the insanely gifted composer Eric Elick, etc?

 

Charles Mathieson:

The Jitterman was the amalgamation of loads of the things I love. I wanted to make a short that reflected my horror passions: Slasher films like Scream, Horror icons like Freddy Kruger and the kind of jump scares mastered in movies like The Conjuring.  Those films really inspired me with their ability to build scares so quickly and consistently. I wanted to combine the lot. The Jitterman was an attempt to create a character that would go beyond the standard horror intruder, manipulating the babysitter though fear. But I wanted to give him a few of the things the great icons have like a cool silhouette and a theme tune, stuff like that! I always loved Freddy’s song.

 

Filming itself took two days and a later half-day for a few pick-ups. The biggest challenge in the film was rewriting the script to the house. It was originally intended to shoot the film in a much bigger house with a completely different layout. So there was inevitably a lot of rejigging to make it all work. One thing I really wanted establish was a good geography to the house, so you could follow the action more easily. I ended up shooting the film in my parents house has it’s own pressures. Knowing they’d kill me if I wrecked the place but desperate to get the shots I wanted. I owe them a lot!

 

Erik Elick is the cousin of Damon Rickard and composed our first short film The Tour we made together, which I wrote and we both directed. I didn’t know his work before the Tour but was blown away by his work on that; truly one of the highlights of that film. I was chuffed when he asked to compose the Jitterman, as it was a huge task blending both a contemporary score with a fifties score for the film within the film. But as expected he smashed it, and put up with me as well in the process so nothing but the upmost respect for him. He deserves every success. 

 

DCP:

What's the story of how you pulled such a talented cast together? Did you always know who was going to be play the character of Jitterman?

 

CM:

Casting was simple. Naomi the lead is actually my cousin but an experienced both on screen and stage, She put everything into it, screaming herself hoarse in the process. I couldn’t of asked for more! Alex, who plays Charlie in the film, was casted and it was his first film and I was so proud how well did. The Jitterman.. Tom Gordon was a slightly different story. Tom was sold a dual part in the film, playing both the Jitterman and the Detective.  The man tasked to catch him. But in the rush to make the film in the short time we had the scene was abandoned. Hopefully I’ll make it up to him soon as he had to sit for three hours to get the make up on. 

 

DCP:

What has been the response thus far to the film?

 

CM:

America seems to like it. It’s been accepted into some great festivals across the pond, but in the U.K it’s been a more muted response so far. For me festivals are the only way I’m going to get it out to a wider audience  which is always the aim, but it’s still in consideration for loads of great festivals so I remain optimistic.The best thing is that in the private screenings it’s played well, and I’ve had some great feedback so that’s been amazing. This whole short was so well fleshed out and put together that it felt like it could pass as Scene 1 of a full-length feature!

 

DCP:

Do you have any desire to expand it to be a feature film? 

 

CM:

Absolutely and it was designed that way. Drew Barrimore’s cameo in Scream being an obvious inspiration. It’s the start of a bigger story for sure and the structure is there for the feature if not the fully fleshed out screenplay yet.  But there’s life in the character beyond the short for sure.

 

DCP:

What inspires you, not just as an artist, but as a human being?

 

CM:

Stories, in every form. From films, books and jokes I love the power of stories to transport and entertain us. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and now I have a kid I get to practise telling and sharing stories all the time. Getting that response, that laugh, conveying a sense of wonder to someone is one of the best and most addictive feelings in the world and one of my absolute favourite things. 

 

DCP:

Can you tell us about any projects you may have coming up, or that you're working on for the near future?

 

CM:

 I have to crack on with the Jitterman feature script at some point but I also have a new short in development, which I hope to shoot at the end of this year. That’s a really exciting project as I’m hoping to design it so it can be seen as both a kids film and a horror film. My kid is always moaning she can’t watch my movies so this one aims to appease both of us! 

 

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