The War for Your Soul has Begun
Interview with Writer/Director Zoe Kavanagh
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I directed ‘Demon Hunter’ as my first film because I wanted to, not just make any feature as my first but I wanted to showcase all of the skills I learned over the last ten years directing short films and music videos. I created the character of Taryn Barker in 2008 and knew after her creation that one of her stories would have to be made into my first feature. Genre films have a large appeal internationally and at the same time you can still have a strong story with good characters that may have a universal appeal.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you’re a member of the audience, I would say if you’re into the sub genre of Action Horror, then this film is for you. There’s not a huge amount of Action Horror films out there and particularly female led, so maybe it will fill a void for you. If you like dark superhero stories and comic books where the protagonist has a troubled past and it’s that journey you want to go on then you may like it.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Whenever I write a story, I always have to add some form of ‘self’ into it. I need to connect with the characters I’m writing otherwise there is no point. There is, certainly elements of myself in the character Taryn Barker. She is a fearless and focused person with a blunt personality. She’s obsessive in her goals.
As a filmmaker I’ve always felt I’ve had to prove myself at what I do. I had to make the film out of my own finance and push it no matter what obstacles got in my way. A lot of people give up at that point. Taryn is like that, in the sense, that she will see her mission through to counter the impossible and take the leap of faith. You could say that in reality there’s this big governing evil that has people conformed, zombified and manipulated by media and marketing but you need to see through that. The world is controlled, influenced and manipulated by the rich and powerful and this is where Taryn can see through our reality for what it is. She has kinda woken up and a lot of paranoia is built on that theme of being isolated and alienated by our society.
Some of the other universal themes the film contains and it’s probably the most important is love, loss and revenge.
Taryn loved her sister Annabelle, even though they bickered and fought occasionally. It was her responsibility to be her protector through life and the simple bad decision she did to neglect Annabelle, resulting in her abduction and death, is a decision that haunts her. Taryn seeks redemption and revenge. Losing someone close to you is tough on family and it’s our actions that define how strong and brave we are. I think Taryn is a strong fighter and a true heroine.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Originally I had written a script called ‘Demon Hunter: Retribution’, which is now the third story in a trilogy now retitled ‘The Last Demon Hunter’. The script was too big and too ambitious so I scaled back and collaborated with writer Tony Flynn on a prequel web-series called ‘Taryn Barker’. The web series was originally a 6 episode season, consisting of the first half of this film. After thinking about it for a while, I felt it was a better idea to turn the web series into a feature and expand on the script. So a script called ‘Taryn Barker: Demon Hunter’ was written and that’s what we went with. During filming, there certainly were rewrites and reshoots just to make it as best as we possibly could.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
It did quite well at film festivals, which is great! We won over 15 awards worldwide and it has played all over the world. Was great being at the Fright Night Film Fest in Kentucky back in November and winning loads of awards, Horrorhound in March was great fun too! I won Best Director there.
Regarding feedback it has been mixed to say the least. I made the film I wanted to see and interestingly some of the style I went for has divided people. I guess my taste in music and look is dated! We didn’t have a huge budget to be fair but I do believe the film is still really entertaining and we are all very proud of the film.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Somewhat, I guess. You either are into a film like this or your really not at all. Some people who gave it positive reviews really get what I was going for, which is awesome. Other critics I guess just need to lighten up a bit. Regardless I have listened to certain plot criticisms and would like to say that if we get to continue the story of Taryn Barker we will expand and explain the tech of the Demon Hunters more, expand the mythology and bring anon stop action horror thrill ride!
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Hopefully the readers will appreciate how independent this film truly is and perhaps would be interested in seeing more films and projects from myself or the other cast and crew.
I like that We Are Moving Stories acknowledges the hard work of filmmakers and supports them greatly. It’s also great for the readers to discover more about independent filmmakers out there making unique films that compete in such a hard market against bigger budget fare. It’s good that We Are Moving Stories' main focus is the filmmaker and the issues that usually would have been ignored.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I never felt sales agents, distributors etc really interfered with the film's message. In fact the message of courage and revenge is pretty much embraced. Distributors and sales agents were sought after when the film was complete; however, they would have their own angle in marketing the film in their territory. The most important is to reach the target audience and that’s where you hope for the best success as possible for the film.
You need them all but you won't necessarily have them all straight away making your first film. If you’re a director, I would say you need to find a production company to help you get the project moving off the ground and to help with all of the legalities and paperwork. You then look for money from different funding schemes, investors or try and pre-sell the film at Film Markets like AFM. After the film is made, that’s when you look for a sales agent, a publicist and submit to film festivals around the world and it’s during this time your sales agent will look around for a distributor for each territory and suss out the marketplace.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like young viewers to be empowered by Taryn Barker and be inspired to be strong and stand up for themselves. Never let anything bring you down and use it as fuel for your fire. I hope others connect with Taryn and the dark adventures that she goes on and maybe we can get back into the vast and surreal world to continue where we left off!
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I think some of the ideas within the film may go overlooked because we see them all the time in cinema. In the film ‘Demon Hunter’ the heroes are poor and fighting a secret battle against a rich over-powered evil that basically dominates society. The media is controlled by demons, the main villain Falstaff owns castles and controls a cult that spreads into normality. The first demon Taryn faces looks like a human and that’s kind of like the message in ‘They Live’. They’re invading, they’re everywhere but hidden in plain sight.
Taryn and her gang of Demon Hunters have woken up to the corrupt manipulation of a reptilian/illuminati society and are trying their best, in small numbers, to expose this evil. The news you watch, the food you eat, the cookies on your internet all of that makes you ask: are you in control or are they in control? I’m not saying I believe in these theories but they make me wonder about am I really in control of my life and am I free to do what I believe is the right thing for myself?
Would you like to add anything else?
Make up your own minds and give ‘Demon Hunter’ a watch. Filmed in Ireland in some really cool locations! If you like Action Horror films like Resident Evil, Blade, Underworld, The Crow and TV shows like Supernatural and Ash Vs Evil Dead then this maybe for you!
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I can only speak for myself but I’m currently developing 3 features at this moment in time. A viking revenge thriller called ‘The Blade of Hilde’, a psychological horror film ‘Inexorable’ and ‘The Demon Hunters’. I will remain hopeful that I get to direct one or all of these feature films and work with some of the great crew involved!
Interview: September 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The War for Your Soul has Begun
Producer: Victor McGowan, Anna Ginjaume Grive, Matthew Taylor, Zoe Kavanagh, Stephen Horgan
Writer:Tony Flynn & Zoe Kavanagh
About the writer, director and producer:
Zoe Kavanagh is an award winning filmmaker whose directed promos for bands such as Clan of Xymox and commercials for brands such as Vit Hit.
Tony Flynn is a Dublin based screenwriter and author whose work has been published by Mocha Memoirs Press, Daverana Enterprises and Sirens Call Publications.
Victor McGowan has produced numerous feature films under his banner Constant Motion Pictures and most recently has produced Troma's The Middle Finger.
Key cast: Niamh Hogan, Michael Parle, Alan Talbot, Sarah Tapes Jenkinson, Nic Furlong, Kevin O Malley, Aisli Moran
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Made in association with: Constant Motion Pictures, Ill Eagle Films, Full Metal Films
Where can I see it in the next month? Available now in the UK, Ireland and United Stated of America, with South Korea and more to follow.