English film director and screenwriter Steve Barker made his name with the horror films Outpost and Outpost: Black Sun. Back in June, Steve came to the Edinburgh International Film Festival to talk about his latest movie The ReZort, which also sees its DVD and Digital release this week.

Film-News:
Steve, your obvious influences for ‘The ReZort’ are films like ‘Westworld’, ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Walking Dead’… however, your film has an unexpected twist at the end… Some may find this sympathetic towards the current refugee crisis while others may find it offensive.

Steve Barker:
I want people to think about it but I didn’t intend on the film being controversial. I finished the film about a year ago and it took much longer than most of my other films. There is a great tradition among zombie pictures about them having some opinion, and what attracted me was this is more a film about the disenfranchised and less a film in the Michael Creighton ‘Jurassic Park’ tradition. There is a trend among modern zombie films or TV-programs like ‘The Walking Dead’ which is how we react when all the rules are taken away, a bit like ‘Lord of The Flies’. So what attracted me about ‘ReZort’ is the premise that human beings can be much more dangerous once the rules are taken away. We only started talking about ideas and stuff for the film when the crisis in Syria really exploded and I was thinking how quickly it turned into a story about the disenfranchised. But yeah, by the time we finished with the film the refugee-related problems in the Mediterranean hadn’t really hit the front pages yet. Had it happened by the time the film finished I would have been a little nervous as I didn’t want people to think that we’re exploitative that way.
The main responsibility about a film like that is to make it a fun and entertaining ride and if there’s more to be said then that’s cool as well. Although it is not something I could explore in great length because it is not that kind of movie. I also think a real good genre film should always hold a mirror to the world. In a way it’s kind of tragic that from that viewpoint the film has become more relevant now that it’s finished than at the time when we were making it.

Film-News:
Tell me a little about the casting of Dougray Scott in the part of ‘Archer’.

Steve Barker:
We wanted someone for the part who is kind of iconic, and representative of this new world in our story which the kids in particular simply see as some sort of video game. So we needed a strong character – the alpha male survivor – who steps out of all the chaos and leads all the other characters. So if you’re looking for someone like that you’re looking not only for an actor who is in the required age range but someone with a great presence who can fulfil the criteria. So it’s more like you’re going to approach them and ask them to be in the movie rather than having them auditioning for the part. And it was the case that someone just suggested Dougray and really he gives such a great close-up and he’s got that screen presence. And that’s important because he has very little dialogue in the movie so in his case it’s all about the presence! Initially his character had more dialogue in the script but we stripped some if it as it worked better that way, you could tell during the edit.

Film-News:
What about the prep work for the film, I mean in particular the physical prep work for the actors… did they have to learn shooting and things like that?

Steve Barker:
We did some prep work though you mustn’t forget it’s a very low budget picture. That said, it looks like it cost a lot more money than it did because the effects and post-production turned out great! But of course what you don’t get with that kind of budget are long training sessions with the actors because you simply can’t afford them for such a long time. They were all given basic security training, other than that I think we were very lucky because Jessica (De Gouw), our leading lady, had already done an enormous amount of physical training for an American TV show, and Dougray of course had been in plenty of movies where he did lots of action scenes.

Film-News:
Will there be a sequel to ‘The Rezort’?

Steve Barker:
Oh, I have no idea whether there will be a sequel. I think there is a sense that although it was kind of an open ending it was an ending nonetheless. With a sequel we would have to come up with a different idea because no one would be that stupid and create another resort island after what’s happened, so a sequel would probably be a more straightforward zombie picture. Also, I’ve done three horror films at that stage and I would like to move on to a different genre for a change.

Film-News:
Many thanks for the interview, Steve, and best wishes for future projects.
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