Director of Overtime, Manhattan Short finalist Craig Foster, on creating a werewolf film

In the lead-up to Sydney’s Manhattan Shorts screening, Australian Director Craig Foster of horror-comedy Overtime talks about the processes involved in creating a werewolf film.

The day-in-the-life style werewolf short Overtime was one of only ten films chosen from around the world as a finalist in the Manhattan Short film festival.

The short film, which was co-produced by Foster and Emma McKenna, will be screened at Glen Street Theatre on Sunday October 2nd at 3pm. 

Overtime is unique in the fact that it depicts the every-day struggle of a werewolf. What inspired you to make a day-in-the-life style werewolf film? 

We specifically wanted to approach a werewolf film from that angle because it hasn’t been done that much. We thought of it more as a Jekyll & Hyde story than a classic werewolf story. The questions of how one would get by, how that would change over the years as they got more experience and what they’d be forced to sacrifice are all fascinating questions.

Overtime takes place over the span of one night. How did you go about bringing the complexity of Ralph’s character to life on the screen in such a short frame of time? 

Well, first of all, you get a great actor to play him. We totally adore Aaron Glenane, he was always our first choice. He is meek and unassuming but at the same time has a great sense of mystery and danger to him. We needed that range for the story.

From a writing point of view, we began with the observation of your first question. What would it be like surviving as a werewolf? How would that affect your relationships? If you really cared about the safety of others you probably wouldn’t get close to anyone. These questions informed every scene with Ralph and it paints this picture of a guy that has given up a lot and is lonely. But the fun part and the ironic part is that everyone wants to know him. He keeps up his guard, but really it just makes him mysterious and alluring.

Can you tell me a little bit about the make-up and prosthetics process? Were you ever concerned about the difficulties involved in creating a believable werewolf transformation? 

Hell yes we were! We knew that we’d never to be able to afford a full American Werewolf in London style transformation, so we went with the old school approach of showing the transformation in discreet stages – which actually suits the story really well. Then it was a matter of finding a great make-up team. We ended up being VERY lucky and got onboard Damian Martin and Adam Johansen from Odd Studio. These guys are world class; they won this year’s makeup Oscar for their work on Mad Max: Fury Road. Once they were involved it suddenly became very easy (and very fun!).

Overtime mixes humour and horror, how did you create a balance between the two genres?

We’ve always had a dark sense of humour and always believed that humour can be found anywhere, even in death. So I think that horror and comedy is as natural a pairing as comedy and romance. The balancing trick is, we feel, to never use comedy in a way that undermines the horror, which is basically to say, take your horror seriously. With Overtime, the comedy is situational, we didn’t write any ‘gags’ – so the film never feels like it’s trying to be funny and the horror has room to breathe.

There are many great creepy and funny moments in Overtime, such as the hilarious full moon conversation with siri. Looking back on the film what were your favourite parts to shoot, or what parts do you love to watch back?

The Siri moment is absolutely one of our favourite moments. It all comes together so nicely – it’s the moment where everyone gets it. It was actually one of the last script tweaks we did, originally, he just used an app and that totally would have sucked.

The whole shoot was a blast, anytime Aaron was in his make-up was a highlight. A really special part of the shoot was doing all the macro stuff – especially the paper shredder. That was a wholly different experience to ‘normal’ shooting. We had a lot of fun with that.

Overtime has been named one of ten finalists at the Manhattan Shorts Film Festival, how did you feel when you heard the news? Did you expect the film to receive such a positive reaction?  

The response to the film has been overwhelming and every festival acceptance has made us feel very grateful and excited. There was something about making this movie where we felt we were onto something special – everyone loved the script so much and everyone loved working on it. But no one ever expects this kind of reaction, you can only ever hope for it. It’s really nice when people respond to your film – it’s the whole reason you make them.

Are you currently working on, or have any plans for new projects? 

The big goal is to make a feature film. We’re working on a bunch of ideas including a werewolf feature with a similar tone and story to Overtime.

For more details about the Manhattan Shorts Festival, and its upcoming Australian screening, head HERE.