Luke and Alix Jackson - Gonzo film making is back!
The Brothers Jackson grew up down in Melbourne Victoria without the slim comfort of a TV but with ready access to the horror genre through books and
movies. Both Brothers, Luke and Alix, are confirmed horror fans and as such it's no surprise that their debut movie would be a horror based outing.
When Evil Reigns, made on a budget of $5,000, is rapidly coming to the attention of the horror community both within Australia and Overseas.
Luke Jackson has four published novels under his belt, including the supernatural outings The Unclaimed and Summer's End, with a lot more
to come. Luke provided the solid script for When Evil Reigns, something that can't be stated about every horror movie ever made. Alix Jackson on
the other hand divides his time between acting and running a successful production / editing business, Mr Grim Productions. Alix provided the
post-production dedication needed to get the movie finished. Both Brothers received a Director/Writer credit for When Evil Reigns.
While Luke continues to write regularly both Brothers are turning their attention to their next movie, describe in this interview as a "psychological
Scaryminds would like to thank Luke and Alix for taking time out of their busy schedule to sit down and talk to us. Hope everyone enjoys the interview
and seeks out When Evil Reigns, a weblink can be found at the bottom of the page to the movie's home page and purchase options.
ScaryMinds - Your feature debut When Evil Reigns apparently had a total budget of $5,000. Did you set out to make a movie
for that amount or did circumstances dictate the figure?
Luke - It was circumstances more than choice. The script called for a large cast, a big location, lots of extras - if we'd had
access to more money we would have spent it. But neither of us were working at the time, so we had to rely on our meagre savings to pay for the shoot.
Alix - We were lucky enough to have both a cast, and the guy "loaning" the main set, who believed in what we were trying to do,
and were onboard regardless of how much money we were able to raise. When Luke says "our savings" I should clarify that it was his savings that went
into the production, and my earnings that went into post production.
ScaryMinds - In terms of influences, do you lean more to the George A Romero style of film making or John Carpenter?
Luke - Romero's Dead trilogy (as it was at the time) was a major influence. That said, we were inspired by the paranoia of
Carpenter's The Thing, the suspense of Halloween, and the survival aspect of Assault on Precinct 13. We're big fans of both
Alix - I must admit, don't hate me, but I hadn't actually ever seen any George Romero until we started making the film, this
was 1999 and I was 19 at the time. I was a big fan of The Thing though, and had seen Tom Savini's remake of NOLD. Obviously as we were making
this film, I ended up watching all of the Dead series, and loved them. I was a big Savini fan, so had watched Friday the 13th many times.
Luke and I didn't have a T V growing up, so I only started getting to watch films around 17 when we finally got a TV.
ScaryMinds - Did you set out to make a "zombie" movie or are Reviewers, who should know better, pigeon holing When Evil
Luke - I'd call When Evil Reigns a survival horror movie. 'Zombies' have particular connotations for viewers - slow
moving, moaning creatures who want to eat brains - and we wanted to feature 'infected' with a social hierarchy that becomes more defined as the movie
Alix - As is said previously, with the lack of TV growing up, Luke and myself read a lot of horror novels, I stress A LOT.
We were big into stories with strong character development, and a plot on an epic scale, obviously a lot easier to write, than to put down on film for
$5000. We also wrote and shot this film in 1999-2000, so I don't know if it had come out immediately, it would have bypassed being pigeonholed with the
spate of 2000's Zombie flicks. Regardless, I don't mind either way.
ScaryMinds - Rain plays a constant part in When Evil Reigns, it's almost a motif, did you shoot during a prolonged down pour
in Melbourne or did you have some poor bastard on the roof with a hose?
Luke - These days, Melbourne - which is where the whole film was shot - is subject to major water restrictions. These weren't
in place when we began shooting in 2000, so we basically had a friend of ours, usually Ian - who ended up co-producing the film - spraying the actors
with a hose. Whenever we could, we'd avoid showing the windows and add the sound of rain in post-production.
Alix - Obviously the technical shame in using rain sound fx, is that rain effectively sounds like white noise, so whilst you
end up with atmosphere sound, it may appear to some viewers as a mistake.
ScaryMinds - During the middle part of When Evil Reigns the movie switches from a zombie siege film to being a full on
slasher, was this an attempt to catch the audience off guard or was there another purpose behind the change in style?
Luke - It's common in survival horror for one of the group members to turn at some point. The fact that our bad guys, 'the
infected', exhibit some intelligence, gave us a great opportunity to incorporate a 'slasher' element, as an infected group member begins to pick off
the other group members one by one. This was definitely an attempt to catch the audience off guard, and to add another dimension to the story, moving
it away from the 'zombie' sub-genre for a while. It's one of the things I'm most proud of about the film.
Alix - I also am a big fan of this section, as slasher films were always my fav, even when I had to go to a friends to watch
them, due to the lack of TV. It was also the plan, due to the fact we had a cast of 12, we wanted to kill pretty much everyone, and have a hefty body
count. That's lots of fun.
ScaryMinds - Did you enjoy the experience of making a feature length movie, talk us through the best parts and the stuff
that next time you'll have someone else taking care of?
Luke - Overall, I loved making the film. The best part, for me, was the opportunity to see and hear what we'd written coming
to life. I also loved the way that you'd write something and one of the actors, or crew members, would bring their own perspective to it and make it
better. As great as the experience was, though, at times it was incredibly stressful. I think, because this was our first go, and it was essentially
about learning how to make a film, we benefited from being involved in every aspect, but I wouldn't do that again. Next time, I'd like to be able to
concentrate on the writing and direction and leave the role of producer to somebody else. After we'd finished the shoot, Alix also had to edit the
film, which took the better part of six years because he was working on other things to pay the rent, so next time I'd like to farm out the
Alix - It was pretty exhausting, having to do the roles of many people on set, just to get it done, but it was also an awesome
experience. Of course it would have been easier to do it with a crew for each role, as oppose to the 3 or 4 crew people we had each shoot, including
Luke and myself, but that was half the fun, to push yourself to such a ridiculous end to get the film finished.
ScaryMinds - What was the reaction from friends and family when you announced you were making a horror movie?
Luke - Some of them thought we were crazy; some of them probably still do. Others got on board and became our cast and crew.
We found that loyalty and reliability were much more valuable on-set than ability, and our friends were pretty reliable.
Alix - I don't know if they realised it would take quite as long as it did to finish, but they were wholly supportive
throughout the process, so we were very lucky to have that support.
ScaryMinds - Are you drawn to the horror genre or did you view the genre as being the best possible framework for a low
Luke - We've both been fans of the genre since we were kids, reading horror novels, watching horror movies and playing horror
video games. When we came up with the idea for When Evil Reigns, the idea of actually contributing to the genre we loved was really exciting.
The fact that horror suits a low budget was a bonus.
Alix - I agree, there was really no option of making anything else, this is the genre Luke and I have always loved, so it just
made sense to tackle this genre first.
ScaryMinds - Consensus amongst the horror brigade Down Under is that the genre is a hard sell in this country, with locally
made horror surprisingly even harder to sell. What problems did you encounter in trying to market When Evil Reigns?
Luke - We've felt that the local industry has been pretty supportive of When Evil Reigns and of us as filmmakers; we've
been interviewed for magazines and websites, and received an award at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. But even if your film gets a positive
reception, it isn't guaranteed to sell. In our case, having had a DVD deal fall through, we decided to go the total low-budget route, selling
full-featured DVDs (which we produced ourselves) via our website; and free downloads of the film and selected special features via torrent sites. We
consider the number of downloads - which is in the thousands - to be a successful outcome for this project, because the movie's 'out there'.
Alix - It is a very hard sell, from concept to finished project, it seems like horror fans in general, don't necessarily
gravitate to all horror films, and Australian ones seem to fly below the radar for most horror fans. I remember being in a short horror film years ago,
where the director insisted everyone had to put on American accents, as he said that Australian accents aren't scary.... Maybe this is the problem for
some people, if so, that's a bit of a shame. As Luke has said, the film has been downloaded well over 30,000 times, that's a few, and it has got the
film out there.
ScaryMinds - Local Distributors seem fixated on the "gore" aspect of horror, with notably recently releases Dying Breed,
Hostel 2, Captivity all marketed on gore elements and all failing miserably at the box office. Do you think the powers that be in
Distribution land are one step behind the tastes of fans or do you think we are our own worse enemies with a vocal minority loving the blood and guts?
Luke - I think that gore has its place in horror, but I prefer it to be there because the story dictates, rather than the other
way around. Saw was great, but a lot of the films that its success has given rise to have been pretty disappointing. My hope is that we continue
to see great stories in horror, and I'd like us to contribute to those.
Alix - I find it pretty boring actually, SFX makeup is exactly that. It takes no real effort to pour blood all over someone and
make them pretend to get tortured, but saying that, there has always been this side of horror films, since they began. I think we need to actually
start differentiating and saying Gore films, rather than Horror films, they are very different things. I'd still count Alien as a horror film...
ScaryMinds - What advice would you give young movie makers starting out on their first low budget features, are there are
pitfalls in the process that can be avoided?
Luke - Write a great script, then edit it as much as you can; get the actors to rehearse, because rehearsals will let you hear
which lines still don't work and will make the performers much more comfortable and confident on set; shoot as quickly as you can while still getting
the coverage you need; and maintain your vision for the project.
Alix - Get a damn good mike and recording equipment. If you don't know what you're doing 100%, you don't want to get to the
Post stage and realise the master audio sucks. Learn as much of production as you can, before attempting the project, the cheapest way is to get all
the Robert Rodriguez films and watch all his 10min film schools, invaluable.
ScaryMinds - Which part of the film making process do you find the more challenging, sitting down and getting a workable script
finished or actually being on set and shooting the movie?
Luke - Sitting down and writing a script that I'm happy with is challenging, but writing When Evil Reigns with my
brother Alix made it fun. As soon as you get on set, you've got a whole lot of people and logistical details to deal with and coordinate, which can be
really tough, so I'd have to say that that's a much tougher part of the project for me. Tough but rewarding.
Alix - I would agree, shooting is the toughest, you can't do that in our pyjama's while watching video clips, eating pizza and
hanging with your bro. That was a lot of fun. The shooting was also lots of fun, as then you got to see it all come to life, which is an amazing thing
to witness, and makes you feel pretty bloody proud.
ScaryMinds - What's the future hold for the Brothers Jackson? Any plans for a sequel to When Evil Reigns, something
entirely new, had enough with one movie, or setting your sights on the U.S?
Luke - We've recently finished writing a screenplay for a psychological thriller. It has fewer cast members than When Evil
Reigns and is technically not so large in scope, but I think it would make a fantastic film - very tense, with some great 'horror' moments. I'd
like to see that get filmed within the next couple of years, although whether it will be a 'Jackson Brothers' production or made, by us, under another
banner is yet to be seen.
Alix - I'm hoping we still get to make this next film; we are better set now than we were when trying to make WER as we
actually own equipment! The industry here is unfortunately, not quite healthy enough for Luke and me to quit our jobs and become full time film makers,
but hopefully one day it will. I would still like to remake WER in 20yrs for a big budget; I still think it'd work.
ScaryMinds - Nominate your top ten horror movies of all time?
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
- Night of the Living Dead (1968)
- Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)Psycho (1960)
- Halloween (1978)
- Dawn of the Dead (1978)
- The Exorcist (1973)
- Alien (1979)
- The Cat People (1942)
- The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
- Friday the 13th
- Nightmare on Elm street
- Halloween part 3 - Season of the witch (I'm the only fan in existence)
- The Thing
- The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- Lost Boys
- The dead series
- High Tension
- The Hills Have Eyes
Scaryminds would like to once again thank Luke and Alix for taking time out of their hectic work schedule to answer our questions. We look forward to
seeing the next movie from the Jackson Brothers opening night.
For more information on either the Brothers Jackson or When Evil Reigns please visit the following site
When Evil Reigns. The movie itself presents excellent value at a low $10 for a double disc release, and
shipping is either $3 domestic or $7 international. Value for money or what there! Please note all figures are in Australian dollars.
I've got a review post of When Evil Reigns right here. I've watched the movie a
couple of times since the review and must admit it gets more solid with each viewing.
Click Through For Luke Jackson's official writing site.