Blake Northfield is the producer of The School, a supernatural thriller that follows the story of Amy (Megan Drury), a mother and doctor as she descends into an eerie dark fairy-tale realm inhabited by monsters and lost children under the tyrannical rule of a young maniac Zac (Will McDonald).
How did you get involved?
Storm Ashwood (writer, director) brought the project to me in 2016. It was evident he’d spent a considerable amount of time putting love and energy into the script, which was developed enough that we were able to take it into production six months later.
What was the best/most fun part of making the film for you?
We shot the film in one of the oldest lunatic asylums in Australia. The shoot for me is always very stressful, it’s not really until we’re in a quiet edit suite that I can sit back and really enjoy the process!
What does a film festival like Byron Bay Film Festival mean to you and your work?
Byron Bay Film Festival is absolutely integral in regards to our industry promotion and for filmmakers to get our work out to the public. Growing up here, it’s really amazing to be able to showcase one of our films back home!
What is the best piece of advice you can give to future independent filmmakers working with horror?
Being this is a dark fantasy, I wouldn’t know! Don’t follow the cliche scares; we’ve done that before and regret it.
What was the most challenging part of making a film like this?
There really isn’t enough time in the day to answer this with depth. You’re in charge of how 150 people pay their rent, something goes wrong every day that can jeopardise that and I think being able to just keep a level head is the most challenging part of it all.
If some or all of the team is coming to the festival at Byron Bay. Who is coming and what are you looking forward to?
Hopefully cast and crew will be able to make the trip. Storm will be there so we’ll be able to host a Q and A with him. Really looking forward to showcasing a feature film that is really unique, something that Australian audience wouldn’t have seen before.
Any upcoming projects for you, your team or key creatives involved in the film?
Bronte Pictures has some really fantastic projects coming up. We’re in post production on Storm’s second film, Escape and Evasion, which we shot on the Gold Coast earlier in the year, Around the World is in post production right now and we have four films scheduled for next year.
What drives you as a filmmaker, what are your key inspirations?
To tell good stories and provide opportunities for people, young and old.
As a local to the norther rivers, what brought you to the region? Is there something distinct about the region that feeds into your work?
Family and friends. Besides myself, Bronte Pictures has two local producers in the company, Tom Byrnes and Peter Flannery. I have a young family; my partner, Niah Mcleod, is a local indigenous artist and this is our home, so it suits us to be based from here and still work one day a week from the office in Sydney. The area is second to none for landscape and community.
Anything else interesting or unique about the film making process for The School, any hiccups along the way, any happy coincidences that changed the films direction?
We shot in what’s considered a very haunted location, a lunatic asylym with buildings that were built on 1000 unmarked graves. We had multiple crew in hospital throughout the shoot for things that just didn’t make sense; certain crew wouldn’t walk into rooms because they were petrified by something within the room. Horrific things happened over the years and there was an eerie feeling about shooting at Gladesville, like the dark spirits had never left the building.
Is anything else you would like to share?
We’re really excited to have the opportunity to screen at BBFF and thankful for that opportunity! Hope to get as many friends and family to the screening as possible.