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Creepy Countdown: Violence, Virgins and Big Narstie - An interview with Double Date's Benjamin Barfoot

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In anticipation of his comedy-horror Double Date being released this Friday, Benjamin Barfoot took some time to talk to The National Student about his debut feature.

Credit: KVIIFF

The film follows twenty-nine-year-old virgin Jim, played by the film’s writer Danny Morgan, who, with the help of his friend Alex (Michael Socha), is set up on a double date with sisters Kitty (Kelly Wenham) and Lulu (Georgia Groome). Little do the pair know that the sisters are in fact serial killer’s intent on murdering them for dark purposes.

On the nature of the film’s origin, Barfoot points the finger at writer Morgan saying “I think all of it stems from Danny’s fear of women in his twenties. He was a bit shy and nervous of girls, a bit terrified of them maybe, and he just came up with this idea that what if there were two girls, and what if on the night that he conquered his fear and went out with these two girls - they were actually trying to kill him." 

As its comical set up would suggest, Double Date is far funnier than it is horrifying and Barfoot commented on the challenges of balancing the film tonally. “I suppose it’s a bit like chemistry,” he begins. “A lot of it just happens in the editing... I mean you have an idea of how you want the fighting, and the action, and the violence, and the horror elements. But then you also know that you’re doing a comedy and it's written there, on script, and I'm kind of using improv and letting actors run with it."

With regards to improvisation on set, it all comes down to Barfoot’s directing style and how he tries to get the best of his actors. “I like to get actors in a comfort zone, feeling confident, feeling happy… I want it to feel like it’s an organic collaborative experience, that they’ve got some freedom." On Michael Socha, Barfoot says "he would just throw something into the middle of it and Danny would just react to it, or vice versa.” Barfoot also noted the commitment of some of the actors in the film, particularly Kelly Wenham who “put herself through a lot"; crash dieting and kickboxing in preparation for the role.

The film takes a lot of influences from Italian director Dario Argento and Argentine Gaspar Noé. “I wanted a dark film that felt very colourful,” Barfoot says. "The girl's world was much more of a sort of vintage, kind of Dario Argento, colourful folk-horror kind of feel. The boy's world was much more riffing, much more Gaspar Noé.” 

Barfoot collaborated with Morgan creatively on the film after joining the project around three years ago. The film's setting of East London and a lot of the live music is down to his input on Morgan's original script.

Perhaps this is also why we see grime artist Big Narstie make an appearance during a gorgeous looking club sequence. When asked how he was able to get the artist involved in the project, Barfoot answered: “it just happened that we went to a party and he was there. We had been talking about how we’d been trying to get a grime act in Double Date and we met Big Narstie and Danny kind of drunkenly asked him ‘hey man do you wanna be in our film?’, and he just said ‘yea yea yea’.” Turns out the MC remembered his commitment over a year later as, when Double Date began to make progress, he remained “up for it”.

Barfoot and Morgan have worked together many times in the past and have made a number of short films together. In terms of what the two might work on in the future, Barfoot said that they have “got ideas for a new project which we’ve been discussing since we were in the edit for Double Date. I don’t wanna say too much at the moment but it's revolving around the idea of ginger people, and just riffing on something on that. It will probably be a bit more of an action-road-movie comedy sort of thing, but we’ll see."

Hopefully, we can expect to hear more about this project in the future, but until then, Barfoot’s “bloody violent comedy” hits cinemas this Friday and promises to be one of the best films you’ll see this Halloween.

You can follow Benjamin on twitter @benjaminbarfoot

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