If you’re new around here, you may not recognize the name Antony Lane but he has a long history with Stick With The Indies. He gave us our name and was our first interviewee exactly seven years ago today. As he enters the final stretch of an 11-year journey to bring his debut feature to life, we asked him to answer the same list of questions again to see how his answers may have changed over the years and he graciously obliged.
Tell us a little about yourself: who you are, where you’re from, what you do?
It’s funny but I’ve been asking myself this very question for some time now, except I add in a much more deeper question of WHY? Why do I do the things I do? WHY am I the way I am? It’s not an easy one to answer. In fact, the question of WHY is far more interesting than the question WHO. But to answer the who, my name is Antony D. Lane. I now go by the name of CRAZY D. LANE in all walks of life. When I visit my dad I always have to correct him, “sorry Dad, it’s not TONY anymore, it’s CRAZY.” He don’t understand, he’s never understood. He’s always been very supportive of my happiness but never understood the WHY, unlike my mum who just GETS IT.
I’m from a little town in the North East of the UK called Grimsby. For the last decade or so, I’ve been based at the bottom of the UK in a place called Kent; that’s where I’ve set up base for my debut feature film (I sound all new & shiny till I say it’s now in its 11th year).
I’m at that point in my life now where I’m fairly lost in that if you ask me what I do, I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer. Maybe Independent Filmmaker is the closest answer to that, even though it’s freelance editing that I earn money from.
When did you first become interested in film?
I’ve been told by mum it was from the moment I was able to pick up the TV & VHS player remote in the early 80’s, with an obsession to watch films over & over and in some cases to keep rewinding & watching the same scene over & over. For example, the train crash in Cassandra Crossing, at a very early age. Which is bizarre to me, that my mum would of let me watch that. I think the generation we’re in now is a lot more cautious, we try to protect our kids from things. Even now, when my 5-year-old asks questions about death in tv & film, I’m very much wanting to protect her from the darkness of the world. But, at the same time, I know she needs to understand things. I think in the late 70’s & early 80’s it was more of a case of not worrying & kids would have access to things at an early age. I remember watching some bloody scary things at around the 9/10 years mark… which is why I have a love for the horror genre.
Who are your biggest inspirations and what about them inspires you?
Straight off the bat, my biggest inspirations right now are filmmakers who give their absolute all in finishing their struggling projects. I guess because I’m struggling. I need to know that for some people it all worked out fine in the end. People like Werner Herzog making FITZCARRALDO, Francis Ford Coppola making APOCALYPSE NOW, David Lynch & his ERASERHEAD, Peter Jackson & his BAD TASTE… But, in regards to all-time favourite filmmaker who inspires me from a technical perspective, then that would have to be Stanley Kubrick. When I’m on set, or even in the edit room, I think what would Stanley do here… haha…
Frank would like to know: What made you decide to make a zombie film?
This could be a long answer, but to cut a very long answer short, it was a friend in Uni who said to me in 2005, “why are you making a zombie short? why not make something different?” I just thought, “hmmmm, he’s right, why am I just trying to recreate something that’s been done to death?” So, I added a little weird uniqueness to it, the short was called ‘DEAD OF NIGHT’, & had a lot of the elements that I used for ‘INVASION’; which was pushing for a cinematic look, the use of a smoke machine, and for it to not be classed as a ZOMBIE film. I don’t even know anymore what ‘INVASION’ is. It got to a point very early on that I wanted to make the ZOMBIE-like things, a sub-genre, something different. The best way of describing it is if you make a film strong enough to stand on its own without a horror backstory, then what if you throw in a B-MOVIE backstory in… it makes the whole thing quite surreal. That’s what I’ve done with ‘INVASION’. The emphasis is on a troubled family, and in the background we have a virus sending a town mad & then ultimately a mist that turns them into zombie-like creatures…
What is your favorite zombie film?
‘DAWN OF THE DEAD’ 78… there’s a good chance it was released the moment I was born, so I have a deep connection with it.
Do you prefer fast zombies or slow?
This is probably gonna make a few people go WOW, but I’m not a huge ZOMBIE fan. To me, a huge zombie fan is someone who will watch most zombie films. I have a select few that I adore. Every now & again, I’ll watch a couple on Netflix & wish I hadn’t. So YEAH absolutely, they have to be SLOW. It works in 28 Days/Weeks Later having them fast because they’re not technically zombies, but other films made post-2000 with the exception of NIGHTMARE CITY. Zombie films don’t know how to build tension so they just make everything fast. I am still hanging in there with ‘The Walking Dead’. It’s a great show, but it just gets a little lost from time to time…
Without giving too much away, can you tell us what makes IOTNQD “Not Quite a Zombie Movie”?
So, the thing that will surprise most people is how we’ve made the film a lot more NORMAL & every day related. Due to the characters & the broken family storyline… we’ve gone out of our way to make the film appear as real as possible. To do this, we’ve done everything in camera. No green screen. It’s all practical effects, and from the moment the sun sets in the evening, we have a mist that hits the town. So, every evening/night shoot had to have a practical mist rig set up, which at times has been a huge challenge. For one scene, I wanted to have a car driving through the mist but filming from the boot of the car in front. We set up a generator in the boot. I sat behind it & we had smoke blasting out of the boot of the car whilst I filmed it… & it looked incredible. Sometimes it’s great not having much of a budget, as it will get those creative juices flowing, but it’s def about creating a real environment. So that when you do also throw in something like a virus & creatures, you don’t feel so foreign to it, it helps you to remain in that world. Sticking with our practical FX rule, all our ZOMBIE-like creatures have to have a special facial prosthetic, as well as horror contacts & teeth so that we can give them a special look. That was something unique, but at the same time a little bit familiar, but it will be left to the viewer to decide what they are… To me, films that over explain things can run the risk of losing the audience. Not knowing is a far better experience, leaves people guessing.
Was there anything about the writing of the Invasion of the Not Quite Dead that convinced you it was the project to pursue?
11 years ago I was in a much better place mentally and so the film was a lot more tongue-in-cheek. With the exception of a few characters, the film itself was always going to be a NOT QUITE A ZOMBIE MOVIE, so that never changed, but the characters & the situations did over time. Having a breakdown in the middle of the project really opened up my eyes to the film I wanted to make, there is so much pain in the world, and people struggling, I kinda wanted to put that into a film. The more pain I was experiencing, the more I was able to inject that into the film & onto its characters. In a weird sort of way, I started to embrace the breakdown I was having and maybe to some degree I was making it worse for the sake of the film. Because that’s when the film became more of an experimental film/art project. I was losing myself to the project, hitting a very dark place, that I was having to crawl out of. There was a point where I didn’t think I could, bit silly now looking back, but when you love/care about a project so much, you will do anything for it. In my case, it was losing my mind and then putting those experiences into the writing, the making of the film & now the editing process… They don’t call me CRAZY D. LANE for nothing, but as I said earlier, my DAD don’t get it, so he still calls me Tony.
How did you decide to fan-fund?
Me and a friend at uni saw the success someone was having with something called the MILLION DOLLAR HOMEPAGE. It excited us, it inspired us People from around the world coming together to help a guy pay his tuition fees… It got us thinking. We wondered if the same process could work for a couple of dudes wanting to make a feature film. The answer was NO, but from Jan 2007, it didn’t stop me from trying EVERYTHING… But from 2007-2009, it was 2 years of fighting & not being able to raise much money…
Why did you decide to use Twitter?
In 2008, I was brutally attacked & left with a broken bone in my back, fundraising online wasn’t working & I was housebound for several months. I was on the verge of giving up, but my family could see how important it was for me to not quit my dreams, they talked me round, so I said, “I’ll give it one last go.” But this time rather than using MYSPACE, I was going to use TWITTER. I guess Twitter had much more of a personal feel to it, like you could chat to someone about your ideas. At this point, I’d spent 2 & a half years fighting & failing for my dream. People cared, they wanted me to succeed, so they started to back my film in real time. This was still a time before KICKSTARTER & INDIEGOGO had taken off, so I was the only one on twitter fundraising for a feature. It was a weird lonely but exciting time, & to try and get the word out more. I’d do monthly no sleep Twitter film fundraising marathons, ranging from 50 to 106 hours over a 2 & a half year period… To say that destroyed me, would be an understatement, but I guess that helped me in the process of losing my mind it going from a film project to an experimental art project…
In what ways has Twitter made things easier and in what ways, if any, has it limited you?
I don’t think twitter ever really limited me. It was the only thing in nearly 3 years that worked, so I’ll be forever grateful for that opportunity. The only thing that has ever limited me is me… I didn’t realise it at the time, but looking back I have an extremely addictive/obsessive personality. To be able to spend almost 3 years failing at fundraising & then 3 years of doing no sleep fundraisers to raise money, and over a year of set building, then 4 years of shooting… That’s kinda weird… I just got swallowed up in a project I believed in 100% & genuinely cared about. But the main reason I never for a second contemplated giving up was because I wasn’t going to let the fans down. Every single incredible person who backed my dreams, over the years, kept me going… I may be letting them down in that it’s taking me forever, but I would never consider walking away & them not ever getting a chance to see the film. So having people support over the years has honestly kept me going… there’s been many times for my own mental health I should of walked away, but I just couldn’t.
What other tactics had you tried and why do you believe they did not work?
In the early days, I tried going after funding bodies, investors, production companies, even with (Oscar-nominated) director, Ken Russell on board as an Executive Producer, it still didn’t help me to raise any money. I was a first time filmmaker that wanted to make something unique, 2 things that scare the hell out of the money people… This could only be made through fan support.
What has been the hardest part of the project so far?
In all honesty, it’s not the filmmaking aspect that’s been tough for me. Sure, it’s been hell at times, filming over 4/5 years & it be set in a single day, but the filmmaking has been incredible. It’s always been the money side of things, I never wanted to compromise on quality or the vision. So, if that meant raising money to then film certain bits & then hunt down more to do more then that’s what I’d have to do. But when I started a family 5 years ago, then that put an incredible burden on my family. The film has always been part self-financed & part crowd-financed. Over the years, I’ve taken out loans/credit cards to make up for the money I wasn’t able to raise. Then, each year, you get to a point where you’re having to work round-the-clock just to get on top of repayments of the loans. Let’s just say it’s been tough, and now in order to finish post-production I need to raise finishing funds or I just can’t finish the film but I’m not worried. I’m in a great place mentally, with shooting all but finished, minus one big sequence I’m calling the DRIVE-IN MASSACRE SEQUENCE. The film is almost half edited, so we’re in a good place… & I know there’s still a lot of people who have been on this journey with me who will help us to the finish line. Which sounds almost arrogant, of which I’m anything but. I believe in people, as they have in me… & with their help, I’ll get this to the finish line this year.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding?
It has to come down to people, the most surprising thing to me is how so many people have stuck by me. From the backers who have waited patiently over the years through to my cast & crew who have stuck by the project even during the downtimes, like when I was ill or had to put the film on hold for a year & a half. People never fail to surprise me. It just blows me away. That’s what this project is all about, it’s about family, people & inspiring others to never quit their dreams… I just think this is a great project to inspire fellow creatives.
I think it’s important our readers understand that film is not all glamor. What was your day job when the project was getting started?
So when I started this I was in my final year of uni, then worked at a Marks & Spencers shop at Cardiff train station, then moved on to working at a call centre for selling beds once I moved to Kent, and over the last 5 years it’s been a case of doing freelance work & being a stay at home dad in between working on ‘INVASION’. It’s been tough, I would say that the trying to stay afloat whilst fighting to keep a feature film alive is one of the toughest things, soul destroying at times… but we do what we do, because it’s WHO we are, (oh, I think I might of just answered your first question).
What is the film industry like in England, and have you ever considered moving to somewhere with a bigger film presence to further your career?
I guess I’ve never really thought about having a film career. If I did, I wouldn’t of been able to do what I’m doing with ‘INVASION’, because spending 11 years on it would be considered very detrimental to a film career. Also being at 8 years on my feature documentary “Wheatus, You Might Die”. So, when you do things for the art & not for the money, you kind of see things differently. Sure I’d love for these 2 projects help in the future for me to open up a dedicated career, because doing freelance corporate work isn’t where my heart lies… but I do it for my family. If there was an opportunity to do what I love doing & it’ll support my family then hell yeah, sign me up, that would be great.
You shot the teaser back in February and are moving forward with principal photography in the next few weeks, was it always the plan to shoot as you got the funds or has the plan had to change to fit the needs of the project?
This question just freaked me out, like the moment you saw Bobby Ewing in the shower after being dead for a full season on ‘Dallas’, “errr, ok, was the last 7 years a dream/nightmare, haha”… But to answer this 2011 question? Bn 2018, the project became somewhat of a life of its own. Around 2013/2014… it was just a case of having to adapt to anything that happened, like for example having to keep our little studio/unit because we’d already shot half the film & so when the film went on a 18-month hiatus. I had to still find the rent to keep it. Otherwise, it would of killed the film’s story & a ton of footage would of had to have been scrapped. When we had our 2nd lead actor leave the project, it meant having to recast & reshoot a ton of stuff there. Working round my kidney illnesses & my inability to raise the money needed, so then taking loans out made life outside of ‘INVASION’ unbearable at times. You could say that I was the worst & best thing to ever happen to this project, but one thing I did learn fast, that was to just go with the flow of the project, adapt & somehow try to keep it afloat.
When I approached you to do this [the original] interview, you were in the middle of another of your no sleep tweetathons: What is the most important thing to get you through those?
That’s simple. When you care about something so much, you will do anything to make it happen. For me, I was in such a LET’S DO THIS place mentally, and I had such a passionate vision for the film, that I would happily go without sleep for silly amounts of hours if it meant money could come in. It’s because of those tweetathons that I was able to shoot for the BIG screen, filming on a RED cinema camera in 4K. To some people, that will just seem nuts, but I’m very much a SHOOT FOR THE STARS kind of guy. I’d made short films all my life, so I wanted to go all out & really make something BIG and to be proud of, and to make those that backed me proud too… I know back in those days (before kids), it was very much about the adrenaline of raising money, speaking to the fans about what I wanted to do, & just that interaction. It kept my spirit alive during those years.
If you had just one sentence to win over someone who’s on the fence about joining. What would it be?
I think with a project like this, it’s more about the person than it is about the film itself, so I’d say if you’re on the fence, visit the ‘INVASION’ website or my personal site & check out my journey, it’s been quite an interesting one, & I’m just months away from completing it… but I still need help.
How does one go about joining your project?
Last year I did an Indiegogo for finishing filming funds, which helped a lot… but now as of writing this, I’m just a few hours away from re-launching invasionofthenotquitedeadmovie.com, which will have a FINAL FUNDRAISER section to get me through post-production. If all goes well, I’ll be able to work on the film full time for the next 3-4 months, with a goal to get the film finished in time for Halloween (2018)… So, that’s the plan.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the people who took a chance on your project in the very beginning and have stuck with it for the past decade?
I always start off with an apology for being the way I am & then I hope that they’re still excited… But for me, this project only came to life because of the fans, & over the years has only remained alive because the fans kept supporting. So, I can’t thank them enough for the support over the years. I hope I can do them all proud with the finished product.
What are your plans after IOTNQD? I recall you saying that it’s the first of a trilogy, do you plan to fan-fund all of them or will you wait and see?
I won’t be many any more projects the way I’ve done ‘INVASION’. That’s not to say there won’t be more projects, but the future will be very different. I have a couple of feature ideas I’d love to explore, a TV series idea that’s very much TWILIGHT ZONE & THE OUTER LIMITS inspired, but these projects will only come about if money can be raised up front & there’s a small shooting schedule. I’m getting old & I have kids… Doing what I did for ‘INVASION’ is a young filmmakers game… haha, I was 28 when I started this project, & next month I turn 40… So yeah, won’t be doing anything as crazy as this again…
If you could go back to May 2008 and start over, is there anything that you would change?
Absolutely not. NO REGRETS.
Do you have any advice or encouragement to give someone who is just starting out or is struggling with their own project?
My advice is to never give up, but don’t be embarrassed if you have to take some time off, or re-evaluate. It’s about not giving up on yourself, your dreams, that’s the challenge. Very few people achieve the success they want to achieve. For me, success is being able to beat my own mind. To do that, it’s finishing ‘INVASION’. Everyone’s success is different, but I think everyone can relate to the mental pain you feel when you’re struggling, and that pain is real & it can tear you apart. So, my advice is believe in YOU, believe in what you’re doing, inspire others around you, & just keep going… Work through the mental pain & torture, and hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side.
Is there anything that we have not covered that you would like to mention?
If anyone is reading this interview & has suffered in anyway mentally, please don’t do what I did, which was to ignore it. Please reach out to someone, reach out to me, a friend, a family member, life can get pretty shitty from time to time, but breakthrough all that & there can be something amazing waiting for you. Life is but a series of moments, don’t let one BAD moment ruin your life… Thank you, Renee for not only doing this interview but also for believing in me for so many years, supporting financially & online with messages of support over the years… You’re amazing, thanks again. AD
Thank you, Antony for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us an update on Invasion of the Not Quite Dead.
For more about Antony and Invasion of Not Quite Dead, or to join the IOTNQD family, check out the newly revamped website or any of the social media accounts listed below.