Just One More Bite – interview with filmmaker Nigel Osner
Way back in May the lovely Emma Dark invited the Hothouse to attend Vampiir Bitez, an evening of independent short horror flicks at a pub in Euston. We were really impressed by what we saw, sop we decide to find out a bit more about some of the contributors. First up is Nigel Osner creator of the vampire musical Just One More Bite. I asked Nigel to tell us a bit about himself and how the film came about.
‘I qualified as a barrister and then went to work for what is now the Ministry of Justice. However, I have always had a creative life. I used to paint, though no longer do. I wrote a children’s story which was published by Heinemann and then helped turn it into a children’s musical called Goblins don’t scare us. This was put in on London in 2002/3. I love cabaret and perform character based lyrics and monologues. Since leaving the Ministry of Justice in 2008 I have acted in two independent feature films, various shorts and a couple of plays’.
‘Just one more bite’ came from my cabaret act. One of my characters is Prince Osnovski, a Transylvanian vampire. In the cabaret sketch he is being interviewed by an unseen journalist. He tells her about his life, both in words and song, and shows her around his castle. Finally he forgets himself, which brings the interview to an abrupt end! I was being directed by Pat Garrett, who suggested we turn the piece into a short film, which she also directed. I wrote the screenplay.
Pat was very keen to open things out, so this wasn’t just a stage piece filmed. The composer of the music had a young niece, who became the child servant of the Prince. Pat had seen an amazing animatronic horse in the streets of Hastings. We were able to persuade its maker to let us use the horse in the film for a fairly reasonable price. The horse actually breathes fire but that would have meant extra insurance! The ghoul groom was played by Linda King, with whom we had worked on a previous short. Linda also became the art director. Finally Pat knew an actor who looked perfect as the zombie butler. The film was shot in Hastings by Nathan A Sheppard. Some of it was filmed in caves belonging to and accessed through a cafe. The rest was filmed in an eighteenth century church built into a cliff. All went reasonably smoothly except there was a certain amount of trouble getting the horse through the doors of the church.
‘Just one more bite’ won a couple of awards at film festivals and I was reluctant to let the characters go. So I have written a feature-length screenplay called The Road to Transylvania. The story is told by a young girl who lives in Hastings with her vampire guardian – Prince Osnovski. He returns to Transylvania where he discovers his father, the extremely ancient King of the vampires, is heading to senility and is no longer in charge. One of the Prince’s former mistresses is running things and wants to turn the ancestral castle into a theme park. So it’s a comedy, but I acknowledge the genre conventions even if sometimes I make fun of them. There are frightening and exciting moments. People get bitten. However, the story also has a deeper side. The Prince might be amusing (hopefully) but he is not camp like he is in ‘Just One More Bite’. I want the audience to care about him. They will also discover the identity of the young girl.
Having completed endless drafts of the screenplay, I then decided to turn it into a musical. There is even a stage version. I have written many of the lyrics and Tom Wakeley (who used to conduct ‘Chicago’ in the West End) has started to compose the music.. Anyone who sees me perform will probably hear some of the songs. They certainly will at alternative cabaret nights! One song is called ‘The aristocrats of the night’ and that is truly how I see vampires.
Thank you Horror Hothouse for letting me explain the background to ‘Just one more bite’ and what I dream might happen next. In case anyone is interested in what else I do, including my fantasy novel ‘worloflegends,com’, please see my website http://www.nigelosner.com/home.html .
And thank you Nigel, it was a pleasure talking with you and the best of luck on The Road to Transylvania