A few months back, we had the pleasure of interviewing M W Daniels, writer and director of the award-winning short film, The House of Lexi. He also granted us an early look at the film itself, and it’s a beautifully made film, showcasing Daniel’s skill as a gifted filmmaker. We will be posting a review very soon.
On the strength of the impression that the short film made on us we contacted Lexi’s lead actress, Emma Dark on the off-chance that she would like to do an interview with us and were thrilled when she said yes.
For those not in the know, Emma Dark is an award-winning filmmaker, actress and model, specialising in the Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres. She started modeling in 2008 and quickly made a name for herself working with highly respected independent boutique designers and creative photographers on the alternative scene in London and beyond.
In Autumn 2012 she joined dark synth-pop band X-KiN as their female vocalist, and appeared in the band's music videos. Less than a year later, in spring 2013, Emma went on to star in BEF/Kim Wilde horror themed music video "Every Time I See You I Go Wild", featuring heavily in the final cut. This experience ultimately led Emma to switch focus from modeling and singing to acting and filmmaking.
2014 saw her moving forward in her film career, taking part as an official judge at the prestigious British Horror Film Festival, and producing/directing horror fan short "Island of the Blind Dead" (2015) with fellow filmmaker Merlyn Roberts.
Her first self produced and directed short film “Seize the Night” (2015) won her the Rising Star award at Northern Ireland’s Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival. The film garnered favourable reviews from a multitude of respected genre websites including Dread Central, Starburst and UK Horror Scene, as well as a news article on the official AMC’s Horror Channel website. As the film gained momentum “Seize the Night” and Emma Dark featured in comprehensive national print articles, including a front page mention in leading UK horror magazine ‘Scream’.
2017 saw Emma complete her second short film - Sci-Fi/Horror “Salient Minus Ten”, which features Star Wars actor Alan Austen in the lead role, with cinematography from internationally renowned DoP Philip Bloom.
She is currently an honorary patron of the arts at The Misty Moon Film Society. Emma regularly appears as a Film and TV guest at genre conventions around the UK.
In 2018 Emma won the Starburst Media City Film Festival Fantasy award for best director with Salient Minus Ten. The film also bagged her the Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival's Albert Pyun Inspiration Award.
Emma is an incredibly busy and talented filmmaker and actress and we were lucky to pin her down for five minutes, as downtime doesn't seem to be something that she gets a lot of.
For anyone not yet familiar with your work, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
In a nutshell... I'm an award-winning director of genre short films, sometimes actor, and former fashion model.
At what age did you become interested in the horror genre and what films made the biggest impression on you, growing up?
Horror has always made a big impression on me, in all its formats, and is ingrained into my nature. Albert Pyun’s “The Sword and the Sorcerer” was my first taste of a live action film containing horror elements. And that was at a very, very young age…
You began your film career with Island of the Blind Dead, which is clearly a love letter to the 70s style of filmmaking. What inspired you to approach this genre type as a first project?
Sort of yes, although this wasn’t a serious film project, and I don’t class that as a first project in all honesty. It was something shot for fun because I like the film series and the era, and it just happened to turn out looking pretty decent after I managed to work with some great actors on location at the last minute. Originally, it was just supposed to be a photoshoot! My first serious film project, really, is “Seize the Night”.
Seize the Night, is a very different style, being a more modern, urban fantasy. How did you find the transition between different styles of filmmaking?
Again, it’s not really a transition as I don’t count “Island of the Blind Dead” as a serious film project as such. “Island of the Blind Dead” took about two days prep work (Blind Dead costume aside), and “Seize the Night” took several months of pre and postproduction, and about ten days of filming. I don’t think a filmmaker has to stick to one style - do what you see fit, when you see fit, that’s part of the appeal for me, creating different worlds.
Seize the Night appears, stylistically reminiscent of such films as Underworld and Razor Blade Smile. Were you inspired by films such as these and what other influences did you draw upon?
That’s right! Jake West, the director of “Razor Blade Smile”, is actually a friend of mine, we met at an event shortly after I made “Seize the Night”. I think Jake did an amazing job with “Razor Blade Smile”, and ultimately his film inspired other films such as “Underworld” in my honest opinion. Another influence for me stylistically was the “Blade” trilogy.
Both films are very professionally directed and edited with gorgeous cinematography. Where did you learn the Craft?
Thanks! Purely by trial and error really, I have no formal film training. I can’t claim cinematography for “Seize the Night” - the film was shot by AJ Singh and Donato Cinicolo, who are both excellent in their own way. I have edited and colour graded all of my films though, so if people like my edit and grade, thank you. I was lucky enough to have internationally renowned cinematographer Philip Bloom onboard for my film “Salient Minus Ten”, and it looks as good as you might imagine.
Seize the Night seems to end on a cliffhanger. Do you intend to make a follow up?
At one point I did, but I don’t see it benefiting me artistically right now. I’d rather work on something fresh. Also, I spent so much time on the project it’s not something I’d like to work on again so soon. It is left on a cliffhanger yes - it was what I intended, I wanted it to feel like a commercial TV pilot.
How was it getting to work with a legend like Caroline Munro on Frankula?
Caroline is fabulous, such a lovely and talented lady with such a strong career behind her. I hope to work with her again at some point. Frankula’s Judy Matheson and David Barry were also just as lovely and are both super talented actors.
Do you have any plans to make a feature length picture, either in front of or behind the camera?
Behind the camera - not right now. The amount of time and budget required to make something to the standard I’d want to make it to negate a feature for now as I’m quite busy at the moment. Acting wise, I could possibly do that yes. I don’t really apply to casting ads, so if anyone wants to propose something, please go ahead. If the project is run to the same professional standards, I run my own films to, and the part is a serious part I’m open to approaches.
You have been a guest on the convention circuit. Do you have any appearances planned for the near future, and if so, where?
I have indeed. I’ve attended a number of large and smaller genre conventions across the UK in recent years. My next convention signing will be Infinity Magazine’s inaugural InfiniFest in May 2020 at the Genesis Cinema in East London.
You recently starred in The House of Lexi, for director M W Daniels, which has been doing the rounds at film festivals. How’s that been going and when can we expect to see it released?
That’s a question for Martin really... What I ‘can’ say is that the film seems to have been well received at festivals and on film news / review sites, so hopefully it will have continued success. I think the film has high production values, and Martin is a serious and passionate filmmaker that deserves to be recognised.
You work both in front and behind the camera. Which do you find more challenging and why?
Definitely behind! The process of being behind the camera end to end on a film can be months to years. And during that time, most of your effort goes unseen by the outside world. It can be quite stressful and requires dedication to get through the ups and downs. Being in front of the camera (on someone else’s project) means you ‘could’ be done and dusted in a couple of days. And short of attending promo events and screenings after completion and rehearsals beforehand, you don’t need to get too involved in anything else.
If you could work with anyone in the genre who would it be?
I’ve already worked with some fantastic industry professionals, I guess I would just like to continue working with great people with professional and semi-professional experience and enthusiasm right now.
Who would you choose to play you in a movie about your life?
Considering I have blonde hair right now, maybe Charlize Theron. And let’s go for Jessica Lange as an older me.
Your most recent, short film, Salient Minus Ten mixes horror and sci-fi. When can we expect to see the film and are there any other genres you would like to tackle?
I’m aiming to release “Salient Minus Ten” in the first quarter of 2020. It’s been on the festival circuit a reasonable amount of time now and picked up a bunch of awards, and I think fans that haven’t managed to catch it at a festival are waiting with bated breath. My next film is a crime horror, but that’s about all I can say right now.
Thank you so much Emma for taking the time to answer our questions.
Anyone wishing to keep up to date with Emma's upcoming projects can visit her website, which you can find by clicking the link below:
Emma is also active on twitter. You can follow her here: