Persons Of Interest

Interview: Jackson Stewart, Writer and Director of new horror Beyond The Gates (2016)

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Jackson is one of those people who you immediately like. Which is why I thought you might like to meet him. At least online anyway.

A US director and writer who got his entry into the Writers Guild of America at just 25, his latest film is a horror involving a VHS game and two estranged brothers. With this new movie coming out this month in London, I caught up with him to ask him some questions.

Beyond The Gates is based around a VHS game, which is a bit nostalgic for some of us. What were some of the themes you wanted to explore? 

The movie is mainly about revisiting, and healing, old wounds. There’s some thematic stuff about alcoholism, abuse and living in the shadow of your parents that I hope might resonate with people. There’s also an idea about confronting the past that fits nicely along with those other things I mentioned. I wanted the film to feel rooted in the horror movies of the 1980s I grew up loving without treating them as a joke or basically doing the cover band version of scenes we’ve already watched a hundred times.

It’s coming to the UK this month? 

Beyond The Gates will have its European premiere at Frightfest London on August 27th. I am ecstatic to visit the UK and see Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Ratray.

Have you always wanted to work in movies? 

I grew up glued to my television set and reading books. I watched Raising Arizona over a hundred times when I was around 3 or 4. My Dad wrote sports articles and liked a lot of 70s movies which rubbed off on me a bit. Movies were always such a great escape for me and I cherish them to this day.

WGA at 25, how did that happen and what was it like?

I sold a story to the CW program Supernatural while I was an assistant there and it gained me entry into the WGA. Surprisingly easy and it’s been nice getting residuals of various sizes over the past several years. It’s not enough to buy a house but it is cool getting some extra dough here and there.

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Do you feel that you are inspired by other film makers? Which ones? 

The two biggest influences on me are Don Siegel and Sam Raimi. Two very consistent guys over the course of their wildly varied careers. I like mining thematic ideas from my own life and applying them to somewhat familiar genre conventions to hopefully create something interesting that resonates with folks.

What advice do you have for up and coming film makers?

If you’re a writer, you must write every day.

I have written every single day for the past 13 years and it is a necessity. If you’re a director, make a minimum of three short films a year and surround yourself with people who are experts in their field. You can learn a ton from them and sometimes the PA will have a great idea for a scene; listen to every suggestion but choose them carefully.

So what’s up next for you? What are you working on?

I’m currently writing an episode of a holiday anthology I am not allowed to talk about quite yet and putting together financing on a sequel to Beyond The Gates called ‘From Beyond The Gates’ and another movie ‘The Day After Halloween’ about the psychological aftermath of a final girl in a slasher movie. It’s a bit like ‘Halloween II’ meets ‘The Dark Half’. Pretty wild stuff!

Beyond The Gates is having it’s European premiere at Fright Fest, on 27th August. Get tickets and further info HERE.

Did you like this post? You might also like this interview with Chris Roberts, movie maker and editor HERE.

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