An Interview with Director Howard J Ford
We were lucky enough to sit down with Howard J Ford ahead of the UK TV premiere of Legend’s horror revenge thriller NEVER LET GO on Saturday 3rd June. We had a chance to catch up for the first time since then. April 2021. We had a great coffee and had an amazing conversation with Howard about a close family tragedy, the importance of locations, and getting back to the roots of the horror genre. Enjoy!
Hi Howard. Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us.
A nail-biting revenge thriller NEVER LET GO the LEGEND channel will premiere on June 3. Excited or what?
It’s always exciting to know that one of your movies is on TV and thousands of people are watching it at the same time instead of just one streamer! I feel completely different when I watch my film broadcast, and it accentuates my cringe at all the things I could have done better! If.
We must agree. It’s a special feeling to watch something on a traditional TV. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking.
Looking back on the making of the film, what memories stay with you?
Filming Never Let Go in the winding streets of Marrakesh was a hell of an experience. I remember running around our amazing star Angela Dixon with a fully loaded Steadicam and I was dripping with sweat so hard I could barely see anything and I could die of heat stroke at any minute!
Sounds like it was intense!
You wrote that the film was inspired by an almost tragic experience with your son. Can you tell me more?
Yes – to say I was ‘Frantic’ is an understatement. I thought my 3 year old son had been kidnapped from a resort I was at. I was running around looking for her and yelling like crazy and I was convinced she had been taken. I remember seeing a guy putting something in the back of a small open back car, like a bunch in a sack, and I jumped at him from a great height, which turned out to be vegetables. My mind was going 1000 mph. It ended up at the bottom of the swimming pool and I found it just in time. “Miss” was so close that it had a big impact on me and I wanted to make a film where a mother has everything against her in a race against time to get her child back. I even classified my son as a kidnapped child!
That must have been scary.
Angela Dixon’s casting as Lucy is inspired. How did you discover him?
Angela Dixon is an amazing talent and a lovely lady. We met at a networking event in Cannes and I watched her showree and realized she was talented and we were both into fitness and 5 years later I needed someone for the part and BOOM I remembered Angela and we went to Morocco… I love actors to meet, and you never know when you might turn them in.
I think networking is so important, yet so underrated. Especially when it comes to indie filmmaking.
The locations are very spectacular, as in all your films. Is this an important element of the filmmaking process for you?
Dirt. It really is, and the locations are a big part of the adventure I want to take the audience on. Just like Africa in The Dead, India in the Dead 2, I really like to take my audience somewhere completely different than their living room with a couch. I want it to be ‘felt’ and sensed, and locations are a huge part of that.
We definitely “feel” the locations in your films.
You wrote, produced and directed NEVER LET GO. Do you think independent creative freedom was key to what you wanted to achieve with this film?
I did it, I shot it, and all that, and this “hands-on” element was important to me. It’s an indie film. No one commissioned or funded it, I just went and did it because I was desperate to turn the horrible feeling I was experiencing into something real that could be seen and somehow exorcise. It was a struggle with a small team, but everyone did a great job on and off screen.
What is your biggest disappointment as an independent filmmaker?
It’s usually the fact that you don’t have the money to make the film, so indie filmmakers spend 90% of their time chasing money and not actually making a film that they fell in love with. Also, there is no “money hose” to wash away your practical and technical issues, so you are too often cornered. You have to think on your feet, often on your hands and knees!
But what you can do with such a small budget is magical.
Fast forward, you returned to your roots in the horror genre with your latest films ESCAPE and DARKGAME. Tell me what you know about both movies?
Yes, DarkGame is premiering at Cannes and has an amazing cast led by Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick. Super performance; Ben plays a detective who races against time to stop the host of a depraved online murder show on the dark web. The producer, Tom George, did a great job developing the film, so I had great support and an amazing team on this film.
I can’t wait for the screening. What about Escape?
Escape, which is my 10th feature film as a director, we went back to my indie roots again and it was shot on a desert island. A beautiful holiday resort where ten young women (a lovely ensemble led by ‘Scream Queen’ Sarah Alexandra Marks and Sophie Rankin) are kidnapped for sex trafficking by a sinister gang – their main villain played by Sean Cronin, who starred in Mission Impossible and a Bond film. to name just a few. This is a revenge thriller and the girls will not take it lying down. It has to be a real heart-throb, and it has to be somewhat percussive!
When can we expect them?
Both DarkGame and Escape will be released before the end of the year. We don’t have a release date yet and usually have to wait for them to come out in the US first, but as soon as they do, I’ll be hollering!
I have to keep my ears open for those.
Finally, what else does 2023 have in store for you?
I’m working on another film from the team we worked with on the ledge. Writer Tom Boyle and producer Fred Hedman, GFM Films. We’re really excited about it, and I hope it’s another nail-biter – about a family on an RV adventure that turns nasty when a fight with a gang of Hells Angels turns into a fight to the death! News about this soon.
I look forward to hearing about it.
Well, thank you very much for your time, Howard. It was so punchy and good looking with the Cannes screening.
NEVER LET GO airs Saturday, June 3 at 9:00 PM on Legend.
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