During Thanksgiving, my brother and I were perusing Amazon Prime movies and came across Mansfield Dark Productions’ The Investigation: A Haunting in Sherwood. After watching countless movies from both the independent circuit and more mainstream fare, there is a special place in my heart for independent cinema. So, after watching The Investigation: A Haunting in Sherwood I was compelled to reach out to Mansfield Dark Productions (Richard and Daniel Mansfield) and Richard was kind enough to answer some questions about the film. Read on for the full exchange!
Wicked Horror (WH): According to your page, Mansfield Dark Productions is made of the married team, Daniel and Richard Mansfield. Were both of you always into filmmaking or was this something that came later?
Richard Mansfield: Before I met Daniel I was making puppet films based on creepy fairy tales. Daniel had made some short films himself and trained as an actor but we both loved films (Showgirls mostly) and horror movies in particular.. We definitely inspired each other to do different kinds of projects, Daniel made a series of doll films before moving into live-action and I decided to make my first live-action horror The Mothman Curse after seeing him work with actors. We don’t collaborate with each other on our films but we help each other out when the other is making a film.
WH: While watching The Investigation: A Haunting in Sherwood, there are many elements which make the film authentic, one of which being the security cameras and the use of the iPhone. Why did you choose to use these mediums over traditional cameras?
Richard Mansfield: I really love mixing up different cameras when making found footage, for me it keeps it interesting and you get different qualities from different cameras. We shot on GoPro, iPhone/iPad, Samsung Galaxy, iMac webcam, cheapo CCTV and a Sony 4K video camera. I love the self filmed footage, it’s really intimate and captures how we now all film ourselves or others on a daily basis. With found footage you can sometimes get fewer opportunities to cut away and build suspense so that’s why I use different kinds of cameras to keep it interesting (and it’s more fun to edit).
WH: What was your inspiration for The Investigation: A Haunting in Sherwood?
Richard Mansfield: My inspiration for The Investigation are all the ghost and Paranormal films I’ve watched over the years. I’ve always loved The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity and I love the fact that we now all have high quality cameras in our phones. I love the sense of voyeurism and the sense that our devices could be spying on us is very creepy. Earlier drafts of the script contained scenes with a haunted Alexa device which might end up in another film.
WH: If you do not mind sharing, what is the process of getting a movie published on Amazon? Also, how did it feel when your film was published on Amazon?
Richard Mansfield: Publishing on Amazon has been pretty easy, you just have to create film files in the correct format, film artwork and write all the subtitles. I’d love to recommend Amazon Prime to other filmmakers but the reality is is that over the last 2 years, Amazon have reduced the Prime video payment from 15 cents per hour to 1 cent per hour which makes it very hard to make anything. I think with all the new streaming services available they’re looking to streamline their film library and get rid of the lower budget material (stuff like ours) and rather than just stopping filmmakers uploading to Prime they’re just making it as unprofitable as possible. It’s such a shame as having our films on Prime was a great way to have some income, it meant we were able to fund more films and pay our actors. So it was great to have films on Amazon but now it’s rubbish! Hopefully there will be another streaming service that will be available to filmmakers at some point as technology and platforms change but until then check out our Youtube channel! (click here!)
WH: What are your pie in the sky projects that you would absolutely love to do?
Richard Mansfield: I’d absolutely love to do a big-budget version of E.F. Benson’s creepy vampire story ‘The Room in the Tower’ in a similar style to Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version of Dracula. A few years ago I made an animated version set in the 1970’s and it’s my favorite short story of his. I’d love to reimagine the story as a feminist revenge fantasy with vampires, demons and a haunted house. It could be really spectacular and have a Neon Demon soundtrack and lots of big hats and chiffon…and gore by the bucket load. I’m thinking maybe Cate Blanchett or Kate Beckinsale as the Queen vampire and Nathalie Portman as the heroine. Totally doable…
WH: What is next for Mansfield Dark Productions?
Richard Mansfield: Coming next I’m turning my hit ghost film ‘The Demonic Tapes’ into a podcast. I’m in the early stages and writing it with a friend and I’m hoping to start recording it early next year and seeing if it takes off. It could be brilliant and we could set the stories anywhere as I won’t have to budget for fancy locations! At some point I’m planning to make a short animated film of Bram Stoker’s classic short story ‘The Judge’s House’, there’s so much great imagery in the story and lots and lots of rats. We did have another found-footage horror in the works but that’s been put on hold with Amazon announcing the royalty cuts. I’m going to ask around and see if crowdfunding it would be a possibility, I’d be interested to know what you and your readers think.