Antony left secondary school in 1994 aged 15 with no qualifications, no prospects & no idea of what he wanted to do with his life, he ended up getting a job at a local bed shop, some of the time he made beds, other times he delivered beds, daydreaming a better life for himself he one day woke up & QUIT the bed business. There was a new media course starting over at Grimsby College that had Antony’s name on it, it just felt RIGHT, like some kind of destiny moment, some kind of “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE” moment & so in September 1995 he took a chance & enrolled onto their Intermediate media course.
Between 1996-1998 Antony would get a chance to experiment with short films, music videos and mini documentaries, but since he was on a media course & not officially a film production course Antony became more & more frustrated, there was a real lack of practical FILM filmmaking, so he’d instead take out their cameras during the weekends & make his own short films & spoof videos, he’d use his fellow classmates as characters & would then spend each evening in the College edit suites between 6pm-9pm, bringing his personal projects to life, this was Antony’s first chance of being independent to the powers that be.
Most of 1999 was dedicated to making a gritty short film called ‘TwistDead’ & setting up the areas first ever DVD shop in Cleethorpes, but selling other peoples films wasn’t the same as making his own, Antony felt like he’d given up on his dream, so by the end of 2000 it was time to call it a day & go after something he was passionate about being an indie filmmaker.
Antony moved to Stafford University in Sept 2001 after being accepted onto their BSC film degree, but… unfortunately it was a science degree, without knowing the difference between a science degree & an arts degree he found himself building calculators & doing business studies… there was very little practical filmmaking involved, so after 3 months he quit his course & instead spent the rest of the year filming his off campus flatmates doing silly jackass related stunts for the internet, with over 30 hours of documented footage Antony plans to turn it into a feature length documentary entitled ‘Surviving Bridgewood’.
By the end of 2002 Antony took a chance & moved to London, with his heart set on working for a production company, he found out quite early on that it would be impossible without a film degree & so within a few months he’d end up spending 6 days a week working for a call centre activating credit cards. By May of 2003 Antony was forced to give up on his dream completely due to a debilitating kidney illness that would force him to move back home.
Most of 2003/2004 was lost to a lodged kidney stone & due to the intense crippling daily pain he was in, it meant he had to take one of the strongest painkillers (most days) pethidine… Between being in & out of hospital & bedridden he lost 11 months of his life. The lodged stone passed a week before his 26th birthday in 2004 & within days of it passing he’d already enrolled onto a 3 year (BA) Film degree course over at the International Film School of Wales, it was time to have one last shot at bringing his lifelong dream to life.
September 2004 saw Antony head out to Newport University to begin his film degree… but in order to stand out amongst his fellow 90+ classmates he, along with his buddy Chris had a crazy idea to make a 60 minute film in their first term… and so ‘PROJECT 21’ was born. Inspired by watching a documentary series called ‘Project Greenlight’ Antony became obsessed with doing something BIG, something that would help them stand out. The idea was to make a 60 minute film in a 21 day timeframe, everyone involved had to do something they’d never done before, also to up the level of crazy even more Antony wanted the filmmaking journey captured for a documentary, so they began auditioning 2nd & 3rd year filmmakers from the universities documentary course to shoot the entire 21 day process.
Between 2004-2007 Antony was able to hone his skills in Directing, Cinematography & Editing, making short films, mini documentaries & promo videos, but his greatest experience was to to be mentored by filmmaking legend KEN RUSSELL who was a visiting guest lecturer at the International Film School of Wales. By the end of the course Antony would ask Ken if he’d be interested in supporting & mentoring a film he wanted to make called ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ to his surprise Ken loved the idea, especially the part about how Antony wanted it to be fully fan funded with no interference from Studios, Funding bodies or Investors, a dream that would eventually turn into a nightmare.
Antony graduated from the International Film school of Wales in June of 2007 with a degree in Film Production, he stayed on at his Cardiff student accommodation to raise awareness for his upcoming feature, he was full of passion & determination, he was also very stubborn about wanting to be fully in control of the films vision, he knew if he brought in any big money people all that would soon change… at the end of the day it’s a business & they want to make money, but to Antony it was about the art & staying true to the films vision & not about ticking money boxes, so he became obsessed with keeping full control over the project.
Between 2007-2008 Antony would attempt every possible way of raising money to make his feature film ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, but he soon found out the hard way that no one was willing to take a chance on a first time feature filmmaker with an idea to make a unique & original film. His idea to fan fund the project was a few years ahead of it’s time, no matter how many attempts he tried, nothing would work, maybe MYSPACE just wasn’t the right platform to get strangers to back his dream, but no matter how much he would fail in the first two years of the project, he never for a second thought about giving up, this was something he believed in, even if at times he didn’t believe in himself.
By the Summer of 2008 Antony would find himself in hospital with a broken bone to his back after being viciously assaulted at his student accommodation, stuck in a hospital bed fearing the worst he was told after a few days that they might not need to operate, but instead he’d need to wear a back brace for several months to help his back heal… Whilst Antony was lying in a hospital bed, his at the time girlfriend Katie (now wife) & her parents would be moving his stuff out of his student accommodation & into their first flat together, the other side of the country, to be closer to London for his film project. Once he was released from the hospital he would become very reclusive & very depressed, not only was he in a considerable amount of pain each day, but he couldn’t find a way to get his film off the ground, it had now gone from being a passion project to that of an obsession project & there wasn’t much more he could do & by the end of the year the project appeared to be officially DEAD.
In March of 2009 Antony would set up a twitter account for his indie film project & found instantly that talking to strangers about his passion/obsession project, they would become excited at the prospect of what he wanted to make, telling them about his idea to make something different, something unique, not of the norm, this made a lot of horror fans salivate, he found that he wasn’t the only horror fan craving for something new, so he set up a new fundraising page on his website & to his surprise people would begin to back him…
By the summer of 2009 Antony would put some inheritance money into creating a short promo concept film to show off what he could do, this would be his first professional shoot away from University & a chance to work with a full professional film crew, not just that, but his first time shooting on S16mm film with an established actor, an incredible character actor by the name of Leslie Simpson, it was also the first opportunity to work with a man by the name of FRANK JAKEMAN, who was cast to play a smoking NOT QUITE DEAD at the end of the promo, working with Frank was such an incredible experience & after watching Frank’s showreel, he would excitedly offer Frank the lead role in the ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ feature film… it would then however be 5 or so years before Frank would get a chance to see his first day on an ‘INVASION’ film set… playing the part of Sgt Sam Peterson & it would be just over 2 years after that before he was finally wrapped in December of 2016.
In late 2009 Antony would premiere his ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ promo video at the ABERTOIR HORROR FESTIVAL in front of a sold out crowd, (technically they would be there for a different film), in attendance from the teaser promo was FRANK JAKEMAN, by being there showed him how passionate he was to work with Antony on his feature version, the promo would then get it’s IMAX premiere a few months later in 2010.
Between 2009-2011 Antony would do monthly no sleep epic twitter film fundraising marathons, with every month upping the number, which started off at a modest 50 hours & would climb every month, with his final big no sleep fundraiser in December 2011 when he set a world record for 106 hours fundraising without sleep on twitter… Antony was obsessively determined to make a film that would stand up well on the big screen and that meant fighting to raise enough money to not only shoot the film on a cinema camera, but to also have enough money for prosthetics, it needed to be more prosthetically ’DAY OF THE DEAD’ & less grey face paint ‘DAWN OF THE DEAD’, he knew that in order to raise enough money he would have to put the time into fundraising and he just became a machine on twitter… at times he would tweet so much that he would become one of the most hated people on twitter, but then no one could say he wasn’t determined.
During the fundraising years Antony would meet some incredible people, including a few of his films backers who would over time become very close friends in real life & would attend some of his birthday bbq’s, including John Blanchard who would over the years become Antony’s go to guy, ranging from being a film extra, internet tech support to being one of the main behind the scenes cameramen. Another backer who would later become one of Antony’s best mates would be a fella by the name of Steve Davis, Steve would be essential to sorting out the films stand alone intro shoot in Bulgaria, he would also be Antony’s best man at his wedding & a few years later Antony would be there to help him with his own debut horror film ‘CHRISTMAS SLAY’ (Later to be released on Amazon Prime in December 2015).
As the Summer of 2010 approached Antony would receive an email from WHEATUS frontman & founder Brendan B. Brown, who was a huge fan of the way Antony was raising money and awareness for his independent film project, Brendan was doing something similar with his own site, offering their albums for a pay what you want, the two of them instantly struck up a friendship via email, Brendan offered to create some original music for the film. A few emails later Antony would find himself invited onto the 2010 UK Wheatus 10th Anniversary tour, he wanted to repay the favour by doing a special behind the scenes video for the band, filming every day for the 5 weeks he was on the bus, capturing anything from the band waking up, loading in, sound checks, being a fly on the wall in the dressing room before the show, then every night he would also film each live show, then capture everything that would happen afterwards. When Antony got home he would put together a little promo video, the band was over the moon with it, so much so that a few months later Brendan would ask Antony if he’d be interested in flying over to New York to stay with him & film the UNTOLD story of Wheatus… Antony of course excitedly said YES, it was also at this time that ‘WHEATUS, YOU MIGHT DIE’ the feature length documentary idea was born.
With everything in place, Antony & a small dedicated crew would fly off to Bulgaria to shoot the stand alone intro sequence to ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ in April 2011, it was one of those if anything could go wrong then it most definitely did go wrong, from the main actor not turning up at the airport, not having access to certain props, vehicles not working and a property getting damaged during a shoot… but for everything that went wrong, a lot more things went right & Antony came back to the UK with some incredible footage, including a truly epic car explosion, pushing his NO CGI rule quite well.
Over the Summer of 2011 Antony would once again set off on the high seas, well NOT QUITE, but he did join Wheatus for a 2nd tour around the United Kingdom, it was on this tour he would meet one of his films backers, a uni student by the name of Danny Allen, a very excitable young guy with a passion for film & filmmaking, he’d backed Antony’s film project a few times & had gone to a Wheatus gig specifically to meet him, the two of them hit it off, a drunken Danny asked if he could help on the film, Antony said “sure thing kid”… Danny went from zero to hero, sitting in on Antony’s 106 hour no sleep film fundraising twitter marathon, to being there for present day shooting of the film, rising through the ranks, Danny would go from being the sound man to head of practical mist FX over the years, Danny has now been working on ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ for just over 8 years & has become like a younger brother to Antony & a long serving member of the ‘INVASION’ family.
Over the course of 2012-2013 Antony would hire a small work unit to begin the process of building sets for ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, his plan was to make the most of the location, not just build sets inside but make use of the surrounding area. He was allowed to film in & around the work unit, including the truck stop at the back. This unit would become the heart and soul of the film project, not only a place to house his cast and crew during filming but also a place to build sets & house the film equipment. Over the years the unit would suffer from extreme flooding, destroying a lot of the sets and the props, meaning that there would be more than a few times that Antony would have to start again, but it was the perfect location & Antony did everything in his power to make sure he didn’t lose it.
In 2013 Antony would build a huge photography studio set inside the unit for the character of Doug in ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, this particular set would take Antony 8-9 months to build, but it was another challenge that he’d set himself, to be able to create sets himself, to be able to turn a white van into a police van, to get a huge caravan & have it parked up outside the unit to expand the set for when it came time to shoot the movie.
Over the Summer of 2013 Antony would film a few WHEATUS shows for his feature documentary “WHEATUS, YOU MIGHT DIE’ and grab new interviews with the band. There was a particular show that Antony filmed that had Wheatus front man Brendan dragged off the stage during the performance of a One Direction cover, all caught on camera. The sound recorded by Danny Allen’s camera would then end up on a song called ‘ONLY YOU’ which was inspired by the incident & ironically enough it would be a collaboration with members of the One Direction touring band, Josh Devine (Bass) & Sandy Beales (Bass).
In August 2013 Antony would shoot the present day ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ intro sequence, flying in from across the pond was his good friend Carlos Dunn, his wife Hortensia Landin-Dunn & their daughter Mónica Landín who would be starring in the present day intro sequence, on make up duties was the incredible Michele Mulkey… This was a very special shoot to have Carlos Dunn involved because he’d been an incredible supporter/backer of Antony’s film project for many years, he was also a true friend to him… In September of 2018 Antony would find out that his old friend had passed away, news that absolutely devastated him, a special tribute to Carlos has now been added to the beginning of the films intro credits to say THANK YOU for ALWAYS believing in him.
Early 2014 would see Antony once again fly off to Bulgaria, but this time it would be to help out his good friend Steve Davis with his own festive horror feature ‘CHRISTMAS SLAY’, shooting for 2 weeks at a ski lodge. This was a very ambitious indie film shoot, Antony was the Producer & Cinematographer, he would also get the chance to meet another one of his films backers, a make up artist by the name of Kate Griffiths, Kate went above & beyond the call of duty with ‘CHRISTMAS SLAY’, so much so, Antony would later ask Kate if she might be interested in joining his ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ film crew as head of make up fx, for when filming was to begin later in the year, Kate excitedly said YES, unbeknownst to Kate at the time, but she would end up working on ‘INVASION’ for the next 5 years.
The first major bulk of ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ would begin over the Summer of 2014… after a couple of weeks shooting, it would become very apparent very quickly that Antony would need extra help, since the film was very much a character driven piece with the emphasis on actor performances, it made life too difficult with him being on cinematography & directing duties just wasn’t working… Luckily a few days later he had a chance encounter with a director of photography just down the road called Josh White, Josh was in the process of selling Antony a camera, after the deal was done, he then excitedly offered to help shoot the film… Josh would end up spending the next 4 & a half years working on the film as Director of Photography, he would also end up working on various other projects with Antony over the next few years. Antony didn’t just find an incredible Director of Photography that day, but also someone who would very quickly become a close friend.
On the 24th September 2014 Antony would be in the middle of shooting a scene for ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ when a message came through to him that his very dear friend Kieran Jones had suddenly passed away at the age of 24… Antony had auditioned Kieran to be a character in ‘INVASION’ back in 2011 & in just under 3 years of knowing each other Kieran had become one of Antony’s closest friends, he was there for Antony’s Halloween & Xmas parties, his stag do, his wedding & the news of his friends passing hit Antony brutally hard. Losing his friend is one of many reasons he would refuse to give up on his project, so that he can do his friend proud & have the film dedicated to him.
During the Summer of 2015 Antony would be hired to do sound for a quirky surreal independent feature film entitled ‘TEENAGE DREAM’, things would get even stranger & more surreal one day when he would get asked to play a role in the film, but what he wasn’t told was that he’d be replacing an actor, who instead would have his lines cut & then would be playing the assistant of Antony’s character and then Antony would have all his lines.
This was also the year Antony would be asked by independent film producer Nicholas David Lean to come on board with his independent horror comedy directed by Drew Cullingham called ‘SHED OF THE DEAD’, to capture behind the scenes footage over the course of the 5 week shoot, this was an incredible opportunity to meet some of Antony’s horror idols who would appear in the film, including, Michael Berryman, Kane Hodder & Bill Moseley.
On the second to last day of filming for the ’SHED OF THE DEAD’ making of, Antony would get a text message from a guy called Ian Vaughan Jones asking if he wanted help with his WHEATUS documentary, now at this point Antony was struggling with how big the doc had evolved over the years, so a few weeks later the two of them met up & hit it off instantly, so much so Ian not only came on board to co-produce the doc, but he would also become a main crew members on a few of the big ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ film shoots over the next 3 years, travelling on the night bus from Edinburgh to Ashford. Ian was there for some of the films most ambitious shoots, including the night everyone nearly got arrested after a midnight police raid during a body burial sequence, but that’s another story.
In late 2015 Antony was the main editor for Arne Sjögren’s intriguing multimedia experimental short ‘Diving’ which told the story in a very unique & imaginative way using live & pre-recorded scenes to then edit through the use of split screen, this was then premiered over two days at ‘In Process – 2015 – An Exhibition of Media and Arts Doctoral Research’.
Finishing the year would have Antony work alongside Josh White (Cinematographer) & Danny Allen (Sound, Co-Producer) on a special TV pilot called ‘HELP I’M BEING HAUNTED with ALLY KEY, this was an incredible concept, that was a cross between a MOST HAUNTED type show with that of LOUIS THEROUX, with Antony taking on the role of a sceptic presenter, it was important to him to make it completely real, nothing staged or set up, what you see in the final edit is exactly what was captured on the night. Several tv stations would show an interest in buying the show, but only if there was a full season made, but without the funding for a full series this unfortunately would just become a one off special.
After a year & half hiatus on ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ it would mean 2016 would be a year of change for the project, with a few of the actors unavailable to return and other actors either with or without beards it meant that at least half of the film would need to be reshot, but to Antony this meant having a 2nd chance at making the scenes even better… more intense & much more brutal, a challenge that excited him. So… much of 2016 was dedicated to grabbing more scenes in the evenings and weekends, including a chance to sneak 20+ people into an abandoned mental institute to spend a day grabbing scenes for the stand alone 1978 intro sequence, this would be one of the films most ambitious shoots.
2016 was also the year that Antony would make a short film entitled ‘JUST ANOTHER BROKEN CLOCK’, this would be his most personal film to date based upon his own nervous breakdown experiences but told in a very different way so that it could be very much open to interpretation… it was also therapeutic & a confidence builder for Antony to play the main character, not out of ego but instead out of necessity as there was situations in the short film he couldn’t ask anyone else to perform, this gave Antony a chance to put more than direction into his art, but rather himself… Inspired by the hotel scene with Martin Sheen in ’Apocalypse Now’, Antony would have a similar experience, accidentally cutting himself & then that blood would end up smeared all over his face, a metaphor that worked perfectly for the film & inspired a scene for his feature film ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’.
After the release of ‘JUST ANOTHER BROKEN CLOCK’ Antony would receive messages from fellow sufferers, people struggling with various different mental health issues, they would tell him how much him making the short film meant to them, it opened up a door for people, for them to see that they was not alone, it inspired them to open up & share their own experiences, all of which inspired Antony and gave him the much needed confidence to play a similar character in ’INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ when an actor at the last minute was unavailable to play one of the more broken characters Nic Peterson.
2016 was also the year Antony would meet Daniel White (in person) without realising till the day but they’d met before, sorta… online… In 2011 Daniel would very abruptly lose his wife to complications of M.E & a few months later he would find Antony doing one of his epic no sleep twitter ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ film fundraisers. Daniel would later tell him that the late night chats they had in 2011 would essentially save his life, what with the nights being the hardest for him to get through… After losing his wife, his job, his house and having two little boys to bring up himself he was in a very dark and lonely place & unbeknownst to Antony his film project would be one of the reasons to keep Daniel going. Four years later Daniel would start the process of following his own dream of doing PR for independent films and incredibly so, top of his list was to work on ’INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ & Antony excitedly agreed & the two of them formed a very close friendship over the years & it didn’t take long before Daniel would become a close member of the ‘INVASION’ film family, joining them on shoots, fundraisers & then Daniel would also move into music production the following year alongside his good friend Romeo Kennedy.
2016 would also be the year that Antony & his cinematographer Josh White would get a chance to shoot an epic bar room brawl sequence, a music video for a celtic rock band ’CLAN OF CELTS’, this would also be one of Antony’s favourite videos to edit to, keeping with his love for insanely fast video editing (currently at over 300,000 youtube views)
2017 was another big year dedicated to the shooting of ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ working round everyones busy schedules, grabbing scenes every so often throughout the year, this was also the time of experimentation with his new super mist machine rig, one particular scene required a generator & smoke machine blasting practical mist FX out the boot of a moving car whilst Antony would then film a 2nd car driving through it, getting a perfect car driving through mist shot & again pushing for a no CGI horror film.
During the blistering hot summer of 2017 Antony’s Cinematographer Josh White approached him with an idea to do some test shots with his new S16mm film camera, but Antony had another idea, he instead wanted to make a short film & so ‘ALONE’ was born, the idea simple… to make a short film that had 1 actor playing two roles, neither of which was obvious if that character was real, if either truly was, the short is very much open to interpretation & could be classed as an unofficial sequel to Antony’s 2016 short ‘JUST ANOTHER BROKEN CLOCK’. Both short films are aimed at helping to raise much needed awareness for people suffering from mental health issues, for them to never feel ‘Alone’.
2017 was also the year that Antony, along with his co-producer Ian Vaughn Jones & their trusted side piece Danny Allen would embark on a 5000 mile road trip, covering most of the UK to film a large chunk of the 2017 Wheatus tour for their documentary ‘WHEATUS, YOU MIGHT DIE’ & then a few months later a little hop, skip & a plane journey to NICE to grab a no holds barred interview with Wheatus frontman & founder Brendan B. Brown.
Finishing 2017 off, Antony was invited to be Director of Photography on a short concept promo for an upcoming feature film called ‘Perfect Twelve’, this gave Antony both a chance to get back behind the cameras as well as in the edit suite, putting together a teaser trailer & also a 5 minute short film, this will then be used to raise finances for a full feature.
Both Antony & his co-producer Ian Vaughan Jones would then head back to New York in early 2018 to grab some final footage for their feature documentary ‘WHEATUS, YOU MIGHT DIE’, this time around grabbing some exclusive interviews as well as being given access to the Brown family archive, including videos & rare photos. On their final day over at the Wheatus recording studio they managed to capture the most perfect ending for the doc.
August 2018 would finally witness Antony shout out “ANDDDDD THAT’S A WRAP” on his 12 year passion project ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’, a film that has over the years evolved somewhat from a comedy horror to something much more brutal, honest and personal, this will be a film like no other, mixing that of 80’s retro b-movie horror with that of Indie Film realism that could also be considered a cinematic metaphor for mental un-wellness. Much of 2017 has had Antony working on post production editing in between working for Moonlight Drive-In Cinema doing charity events up & down the country.
&… with a special thanks to Kennedy & White it also meant that ‘INVASION OF THE NOT QUITE DEAD’ was slowly coming to life with an original film score. Antony would pop over to the Kennedy & White studio a handful of times in 2018 to be part of the recording and composing process, this gave him a chance to play a part in how the music would ultimately sound, or as Antony likes to put it, to infect the film a little more with his madness.
Well as they say in the movies 2019 has yet to be written… or even better, to quote the end of Antony’s all time favourite movie ‘BACK TO THE FUTURE’.
To Be Continued…