We recently got to speak to the director of the new World War 2 psychological thriller’Burial’ starring Charlotte Vega and Tom Felton. We talk about War influences on genre films and why it’s always an interesting backdrop for a story, also growing up watching Tom Felton in Harry Potter and casting him in a thriller. Burial is currently playing in select theaters and on VOD platforms
Ben: All right. I read a really good review that you did of The Dead Zone. I really love that film was, that was really good. It’s an unsung classic. Well, maybe it’s a classic film, but it’s a great film. I love that film.
AJ: Yeah. So Ben, how did this film Burial all come about?
Ben: It came about through little seeds of ideas, you know, growing in there. I heard about, you know, there was a footnote in something that I was reading as research for, for another script. you know, the story of German soldiers burying and then digging back up the remains of Hitler, which I thought was fascinating. And I sort of went into that dug up any information I could, whether it was who made it up, whether it was a conspiracy theory or whether there was some basis to it. And it turned out that there was, you know, there was some truth in that, in that story. it’s really hard to verify the stories when they come out of Russia, especially in the Soviet era. But yeah, that was something I sort of deep dived into. I put it to one side when I did my first feature film. And then when I came back after, when I was editing the first feature, this thing sort of grew and turned it into a script.
AJ: Right. And you got Charlotte Vega and Tom Felton in this. I mean, those are pretty two big people to get in a movie like this. And that had to be pretty exciting for not only you, but for, you know, getting people to back up the financial part of this movie as well, having these two actors be in the film. So how was it like getting those two involved?
Ben: I mean, getting the money, together’s just a nightmare. It’s always a nightmare but, anything that helps you is, is welcomed. And, you know, we had a Dame which goes a long way in, in the UK to have a Dame attached is definitely something that people were interested in and to have Tom Felton he’s got a lot of fans, he’s a lot of people know him that, that definitely went a long way to help us and Charlotte having done she’d done, Wrong Turn. And I think for, the sales company and the production company involved, they were more than happy to look at Charlotte for that, you know? So that helped a lot, you know, those, that always does, you know, the hardest time is when people are reading your script and not yet saying yes, and then that’s the worst time.
AJ: Tom has been in this for decades. Tom was part in the Harry Potter franchise, which is huge for a lot of people. So when you get him yeah. In a role like this, a very serious, you know, a dark, psychological thriller movie that has to be exciting for you as a director to kind of watch him gravitate towards the character that he’s playing in Burial as well.
Ben: Yeah. And, you know, cuz you’ve seen, you know, you’ve seen people’s films, I’ve seen him, you know, he’s been in, you know, 10 of those films I sort of grew up with him. I saw him grow into that character’s kind of weirdly nostalgic. I watch the Harry Potter films every Christmas or mostly I’ve got a kid now. So we stop at a certain number but right. but you know it’s funny sort of meeting those people that you you’ve sort of grown up with. I used to work with in a cinema as well. And I, I worked as an usher while the Harry Potter films were going on. I never told Tom this. I never told him how much of a fan I was of him before we turned up on set. I think he figured out after a while, but he’s such a nice, lovely human being as well. I thought, you know, I’d spoken to him a lot, but who knows, he might turn up on set and be, you know, a diva cuz he’s, you know, the guy from Harry Potter, but he’s not, he’s the lovely, lovely, sweet guy.
AJ: And you know what, in the genre of films, we get a lot of story centric movies on more of World War 2, cuz there’s just a whole lot of stuff that Hitler dealt with the Occult or you know, all of those horrific things that happened during world war II. But we don’t have like a lot on the cold war era or world war one. Do you just think it’s a little bit more easier to tell a story from the World War 2 backdrop of this genre film?
Ben: Yeah, I think genre unless there’s some great films in, in world war, I like parts of glory is amazing, but I think that just the trenches and the trench warfare is horrible it’s not just, there’s a film called death watch is really good horror film and that was set World War One. That’s great. You know, you can do a lot with it and it’s bleak, but there’s not a lot of different backdrop, like literal backdrop, you know, there’s trenches and that’s it. And so, if you’ve got a story that you can do in the trenches, that’s great World War gives you the opportunity of lots of different backdrops, lots of different stories, lots of different characters. I think that’s some of the appeal for why we got a lot of them.
And obviously by the time we were going into world war II, Hollywood, it was fully up and running and making films about those starring John Wayne and you know, and the sort of revelry and the, the myth of the, the world war II, more sort of Hollywood. I love cold war themed films and stuff like that. But again, that’s like, everything’s repressed, it’s all secrets and all, you know, spooks, it says a different type of different type of warfare. Yeah.
AJ: Right. And uh, the way you shot this, the cinematography was so great. So how was it like hiring the cinematographer on Burial? Cause I mean, the shots were just fantastic throughout the whole film.
Ben: Yeah. He really made, made me look good. Yeah. Ray Kotov is a genius , he’s been working, he’s been in the business for, for a long time. He’s just, you know, he, he, he knows it back to front. He’s just got an amazing eye for those things. It’s a really important relationship you have on the film the director and the DP and, and, you know, you are always a as well as you might know, someone it’s always a little, nerve-wracking going to the situation, how that’s gonna be on set. that’s what I think, why filmmakers tend to sort of use the same D O P over, over again. Roy is not only is very talented, you know, cinematographer just a really super chilled laid back guy as well, which helps. There’s nothing you can’t throw at him that he’s not gonna like go, ah, that’s fine. We’ll do this. You know? And it just worked out. There’s a couple of hairy moments, but we set a barn fire, which, you know, cringed everybody’s eyebrows, but you know, other than that, everything went swimmingly .
AJ: And what are you looking forward to the most? Now that Burial is getting close to coming out to where everybody can see it.
Ben: Oh yeah. Reading the reviews, you know, word by word, pouring over the taking everything to heart. I just, you know, it’s a great moment to have people watching your film, the fact that it’s being released theatrically in, in the US and have lots of eyeballs on it in the US is really exciting. I can imagine someone watching it in New York and thinking, oh, that’s cool. Or, you know, any strangers walking into a darkened room and seeing the thing that I wrote in my darkened room years and years ago is a cool feeling. I hope people like it, and I’m excited to see what they think and if they don’t like it, you know, my next one will be better.
AJ: Have you always been a fan of genre films?
Ben: Yeah. I think when I was a kid, I didn’t know the difference. I think it was just film. I don’t think my parents were letting me watch, drama. I think I remember Kramer versus Kramer, which is pretty much a horror film, but yeah, like I grew up, I grew up with, uh, watching things like David Lynch is way too young and Jaws, you know, being scarred for life. Yeah. But you know, I think genre films are the things that jump out to you as a young cinema goer. You know, right. You, you go one way or the other and you can make, you know, drama higher you know, get down with the, the entertainment value. I’m trying to think of the things that stick out is the fugitive. I think it was one of my sort of seminal moments in the cinema days of thunder. I think these all happened in the same year as well. My first film I ever went to see at the cinema was gremlins two, which is just a crazy, crazy movie for, for like a 10 year old’s disease. Right. that, that must have embedded itself in there. Joe, Dante’s playing around in my brain.
AJ: Well, Ben, what’s next for you after Burial? If you could speak about your next project.
Ben: Yeah. It’s always scary talking about something that’s not happened. I was saying when my first film came out, I stood up in front of that and told everybody, this was gonna be my next film. And it took five years to happen. So you don’t wanna jinx anything, but I’ve got a horror film, like an all out and out horror film, which I’m really excited about, setting in America about ghosts. So that should be good. And a couple of other projects in the works. I don’t wanna jinx any of them, but yeah. hopefully to do some more horror would be fun. Yeah.
AJ: All right, Ben thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been really fun and congratulations on the film.
Ben: Thank you. It’s been wonderful talking to you too.
Written By: AJ Friar