As far as vampire films go, audiences of the 21st century have a built-in expectation for the fanged creatures. We’ve now been subjected to Twilight, a multitude of meaningless Underworld sequels, and everything in between. What we didn’t expect when visiting the set of Jason Flemyng’s Eat Locals, was to be sitting in a cold Hertfordshire farm staring at severed body parts in jars.
This strange and unusual experience was a good way to set the tone for the film. Flemyng, full of positivity and enthusiasm, was, of course, making his directorial debut in the film. It was quickly apparent that he was keen to make a good impression for his upcoming horror feature, and he managed it effortlessly. The cockney gentleman’s friendly nature easily overshadowed his frantic and busy schedule that day.
Flemyng is one of the most recognizable faces in the British film industry. He has made memorable appearances in a range of films from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, to Snatch, and Stardust. He has even cropped up in a few large-scale Hollywood productions like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and X-Men: First Class. It’s interesting then, to see the man so keen to table his charismatic and charming persona for a job behind the camera. This is something that interested us deeply and became increasingly fascinating throughout the day.
When pressed on the origins of the film, it quickly became clear that this project had been a long time coming:
“When me and Dexter Fletcher went out of fashion a little bit, we realized we needed to get ourselves together, and sort something out. We met Danny King before Wild Bill and he had this project, which was then titled ‘Reign of Blood’. It was always set on a farm, and it was always meant to be in one place.
“At that point, Dexter was directing and I was producing. I was doing alright and making a few quid working for Matthew Vaughn, so my passion and enthusiasm wasn’t quite as strong as Dexter’s at that time.”
“Then X-men came along and Matt said ‘come to America and make lots of money’. So, that’s what I did [laughs]. That was obviously a horrible experience. But I did make a few quid! Then Dexter went and made Wild Bill, and the rest is history.”
After Dexter became unavailable to direct the low-budget production, Flemyng stepped in. While it may not have been apparent in the early stages of Eat Locals’ development, his desire to get the film made clearly shined through the multiple hurdles it faced. So much so, that it inspired Flemyng to step out from his shield of producing, and try his hand at something new:
I’d never directed anything before. But I told them that my physical value to this project, is that I’m gonna get you a stellar cast.
Anyone that has seen the film, will, of course, know that Flemyng certainly kept his promise. Boasting that “Every HOD on this film has just been on a $100 million dollar production”, which speaks volumes for the sort of contacts the man has acquired through his studio outings. The main cast consists of some heavily established faces such as Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Tony Curran (Defiance), Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean), Ruth Jones (Stella), Dexter Fletcher (Hotel Babylon), and even Charlie Cox (Daredevil).
“I never thought he would actually get Charlie Cox! I told Jason that Marvel would never let him go”, laughed the film’s producer. Clearly aware of the stars newfound fame, the crew were definitely grateful for the presence of the young Marvel icon. Cox leads the excellent cast as a group of vampires meeting for their semi-centennial gathering, as they discuss land, feeding habits, and the potential recruitment of a new member.
Fortunately, the feeding habits on set were nowhere near as questionable as the vampires themselves. Once again utilizing a seemingly endless list of favors and fond friends, Flemyng also managed to provide some of the finest dining in independent film history. Ourselves and the rest of the cast and crew were all treated to delicious food from none other than Jamie Oliver. The man himself was not present, but thanks to his long-standing friendship with Flemyng, he was able to provide some of his finest chefs for the occasion.
This was just another example of how miraculously beautiful the set of Eat Locals was. In a world of cold, corporate, shallow productions released with predetermined expectations of franchise glory, this offered a refreshing change of pace. While the overall quality of the finished product may divide opinions, few can argue with the ludicrously kind sentiment at the heart of this. Ultimately, Eat Locals isn’t about horror, vampires, or box office performance. It’s about friends helping each other, and sharing one another passion for what they love. Something the film industry could definitely use more of in this day and age.
Eat Locals it out now!
Check out our review here.