Directed by Conor Boru and written by Boru and Ed Hartland, When the screams start is a mockumentary about a man who inspires to be a serial killer, Aidan Mendle (Hartland). The comedy-horror is packed with twists and turns, featuring a struggling reporter named Norman (Jared Rogers) and his journey documenting Aidan and his strange peer group.
Ahead of its screening at Panic Festival 2022, the film screened at the London Independent Film Festival where it won Best Sci-Fi/Horror Feature. In this interview, Game Rant talks with Boru and Hartland about creating the film, their biggest production challenges, and building the cast.
Game Rant: What inspired you to make this film?
Ed Hartland: The initial idea for the film came while I was revising The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix for the London Horror Society. I found myself completely fascinated and horrified by what I was watching. I thought, “What does it say to me that this is something I can’t look away from?” What does that say about us as a society given that it’s such a popular show, when it’s something as awful as Ted Bundy. We developed it from there and started thinking about what the ultimate serial killer fanboy would be and what it would look like.
GR: From a director’s perspective, what was the biggest challenge you had to face in putting it all together?
Conor Boru: It was my first feature film. There was so much coming out of me from every angle, and it’s a relatively low-budget film. We had to wear several hats, each of us. We also produced, which is difficult. Other than that, I guess the struggles every independent filmmaker goes through must be COVID. We did the first shoot before everything kicked off with COVID. We had to wait about eight months before we could start again. Then we had to work on set in this COVID environment. Which was a scary thing to work around.
GR: Have you ever been able to attend screenings in person?
Boru: We had our premiere at Riot Fest, which was in person. We couldn’t make it to international festivals due to travel restrictions. But fortunately, part of our team is based in the United States, like Jared Rogers, who plays Norman. Fortunately, he was able to represent us in a few festivals. We actually just played at the London Independent Film Festival here in the UK, it was great fun.
GR: Throughout this film, we follow two different stories: journalist Norman and aspiring serial killer Aidan. Which trip was the most fun to plan?
Hartland: It’s kind of weird when you write something, knowing that you’re going to play one of these characters. For me, it was always much more interesting to throw things at Norman, knowing that it would be Jared who would play him. We’ve both worked with Jared for a very, very long time. 10 years or something like that. We know what he is capable of and what he can bring to the table.
Boru: So you’re saying you were completely playing yourself, then?
Hartland: I have now put myself in a horrible position. Thanks for pointing that out. Just to say, I’m not the same as Aidan. Yes, we wore the same clothes because you know, it’s a small budget.
GR: How was it to balance these different roles?
Hartland: It was a juggling number that we had to do. Connor, Jared and I were talking about something to do with the production side of things and then we had to quickly get out of that headspace and be thrown into the scene. In a way, that was kind of helpful, because at no time did I bother playing a character that I wrote because I didn’t have time to think about it. You just had to get in there and do it. Jared had one of the trickiest hat changes. He had to pick up cast members in an RV used in the film, while dressed as his character. So the first time some of these people met him, he was dressed and booted as Norman, which I think made introductions tricky for him. But yeah, we just had to roll with it.
GR: Do you have a favorite shooting memory?
Boru: There is a party scene that happens in the movie. It had been a tough few days, and we incorporated a lot of improvisation into this film – and this scene, more than most. It was as if it had become a real party. I was working with a DP and these guys were having a lot of fun while we were walking around. It was like a real documentary experience. We got so much gold from it. In the script, it was like half a page. Or maybe it was just a few lines, but it grew into a huge thing, and we just made a lot of discoveries.
GR: How was the cast formed?
Boru: It was pretty smooth. Most of the time it was pretty straightforward for us, because me, Ed and Jared all went to the same acting school. We met there. Most of the actors came from our wider network. We’ve all been in the industry for a long time, and you do plays, shorts, and features, and meet these really talented people. We had the luxury of being able to write with certain people in mind. But there were some challenges, like with the twins, for example. At first it seemed like a really good idea to write identical twins in a script, but then you realize, okay, right now we actually have to find identical twins.
GR: Have you ever considered having one person play both twins?
Boru: I think that would have made our lives very delicate. We didn’t quite have the budget for a Tom Hardy film. We did discuss them at one point though, when they were smaller characters. But I’m glad we found the real deal.
Hartland: We discussed a lot of things that never made it into the movie.
Boru: Yeah, like finding two actors who looked vaguely alike. We were like, Oh, if we dress them the same, maybe we’ll get through this.
GR: What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
Boru: Above all, I hope people will leave after having had a crazy time. We made this crazy nice movie and I hope they enjoy it and appreciate the comedy. We were keen to make people walk away with a little message, and a lot of it goes back to what Ed alluded to earlier, our perceptions of ambition, fame, and trying to be someone. one at all costs.
Hartland: That’s exactly what I was going to say. You take the words out of my mouth. This question that it all comes down to is “What does it say about us as a society and as individuals that we are fascinated by serial killers.” But to emphasize, we still want to make you laugh.
When the screams start is set to screen virtually at Panic Festival on April 30, 2022.
Next: 5 Movies To See At Panic Fest 2022
Soulsborne Game Thymesia Gets a Limited-Time Demo
About the Author