Toby Wilkins (2009)
From Death Ray #18.
Q&A Toby Wilkins, director of Splinter
British born Toby Wilkins moved to LA to pursue his dream career in film. Originally a graphic designer, he’s now a director of no mean skill, as his solid horror flick Splinter shows us.
Death Ray: You’ve worked in many different aspects of the film industry. Has this helped prepare you for your role as a director?
Toby Wilkins: I spent my early career in post-production at a time when digital technology was rising to the challenges of filmmaking, I was learning to splice film as everyone else was forgetting how, and was conversely showing the old guard how this digital stuff could make everyone’s lives easier. Working in post afforded me the skills I needed to make my own films more cost effective. I was experiencing the full range of production styles, from my own micro-budget shorts, to features that would spend more on a single effects shot than all my short film budgets put together. It was quite an education.
DR: What attracted you to Splinter?
TW: The script by Ian Shorr clicked with me. It reminded me of the films I loved as a kid, the siege-based movies like The Thing, Alien, Dawn of the Dead… It had an emphasis on the characters, it wasn’t another slasher/torture script, it had a real old-school horror heart to it. My friend George Cawood and I had been trying to find the right way to bring our creature concept to the screen. Splinter seemed like a perfect home for it.
DR: The petrol station. Was it real or did you build it?
TW: The location had been a petrol station at one time, but had been abandoned for years. It was basically a concrete box a month before we started shooting, our art department ripped the front off the place to install the windows I wanted, built a new roof over the pump area and a restroom. They bought and installed disused pumps, shelving, a walk-in refrigerator… it was an incredible feat. I wanted every detail to be as close to real as possible. Most of the stuff on the shelves was actual food or drinks, much of it was donated. Everyone worked really hard to pull it off, the movie wouldn’t have worked if that location didn’t feel real.