The Movie Waffler Interview - ASHES Writer/Director Barry Jay | The Movie Waffler

Interview - ASHES Writer/Director Barry Jay

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Filmmaker Barry Jay discusses his new horror movie, Ashes.

After a family’s estranged aunt passes away, they’re reluctant and creeped out to receive her cremated ashes. But when a series of strange, supernatural misfortunes beset them, they’ll have to go through hell to be rid of her angry spirit once and for all.

Ashes, written and directed by Barry Jay, is a smart, welcomingly witty horror throwback that is based on the filmmaker’s own aunt.

ashes movie poster

Barry, well done! This is a movie with a bit of everything. You can tell it’s been made by a film fan. How far does your love of film, and in particular the horror genre, go back?

Well I remember being young – maybe 10 or so (I don’t recall the exact age), but they used to show the old Universal black and white horror movies on TV. I was glued to the screen. Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman were my first loves. My dad got me a Super 8mm camera and I would by 12 minute versions of horror movies and watch them over and over. I used my  camcorder to make my ankle turn into a werewolf.  I also remember falling in love with Night of the Living Dead when I saw it on TV – not sure what year it hit TV but I think you get the age range. I met John Carpenter once and I told him my Dad took me to see Halloween and I knew then it would also be my favourite horror movie, and it is. Mr. Carpenter said 2you were too young for that movie. Too young."

Would you say the tone of Ashes has been influenced by any of your favourites?

Evil Dead, Drag me to Hell, Nightmare on Elm Street.

The film is based on a true story. Is that correct?

Actual events – yes it’s correct – I had an aunt Marion, she passed away in Ohio, my sister received her ashes because she’s next of kin, and she moved them from closet to closet… that’s where I got the idea. There are much more true things and of course, some elements I took way over the top for the sake of a fun horror movie. That is a pretty good depiction of my family though – though names and some facts have been changed.

ashes movie

Is it easy to write scares into a script or are they something that come together on set?

They come through character and story for me, as I’m writing. I do have my outline but when the voices of the characters are in my head and I can visualise the scene, I stumble upon it. I do know what scares me and I think, "that probably would scare anyone." Yes, some fun stuff happens on set, either by accident or the location inspires something – sometimes it's just the actors doing their thing so good I’m caught up. When Janet Leigh dies in the shower scene of Psycho, her reaction to being stabbed did a lot to scare me!

Are people genuinely surprised when they see the movie and discover how solid it is – being that you’re best known for your work in a completely different industry?

People were actually kind of surprised – because there’s a lot to know I never studied. But once they saw me directing or saw some footage, I would like to think they breathed a little easier. I wasn’t worried though… directing, especially one's own script, I think is a feel thing… Friends were also happy to see I had amazing experienced people around me. Jay Lee was my yoda as the DP –the script super Nicole Binnall was like a producer sitting next to me and talking through last minute ideas or the shot list… everyone really… it takes a village for sure and I had one team of amazing villagers.

Is there anything you couldn’t accomplish on Ashes that you’d  have liked to have?

Oh sure – but it’s 90% the movie I set out to make and I’m happy about that.  A few shots I would re-shoot, do some fun green screen stuff to have some added flexibility with paranormal aunt Marion – a few more things but nothing major.

Ashes is now available on digital and VOD from 1091 Media.