Interview with Good Tidings writer-director Stuart W Bedford

Two weeks ago The Optical Theatre Film Festival took place in Frosinone, Italy. Here Stuart W. Bedford's Good Tidings won “Best Feature Film” and "Best Villain" awards. Check out the interview with the talented writer/director to know more about his amazing 70’s style exploitation slasher/thriller.

- Hello Stuart, what's your background as a filmmaker?
S.W.B.: Well, I actually started out studying performing arts at college. I fancied myself in front of the camera at first but I soon learned that that wasn’t quite where my skills lied. I tend to freeze up when in front of the lens and go a bit wooden. So eventually, I found myself studying film itself as a medium and I fell completely in love. I mean like, obsessively in love. I loved cinema before I began to study it but once I fell into the rabbit hole, that was it. This was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
Then began a grueling ten year journey. I made a bunch of crappy shorts in various genres – that’s what they call “cutting your teeth” – taking the things you’ve learned in theory and putting them into practice. Learning your style, trying to find your voice and all that wanky filmmaker nonsense. Eventually, I met Stu Jopia and it was really then that I got serious. Our styles melded together perfectly and then that seemed to be it… The writing work began to come in and eventually we decided to set out on our own. And Good Tidings – our first feature length project – was born…

- You're the writer-director of Good Tidings. Your feature film recently won "Best Feature Film" and "Best Villain" at the 2016 Optical Theatre Film Festival. Did you expect the awards?
S.W.B.: I’m going to go on record as saying I’m a very typical creative type – I come with all the low self-esteem and self-doubt that you might expect. Yes; I am a walking cliché. So for some reason, I never expected Good Tidings to gain any kind of critical acclaim whatsoever. Obviously I hoped it would. But expected? No, the niggling voice inside me always tells me that my work isn’t quite good enough.
So to have won is an unbelievable honour! After spending so long learning the craft, failing to execute my visions, getting up and trying again, winning the “Best Feature” and “Best Villain” awards at the 2016 Optical Theatre Film Festival is like a huge validation! It’s made the grueling journey feel entirely worth the effort! And I can speak for everyone in the 2HS team when I say thank you from the bottom of our black hearts!

- You're welcome Stuart! I have to say you really deserved these awards.
Did you see some of the Optical Theatre Film Festival selected films?

S.W.B.: There’s only one official selection I’ve been fortunate enough to watch so far and that’s “Plank Face” which I thought was awesome! It looks like those guys had so much fun (and probably a few grueling days!) running around that forest and it was a total honour to be sharing the slate with them!

I also really want to see “Frankenstein Created Bikers” and I will the moment I get a chance. We’re all big Tristan Risk fans and we also love Laurence Harvey! So That’s the next one I’ve got in my sights!

- Good Tidings reminds genre masterpieces, such as “Assault on Precinct 13”, “Silent Night, Deadly Night”... I have to say you managed to create a claustrophobic atmosphere and a sense of siege. What can you say about your cinematic influences? And how would you describe your movie?
S.W.B.: Well, you have called it right there! John Carpenter, I’d say has to be one of mine and my writing partner Stu Jopia’s biggest influences. And from the start, we set out to create a movie that had that “Carpenteresque” tone. For that to have come across effectively, and for people to be picking up on that without being told, I’d say may be one of our greatest achievements as filmmakers!
A few directors have influenced my style though; Edgar Wright, George A. Romero and Martin Scorsese I’d list as up there too. I’ve read a lot about Scorsese’s collaborative style in directing process, how he’s less autocratic and allows actors and crew members to influence the storytelling process along the way; and of course his ingenious use of music! Of course, everything we see influences us in one way or another, so this is just scratching the surface, but I’d say these guys are my main boys!

- The deranged escaped psychopaths (played by Giovanni Gentile, Stu Jopia and Liam W. Ashcroft) dressed in Santas suits are stunning and for this reason we added them to our best Evil Santas list! How did the idea come about?
S.W.B.: Thank you! Well actually, my writing partner Stu Jopia came to me with the concept fully formed. Not just one, but three killer santas. A deranged festive family if you like! He’d even picked out the costumes and the masks. As soon as he presented them, the image came so clearly into my head. He’s good like that is our Stu J – his concepts come fully functioning already, and it’s rarely difficult to start extrapolating ideas.
So we bought one set of the constume/mask and did some camera tests. It was immediately clear that these guys were going to work on screen. At that point, we weren’t fully set on the direction of the story, but with three solid villains in place (and for their personalities we took inspiration from everywhere really – Halloween, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses/ The Devil’s Rejects. We mined our love of psychos (for material!) and from then on, they were born: Larry, Curly & Moe!

- What can you say about Good Tidings release?
S.W.B.: Well, I’m pleased to announce that Good Tidings was released in North America and Canada on the 6th of December! We came out on various VOD platforms for rental and for purchase!

We’re also currently in talks for worldwide distribution with a few other distributors, but there’s nothing solid that I can reveal just yet. But watch this space! We want to be able to get Good Tidings on everyone’s Christmas list this year!

- What are your future plans?
S.W.B.: While I can’t reveal anything just yet, I can let you know that we have a few very interesting projects in the pipeline! And now that Good Tidings has finished it’s road to release, we’re starting to think about developing again, something I’ve been excited about for a while now! (of course I wanted Good Tidings to find its audience, but I’m a creative and the business side of things can get a little tedious and my fingers start to itch!).
So you can expect a bunch of new content coming your way from the 2HS camp in 2017! Chiefly a couple of shorts we’re really excited about and a new feature that’s going to take us completely out of our wheelhouse, by which I mean, we won’t just be making the same kind of film again, of that you can be sure!

- Thank you for your time Stuart!