Vintage Blood is a short portmanteau horror comedy. Two women are talking about Izzy, who owns a vintage clothes shop. Izzy unknowingly and unwittingly buys a Ouija board from a customer. The board gets broken within the shop and this puts her fiance's life in danger.
Knowing what it is like to be in front of the camera is an incredibly useful asset when moving behind the camera. We were lucky enough to talk to Abigail Blackmore about her short film Vintage Blood, and what it's like sitting on the directing throne.
Blackmore has acted in the TV series Pulling, a variety of short films and even ran her own improv company. She is now taking all of her experience and making the move into directing. After writing a feature film and being named as the director, Blackmore and her producer decided that she would need to get a short film under her belt before making the jump into feature films, and this is where the idea for Vintage Blood stemmed from.
"Originally I was planning on doing a YouTube sitcom, set within a shop: 8 to 5-min episodes. One of the storylines was about a customer planting a cursed Ouija board. It was my favorite idea, but they [the shop owners where the shoot would take place] were a bit worried about having a Ouija board in the shop."
Cleverly using her environment and writing for locations that she had access to, Blackmore shot the short in an actual vintage clothes shop near her house. Being good friends with the owners meant that she could use the location while they were closed. She also managed to rope in the owners of the shop to star in the film for their outstanding acting debut.
Blackmore also used her little black book of contacts she had collected through her acting experience to gather a cast, including the lead of the film, Indira Varma (best known for her role in Game of Thrones as Ellaria Sands). "I wrote with Indira in mind, because she is a friend, so I asked her to do it. So we kinda worked around her. We had to wait a couple of months so that she was free."
Blackmore also involved Sophie Thompson after a chance encounter. "She is local to me and I actually met her in the shop and I just asked her, "if I made a short film, would you do it?" And she just said "yeah, if I'm available." I also asked if she was up for improvising and she said "NO, you have to write it."" With the mentality of using what and who you know, and just straight-up asking people to get involved, Blackmore managed to create the short by funding it herself.
We talked to Blackmore about what it is like to be directing her own film, and she gave the very honest answer. "It's terrifying, the whole directing thing." Despite the fear, she completed a very engaging and original horror comedy.
Being an actor benefited her when it came to gathering a cast together, but her experience helped her even more whilst on set. "I'm so glad I am, or was, an actor because I have an understanding of how it is for actors. They are always going to be too cold or too hot, they will always feel some level of discomfort about what they are wearing. They will always feel some sort of self-consciousness about how they look or their lines, they have so much on their shoulders."
Actors were not the only thing that Blackmore had to think about while directing. A greater hurdle she had to overcome was working with a crew, where she graciously admits she has more to learn. "I don't really understand crew too much, so this is a thing that I'm learning. And not making it about actors vs crew, trying to make it one team. I had that with Vintage Blood. Everyone was working for free so I felt a responsibility to make sure everyone could make the most of their job."
Being an actor, Blackmore has been directed by many different people so we talked about what things she had learned from these directors, and what skills she kept up her sleeve. Her answer was an obvious and honest one. "Be nice, positive, confident, open, and be interested in the actors and what they have to say; and don't treat actors like children. It's the same in life really: don't be an a*se hole."
After talking with Abigail Blackmore, it's clear she is an honest and engaging filmmaker that has a lot more to give. She is currently working on the early stages of her feature film, another portmanteau story with five shorter stories framed by a larger overarching story. We definitely cannot wait to see it.