Production has wrapped in Wales on found-footage horror Dagr, starring Matt Barber of Downton Abbey and Ellie Duckles from Netflix drama The A List.
The feature is directed by Matthew Butler-Hart, who co-wrote and produces the film with Tori-Butler Hart for Fizz and Ginger Films. The duo are known for lockdown sci-fi feature Infinitum: Subject Unknown and supernatural thriller The Isle.
Dagr shot near the Brecon Beacons in south Wales and stars Duckles alongside newcomer Riz Moritz as fame-seeking YouTubers. Posing as caterers, they travel to an 18th century house where a glossy advert for a fashion brand is being shot and plan to steal from the production. But they unwittingly step into a haunted house, plagued by a demonic druid.
The cast includes Barber, who starred in the final two seasons of Emmy award-winning period drama Downton Abbey, Tori Butler-Hart, Emma King, Graham Butler, Hattie Chapman and Luca Thompson.
Like Infinitum: Subject Unknown, which was shot during the Covid-19 lockdown, the production has almost entirely been shot using iPhones, with Apple providing equipment to monitor six cameras amongst other kit.
The actors were called upon to shoot the film themselves, which ranged from using body cams and spy cameras to more high-end filming, to offer a mix of styles not typically seen in found-footage features.
“The cast were very understanding that this is a very different way of approaching filmmaking and acting,” said director Butler-Hart. “I sent them documents about filmmaking, cinematography and editing because they were the ones who were going to shoot the film. It was a lot of technical work that involved intensive rehearsal, before placing them in a room and letting them go.”
In the runup to filming, the director also spoke with Jed Shepherd, who wrote and produced Rob Savage’s viral hit Host, for tips on approaching the found-footage genre.
“We really want to play with the aesthetic of found-footage horror, shooting something that is more visually polished,” said co-writer Tori Butler-Hart, who plays the ad team director in Dagr (the Welsh word for ‘dagger’). “It will have the rough and ready style of the YouTubers but also this glossy footage from the fashion team, juxtaposing two very different styles.”
“We want to push the genre to look more like a traditional film, while also making it feel like real life with people in peril,” added the director. “It is our version of a found-footage horror, meaning it won’t just be one camera with people running around the woods.”
Executive producer is Anthony Pye-Jeary, former CEO and founder of entertainment marketing agency DeWynters, who previously helped finance Fizz and Ginger productions Infinitum, The Isle and Two Down.
Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart were named Screen Stars of Tomorrow in 2013.