I am very honoured and proud to have sat down with a fellow writer and Joint Owner of AIR Entertainment, as well as a great and close friend of mine. Andi Hodgetts has had a long career of acting and now writing, but things are heating up once again for him this year as he steps into the world of gaming. And the way things are going, I don’t believe the world is big enough for what he will still achieve.
As many of you may recall, we’ve been partnering up with several organisations lately, the first of which was Keystone Games. Andi has managed to obtain an acting part in an upcoming game, so I felt the time was ripe to look into his acting career.
Oh, and it’s me who’s calling him the Star of the Universe, and I know he may just kill me for it when this interview goes live!
INTERVIEW WITH ANDI HODGETTS: ACTOR, WRITER AND STAR OF THE UNIVERSE
Tell me a bit about your acting career. When did it start and what have you worked on so far?
A friend posted on Facebook that he was working on a local zombie flick and they were looking for extras, so I said I’d get involved. The movie was The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead by SafeHouse productions, an indie filmmaking couple from the Yorkshire area. I turned up that first day to the shoot which was being filmed in an abandoned farmhouse literally in the middle of nowhere and was raining constantly. There was no cover for all us extras and the makeup department consisted of an old hay storage area (as far as I know) with a couple of tables.
We all had to queue up to have latex applied, then moved on to the next bit for sticky false blood and then were doused in wet mud. It felt awful, the blood was really sticky and for the rest of the day they literally poured bottles of it over us all. Due to the weather, shooting was hard and we all had to run out if the rain stopped, get as much on Camera as possible before it started again.
I went back for a second day on that set luckily when the sun was shining. One thing that will always stick in my head were local dog walkers; they didn’t know what to make of all these people covered in blood. One actually phoned the police who attended to a report of someone being assaulted.
That was 5 years ago now and I’ll never forget going to the premiere and seeing a close up of myself coming out of some bushes. I shit myself! I’ve never got used to seeing myself on the big screen, but have worked again with Nicola and Damian (Safehouse) on various other projects as they are so down to earth and amazing to work for.
Since then I was addicted. I’ve never taken the acting seriously as such, it’s always been more of a hobby, but through that first experience I’ve made some great friends and have worked on various productions as a background artist, including The Syndicate on the BBC and (as of sunday) 2 Bollywood features. The latest one gave me a speaking role.
I have had various main speaking roles in the past, and the feedback from my first was immense after I was only given half a script 3 days before the shoot and had to learn the rest 5 minutes before the camera rolled.
What inspired this passion in you to be an actor?
I started it as more of a hobby, something to do to keep the old grey matter ticking over I guess. I love to see how an idea can be transformed from paper to the big screen and everything inbetween. That being said, it’s also an immense pleasure to work with indie directors to help them live their dream. For me, it’s not about making money and becoming a Hollywood millionaire, even though the better half keeps bugging me for a mansion with swimming pool (haha); it’s about the enjoyment of doing it and fun to be had on set.
The more I have done, the more I have been motivated to go further, moving from a background artist to having a more prominent role in front of the camera.
You seem to have a keen interest in the horror genre. Any specific reason?
I prefer the horror genre above most others. I was addicted to the Silent Hill game when it was released all those years ago, I think it’s because both myself and Candy (my better half) have a dark sense of humour. We’d much prefer to sit and watch a psychological horror that screws with your mind over a chick flick any day of the week. That being said, I’m happy with any genre in movies, as long as it’s done well. It’s getting to the point where everything has been done before and been done so much better. Hollywood seems to have ran out of original ideas and are now being saturated with remakes and re-imaginings, but are ruining the industry as they can’t match the originals. Which is where the indie film makers are doing it so much better at a fraction if the cost.
I personally have worked on zombie flicks (never again), horror that’s pure gore, and the quality when it’s been released has been great. I’ve also worked on stuff that’s been more than questionable when it’s been finished. I have learnt from that though, I know now how to pick and choose what to do, but this also brings an issue for indie filmmakers. Everyone is doing it and there’s more bad work out there than good.
Have you met a large network of actors and producers in your career?
Surprisingly, not really. Doing more indie work than mainstream, there’s a lot of the same people that are used, and we all get along really well and have a laugh on set.
I’ve been on Camera with Nicholas Burman-Vince who played The Chatterer in Hellraiser which was a pleasure to see how he works. That was part of a short vampire film made by Safehouse Pictures.
As an extra I guess you don’t really get spotted and singled out, you are just one of the numbers, which is why I’m now being a little more selective in roles taken, but I never forget my roots or friends. If I was asked to work with the likes of Damian Morter or Liam Regan (My Bloody Banjo) I wouldn’t think twice. They were the people that got me started and have remained great friends ever since day 1.
I’ve also had the fantastic pleasure of working with Bernie Clifton who is a fantastic guy and so full of life, and Alice Krige, who plays Christabella in the Silent Hill movie. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the Silent Hill franchise, so being involved in a project with Christabella from the first Silent Hill movie was amazing.
Would you like to share with the readers how you got involved with Keystone Games?
Wow! It’s kind of a long story, and one that you know all too well Shaun, but for the readers, here we go.
Last November some strange South African guy contacted me on a page I run on Facebook for Silent Hill saying he had wrote a novel based on the game. He was kind enough to send me a copy of it and I wrote the world’s first ever review for it. From that point on you and I hit it off as we are so alike, it’s like I’d found a brother I never knew I had.
A short while later I believe you started talking about writing a horror anthology, CEA Through the Dark, and asked if I would like to contribute. I’d not written since school and jumped at the chance as the only other things I had started writing were articles for a previous site. Stonehurst was born and the first part has been published.
Thereafter you found Keystone Games and mentioned to me that they were looking for voice actors in an upcoming game. I contacted Jane Whittaker and after a few subtle hints on Twitter from your good self I was offered a part and signed the contract last week.
What is it like shifting from film to game as an actor? Any major differences?
It’s actually really easy. I was blessed with an ability to be able to do some accents and recording your voice for a game is easier than speaking in front of a camera, getting movements and timing right doesn’t come into it and I can do it in my slobbing clothes rather than any costumes needed.
The uncomfortable suits will hopefully make an appearance soon enough when it comes to any award ceremonies, E3 or charity galas.
What is it like working with Keystone, developing games where the profits will got to charity for the disabled and less fortunate?
That’s what sold me. The entire ethos of working for a company who are predominantly staffed by disabled members and any profits made from Homicide Detective going to disabled children’s charities rather than corporate pockets is a fantastic idea.
So far everyone is in the final stages, the developers are working around the clock on the whole game and I get the chance to see how much it’s coming along on a daily basis from the ground up. It might be finalised as early as next month.
Plus there’s some really big names who are in talks to join in which I can’t go into due to contractual obligations, but it’s a really exciting time. So far Warwick Davis and his family are all on board as well as Kenneth Branagh. It’s so surreal seeing your name mentioned alongside these people in updates by Keystone Games via Twitter. I still think I’m dreaming and it hasn’t fully sank in yet. If it is a dream, I don’t want to wake up!
Let’s talk to Andi the author for a bit, since I know you write too. You’ve got Stonehurst bursting to be published. You seem to be enjoying writing the story?
I’m loving writing it. The good thing for me is that it is being released in sections through CEA Through the Dark, which means I’m not constantly at my laptop writing. I know exactly where the story is going and what’s going to happen, but it’s nice to be able to space that out around any other commitments that crop up, not to mention family, who have all been really supportive.
One day I’m hoping it will become a stand alone book and even the possibility of it appearing on a screen somewhere. Who knows what the future holds, I’m just riding the wave and loving it at the moment.
What inspired Stonehurst?
Stonehurst is a combination of a few things. My love of the horror genre is obviously in there, but it came about due to being asked to write a short horror story for you. I misread the initial brief and thought it was a 20,000 word limit and once I started writing it, it just seemed to flow. The deadline was approaching and I was at about 9,000 words and started to panic that I wouldn’t make the deadline.
That’s when the idea came about that I was at the perfect point of writing a cliffhanger moment, so why not release it over a few issues. I’ve just finished the second part so total word count is about 30,000 and I’m only scratching the surface of what Stonehurst has to offer. Watch this space, as people say.
Do you have any other stories aching to be written?
I knew you’d ask this question.
Yes! Before starting on Stonehurst I had started to write my own novel which is going to be a psychological horror.
Due to health reasons I had made the decision this year to step back from acting and concentrate on writing. I had always wanted to write a screenplay, but could never plan ahead as to what it was going to be about and I couldn’t start it.
This was something that had annoyed me for the best part of 4 years. Eventually I gave up on that idea and just started writing an opening chapter to test my writing abilities, not with the idea of taking it further. I sent that opening piece of 6,000 words to a few people I know and the feedback was great, so I kept going. So far there’s about 5 chapters (50,000 words I think) and contains a lot of personal stuff in there from past experiences.
No one has seen anything beyond that opening chapter except you Mr Jooste, not even my other half. Due to other commitments then coming in, that has taken a back seat, but I do still have the entire story planned in my head and one day will get back to it.
So much for taking a year out on acting though, the last month or so has been crazy.
What more can we expect from Andi the actor, writer and Star of the Universe in the future?
More Stonehurst! Other than that I honestly don’t know.
The recording for Homicide Detective hasn’t started just yet, but can’t wait to get going with it and meet some of the huge names who are on-board.
Jane Whittaker has said that Keystone wants me to work on future game releases as well including Navy Seals which is in very early production.
I’ve also been doing backing vocals with a local band called The Sourheads, something I hope to continue to do in the future. We have a great time working up the crowds and it is such an honour to be singing with them live.
Other than that I never tend to plan too far ahead, I’m hoping that everything that has happened over the last month or so will open up some doors, but we will have to see.