February 8, 2018 Interview – Barry Keating
When is a dream not a dream? Whenever a person shoots for the stars and their wishes come true. Of course, it does not happen with a snap of the fingers as we are quite well aware, but with a lot of perseverance, sweat, and late nights burning the candle at both ends. This is how Screenwriter Barry Keating came to be. A superhero in his own right, Keating left no stone unturned as he continuously tests his limits as an artist as his impressive portfolio attests.
Inspired, Keating infuses all his work with his signature brand of creative genius and is highly sought-after following the release of Nightworld in 2017 and the popularity of the video games like 2013’s Gun Commando, demonstrating he is a top-notch writer. Recently, we had an opportunity to sit down with Keating and glean some insight into the man, Nightworld, his heavy load of upcoming projects, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have a remarkable list of credits as a screenwriter in your young career. First, tell us, what inspired you to tackle screenwriting?
Barry Keating – It’s something I’ve known I wanted to do from around about the age of 15, when I expressed an interest in being a writer to my father. A few months later, he came back from trip to the UK with a copy of the Trainspotting (1996) and Shallow Grave (1994) scripts, so I sat down and read those that night, and by the time I’d finished I’d made my mind up that I wanted to be a screenwriter.
Even though that was a watershed moment for me, film was always a huge part of my life. My aunt owned a video store here in my hometown of Dundalk where I spent a lot of time hanging out and watching movies, so arriving at that point was most definitely as a result of being exposed to film at such a young age.
All that aside and credit where credit is due, one of the main reasons I’m able to do what I do is because of my wife. We were together a year and had just moved in with each other when she pushed me to give up my day job and focus on screenwriting while she supported us. It was during that time everything took off for me, so she’s most definitely one of the major driving forces behind me being able to make a living as a writer.
CrypticRock.com – That was great that you have that support system. Sometimes, it takes a little encouragement from others to get you on the right path. In recent years you have worked on such films as 2014’s Nymph, aka Killer Mermaid, 2016’s The Rift, as well as 2017’s Nightworld. What inspires you as a writer, and is it safe to say you are a fan of the Horror/Sci-Fi genre?
Barry Keating – Let’s just say I’m a lifelong fan of Horror. As I had previously mentioned, I spent a lot of time in that video store with my aunt sitting through a lot of movies I probably shouldn’t have been watching at that age, but as you can see I turned out just fine in the end despite what my wife and some of my friends think! In terms of inspiration, I take it from every corner of life. Ideas come from life experiences, stories I’ve read and heard, people I’ve met, situations I’ve been in, films I’ve watched, books, comics, and video games that I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into over the years. There’s not really one single source I look to for inspiration (I doubt anyone does), but rather a whole host of things that keep that creative spark burning.
CrypticRock.com – You did an excellent job with the screenplay for Nightworld. In fact, Robert Englund was impressed with its originality and haunting essence. Did you create the character of Jacob specifically for Robert?
Barry Keating – I’ve not actually met Robert believe it or not! I wasn’t on the set when they were shooting it, but like every Horror fan out there, I grew up watching him in the A Nightmare On Elm Street movies, so to be able to write a script that he helped bring to life really was a bucket list moment for me. I remember when Loris Curci – producer of Nightworld and driving force behind both the story and getting that film off the ground ever since we first talked about it back in 2012 – told me Robert had read the script and loved it, I danced a jig around my kitchen. In terms of writing the role specifically for him, no, that wasn’t the case. I never really had a specific actor in mind while working on the story. All I cared about was writing a fun script that an actor would want to be part of, so when Robert signed on, that was a huge moment in my career.
CrypticRock.com – Without a doubt. It is definitely an impressive character role and showcases another side to Robert Englund besides his signature role as Freddy Krueger. Nightworld was shot in Bulgaria. What was the experience like filming and working there?
Barry Keating – I wasn’t on the set for the shoot. The year that Nightworld was shot was absolutely incredible in terms of the volume of work I was putting out there. The first few months were spent writing Downhill for Nightworld’s director, Patricio Valladares, and soon as I finished up on that I was pulled back in to tweak the script for The Rift before it started shooting in March. Once The Rift was locked, it was back to wrapping up Downhill (2016), then straight onto reworking the script for Vlad’s Legacy (2016), which Loris produced and Patricio also directed, before transitioning to Nightworld while those guys were busy in Turkey filming Vlad.
When Nightworld was filming in October in Bulgaria, I was already beavering away on an outline for Havana Darkness, so I had no time at all to visit any of the sets that year because I was constantly moving from project to project. In hindsight, I regret not being able to hang out on any of the sets with my friends, but having four films shoot in a single year more than made up for missing out.
CrypticRock.com – Wow, talk about having a lot on your plate! Nightworld is one of several projects you have worked on with Milan Konjevic. What is the creative chemistry like between you too and can we expect future films with the two of you working together?
Barry Keating – We have a great working relationship. Like I have stated earlier, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to align myself with a great bunch of people, and Milan is just one of them. He traveled all the way to Rome with his wife and children for my wedding, so I think of him as family more than anything else This feeling extends to Milan Todorovic (director of Killer Mermaid), Loris, and Patricio as well. These guys are like brothers to me and even though we go off and work on different projects, we always wind up circling back around again to work on something else.
Cryptic Rock.com – It is great that you have that kind of bond with them. On another note, is there anything that you would have done differently in retrospect with Nightworld? Additionally, is there a possibility of a sequel coming along?
Barry Keating – When I watch something I’ve worked on for the first time, I tend to spend the entire film wondering what I could have done differently, but once the credits roll, I just leave it at that, because you can drive yourself crazy with that mentality. With Nightworld, we had a bunch of different ideas in the early stages of development, including adding monsters, but as the story started to take shape we didn’t feel things like that were right for it, so we cut those elements in favor of what you see now. We did leave the door open for a sequel, so it would be nice to one day go back to that world and see what happened next.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, and that is something to look out for if it does happen. As you mentioned, you have quite a lot of ongoing projects. Is there anything you can share with us about the status of Havana Darkness?
Barry Keating – Havana Darkness is done and dusted. I think it’s at EFM in Berlin next month, so hopefully we’ll have more news to share on that one very soon. I haven’t seen the finished film, but from what I’ve seen in terms of trailers, I think the director, Guillermo Ivan, did a pretty good job of bringing that one to life. In terms of other projects, there’s a lot going on.
I’m working with Loris once again on a Creature Feature called Crawlers. It’s early days, but hopefully we’ll be pulling back the curtain on that one later in the year. Patricio and I are currently writing a Body Horror flick called Embryo that we’re both really excited about, and I’m developing an Action script with Killer Mermaid Director Milan Todorovic called Graveyard Man.
Besides the film stuff, I also write for video games, which is a very different and challenging beast at times. On that side, I worked on the open-world Action Sports game Steep for Ubisoft. That’s been a lot of fun, because we’ve been adding various expansion packs to the game over the year, including the Official 2018 Winter Olympics add-on that came out in December. I also penned stories on a handful of mobile games, all of which should be releasing sometime this year, so I’ve been flat out, which is great.
CrypticRock.com – That is absolutely awesome. You definitely have a lot of drive to juggle all these projects. As a writer, do you imbue your characters with traits of people you know?
Barry Keating – Of course, I think there are traits from people that I’ve met from every stage of my life in the characters I’ve played a part in creating. I think as a writer you imbue your characters, intentionally or not, with positive and negative qualities from people from all walks of life that you’ve spent time with over the years; be it friends, family, relationships past and present, or simply fleeting encounters on a journey or over a pint in the pub.
CrypticRock.com – That is very interesting and it makes for even more compelling stories. Last question. At CrypticRock, we cover music as well as films, particularly those in the Horror and Sci-Fi genres. What are some of your favorites in the genres and why?
Barry Keating – These questions are always so hard to answer! So many films and albums that I’ve experienced have stuck with me over the years I’ve lost count. I think the reason for that is because you catch them at certain times in your life and they just hit a chord because it’s the right time and place and they tend to just resonate. In terms of the Horror genre, I could rattle off so many, but films that have lingered and continue to do so to this day would be some stuff like A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Evil Dead (1981), Fright Night (1985), Re-Animator (1985), House (1985), The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Night of the Creeps (1986), The Monster Squad (1987), Creepshow (1982), and Dawn of the Dead (1978). In terms of Sci-Fi, probably Aliens (1986), The Terminator (1984), Blade Runner (1982), Robocop (1987), Escape From New York (1981), Repo Man (1984), and The Thing (1982). Those films are really just the tip of the iceberg. I know I’m leaving out a lot more!
As for music, I find myself listening to a lot of different genres while working, especially electronic and synth stuff. When I was growing up, I was very much into the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera and Machine Head, but the interest in Electro and Dance came later in life when my now brother-in-law told me to stop headbanging for a moment and check out some of the stuff he was into like The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, David Holmes, Ken Ishii, Portishead, Leftfield, and Massive Attack. I tend to cast the net far and wide for inspiration these days in terms of what I watch, listen to, and read.