Tom Craig is a Film Studies Lecturer at Derby University and the writer / producer of upcoming diabetes-inspired horror flick, Argon Green. The second film in the Bitter/Sweet trilogy, the film explores the effects of diabetic retinopathy; a condition Tom was diagnosed with nine years ago. His wife and young son also have Type I diabetes
So what exactly is your new film all about?
On the most basic level it’s the tale of an acclaimed artist who’s going blind as a result of diabetic retinopathy and his attempts to paint his final masterpiece before he finally loses his sight. On another level though, it’s about the nature of beauty itself and the story of what it is like to care for someone with a chronic illness
Who were the main influences on the film?
It’s very much a Gothic horror/haunted house movie, in the same vein as The Haunting or The Innocents. In terms of the visual style though, I think it’s closer to Ingmar Bergman and Lars von Trier; they certainly inspired the look and palette of the film. Certainly it is far more art-house than it is torture-porn…
Speaking of which; what are your thoughts on the current state of the horror genre?
I think there are definitely problems with it and I’d like to think that Argon Green might help restore a little balance to the genre. For me, films like A Serbian Film and Human Centipede are simply an exercise in seeing what you can get away with; there’s no art or soul there. Which is not to say this film doesn’t contain violence; the ending is particularly nasty… but at least it’s off-set by an interesting and, hopefully, intelligent story. Hopefully Argon Green will be as beautiful as it is disturbing.
The concept of combining diabetes and horror is certainly unusual. How important is it that the person at the helm of the project also has the condition?
You have to be diabetic to do this sort of movie in order to understand what’s at stake; you have to be able to put that emotion and lived experience into every frame. If someone without the condition tried to make this movie all you’d have is exploitation and the kind of medically inaccurate rubbish we saw in Con Air and Panic Room
You didn’t like Con Air?
Actually I thought Nicholas Cage was genius, The line about the bunny is all sorts of awesomeness…
How does the central character of Daniel Corrigan differ to other diabetics or will a lot of sufferers out there find him easy to relate too?
I think anyone with the condition will recognise to some degree his feelings of anger, despair and hopelessness. Equally, he has a very warm and loving side to him that develops out of an appreciation that you cannot take life for granted. There’s also a key scene where Daniel’s partner has spent hours drawing up charts and graphs relating to his blood sugar and Daniel basically throws it back in her face. I think anyone who lives with a diabetic will recognise that natural desire to help and at the same time a sense of preaching to someone who doesn’t listen…
If film is your life and your passion, have you ever contemplated what you will do if you ever lost your full vision?
No, I haven’t and one of the reasons is not wanting to face up to the thing that scares you most. That said, I think what I do and what lots of other diabetics do is live their life to the max knowing just what a precious gift it is. As much as I bitch about the condition, in many ways it is responsible for who I am today: I certainly appreciate the simple things of life more than lots of people I know.
How can people help with the project?
Simply spreading the word about Argon Green would help us immensely. Equally, the more ‘Like’s we get on our Facebook page, the stronger the position we are in for securing distribution
Finally, can we ask on a scale of one to ten how hairy your arse is?
It’s what Empire always do in their interviews
Hmmm [contemplates for several moments]. It’s a minus six. I like to think of it like Kylie’s. Only with more needle marks.
Argon Green is currently two thirds into production. For more information visit www.argongreen.co.uk or their Facebook page. Many thanks to Mick Smith – Derby University journalism student extraordinaire – who interviewed Tom for your soaraway Shoot Up and thanks to Mathew Jones Photography for the great pictures!
Finally, for your delectation, here’s the film’s trailer – enjoy!