Aylesbury Dead II premieres at Odeon Cinema

Some of the cast and crew at the Aylesbury Dead II premiere: from left Beth Tolmie, Clarissa Francis, Steve Richmond, David Pustansky, Mike Thompson, William Axtell, Meg Poole, Martyn Clayton, Jason Mayhew, Xue Zhang
Some of the cast and crew at the Aylesbury Dead II premiere: from left Beth Tolmie, Clarissa Francis, Steve Richmond, David Pustansky, Mike Thompson, William Axtell, Meg Poole, Martyn Clayton, Jason Mayhew, Xue Zhang

A budding filmmaker from Wendover premiered his newest feature, Aylesbury Dead 2, on the big screen at the Odeon Cinema last night (Thursday).

William Axtell, 30, released the sequel to Aylesbury Dead, which tells the story of zombie invasions through the town and how a group of characters defend the Vale and themselves.

Will Axtell at the premiere of Aylesbury Dead II

Will Axtell at the premiere of Aylesbury Dead II

William has made a number of short and feature length films with his friends over the years and this is yet another milestone in his journey.

It comes three years after the release of Aylesbury Dead in 2015, which was well received by the public.

Last night's screening was well attended by family and friends and everyone there agreed it was a fun film.

The Bucks Herald did a Q&A with Will after the screening.

BH: To start off, do you remember what it was that made you want to be a filmmaker?

WA: I use to make comics in my spare time. But the problem with comics is that people would flick through and go “yeah, yeah that's alright” and it would take just a second, and that took me a year to get the comic drawn up and printed.

So with a film you have to sit and watch it, so there is more time to appreciate what's been done. I just wanted to tell stories basically, with the comics and my films. Luckily I managed to meet some really nice people who would do that with me.

BH: This is the second Aylesbury Dead film. What would you say was the thing you learned the most from making the first one?

WA: Probably crowd control and really just working with people. I had to learn how to get the most out of actors, especially since these guys have never really done acting before. So just being patient and giving them enough time, oh and bringing them food and drink that normally helps.

BH: So you didn't feed them last time?

WA: For the first film I didn't feed them no. But it's all part of the learning curve and luckily everyone was just, into getting it done. But yeah I've learnt a lot, and even though this was done a year ago I feel I've made a vast improvement.

So with the first one I only filmed about a quarter of it myself and then I hired a team to film it while I directed them. I quickly learnt that I preferred filming it because liked my angles and what I wanted to do. The guys I worked with on Aylesbury Dead, the first one, were lovely and they did everything I asked but it's just easier when you can do it yourself.

BH: I know that most of the people you work with are almost all locals as well. How do you go about finding your cast and crew?

WA: I think when you are doing a big project people need to see that you are actually doing it before they commit. When you first do a project people will say “yeah I'll do it” but then don't turn up. So if you just start doing it and people see that they will look and go “oh, he's actually doing it. I'll come along to the next one.”

So for the first bit I wanted to do a photo-shoot and we went all the way around town to the top of the council offices, took some pictures and put them out and people saw that we were serious about it. We also did an assembly at the Grange School. Suddenly loads of people wanted to help and get involved.

BH: So how do you feel it went tonight?

WA: I always hate watching my own films, I find them the most cringe-worthy things ever, but I know when you work really hard on something with loads of other people even though I find it a little cringey but you have to show it.

Working on something for so long and not showing it off is just silly. You need to see where you can improve and others can also see where they can improve and help with their craft to, acting, make-up, camera work etc.

BH: Sticking with mistakes and learning from them for a moment, what advice would you give to small or indie filmmakers starting out?

WA: Just do it. Just film anything, it doesn't have to be a big thing it doesn't have to cost loads of money, just keep filming and keep improving and picking up new skills and equipment. So we've got a nice little team now, with cameras and sound and lighting which we didn't have when we started out.

BH: Have you ever thought about setting up a production company, since you now have all this equipment and a little more know-how?

WA: I've never really thought about it to be honest, I'd like to now that you mention it. I mean it's possible, me Steve (Richmond), Paul (Adams) and the others that we normally film with have never really thought about it, but that's something to look into I think it sounds like a really good idea.

BH: What plans do you have now? Any upcoming projects you want to do?

WA: I do yeah, I want to do a gangster film next. A proper black and white, all suits and poker games, fancy cars. I wanna go all out on a gangster film but we will see what happens. We'd need to sort out funding first and funding, unfortunately, is everything when it comes to big projects.

BH: Before I let you go then, How do you go about getting your funding?

WA: The gentleman Mike Thompson has really helped us out a lot with funding. Even with things like Indiegogo and other crowdfunding places it helps a bit, but really Mike has helped us out a lot he's funded a few of the projects me and the guys have been working on.