David A. Roberts

Award winning Welsh director David A. Roberts started freelance as an editor in 2004. Since co-founding Wagyu Films, David has produced over 1000 commercials, music videos, marketing films and shorts. Now concentrating purely on narrative films, David directed the shorts Embers, Weight and AfterLyfe as well as writing and directing his debut feature film, OLDER GODS, with the team at Wagyu Films.


What is the story behind your film?
OLDER GODS is a terrifying and emotional cosmic horror that navigates the guilt of losing a loved one and what we are willing to do to make up for not being there to protect them.

That's what I wanted to build the story around in a horror setting. After the disappearance of his troubled friend, American Chris Rivers leaves everything behind and travels to the Welsh countryside to investigate a dark apocalyptic cult.

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What should people take away, gain, realize after watching your film?

I hope they take away that films don't have to be huge franchises to scare the pants of you, thrill you for 90 minutes, make you wonder about the meaning of existence and make you pretend you're not crying (when your friends have clearly caught you crying).

Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
I think so. Films have definitely changed me. I can't be the only person to say films helped shape my sense of humour, my diction, my interests, my views on political issues and even the style of how we dress. I'd say those things are what make us who we are. What makes us unique. Obviously, that could be for good or bad but as you say, films do change people. Movies definitely helped shape the content of my character.

How was the creation of your project at the time of COVID-19?
It basically shaped the whole project! We initially had another film called Patriarch lined up to be our debut film and it was all ready to start filming but then BANG... worldwide pandemic. Great. Our investors had to pause all projects when they didn't know what was happening with their businesses and finances, which was completely understandable (our production company Wagyu Films did the same). However, we decided we're not going to sit around and wait. We weren't letting anything stop us from completing the dream of filming our first feature after waiting so long. The beauty of being co-founders of a production company like Wagyu films is that we have grown over the last 10 years doing commercials for big brands and we have all the gear / all the department heads / crew that we needed, so we didn't need much funding to move forward if the story was contained. So to help keep costs down, we specifically wrote a script about one man in the middle of nowhere! Which is definitely a writing challenge but I was reading a lot of Lovecraftian stories around the time and they are often about someone going mad (alone) as they work out the dark secrets of the universe, so we thought why not produce a film like that? One location / minimal characters, but still interesting, scary and emotional. We chose a cottage location in the middle of Snowdonia and its surrounding woods, meaning that we could all be in a bubble for a couple of weeks and film safely. It actually really helped the film as we all had a great sense of isolation with no phone signal, no shops within a 20 minute drive and no other people for miles!

What creation style did you use in the production of your project? What cameraman elements did you use?
We filmed digital so we can move quickly and try and get as much natural lighting as possible. I always prefer a more realistic look when a story has supernatural / fantastical elements as I feel if you over style the film, when you get to those moments, they have a much smaller impact. Adding the fantastical into realism is what is truly effects people.

How did you select the actors for your project?
Luckily, we had already found most of our talent in our other projects. We had worked with our lead Rory Wilson in a short film that we are very proud of called Afterlyfe (which can be found on Wagyu Films' YouTube Page) and he proved there that he was not just a great screen presence but a fantastic collaborator. I really believe this role could make him a star if the right people see it. It's a truly amazing performance. We met Ieaun Coombs while auditioning for another film and we thought he would be perfect in the supporting role here and he did a fantastic job. Although it's a supporting role, the role of Billy is essential to the trajectory of the film, so it was really important to get someone we could rely on and he was brilliant. It was a similar story with Lindsay Bennett-Thompson, we initially auditioned her for a short film we were producing and we always looked out for the right project for her afterwards. She was only with us for a single day of filming but she was fantastic and dedicated during a very tricky scene! However, my favourite piece of casting for the project (just for how it came about) was actually bringing on board veteran British actor Jonathan Keeble, who is the voice for the cult leader in the film, 'The Watcher'. We needed a distinctive, effective voice and we were struggling to find the right person. I had been listening to a lot of audiobooks and there was always once voice actor that massively stands out with incredible voice performances (I used to find it hard to concentrate on audio books, that doesn't happen with Jonathan) and I wondered if I reached out would he be interested? After trying our luck, I was very happy when his agent said he'd love to be part of the project. It was even better to find out he was a lovely guy to talk to and his performance really gave a stamp of quality to the film. It's strange, I now hear him everywhere! It was interesting to play the video game Elden Ring recently and hear Jonathan's voice on there talking back to me out of the blue – I didn't know he is one of the villains there too haha!

Why do you think your film should appeal to distributors?
The reaction to it so far. All distributors ask if you can prove there is an audience for your film and so far it's been pretty crazy in terms of audience reactions. We have planned for a season of film festivals and awards that lasts the entire year of 2023 and just in our first month of the season we are already the official selection of multiple film festivals around the world and nominated for multiple awards. And the month isn't even over yet! Its going to be an interesting remainder of 2023! The interest is letting us have the luxury of being a bit choosier when it comes to distribution options.

What we have found about horror is it's easier to get attention without a 'star' on the poster. It's the genre that it isn't essential to have a 'name actor' in the lead. The concept is the star rather than the 'name'. And people are reacting to a style of film that is replacing cheap 'jump scares' with dark mystery and bone chilling creepiness that doesn't let you go. I've been told a few times by different audience members that its perfect for fans of films such as Hereditary and Hellraiser.

We've also found having an American lead character has strangely been helpful for overseas distribution interest! It being a British film with an American character seems to be easier to get interest than a fully British cast of characters! Just don't tell them that Rory isn't American, he's just got a great accent haha.


At which festival has your film been screened?
As I say, we actually only just started our festival run in January and we have already been voted Official Selection for Santa Monica Film Festival, we've been nominated for lead actor and best director at the Nevermore Film Festival, We've been voted best Horror at the LA Film Awards and we were also official selection of the London Lift off Festival too. We are really happy with how we have done just a few weeks in!

How did your acquaintances react when they first saw the film?
Feedback has been amazing. After editing something for around a year you lose track on just how good the film is until you see an audience react to it.

My favourite reactions are rom the ones that don't like horror as they scare too easy but are watching it to be supportive. They rarely can make it through the film haha. But the ones that do love the ending.

If you could change something in your film, what would it be?
I'd change nothing to be honest. Its not perfect but it's different, effective and interesting. That's good enough for me. I just hope the crew and cast are proud of it too. You can't look back at your work and wonder 'what if'. On to the next project!

Which movies are your favourites and why?
Does everyone just say Blade Runner? Surely. Because its Blade Runner. Apocalypse Now has been the film I always go back to when writing, as I find my scripts are often trips into the heart of darkness too and need something to aspire to. But in all honestly the films that I've watched the most are Alien and Aliens. Alien is the perfect horror and Aliens is the perfect action film.

What topics do you like to address in your stories?
Even though my scripts are always pretty dark, they are usually about friendships or family. The breakdown of them and characters trying everything to mend them back together.

What is your motivation in making films?
Leaving something to be remembered when I'm gone. But hopefully someone lets me know my films are pretty good before that point haha.

Which contemporary filmmakers motivate you the most?
Before Gareth Edwards did Star Wars and Godzilla, he made a small film called Monsters that he shot himself with a tiny crew and he did all the amazing VFX himself too. Its such a good film that everyone should watch. Even for people not into sci fi. It's basically a road movie / love story that just happens to have the occasional huge monster in the background. But the making-of documentary was massively eye opening in terms of all you need to make not just a small film but an excellent one. Watching it, myself and the other producers at Wagyu Films realised we had everything we needed to make our first film, instead of always hoping for bigger and better equipment or experience. After watching that we instantly stopped trying to get into risky deals with investors and instead just find the minimum we needed to do it ourselves. It was really inspiring to see what Gareth did with that film. Its no wonder huge franchise films were handed to him when he showed what he could do with very little.

I'd also recommend anyone who hasn't seen the South by Southwest speech by Mark Duplass called 'the calvary isn't coming' needs to go watch it now on YouTube (I'll assume most film makers already have at this point). Everything he says in that hard-truth delivering speech has been our exact experience. Watch it. It's really motivating for helping you do things yourself rather than waiting for some guy in a suit to give you permission.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
Next up is Patriarch, the sci-fi thriller we were originally going to do before Older Gods. The only difference is people are now pushing for it to be a series instead of a film. So that's going to take time to develop first. However, while we do that, I have another couple of small horrors to film in 2023 to scare the pants off you too. Watch this space.

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