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Robert Gill and Angus Johnson of ‘Spriggan’: A labor of love

AiPT! talks with Robert Gill and Angus Johnson of ‘Spriggan’.

Spriggan is a high fantasy movie with a different take on the genre. Instead of numerous settings and epic battles, the story is a more personal one concerned with telling a story. Recently, AiPT spoke with the creative duo behind the movie. Robert Gill and Angus Johnson spoke about their film and inspirations. The full review for Spirggan can be found here. The full interview can also be heard on below on Adventures in Movies!

Full Interview:

AiPT!: How would you describe Spriggan?

Robert Gill: I’d say, you know for me, from my standpoint, you know Spriggan is just kind of a look at the fantasy genre, flipping it on its head, making it more personal. And you know just a visual journey.

Angus Johnson: Yeah, I would say maybe from my perspective, maybe more like a visual experiment in some ways. But yeah, just a different perspective representing certain elements in like different ways. Representing some of the same elements, just different perspective. A lot of experimental things. Definitely visual based journey. The story is just as visual as anything else I feel, and that’s really what it is to me.

AiPT!: What was your inspiration behind the movie?

Gill: A big inspiration behind the movie … just growing up living in the woods. I grew up in the mountains, reading fantasy books, video games, the Dark Soul series, Elder Scrolls, and The 13th Warrior was very impactful on me.

Johnson: Yeah, definitely second Dark Souls. Really a lot of just tonal visual inspiration from that was a really big source. Just living in the area too, the Florida panhandle. Just seeing a lot of the landscapes, a lot of the natural stuff we sort of showcase in the film just sort of exists, and is just out there and may not be seen by a lot of people. That’s definitely a part of it too.

AiPT!:  Spriggan is a beautiful movie. You just mentioned the Florida panhandle. Is this mainly where it was shot?

Gill: Yeah it was mainly shot on the Emerald Coast of Florida and then also in parts of Alabama as well.

AiPT!: I never would have guessed that. It doesn’t even look like it’s shot in the United States. We live in an increasingly technological world, but there seems to be an interest in high fantasy, more so than I can ever remember. Why do you think this is?

Gill: I mean I just think that the further you move along with technology, and the more reliant you become on it, the more it’s just natural to kind of long or fantasize about a simpler time period. Or just not having the conveniences we do nowadays.

Johnson: The grass is always greener and our world is definitely looking more like a sci-fi movie than a fantasy movie. So, naturally people want to escape it’s to the other extremes, so like the opposite.

AiPT!: Yeah, definitely. Things are getting a lot scarier now.

Johnson: Yeah, that’s a good word to use. Yeah.

AiPT!: So, it’s easy for people who work in Hollywood to motivate themselves. Do seven flops in a row, it doesn’t matter; you’re going to get another contract. Whether a project is good or bad, they got a future, they’re set. What motivated you while you were doing Spriggan?

Gill: Mainly because … our main motivation for doing this was just a labor of love and showing what we feel when we think about fantasy or when we play a game that’s based on fantasy. And just how we feel, just living here and walking around the woods and everything. Just doing something different. Just showing that we can do it.

Johnson: Having to make and source your own motivation can in and of itself also be very, very motivating. It’s a good test to see how sure are you? How committed exactly to doing this are you? But it’s something you can bring yourself to do, and really put yourself 100% into then … I mean that’s a lot of it right there.

Gill: Yeah.

AiPT!: There’s great use of color in Spriggan. There’s lots of red, there’s pinks, there’s yellows, really lush greens and vivid reds.

Gill: Definitely

AiPT!: Some of it’s the norm with high fantasy. Some of it kind of reminded me of older Italian horror movies. So why did you decide to go this route and was it even intentional?

Gill: Yeah, from day one that was intentional. A lot of fantasy films that are made, they really mute the colors. A lot of browns, really dark greens, and just gray. And we wanted to do something opposite that was very lush and that’s kind of how you see nature. Like when you see the sun hit the leaves just right. It’s not dead looking. It’s very lush.

Johnson: Yeah and cohesiveness is very important. Nature has strange lines, very vivid colors. It’s a real eclectic … there’s a lot of stuff out there.

Gill: It’s not the same.

Johnson: A lot of different elements being shown at the same time together, sort of coexisting so that’s definitely true. The colors are … There’s a lot that we put into the colors. The colors kind of in and of themselves tell you a lot.

AiPT!: Yeah, they do a totally different shade itself from any other fantasy movie and that. So, a lot of times fantasy movies, especially back in the 80s, they force the comedy. They have like that buffoon character for comic relief.

Johnson: Right.

AiPT!: And Spriggan is a lot more natural with the comedy. Was that also intentional or was it kind of just a by-product of the writing?

Gill: A little bit of comedy, a little bit of column B. For instance, like Thomdril The Bard who is played by Nick Leall, very, very excellent actor. He has this scene with Saleem Krichi who plays Laith The Thief. They have a really excellent scene that was completely improv where they’re kind of hashing it out over the camp fire. And I didn’t write any of their dialogue per se. I just wrote the tone of it and from there they just kind of really got in the characters and ran with it. We didn’t want to do any slapstick or intentionally funny segments.

Johnson: Right, everyone we worked with was really fantastic. I mean Nick and Saleem, you know, a big fan of those guys. Really talented guys.

Gill: Yeah, props.

Johnson: Everyone of course, couldn’t have done it without them obviously.

AiPT!: With fantasy’s you think of epic stories like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit but Spriggan tells a lot more personal stories. How important was that for you?

Gill: From day one that was very important when writing it. I didn’t want to write any particular character to be the main character. Ivarkall The Ranger has his own reasons for doing it. Kavasil The Knight, he’s on a mission for his holy order and Drogas The Barbarian, you know he’s burping and he’s just in it for the money. And that’s all you really need is just basic purpose.

AiPT!: Was that we talked … we mentioned Elder Scrolls, was there anything else that directly influenced Spriggan?

Gill: Mostly Dark Souls, Wheel of Time

Johnson: Mostly Dark Souls

Gill: Mostly Dark Souls, a lot of late nights in that. Samurai Jack a little bit actually, there was with the fighting. I really like how Genndy Tartakovsky does the action segments. You don’t need to see every single blow. You need to see … it can be how it feels to be in that fight. And towards the end that’s what we really wanted to go for.

AiPT!:That’s a really good point actually. A lot of Spriggan isn’t just visceral in your face action. You feel it more than you see it. Yeah it’s a really good point. Franchises, really big nowadays. We just saw Captain Marvel. Would you like to turn Spriggan into a franchise?

Johnson: Ideally, yeah probably. We definitely like the setting, like the universe and we’d love to explore it more. But we do plan to, like to an extant but it’s all gonna be bigger scale. It’s all gonna be a little more … if there’s gonna be more, and that takes time.

Gill: Towards the end of the film there’s kind of more weird, like a cult moment or kind of … I don’t like to use the word trippy, but trippy elements. That is kind of like part of the focus, like nature offering that. Just nature itself being weird. So we would kind of explore that further, not in the same setting and any other stories would necessarily have the same characters. Yeah we’re working on a sci-fi and we’re working on some more grounded realistic films.

Johnson: There’s some other things in the works that are probably more likely going to come out beforehand, or definitely come out beforehand. But yeah, no we’d like to continue Spriggan type things at some point. Absolutely.

AiPT!: Cool. And where can people see Spriggan?

Gill: Right now we’re offering a private link for Spriggan. It’s completely free right now. In the future we plan to have it on streaming services.

Johnson: Coming out soon.

Gill: Yeah, coming soon. We’re wrapping up some of the details on that but major streaming services, Amazon, that kind of thing.

AiPT!: Cool. It’s part of that technological future we were talking about.

Gill: Yeah, absolutely.

Johnson: Gonna use it. Gonna try and use it for good. Just try and get around as best we can.

AiPT!: You talked sci-fi and sequels. What else do you have planned for the future?

Gill: That’s mostly it, you know mostly working on feature films. Angus mentioned before we were talking about how we had worked on some music projects and that kind of thing, but it’s mostly gonna be visual.

Johnson: We are probably still gonna work on those things just to supplement visual projects or to use them in tandem which is sort of what happened with Spriggan with some of the graphics, and the audio, the music. Yeah, a lot of that was done in house as well I guess you could say.

AiPT!:
Yeah, cool. By the way, the title cards for the movie, the end title cards, amazing.

Full Movie:

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