Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Simon Emmett, director of Welcome to the Darkness (2023), available on Digital from January 24th, thanks to Lightbulb Film Distribution.
Have you been a long-term fan of The Darkness before making Welcome to the Darkness?
I definitely had an interest in them when they first came onto the scene. I wasn’t a fan as such but it was impossible to ignore them, and I found them fascinating. I have to say over the years of filming it’s been impossible to not become a fan though, they are spectacular live.
How long did it take to make this film from start to finish?
8 years, although it was mostly filmed over 5 years. Covid got in the way, and that hampered the editing process. In the time in between, the band got themselves back into arenas, and it only felt right to feature that at the end of the film. We were still doing some interviews remotely during COVID-19 and shot some picks up as late as 2023.
To get the necessary footage for this documentary, did you hang out with the band members and film, or was the footage done by a third party and submitted to you? What was it like being behind the scenes if you were filming them directly? And if a third party did the filming for you, did you tell them what scenes to capture, or did you work with what you got?
We absolutely hung out with the band. Back in 2015, it was just me and my photo assistant/DOP Sam Ford following them around. It was a great time as the band was in transition and hadn’t yet gotten back to their rightful place. Looking back, those early days of filming were crucial in building personal relationships and trust with them.
The documentary feels profoundly personal and touching, and the band seem to have held back no secrets on-screen. Was this always the goal when making this film?
At the start, there really weren’t any goals as such. I suppose it being self-made and self-funded initially meant that there were no agendas from anywhere, and we were just able to see how the story would unfold as we followed it. I think putting the time and effort in meant that a lot of mutual trust was built, which led to how open they were prepared to be.
What was your favourite moment while making this film, and what was the biggest challenge you encountered?
There are so many memorable moments that it’s hard to pick one in particular. They really are as much fun as they appear in the film. I think Ireland stands out because it was just so unreal. They played that pub as if it was Wembley Arena! Brilliant.
What major reveal about the band surprised you the most?
It’s not so much a reveal, but what surprised me most was what a formidable unit they are together.
According to your Instagram, you’re also a professional photographer; how did you pursue an additional career in directing documentaries?
I see the filmmaking as a natural extension to the portraits. It was a challenge to get the film off the ground whilst continuing my photo work, but there was no other way.
Do you have any upcoming projects? Would you like to continue working in photography and directing moving forward?
I’m looking at a few different potential projects currently. I’d very much like to continue working across both disciplines.
As our interview ends, what would you like to tell the people of Australia and New Zealand as to why they should watch Welcome to the Darkness?
I’d say because it’s a reminder that even in this modern day culture of social media obsession, you can still succeed by doing what’s true to you without trying to fit in, and have a great time doing so.