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Exclusive Interview: Behind the Scenes of The Baby in the Basket

The Baby in the Basket

The upcoming horror film The Baby in the Basket promises to be a chilling gothic tale set in 1940s Scotland. The film follows a group of nuns at a remote island convent whose lives are thrown into chaos when a mysterious abandoned baby appears on their doorstep. Director Nathan Shepka, writer Tom Jolliffe, producers Gary Collison and Elle O’Hara, and actors Michaela Longden and Elle O’Hara recently sat down exclusively with Horrorfacts.com to discuss the inspiration behind the film, their creative process, challenges of establishing the time period, what audiences can expect from the lead performances, potential filming locations, and balancing psychological and supernatural elements. 

Read on for an insightful behind-the-scenes look at what is sure to be a terrifying addition to the horror genre. Horror Facts is thrilled to share this exclusive first interview with director Nathan Shepka, writer Tom Jolliffe, producers Gary Collison and Elle O’Hara, and actors Michaela Longden and Elle O’Hara behind The Baby in the Basket.

Check out the trailer for the film below.

YouTube video

The Creators’ Vision for a Layered Gothic Horror

The upcoming film The Baby in the Basket aims to offer a layered Gothic horror experience inspired by classics of the 1940s through 1970s like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. Director Nathan Shepka and writer Tom Jolliffe sought to move away from the simplistic creature horrors they had worked on previously in order to explore deeper themes and more complex characters. 

Jolliffe sees horror as a genre rife with opportunity for social commentary on issues like class, politics, and society. By balancing psychological and supernatural horror through ambiguity and leaving interpretation up to the audience, The Baby in the Basket hopes to compel viewers to rewatch and engage deeply with its story. Locations across Scotland, especially the remote Inchcolm Abbey, will provide an atmospheric backdrop for the film’s tension and dread.

A crowdfunding approach gave Shepka and Jolliffe the independence to craft the layered story they envisioned rather than compromising for a traditional distributor. They aim to emulate the style, aesthetics, and melodrama of classic horror without seeming “lazy” or “generic.” Compelling performances by Amber Doig-Thorne, Elle O’Hara, and Michaela Longden as nuns Agnes, Valerie, and Eleanor will bring the film’s themes to life and showcase the characters’ complexities. 

While remaining faithful to its influences, The Baby in the Basket seeks to revitalize Gothic horror for modern audiences. By privileging subtext, ambiguity, and interpretation over simplistic scares, the film could offer a thoughtful viewing experience that stays with audiences long after its unsettling ending. Shepka and Jolliffe’s effort to “do justice” to the classics that inspired them while bringing their own creative vision could make The Baby in the Basket a standout of psychological horror.

You can read the entire interview below.

Full Interview with the team behind The Baby in the Basket

Horror Facts: What inspired the story behind “The Baby in the Basket” and its setting in the 1940s on a remote Scottish island?

Honestly, I’m not too sure. These ideas sometimes just pop into my head. It could be while I’m watching something else or even just something I see triggers an idea in my brain. Definitely in terms of style and tone both Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen will be huge influences. I think the idea of the baby and the setting in the convent came hand-in-hand as there’s something quite interesting and poetic about these nuns who are used to leading a very simple and let’s say restricted lifestyle being thrown into turmoil by something out-with their control and that challenges their faith and beliefs.

Setting wise, we decided to go for Scotland because it’s picturesque and you can get more for your money production value wise here than anywhere else in the UK. The remoteness was partly to service the cinematic look of the film but we needed to give the film an eerie sense of isolation because not only did that play into the hands of the plot and the paranoia but logically it wouldn’t have as much of a ‘terror’ aspect if it took place in a big town or city because you’d just fling the devil baby out of an open skyscraper window and hope it hits the deck – being isolated on an island during a storm with no means of communication and no general population was the way to go.

The 1940’s also made sense in terms of a; ‘when would this logically happen in time’ perspective. I can’t imagine nuns taking selfies with a demon baby and firing them on the ‘gram would be taken seriously and the perfect time to set it seemed to be during WWII as it lends itself to some of the more detailed plot elements and character backstories and also gives a sort of second layer to the sense of paranoid and impending doom.

Nathan Shepka – Director/Producer

Horror Facts: Can you share any insights into the creative process between Nathan Shepka and Tom Jolliffe while developing the story and script?

Nathan and I developed the storyline and fine-tuned a workable treatment. That provided me with a blueprint to take the film to draft. The first draft came out pretty long. It’s a film with a lot of subtext but for a variety of reasons, including pacing and budget, we scaled back some more cerebral elements. We still have hints at a deeper layer beneath the core plot, but it’s tighter and more impactful now.

We’re now pretty close to the production version. Certainly, in terms of notes and revisions, Nathan gave an objective view on it, as to what worked and what could be lost. Likewise, aspects that would push the budget too much.

Tom Jolliffe – Writer/Producer

Horror Facts: Amber Doig-Thorne mentioned that her character, Agnes, is innocent and naive. How do you plan to explore the character’s development throughout the film?

Agnes is a bit of a newbie at the convent. You have Valerie, who is mid-20’s and extremely loyal. You have Eleanor who is late 20’s and a bit of a tearaway and untamable wild child. Agnes is a bit younger, she’s naïve and she’s probably the most impressionable, which is why (not giving too much away) the entity if you can call it that, seems to want to latch on to her. Question is, will others fall under the spell and will Agnes resist?

I think the character arc is going to be a mixture of both ambiguity, what is suggested or hinted at instead of slapped in the face and also a gradual build in terms of acting intensity and exploring the different themes. I’m looking forward to seeing what Amber does with the character – as with all the other actors on board! It’s just great to watch a scene unfold when people are really good and deliver such compelling performances!

Nathan Shepka – Director/Producer

Horror Facts: What challenges do you anticipate in bringing the period setting and eerie atmosphere of the film to life?

I think the period setting will be a challenge in terms of ‘exorcising’ any hint of modern day from each frame of the film. Costume wise, location wise…as long as we get those right, Tom has written the script in quite an old fashioned melodrama type style, which we’ll take into the style of acting with us and I think shot wise we’ll try to draw a lot of inspiration from older films. There won’t be any drone shots or speed ramping or crazy steadycam moves. Atmosphere wise I think that long, lingering takes is going to be key here.

Nice wide shots, off-angle close-ups and slow tracks in and out to build that sense of dread. Really what we want to do is emulate horror movies of decades past and rely on camera techniques, lighting and not giving too much away too soon to create a foreboding atmosphere. We want to be able to stir the tension with a big spoon!

Nathan Shepka – Director/Producer

Horror Facts: How do you think “The Baby in the Basket” will stand out among other Gothic horror films, especially those from the 1940s to 1970s?

Whilst we were conceiving this we were always mindful of how we wanted to approach the final product. We wanted particular aesthetics to look and feel as close to those classic films like Black Narcissus as possible, even though we’re shooting on digital as opposed to 35 mm. We don’t want it to look like a lazy pastiche or like a generic LUT. It’s also heavily inspired by gothic and noir films with strong themes about human flaws and weaknesses. Nathan and I both have similar tastes and similar irks about modern filmmaking trends.

People rarely light, block, shoot and cut films like they used too. My job as primarily the writer is to deliver a script with interesting characters and themes and a platform for the cast and crew to tell the story as engagingly as possible through visuals. Finding the right level of ambiguity is difficult and something we hope we pull off. It’s never gonna hit the levels of Rosemary’s Baby by any stretch of the imagination, but if we can do those films just a little justice, we’ll be onto a winner.

Tom Jolliffe – Writer/Producer

Horror Facts: Can you tell us more about the collaboration between Shepka Productions and Flickering Myth for this project?

Flickering Myth

Flickering Myth and Shepka Productions already had a shared connection with our writer-producer Tom Jolliffe and When Darkness Falls, and so when the opportunity to collaborate on The Baby in the Basket presented itself it seemed ideal both parties.

We’re incredibly excited by the project, the cast that we’ve been assembling, and the talent behind the camera with Nathan and his team at Shepka Productions, and we firmly believe that the film is going to resonate not only with our audience, but the wider horror community.

We look forward to being able to give the Flickering Myth readers a unique insight into the film’s development, whilst helping to bring the horrors and delights of The Baby in the Basket to as wide an audience as possible.

Gary Collison – Flickering Myth owner/Producer

Horror Facts: What can fans expect from the performances of Amber Doig-Thorne, Elle O’Hara, and Michaela Longden in “The Baby in the Basket”?

Valerie is a fiercely loyal young woman with a great strength of spirit which ironically is ultimately what leads her down a path she never would have thought she’d have taken…

I’m so excited to explore this relentless and intense loyalty and unity to a greater power that Valerie has, and how this affects the way she sees others’ behaviour when it comes to what she sees as disobedience to God. What happens when questions about her whole life’s purpose start to force their way in to her mind?? Expect fierceness! And perhaps a little bit of pride…

I feel a great amount of respect for Valerie in her devotion. She reminds me of me in a sense, in her ability to put complete and utter faith into something and to sort of ride the wave of hope and believe that things will work out as they should … she very much doesn’t need to see to believe, which perhaps is both a beautiful quality and bit of a risky choice to blindly accept.

Elle O’Hara – Valerie

I play Eleanor in BITB she is a tortured soul who often uses temporary and harmful coping mechanisms and addiction to escape her reality. She is bolshy and rebellious but fierce and a fighter. I hope to bring a variety of the many complex layers that Eleanor holds. Honing in on her vulnerability and her strong willed nature to create a well rounded character that all can relate to. This character certainly excites me as she brings so much energy and playfulness to the script. Eleanor has a great character journey where she goes from being completely lost and out of faith to a place of acceptance over what she has done and an asking for forgiveness, but is it too late?

Michaela Longden – Eleanor

Amber is currently on a press tour and couldn’t respond.

Horror Facts: Are there any specific locations in Scotland that you have in mind for shooting the film?

Despite the film all taking place in and around a convent we’re likely going to employ the use of at least half a dozen locations including the interior and exterior of the convent itself, Mother Superior’s office, the dining room, groundskeeper quarters and a few more. So what we’re going to be looking for is a really nice sanctury and corridors to represent the interior of the convent itself – one that’s not too grand, relatively modest but cinematically and visually appealing.

Other locations we’ll likely look towards museums and anywhere else that has ‘mocked up’ bedrooms etc. Given the fact that this is set in the 1940’s we’re going to have to be careful to banish anything that came after that period set dressing and fixtures wise! Exterior wise we were looking at Inchcolm Abbey on the island of Inchcolm, which is a tiny island off the East coast of Scotland as the main exterior – as always everything depends on negotiating permissions etc. but locations will be such a key aspect of this movie!

Nathan Shepka – Director/Producer

Horror Facts: How do you plan to balance the psychological aspects of the story with the supernatural elements?

This relates to the ambiguity again I guess. Most of my favourite horror films dance a line between psychological horror and supernatural elements. They make you question what is psychological and what is spiritual or demonic influence.

For me, horror films which compel you to interpret and to rewatch are the most interesting and this is why films like The Shining, The Lighthouse and Possession are all major inspirations for us. In comparison to a straight-up slasher say, it also gives your lead cast more caveats to explore. We want layered and powerful performances, which is why we’ve gone down this route compared to more linear horror subgenres.

Tom Jolliffe – Writer/Producer

Horror Facts: Tom Jolliffe mentioned that this project is a step away from the creature horrors he has done previously. How has this change in genre influenced the writing and producing process?

I’ve predominantly written creature horrors so far in my career. I love doing it and I enjoy the simplicity, but these are commissions based on what distributors think will sell. They’ve no interest in deeper meanings or subtext, which I totally get. They want to explore horror in its most immediate and simple forms. Scare first, and ask about characters later. A reason I like layered horrors is the ability to tell deeper emotional stories with more complex characters. It’s also a great genre to inject a little social commentary too.

Horror is often filled with so many different aspects like class, race,  politics, technological ethics, society in general and a lot more. Or in the case of folk horror, you often have films steeped in lore and history that tell you something about the settings the films take place in (or the myths which you may have transposed to a new setting). It’s probably only recently that horror is gaining more respect artistically whereas it was historically looked down upon as B picture material. This also preempted our decision to take the crowdfunding route rather than collaborating with a distributor from the beginning. Whether it has credence or not, most indie horror distributors would prefer the Nunjuring over what we are looking to do.

Tom Jolliffe – Writer/Producer

Support Psychological Horror with Substance: Fund The Baby in the Basket 

If The Baby in the Basket sounds like the kind of layered, thought-provoking psychological horror you’ve been waiting for, now is your chance to help make it a reality. Shepka Productions and Flickering Myth have launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the final portion of the film’s budget.

Pledging your support for The Baby in the Basket on Kickstarter will enable director Nathan Shepka and writer Tom Jolliffe to bring their creative vision to life without compromising for traditional distributors unwilling to take a risk on a film that prioritizes substance over simplistic scares. Backers can get exciting rewards like a “Special Thanks” in the film credits, digital downloads of the script and soundtrack, and private live stream Q&As with the cast and crew.  

Ambitious, creative horror films like The Baby in the Basket struggle to find funding and distribution in an industry landscape that often favors generic creature features and jump scares over compelling stories, characters, and themes. If you want to see more films that, like classics Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, stay with you and give you something to think about, supporting The Baby in the Basket on Kickstarter is a great way to put your money where your mouth is.

Shepka and Jolliffe have tapped into something special with their vision for a Gothic psychological horror that aims to push the genre forward rather than retread familiar ground. Help them usher in a new era of horror with substance – visit their Kickstarter page today and become a backer of The Baby in the Basket. Be a part of movie magic in the making and earn some killer rewards in the process! The future of horror is in your hands.

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