THE HONEY KILLER, made for just £25,000 has become an underground, worldwide hit, pulling up 40 – 60 million Google results.
When an unknown, zero-budget, British feature film called THE HONEY KILLER was released on Amazon Prime last year, no one batted an eyelid, nor did the filmmaker have any expectations that the film would ever be noticed.
But in the last six months THE HONEY KILLER has been pirated and shared so much it has gone VIRAL. There are now in the region of 40 – 60 million Google results of illegal torrent and streaming sites showing the film around the world and, it has been illegally dubbed or translated into at least NINE different languages.
This unknown, British film made for just £25,000 has become an underground, worldwide hit and is now being pitched for a £1m + budget remake and a TV spin-off series called THE HONEY KILLERS.
The story behind THE HONEY KILLER is worthy of a film in itself. Shot in 2008 on a budget of just £25,000 of expenses with everyone working for free, the first time Writer, Director and Producer, Richard Harrison took six crew members and three amateur actors off to Portugal and southern Spain to try and shoot a stylish, commercial Indie film that bucked the trend of the typical Britflicks that were made on micro-budgets. It was ambitious to say the least!
Writer, Director and Producer, Richard Harrison comments;
‘The shoot was a living hell. For a few days you’re gliding on everyone’s enthusiasm and goodwill when everyone’s working for free. But our sound crew high-jacked the shoot after about a week, refusing to record sound and walking off everyday and causing arguments. It was hell. It became a case of just shooting what you could and moving on asap before the whole film collapsed. It couldn’t have been worse.’
Returning to the UK with barely a film in the can, no budget for post-production and moral on the floor, Harrison was met by the financial crash of 2008 and post-houses and sound studios closing by the week in Soho. His hopes of piggy-backing a successful post-house to finish the film went down the drain as fast as the shoot.
‘Eventually, after about six months the MD of a post house called The Club in Covent Garden decided to do us a huge favour and pick up all the post for about £1000, which pretty much maxed out my credit card, but I was so relieved. But Within three weeks of editing, The Club went bust in the crash and closed down! All our rushes and drives were trapped inside an empty building with us trying to find out who the hell the administrators were? You couldn’t make it up! We honestly thought we’d never see the film again. It was jinxed!’
Eventually, Harrison got the rushes back but by that time the recession had well and truly kicked...
Eventually, Harrison got the rushes back but by that time the recession had well and truly kicked in and the post-production houses that were still alive and kicking certainly didn’t have the budget to pick up post on a no-budget film, without anyone famous starring. It took until 2011 to eventually finish THE HONEY KILLER, three and a half years after it was shot and Harrison used every penny he had to start sending the film off to the blossoming Indie film festival market, which was really starting to pick up pace in 2011- 2012. Within no time the film started to get traction.
'When the first award arrived through the post from California, you could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather. I just could not believe it had won something.’
The next festival win came for ‘Best Micro-budget Feature Film’ in the 2011 London Independent Film Festival...
The next festival win came for ‘Best Micro-budget Feature Film’ in the 2011 London Independent Film Festival where the film really worked in front of a live audience and the festival chairman, Eric Schultz really got behind the film. The same year, THE HONEY KILLER became the first ever unreleased feature film to headline and open Glastonbury in the film tent, ‘The Pilton Palais’, playing alongside major Hollywood film such as ‘Source Code’, ‘Thor’ and ‘Made in Dagenham’. By 2012 it has won its third award as Best International Feature Film in the Sunscreen Film Festival in Florida where some 10,000 people attended and an independent jury of actors and film critics gave it the biggest award of the night.
‘When we won Sunscreen, I honestly thought it would be noticed by the film industry, or at least get Distribution and I could move on to the next film. But every single British distributor turned it down, with some actually hating it. I have to be honest and say it was absolutely heartbreaking after such a long journey.’
With streaming still a dream in somebody’s eye and the DVD market in free fall and fast becoming obsolete...
With streaming still a dream in somebody’s eye and the DVD market in free fall and fast becoming obsolete, Harrison managed to scrape the money together to take the film to Los Angeles to see if he could find anyone who was prepared to distribute his film.
‘I literally took the film to anyone who would give me the time of day in Los Angeles. I sat in the office of a Sales Agent on Wilshire Boulevard who had sold thousands of DVD’s of my friend’s zombie movie that he’d shot on his Dad’s farm. After watching my film and chewing on this pen while rocking in his chair he calmly said, “I don’t want to say this is the worst time in 20 years that you could have made a no-budget film without anyone famous in it…….but it’s probably the worst time in the last 20 years you could have ever made a zero-budget film with no one famous in it’’. I spent the next few weeks showing everyone and their dog to see if I could get it picked up, but nothing’.
THE HONEY KILLER sat on Harrison’s shelf for the next six to seven years while he continued writing screenplays and freelancing in production. Then in 2018, ten years after the film had been shot. He was introduced to MY Spotlight Independent who had a contract to distribute low-budget film on Amazon Prime.
‘I honestly don’t think Richard had any idea how good his little film was, and it’s totally original. It’s probably one of my favourites too out of all the films we’ve released.’ Taz Yildirimlar, MD of MY Production Limited (a division of MY Spotlight Independent, the distribution arm)
Within a couple of months of being released on Amazon Prime, the film started to attract a lot of attention.
Within a couple of months of being released on Amazon Prime, the film started to attract a lot of attention. As soon as the trailer went live on Youtube, it was pirated no less than 18 times. It became a mini phenomenon. The attention it attracted was extreme too; with some people loving the film, while others absolutely hated it.
‘It was really hard to get used to at first. Some people hated the film so much that they started to troll it, with some going as far as writing death threats on Youtube and then describing on Amazon how they wanted to kill me. I was in shock and as much as myself and the Distributor tried, we couldn’t get Amazon the remove them for love or money. It was pretty depressing.’
Harrison and the Distributor started to notice the pirating about a year ago, but it was spreading so fast there was nothing they could about it. Then, in the next six months it started to really explode.
‘I’d wake up some mornings and I’d get fan mail from as far away as Irag or America, telling me they’d watched the film three times. Then, at the same time there’d be messages saying it was the worst film someone had ever seen. What really got lost in translation was the fact that it was a guerilla-made film for just £25K. People were reacting like it was some £1-3m budget Hollywood film that had been pushed on to them.’
While at the Berlin Film Festival this year (2019) pitching his new screenplay, HANDFUL OF THIEVES...
While at the Berlin Film Festival this year (2019) pitching his new screenplay, HANDFUL OF THIEVES, Harrison started to show people how big his first film was on Google when you typed in the name and date. The sheer scale of THE HONEY KILLER 2018 on Google had distributors and Producers falling off their chairs when they saw the results coming up on the search were into the tens of millions. It was bigger than the funded films they represented.
A meeting was quickly set up for Harrison at one of London’s biggest film lawyers, Simkins, who urged him to capitalize on the film immediately and to remake it with a proper budget and ‘names’. The lawyers stated he had ‘proof of concept’. It is now being pitched for a £1m + remake with Joe Thomas from The Inbetweeners being touted for the lead, and a TV spin-off called THE HONEY KILLERS for either Amazon or Netflix. The story of THE HONEY KILLER is truly a film in itself.
‘When I watched the film being illegally shown in Indonesian on some random streaming site, I knew something was going on’ Ironically, more people have now seen my film than I ever have dreamt of!’
The love or hate reactions that the film seems to garner has also led to it be called a genuine ‘cult-movie’. A dream for any filmmaker.
‘I’ll be honest. I know the film’s limitations. If someone gives THE HONEY KILLER three stars out of five on Amazon or Google Play I’m happy...
‘I’ll be honest. I know the film’s limitations. If someone gives THE HONEY KILLER three stars out of five on Amazon or Google Play I’m happy, as that’s a fair assessment. The film is hugely flawed and the actors were all amateurs who’d never made a film before, and we killed ourselves to make it. Plus, all the problems we had. It was the essence of a guerilla-made film with our dreams pinned firmly on our shirtsleeves. But something about it obviously works otherwise it wouldn’t have been pirated and shared so much. I even get messages asking where people can buy the soundtrack. It took me a while to get used to the hateful messages and especially the death threats saying they wanted to put a bullet through my head though, but strangely you get used to it and shrug it off. Just the other week I got fan mail from some of the staff at Chelsea football club. It’s bizarre! You couldn’t make it up. It’s a film that just seems to have a life of its own.
After refusing to be beaten and just sticking to his dream come hell or high water for all these years. Harrison and his Razor Films are now in serious negotiations for a £3-5m budget for his second feature, HANDFUL OF THIEVES. But down the line it looks highly likely THE HONEY KILLER will be remade and an ambitious gamble from eleven years ago may now pay off as one of the best things this first time filmmaker ever did.
THE HONEY KILLER can be found on Amazon Prime and Google Play.
For updates visit www.razorfilms.co.uk