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Horror fan makes his mark with a terrifying trilogy

Anyone who has watched a Scottish third-division football match knows a phrase like "horror movie" can spring easily to the lips.

DREAM JOB: Football reporter turned filmmaker Andy Stewart.
DREAM JOB: Football reporter turned filmmaker Andy Stewart.

But when 33-year-old Andy Stewart was eking out a living as a freelance sports reporter covering the lower leagues, it was real horror films that unspooled in his head - ones he'd already watched and also ones he wanted to make for himself.

"Almost every week I would be at Dumbarton FC, sitting freezing in the cold," he laughs. "It got to the point where I was frankly fed up. I decided I'd knock that on the head and start blogging about things that annoyed me about horror films."

Mr Stewart's current day job is in Glasgow tattoo parlour Custom Inc. But the love of horror that inspired his blog and his own "sleeves" - he has big-screen killers Freddy Kreuger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees inked onto his left arm - has also seen him pick up a camera and become a director. Next month he begins work on the third in a loose trilogy of short films, the first two of which have won him plaudits at film festivals as far away as Canada. Not bad for a man with no formal training and whose prize-winning debut, Dysmorphia, was shot for half the price of an iPad.

"Dysmorphia cost £160 to make and we filmed it over two days in May 2012," he says proudly. "The budget was primarily the venue hire, a meeting room in the Euro Hostel on Clyde Street. The special effects cost £10. I went to a butcher and bought a big bit of pork belly, which we rolled up with a blood tube inside it."

At a screening at Vancouver's Rio Grind Film Festival in 2012 the film picked up an award and those £10 special effects were good enough to make one audience member faint. The critics who saw it at Stockport's Grimfest were equally impressed.

Beginner's luck? Not at all. Stewart's second film, Split, also won plaudits, with website UK Horror Scene calling it "a masterpiece." Split cost £2500 to make, though the majority of that went on hiring Glasgow-based special effects maestro Grant Mason, whose previous credits include Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow.

"It always stuck to me how cool the stuff Grant was doing was, and when it came time to make Split and I realised there was no way I could do what I wanted to do, it was a case of approaching him and hoping he would like to do it," says Stewart. "But it was on a wing and a prayer. As far as he knew I was just some guy who'd made a film for £160. But he really liked it and was really keen to work on it, so he did."

Mason returns for INK, the third film in the series, and through crowdsourcing Stewart has also been able to hire cinematographer Alan McLaughlin, winner of last year's Bafta Scotland New Talent Award. Glasgow-based actor Sammy Hayman will play the lead in a tattoo-themed horror that promises to be satisfyingly gory. Shooting starts in April.

So while it's safe to say nobody attending last night's Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles will have heard of Andy Stewart, if he continues at this rate he may one day find himself dining at cinema's top table. Or, at the very least, churning stomachs there. He has a script ready for his full-length feature debut, about a girl living with a parasitic twin. "It's a real thing," he gushes. "I've seen some horrible photos..."

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