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FrightFest: Variety Award Honoree Ben Wheatley Entering Select Tier of Horror Directors

Helmer works fast, cuts deep

Fearless Brit helmer Ben Wheatley is deftly seeping into the consciousness of U.K. cinema.

He boasts an eclectic array of critically acclaimed low-budget pics, such as darkly comic gangster story “Down Terrace,” slow-burn chiller “Kill List” and black comedy “Sightseers,” and he has become a regular on the international festival circuit.

Critics laud him as the indie director of the moment. Even the U.S. has started to take notice: HBO has signed the helmer to direct thriller series “Silk Road.”

Wheatley’s career began in the ’90s working on corporate videos and Internet marketing. In 2009, he jumped into features, opting to self-fund “Down Terrace,” which won the Next Wave prize at Fantastic Fest.

“There was no aspiration for ‘Down Terrace’ when we made it,” Wheatley says. “It was arrogant to think it was going to be any good. So the fact it won at Fantastic Fest was pretty amazing.”

His directness and his love of indie filmmaking helped him leapfrog into a select tier of U.K. helmers.

In 2011 came “Kill List,” then in 2012 “Sightseers” unspooled in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes. His release for this year, “A Field in England,” was released in the U.K. day-and-date across all platforms.

“I like making films and that’s why I make many so quickly,” Wheatley says.

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