Words and interview by Simon Bland
If there’s one thing audiences love, it’s being scared. As an industry, a recent spot-check revealed that the horror genre wracks up approximately $1bn (£862m) a year, with that number only set to grow following our renewed interest in streaming in the wake of the pandemic. While all of its blood, guts and gore may not be to everyone’s tastes, one thing’s for sure: there’s plenty of money to be made by making people squirm in their seats.
One creative looking to take a slice out of this thriving industry is Leroy Kincaide, writer-director, CEO and founder of Nocturnal Pictures. Based in Kent and working under the guidance of Kincaide and his producing partner Chloe Chudasama, this independent production house specialises in crafting high-concept horror, science fiction and action movies and despite only being around for a few years, they’ve already boot-strapped their way to successfully releasing their debut feature film.
Having helmed four short films, Kincaide and Chudasama released their first feature film, The Last Rite, in 2021, which followed a medical student’s brush with demonic possession. Written, directed, produced, and edited by Kincaide, the film perfectly displayed the type of work Nocturnal Pictures aims to produce while illustrating the unflappable tenacity of its creator’s focused work ethic. When we speak to Kincaide shortly after he began his journey with Creative Enterprise Evolve, he assures us that this DIY mindset is something that’s built into his DNA thanks to a rather unconventional career path.
“I was a professional wrestler at the top of my game in the UK. It was 100% what I wanted to do and I’m pleased to say I had a good run,” he tells us. “I was in the process of being signed to WWE, had a match on Smackdown and was in the right circles but I just didn’t love it enough to stay in it.” Luckily, Kincaide soon spotted a new career path, one that aligned with another of his key passions. “I transitioned naturally into acting after professional wrestling and that started the ball rolling for me to become a filmmaker. I started writing short scripts to express my acting ability, then after a short while I was bitten by the filmmaking bug and haven’t looked back since.”
In 2014 Kincaide formed his production company Nocturnal Pictures, and set out to achieve his dreams of creating cinematic story narratives that pack a punch. With his wrestling experience giving him the drive needed to get stuck in. “Wrestling in front of 18,000 people – the discipline it takes for you to keep showing up and getting better at the craft definitely helped me segway,” admits Kincaide. “I have a natural discipline. I can show up, sit down, study things and learn at an obsessive rate… I found that approach worked really well in the filmmaking space because sometimes you’ve just got to get stuff done.
Combining this fighter’s persistence with his previous work as an undertaker (“I was around lots of things most people don’t see,” he laughs), Kincaide aims to inject his encounters with the macabre into the projects he creates. “What I feel helps Nocturnal Pictures stand out is its slogan: ‘light loses its relevance without darkness,’” he tells us. “I use this ethos for how I see life – there’s dark energy but there’s also light energy – and I try to put that yin and yang into the work we create. One minute you’re in a happy spot, the next a sad spot. The vision for the company really is down that horror, action and sci-fi route, with the ‘light losing relevance without darkness’ mindset bed rocking the whole thing.”
This can clearly be seen in The Last Rite, Kincaide’s indie-first feature which has went on to sell to Samuel Goldwyn Films and find a home on the likes of Hulu and Sky Cinema. Cut to 2022 and he and Chudasama find themselves on Creative Enterprise Evolve, our business development scheme that helps promising screen-sector businesses level up by pairing them with their own industry mentor for expert guidance.
“We thought it would be a good next step to progress the company,” says Kincaide, on why he wanted to be part of this year’s cohort of participating teams. “Having a helping hand in how we can move forward as a company is something I definitely thought would be good for us, alongside being in a network of people. If you look at a lot of the films in partnership or collaboration with Creative UK or places like the BFI, it gives them that little extra stamp of approval by a really good funding body. For us, it’s all about finding the right teams of people that can allow our network to expand and showcase the potential of what we’re looking to create.”
With one feature film in the bag and plenty of other projects in development, Kincaide is hoping that his time on Enterprise Evolve will help set his company apart when it comes to producing quality entertainment. “For me, what I see with the growth of the company is something that sits very much between Lionsgate and Blumhouse. While keeping true to our aesthetic,” he explains, once again referring back to the ‘light Vs dark’ ethos that underpins all of the Nocturnal’s output. “When audiences see our slogan pop-up before a film, I want it to have the effect where they go ‘Ah, Nocturnal Pictures!’ and know it’s going to be a good film and that they’re in for a ride.”
Speaking of which, Kincaide and Chudasama have no shortage of ideas on their slate, each waiting to be brought to life. “In five years, I’d definitely like to say that we had another feature film released and others in heavy development,” suggests Kincaide, looking ahead to life beyond Evolve. “I’d definitely want to be making one of my ‘star’ projects which I have on the slate. These are the ones where the budgets are much bigger,” he tells us before sharing some details about an exciting small-screen passion project based around the popular Rockstar video game series Max Payne. Having already produced a fan-made short that received positive feedback from the developers behind the franchise, Kincaide is eager to one day develop the idea into a fully licensed TV series.
“I don’t know what it is about that game and that character, but I really feel like it’s a personal mission of mine to bring it to life,” he smiles, his passion for the project clearly palpable. “Our company’s only going to grow through its IP and ideas that we create and put through it,” reasons the director, understanding what it will take to push Nocturnal Pictures into new and exciting areas of success. “What I would like to happen is to grow our network with potential investors and then if finance comes as a result of Evolve, that would be incredible.”