Barnaby Clay | From Desert Desolation to Punk Madness

Crafting horror through love, control, and claustrophobia

Written by

Isaac Dektor

Photographed by

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Styled by

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The arduous journey of Wyndham Stone, brought to life by Scott Haze, unfolds amidst the expansive desert, a quest to capture the cosmic ballet of a solar eclipse. In the pursuit of documenting this celestial spectacle, he unknowingly becomes entangled in a corporeal cycle. Trapped within the confines of a canyon, a hostage to a cadre of sadistic boys, Wyndham faces a dilemma: escape the binding shadows or succumb to an ominous fate.

The Seeding marks the inaugural narrative feature from writer-director Barnaby Clay. After honing his craft directing music videos, commercials, and short films, including a documentary on the iconic Mick Rock titled SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, Clay delivers a horror narrative that intertwines the chilling and the deeply personal.

Set against the backdrop familiar to indie-horror aficionados—a solitary location dominating the narrative landscape—Wyndham encounters Alina, (portrayed by Kate Lyn Sheil), residing off the grid in a remote desert cabin. Their evolving relationship emerges as the pulsating heart of this film.

In a conversation with FLAUNT, Clay (whose wife Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs contributed the polaroids featured in this article), delves into the thematic underpinnings of The Seeding, his distinctive directing style, and more.

Polaroids by Karen O.

Tell us about The Seeding and what gave you the idea for this story.

I was in in the desert, in Joshua Tree, going on a hike with my wife, who was pregnant at the time. And I guess it was like, the fear of —well, not fear. I mean, maybe fear—the apprehension, let’s put it that way, of becoming a father and the kind of feelings that that arouses when you suddenly have your world changing on such a fundamental level. 

At that point, especially being in the desert as well—-you automatically feel the smallness of being a human in such a vast landscape. And so all these things kind of came together to suddenly set the story of my mind.

The film feels as though it explores the idea of control thematically, or the lackthereof.

Yeah, and it's not like I was consciously thinking these things, but during the pregnancy and then in the early stages of becoming a father you do kind of realize how you're this sort of appendage which is there to just make sure everything goes okay. If something is needed, you go and get it and bring it back, but you really don't have any level of control. You're really surrendering yourself to the situation. It's a unique position for many men to suddenly feel that way. And it's a very good thing. These were certainly things I feel in retrospect, but I wasn't necessarily writing with intent.

There’s a sense of anarchy among the antagonists. They seemed very punk rock.

Oh yeah. I love subcultures. Especially music subcultures. 

Where did the idea for the sadistic teenagers come from?

The boys—I never wanted them to just be these evil kids. If you take these kids, and they grow up in a particular way, in a particular place, certain structures are built within that society. And if you break the rules, then you have to pay the price. Some of the things that they do, as horrific as it is to us seeing it from our perspective, maybe that's just their world, and that's what they're used to. Maybe if you do live off grid in such an extreme way you can reach that place.

What is your process in working with actors?

There was a barn in the center of this courtyard, in the motel we stayed in, in Kanab, Utah. We workshopped in there for a few days. The other thing was creating and filming on location. I think it gave everybody from them to me and my crew all a sense of being in that situation. I mean we built this shack in the middle of this canyon. We were living it basically. And it did feel pretty claustrophobic being in there for so long. I think the more you can create an atmosphere which feels real to all of you, it makes it easier for everybody to understand what we're trying to do and to get to the place of truth that you're kind of searching for in performance.

I would have liked to have had way more time. But like, in this situation where it was pretty low budget, and we shot it in 19 days. Scott and Kate were there a week before we started shooting, so I managed to get my first proper read through them in the week before we shot. 

Are there any specific themes or genres that you are drawn to?

I wouldn't say it's a theme but I like films, which are in some way immersive. You know, where you kind of go into a story and the filmmaker doesn't really let you out of it. I'm drawn to outsiders. I like that as a theme, the outside of struggle.

I like love stories as well. I think this is like a love story—in a weird way It's just a fucked up love story.

Polaroids by Karen O.

The Seeding is screening in limited theaters, streaming on premium video-on demand, and will begin streaming in the UK on February 12.

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