A Quick Interview With Phillip Tanner - One Of The Original Minds Behind "Nightmare" (Atmosfear)

I reached out to Phillip Tanner, and by god he actually responded. Check out what he had to say here!



7/26/2022 5 min read

After making my video about the Atmosfear franchise, I quickly realized that I wasn't done with the subject yet. I wanted to know more. On a complete whim, I decided to reach out to some of the team behind the series, and to my surprise, Phillip Tanner himself took the time out of his busy day, juggling the Atmosfear Kickstarter and a million other things, to respond to a few questions I had for him. Here is our conversation below:

U\C: Could you trace your experience with being one of the original creators of the Atmosfear series?

Phillip Tanner: Brett Clements and I met on a kids show in Australia called Simon Townsend's Wonder World!. We were both on camera reporters. Brett did a story at a game manufacturer and following this created a game called Oz Quiz that sold extremely well in Australia. When we both left that TV show we set up a production company called A Couple 'A Cowboys where we did commercials, music videos, corporate films and TV shows. We also produced a series of board games including DARE, Idiot Box and The Truth Hurts. Brett also released a UK and NZ version of his game OZ QUIZ.

During this time we also discussed getting into feature films and I suggested we think about doing a horror film as these don't have to have big budgets but you can achieve big recognition. Brett returned from the gym one night and explained that he had an idea to combine our board game skills with our production skills and produce a traditional game hosted by an onscreen video host. Nightmare was born and over the next few months Brett wrote the script, oversaw design and directed the game and I was the producer of it.

It took many months of development to get it right, especially the timing of the tape against the game play itself. When it was ready we took it to the original games company that we had dealt with but this game was too big for them so I got us a meeting with Village Roadshow and we pitched the game to their sales team, who immediately organized another meeting with the Managing Director Milt Barlow. We pitched the game to him and we walked out of that meeting with an agreement. Roadshow went on to distribute the game around the world. They were phenomenal.

U\C: Do you have any distinct memories or behind the scenes insights or moments from creating 'Nightmare'?

PT: Tons of wonderful memories. It was an extraordinary ride that took us around the world not only producing the game for a number of different territories but also casting the various international Gatekeepers, plus visiting the toy fairs.

We produced every video and marketing component of the game in Australia and had creative control over the game itself so it was very hands on.

Many of the special effects were done in the Post Production phase of the game. The Gatekeepers eyes in the original game ended with him wearing contacts and when we filmed The Harbingers master tape we put a fluorine into his eyes and hit them with a blacklight to achieve the glow. Wenanty is a classic. Brilliant voice, wonderful look and a really beautifully nuanced actor. He made the Gatekeeper come to life. He's a wonderful soul.

U\C: What was/is the most rewarding part of the experience about creating Nightmare?

PT: I think the most rewarding aspect was to see it develop from an idea into an international best seller and having complete control over the creative process. We also had amazing support from Roadshow who did an amazing job marketing the game. We also met some amazing people in the games industry who have remained friends till today. Because Nightmare was an entertainment brand it meant we could hold things like the Dance Party where 1000's of people turned up to Wonderland (in Sydney's west) to party the night away at Halloween while The Gatekeeper, Baron and Witch and Vampire yelled at people.

U\C: Could you speak to the scrapped SNES game for Nightmare? Did you have any involvement in that at all?

PT: While we didn't personally produce the game they did have to get our approval for the creative components. Unfortunately it took a long time to produce the game and no-one was really happy with the end result (it was pretty basic) so it was decided not to release it.

U\C: Could you speak to the music and soundtrack for Nightmare? Did you have any involvement in the production of the soundtrack?

PT: Brett and I had worked closely with Murray Burns and Colin Bailey on some of our TV shows. They ran a music company called Twilight that produced the music for our TV series Just For The Record and another show called Beyond 2000. They are both brilliant. We provided the brief (60 minutes, built in tension to absolutely chaotic last few minutes) and they produced an amazing soundtrack that really helped build the atmosfear and sense of the race against time.

U\C: Could you speak to your involvement in producing any of the Nightmare sequels, spin-offs or board games since the original Nightmare?

PT: I produced all the games and Brett wrote and directed them including Baron, Witch, Vampire, The Harbingers, Soul Rangers and Ultimate Conflict. The team certainly grew after the completion of the first game and we had artists in house plus additional Associate Producers/Production Managers and marketing people in house.

I have been involved in the subsequent DVD and App based games but Brett hasn't been.

U\C: What is your reaction to the 'cult following' of the Atmosfear franchise?

PT: It's amazing. The fact that people still love and play the game is extraordinary. It's wonderful to know you have been involved in something that really resonated globally.

U\C: Could you provide some insight into the inspiration for the Kickstarter campaign.

Nostalgia is really popular at the moment and I thought it would be great to do a re-release of the original game to celebrate it's 30 year anniversary. Rather than trying to pitch it to stores Geoff Watson, my colleague in the more recent versions decided it would be great to do a limited release on Kickstarter plus offer a Deluxe version to those interested with new playing pieces and some other items to make it stand out. Again we were blown away by how popular the game is by hitting all our stretch goals. I can say that while it seems simple to post and hope on Kickstarter the reason it did so well was the work done before the launch to think through what would resonate with people interested in the game and what we could offer. Then, when it is launched, keeping on top of everything, answering queries, marketing and pushing where necessary. It's a lot of work but we are thrilled with the results.

U\C: Finally, How is The Gatekeeper??

PT: He sends his regards to you little maggot....

The 30th Anniversary Atmosfear Collection is available to Pre-order here until september! Don't miss out! I ordered mine!

Thanks again Phillip!