Mark Tonderai says the biggest thing he learned when shooting his directorial feature debut Hush was to "never, ever shoot at night unless you absolutely have to".

The psychological thriller, written and directed by the former BBC Radio 1 DJ, was shot entirely at night along the M1 motorway in northern England for five weeks, meaning the cast and crew hardly saw the light of day for more than a month.

"It was a really interesting ride because fatigue was the big enemy," he says. "And you can't go over shots as quickly as you would like at times because when the sun comes up, that's it - you've got to wait 12 hours before you can go over it again."

The film follows a couple, played by Will Ash and Christine Bottomley, driving along the motorway who almost have an accident with a truck. As the truck swerves, its back door opens to reveal a women in a cage screaming and covered in blood.

"Zakes (Ash's character) has the option to try to help her but he doesn't because we live in a very walk-on-by culture where people don't get involved," says Tonderai. "The repercussions are at his peril and he spends the rest of the film fighting against it."

The $2.2m (£1.1m) project is a co-production between Mark Herbert and Robin Gutch's Warp X, Tonderai's own production outfit Shona Productions (which he runs with his partner Zoe Stewart) and Colin Pons' FearFactory. It is the third film to shoot from Warp X's production slate, which is backed by Film4, the UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund, regional funds EM Media and Screen Yorkshire, and Optimum Releasing. Pathe is handling international sales.

"It was great to work with four people giving input all of the time," says Tonderai. "They've all got really good instincts and I trust them completely."

The director says he has always been keen to work on a "completely English" thriller, and cites Alfred Hitchcock as one of his inspirations. "I'm a really big Hitchcock fan," he says. "I have always wanted to do a thriller that wasn't too gory, that was more about sound and atmosphere but was also very English, very 'us'."

The collaboration with Warp X has gone so well that Tonderai and Herbert are already in talks to co-produce Tonderai's next script, another thriller called I Die At Midnight.

But Tonderai insists he does not want to stick to just thrillers and has his next five films already planned, including a western called Stance, about the buffalo soldiers who guard Native American Indian reservations.

His ultimate goal is to make a film about Africa. "I'm from Zimbabwe originally and there are some things that I really want to talk about, on Africa in particular. But I think you earn that right to tell those stories," he says. "Right now, I have to build on what I've done in order to move forward."