Your new movie Ghost
- in a few words, what is it about?
set in contemporary London and follows a middle-aged ex-con on the first
day of freedom. He served a decade behind bars, has a history of
violence and an estranged family. The film is mostly about the
complicated relationship between father and son, effects of toxic
masculinity, and importance of taking responsibility.
What were your
inspirations when writing Ghost?
And is any of this, however remotely, based on personal experiences?
was fascinated by how a father figure can be both the hero and the
villain of their family history. There's an inherent paradox in living
your life one way and wishing your kids to go completely the opposite
direction, while still somehow looking up to you. In Ghost, the main
character attempts to practice what he preaches, but the world always
proves tough on his good intentions. My dad loved crime
dramas, so I decided to tell this father-son story through a lens of
Ghost being a gangster
movie (in the broader meaning of the term), is that a genre at all dear to
you, and some of your genre favourites? And what can you tell us about
your approach to the genre?
believe that genre is like a spice rather than the key ingredient
- the main meal always is a good story, while comedy, horror or crime is
just an added flavour. We were focusing on the relationships
between the characters, while the gangster movie aspect came out from
the somewhat saturated dramatic situation, with real life or death
stakes, translating best in cinema. Knowing that the 'return from
prison' set-up has become a genre convention, our approach was making
the narrative and performances as natural and believable as possible,
avoiding dialogue clichés or unmotivated plot turns. Situations like
that do happen in real life - people who come back from prison
often struggle to assimilate in the lives they left behind without
getting back into trouble. Such scenario provides a strong
dramatic opportunity, and is, therefore, often utilised by
filmmakers. We took a shot at offering a fresh angle, and hope
audiences get something new out of it.
You've shot Ghost
entirely on smart phone - so what was the idea behind this, and what are
the advantages and also limitations filming that way?
we were working under micro-budget conditions, the iPhone
offered unprecedented flexibility - it doesn't require a big camera crew
or time to set up. It's also very small and doesn't draw attention to
itself, which is important for a guerilla-style run-and-gun kind of
filmmaking. Key disadvantage is extreme limitation on shot sizes: it's
always wide and with deep focus, which results in many conventional
visual storytelling techniques flying out the window.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
directorial approach was to maintain focus on the essentials of the
story while accommodating creative input from the cast.
Do talk about Ghost's
key cast, and why exactly these people?
was fortunate to discover our two leads some years ago and got to
develop a good working relationship with them through a number
of shorts we've done together. Anthony Mark Streeter, who plays the
father, previously portrayed a completely opposite kind of character in
my dark comedy Roof
Story. His ability to embody ex-con Tony in our original short Day
One, which became the base for Ghost, spoke of Tony's talent and
unquestionable suitability for the role. His character's son Conor is
played by a gifted young thespian Nathan Hamilton, who also
played major parts in two of my earlier shorts: an urban morality tale Let
There Be Animal and a little horror experiment, The
Invitation. Russell Barnett, who played our villain Dominic, was
also a key collaborator on Day One. Casting process consisted of patient
scouting as well as meeting various talented people. We're grateful
and lucky to have worked with everyone involved - a truly great bunch of
A few words
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
whole approach was quite unorthodox - as we had no real budget, it was
very much an experimental, run-and-gun, collaborative affair. Naturally,
it provided a bunch of practical challenges, but everyone was on the same
page about the limitations that come with this type of
micro-budget endeavour, and embraced the passion project spirit. It is
this attitude that allowed us to handle all the challenges with gusto and
maintain an enjoyable working environment.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Ghost?
the critical reception was very positive - we received a bunch of
encouraging reviews, including Rotten Tomatoes approved
publications. Amazon Prime allowed us to reach a pretty wide audience -
it was streamed by over 120,000 viewers in the first couple of months.
Naturally, such a broad range of viewers have varying tastes and
requirements, which can be quite polarising. Some of it comes from
being in the same pool with the Hollywood productions as well as
the work of established filmmakers. Also, there are certain expectations
coming from the British crime drama tradition, that do not
necessarily align with our slow-burning character study. It can be
quite a challenge to find the right audience for a film that doesn't
easily fit in one defined genre, but as people who genuinely click
with Ghost seem to respond to it very strongly, we hope that with time
Ghost will reach more viewers with appetite for exactly this kind of
future projects you'd like to share?
are always new ideas floating in one's mind and a couple of exciting
projects are shaping up to be our next endeavour. Also, the experience
making this film only encouraged me to further explore different
techniques and genres. However, at this particular point I'm entirely
focusing on giving the best possible release for Ghost.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on
went to an art school and started experimenting with the camera during
one of the plein-air camping trips. We've done some fun little shorts
with my classmates and one of them got screened at a local cinema to a
regular audience. Witnessing a crowd of random people genuinely enjoying
the film gave me the bug and I went to study BA Film at the University
of Westminster. After graduating I got into storyboarding for more
established directors, which was a great way to continue my education in
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Ghost?
the age of about fifteen, I've done probably about a dozen shorts
ranging from spoof action flicks and experimental animation to
documentaries. Also, there were a few commercials and music videos.
would you describe yourself as a director?
mostly enjoy the collective aspect of filmmaking and working with
actors, particularly experiments with improvisation. I believe the
director's job is stewarding the team towards a singular vision and I
love finding ways to hopefully accomplish this by also creating
opportunities for the collaborators' artistic expression.
who inspire you?
I'm mostly inspired by the filmmakers who try different genres and
techniques, like Kubrick, Boyle and Aronofsky. Also, Tarkovsky's genuine
poetry, Nolan's epic originality, Fincher's insightful precision and the
DIY spirit of Cassavetes or the Duplass brothers.
Your favourite movies?
really changes with time and depends on the mood, but from the most
recent releases I was really impressed by Shoplifters, Parasite, The Two
Popes, Marriage Story and The Painted Bird. Talking about long-time
favourites, there are pop-gems like Fight Club, Lord of the Rings, Shawshank
Redemption, Leon, and all of 80s-90s Spielberg. Also visually stunning
and heartbreaking The Fountain, sweeping post-apocalyptic odyssey in
Children of Men, delicious machinations in Closer, and efficient
perfection of Ida. My rarest favourite finding is a micro-budget wonder
In Search For A Midnight Kiss, which I believe to be one of the best
romantic movies ever.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
so difficult to bring any film project to life, I take my hat to all of
them. Just perhaps it can be a pity when filmmakers miss a chance to
explore any genuine originality - the basic story could be seen before,
but it's really disheartening when every line, frame or musical cue is a
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
is now available to watch on Amazon Prime and Vimeo On Demand.
for the interview!